Contrarian: Got a Second for Jesus?

BD_end.jpgNewly minted Globe columnist Kevin Cullen has a piece today on Bob Whetstone. Name doesn’t ring a bell? OK, how about “the scary, smelly man who stands in front of Fenway with a terrifying sandwich board reading, ‘Heaven or Hell – It’s Your Choice’ over an image of hundreds of heathens falling into the firey pits of hell?”

That ring a bell?

Despite the graphic imagery, his is a passive evangelism. He arrives a few hours before the first pitch, goes to Quincy Market when the game’s on, then is back for the departing ballgame crowd. He doesn’t say much, mostly just stands there, offering “Where Are You Going to Spend Eternity?” leaflets in two outstretched hands. He has leaflets in 40 different languages.

I’m not going to begrudge the man his right to wield his sign and worry for my soul, just like I hope he doesn’t begrudge the fact that I think he’s a lunatic, but reading Cullen’s column gave me an idea.

All over town right now, and I mean ALL OVER TOWN, there are fresh-faced kids arranged in gauntlets canvassing for MASSPirg, Greenpeace, whatever. They come in teams of two, and work facing one another at a distance of 15 feet or so to ensure no one gets through without being accosted.

You can’t walk one block without one of them waving at you like an imbecile and saying, “Hey man, got a minute for the environment?” I truly hate them. I’m not going to mince words. But it must be effective, because more and more organizations are adopting the tactic.

So, against my better instincts, here’s my advice for Bob Whetstone (or to the Lord, if he’s indeed working the levers on this one), as he expands his sign ministry. The one-man show isn’t cutting it. Competition is too high. So why not mass-produce the terrifying sandwich boards, and plant teams of two on every corner in the Back Bay and Harvard Square. Canvassers, for reasons of continuity, must be dirty and nuts in appearance, lest they be mistaken for Mormons, and the spiel can be the same as all the other canvassers: “Hey man, got a second for Jesus,” or, “Hey dude, you got a second to save your soul from the sulfurous razor teeth of Lucifer?”

Anyway, take it or leave it. It may seem crass and opportunistic, but just because you’re a religious fanatic doesn’t mean you can’t evolve your act.