What used to be a Seventh Day Adventist church in the southeastern Minnesota town of Dodge Center gets more than its share of double takes.
It’s now a distribution company of some kind. Every few months I’ve seen the messages on the sign change, one time seeing the sign in mid-change by the owner himself. I’ve wanted to interview the guy for the longest time but was apprehensive. Would he throw me out of the building? Hang up on me? I mustered up my courage one day and went in. I had a nice conversation with him. He agreed to meet early the next morning.
I explained that people of two opposing political viewpoints rarely get the chance to sit down and find out why the other person feels the way he or she does. The owner asked if I could email him a few of my writing samples, particularly about politics. He called me back in a couple of days and politely asked if we could postpone the interview because things had gotten busy. The interview never happened, which left me disappointed but not surprised. These are the questions I wanted to ask:
- How have Obama policies affected your company – good, bad or indifferent?
- How many employees do you have? How do they feel about the sentiments on the signs?
- How do your customers feel?
- What first prompted you to display the signs?
- Have the messages changed anyone’s mind?
Depending on who you talk to in town, the guy is either a patriot or a crackpot. Since he feels strongly enough about his politics to share them on a 3’ x 5’ lighted sign on a public main street, I thought he’d welcome a wider venue, as this blog gets picked up from time to time. He explained that his wife doesn’t want exposure for the business. Though if exposing the business were a problem, you’d think they wouldn’t put up the signs in the first place.
Anyway, I’m respecting his wishes because I understand the desire for anonymity. Dodge Center is the kind of town where you don’t want to frost off people because they could be your Lodge brother or your church member. Which is what intrigued me about the signs – the unabashed sense of “This is what I think, and I don’t care what you think.”
The newest sign reads, “I’ll keep my money / I’ll keep my guns / You can have Obama.” “I don’t even know what that means,” I said to my husband fellaslipper.
“It doesn’t mean anything. It’s dog-whistle language. It drives Tea Partiers wild,” he explained.
I was still a little apprehensive. “I have the right to take pictures, right?” I asked.
“As long as you stay on public property. Stay on the sidewalk but don’t go on his lawn,” fellaslipper advised.
“What if he busts my camera?,” I asked.
“Then we’ll own the building. And we’ll turn it into the Obama for Re-Election Headquarters,” my husband said.
So if you ever take the Dodge Center exit off Highway 14 and cruise down County Road 34, don’t be alarmed. That isn’t a church thumbing its nose at its tax-exempt status.
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