What would Jesus drive?|
Group Targets Car Pollution Via Ads
Wed Nov 13, 2:40 AM ET
By EMERY P. DALESIO, AP Business Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Car buyers in four states will soon hear a religious appeal to their environmental conscience: "What would Jesus drive?"
A Pennsylvania-based environmental group is planning television advertising in North Carolina, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri to urge consumers to park their pollutive SUVs ? Jesus would prefer a cleaner auto, the group contends.
"Economic issues are moral issues. There really isn't a decision in your life that isn't a moral choice," said the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, which is sponsoring the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign.
The Wynnewood, Pa.-based group will begin running television ads this month in eight cities to urge consumers to park their sport-utility vehicles and to buy fuel-efficient cars. The ads contend that the devout ought to consider the SUVs' effect on the earth.
But it's a small voice in a sea of SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks, last year they accounted for half the new vehicles sold in the United States. The average fuel economy for all 2003 model cars and passenger trucks dropped to 20.8 miles per gallon, reflecting what automakers and many buyers say is a higher priority on comfort and family needs than conserving gasoline.
Automakers say they'd be happy to sell more fuel-efficient vehicles if that's what Americans wanted to drive.
"If people would be demanding tailfins on cars, we'd be making tailfins on cars. But people aren't demanding tailfins," said Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a coalition of 13 companies that produce most of the country's vehicles. "People want power. Consumers want power."
Ball and a network of like-minded mainline Christians and Jews hope to alter those buying habits.
Global warming and smoggy air worsened by vehicle exhausts threaten the health of humans, plants and animals worldwide, and the faithful are called to preserve God's creation, Ball said in a telephone interview.
"We think he is Lord of our transportation choices as well as all our other choices," said Ball, an ordained American Baptist minister. "When you need a new car, you should buy the most fuel-efficient one that truly meets your needs."