by Ned Cantwell
The two Jesus Patrol agents sat glumly in a coffee shop on the outskirts of Artesia. Their mood had sunk to levels matching the plummeting winter night temperature, and blowing snow threatened to close the highway back to Albuquerque.
“Lord, what a day,” muttered one of the agents.
“Watch your language!” warned his companion.
“I’m sorry, I meant, gee, what a day.”
The Jesus Patrol agents, touring New Mexico communities to find evidence of Jesus worship and file appropriate lawsuits, had, in fact, been on the road three days and had come up empty.
“It’s discouraging,” lamented Scrooge, staring into his coffee cup. “No one seems to worship Jesus anymore. You and I are going to have to go out and get real jobs.”
“Oh, they are worshipping him, OK,” responded Humbug. “You can find all kind of Nativity scenes at churches and homes, but we’ve pretty much snuffed the public displays.”
As the two sat quietly pondering life in the unemployment line, Scrooge suddenly perked up. “Can’t we sue Socorro? We know for a fact they have that Nativity scene in the warehouse, and they’ve used it in the past on the Plaza. Doesn’t that count?”
“Look, numbskull,” Humbug shot back, “we can’t sue anyone for intent to display. They actually have to put the thing up.”
“Darn! I guess we can’t do anything with the Festival of Trees in Farmington? How about Clovis? Remember those candy canes in Clovis? I STILL say two of them were arranged in such a way that if you held your head just so, they looked exactly like a cross.”
“Oh, stop it, you’re stretching!” Humbug barked. “We’re just plain out of luck. We used to be able to count on Carlsbad. Man that was fun suing them the year they put up that Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn. But ever since they added Frosty and all those other secular trappings, we don’t have a leg to stand on.”
The two went back to brooding when suddenly Scrooge erupted with new enthusiasm. “Light parades,” he shouted. “Light parades. A lot of them have Light parades.
Lordsburg, Deming, Los Alamos, Alamogordo. Now, what if there are Nativity scenes in the parades. Can’t we sue?”
“Forget it. That’s a wild goose chase. There are also Santa floats, and Frosty floats and Mickey Mouse Christmas floats. The courts say you can have the Jesus displays if you have the other stuff, too. Perfectly legal. But you may be onto something, after all.”
Scrooge leaned in while Humbug outlined his plan. “Hobbs sponsors a public bus tour. You know, pay a few bucks, get on the bus, drive around looking at Christmas displays. Now, just suppose that bus drives by, say, some church with a Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the manger. Do you suppose…..?”
“Boy, you think I’m stretching,” Scrooge answered. “That seems like a huge leap of logic.”
“Yeah, I guess you are right. Looks like we are shut out this Christmas. But we must be ever vigilant. If we are not on our toes, before you know it someone will publicly display their devotion for Jesus Christ. You let something like that spread, and peace on earth might actually become a reality.”
“Can’t let that happen, can we?” Humbug shrugged into his coffee mug.
Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. Contact him at: