The back of the parking stub read like the Ten Commandments.
It laid out clearly the bargain I had struck when I paid the $6 fee and parked my car.
I would not hold the parking lot liable for damage to my car. I would not leave with my car during the day and return without paying an additional fee. I would not use alcohol or illegal drugs in the parking lot.
And I would accept into my heart the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The sentiment is fine. The manipulation tempted me to take the lot-owner’s name in vain.
Religion and business, when the two are combined, should be upfront and unassertive. For a proprietor to act otherwise when beliefs are involved is to mislead a customer just as surely as promising granite countertops and delivering Formica.
Tom Hignite recognizes the importance of religious honesty. The founder and manager of Richfield-based Miracle Homes Inc. ends advertisements for the homebuilding company by acknowledging he runs a Christian-based business.
He speaks freely about how he wove his Christian beliefs into his company operations. Religion is never a part of business transactions, it plays no role in hiring, and it has no influence over whom he takes on as clients.
“We never probe,” he said. “We trust that God will put the right people in our office.”
He said the characteristics of a Christian person apply directly to the foundation of a Christian business.
Sometimes it’s as simple as treating others the way you want others to treat you.
Hignite isn’t alone.
There are hundreds of Christian-based companies in Wisconsin. There are roofers, electricians, plumbers and even a cheese company listed on The Christian Business Directory, an online, nationwide listing of Christian-based companies.
There’s nothing wrong with businesses proclaiming a certain faith, nor is there fault in public displays of piety. At the very least, it’s an ingenious way to market a company. At worst, it’s a good way to turn away potential business.
Those companies pick a side and wait to see which customers choose the same.
It’s the ability to choose that matters most to potential clients. A company that takes that away with fine-print promises or cheap tricks to convert customers violates far more than business principles.
I never parked in that lot again while it was under that ownership.
I’m an optimist, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe I had landed the spiritual daily double: For $6, win a parking spot and a shot at salvation.
Chris Thompson is the editor of The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1818 or through divine intervention.