August 18, 2010 • By Ed Wrather
Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. - Nehemiah 4:7-9 NKJV.
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. - Acts 14:19-20 NKJV.
Rev. Luke Strand who is the priest at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, had a great idea to gain more attention for God. His idea was to put an oval decal (black background on top with white background on the bottom) with the words “God Squad” on his solid black Volkswagen Beetle. Admittedly, the word “Squad” on the bottom is similar to that of Best Buy's “Squad” in their Geek Squad decal which they also have on a Volkswagen Beetle. Best Buy's Beetle is black and white. Best Buy has served Rev. Strand with a cease-and-desist order claiming the God Squad decal is a violation of their trademark of the “Geek Squad.” Rev. Strand has agreed to stop using his “God Squad” decal on his Volkswagen Beetle.
Rhea Behlke who is a spokeswoman for the church said that Rev. Strand had been using the decal on his Beetle for several years. She also said that the God Squad Beetle was a “creative way to bring God to the streets” and that it has made it more comfortable for some people to approach a priest.
In defense of Rev. Strand, the term “God Squad” does have a completely different meaning than that of “Geek Squad.” The term God Squad has been in use for many years and is still in use by various individuals and organizations. Rev. Strand had used his decal promoting his God Squad for a number of years prior to Best Buy deciding to take action against him. Here is part of the definition of infringement of trademark from NOLO (the free dictionary of law terms and definitions), “Unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark (or a substantially similar mark) on competing or related goods and services.” It is immediately clear that God Squad is not competing with the Geek Squad and that Rev. Strand is not offering for sale any related goods or services.
Here we have an obvious situation of Christianity being intimidated and threatened by the world. It is likely if the trademark infringement that Best Buy claims went to court that they would lose. However, it is very costly to fight claims like this, and it could expose the priest's church to substantial legal obligations.
What do you do when you are faced with such intimidation and threats? You continue on to the extent that you can, which is what Rev. Strand intends to do. He will not be using the decal, but he will still be driving his black Beetle around the community. When the apostle Paul was stoned at Lystra and dragged outside the city and left for dead he did not run away. No, he got up, and went back into the city to continue to preach the Gospel of Christ. When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites mocked and threatened Nehemiah and the people of God, they did not stop building the wall. No, they armed themselves, and continued to build at an even faster pace. We must do the same when we face the intimidation and threats of the world.