“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light, and God saw that it was good.” [Genesis 1:1-4]

And then God said “All rights reserved”?

Green Lake lawyer Wanda Fitzbubble has turned American Christianity upside down after her claims that God told her to copyright the Bible and start collecting royalties in His name.

A signed affidavit from Fitzbubble reads in part: “It was 3 am, and I was inexplicably still trying to make the spaghetti I’d started at 5:30 pm. Then, I heard a low, rumbling noise that shook my floor and rattled my windows. It turned out to be a passing train, which runs on the track across the street from my house. But then I saw a bright and brilliant flame. That was actually my spaghetti, which I wound up having to throw away after 10 #@#ing hours! The next morning I got a phone call at the office from God, so why did I put in any of that other stuff?”

A senior partner at Dunlap, Finley, Poellinetz, Fitzbubble and Their Big Band, Fitzbubble used her legal savvy to file copyright papers for the text of the Bible as well as its many translations. Once confirmation papers were received, she started sending bills to publishers with the amounts they owed in back royalties to the creator.

“Prentice-Hall owes $360,000, Hardcourt Brace owes $210,000, and geez, don’t get me started on the different churches.” Large sums to be sure, but they pale in comparison to the story of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, a well-known publishing town that has been ordered by a federal judge to pay off the town’s near $8 billion debt. Says a mayoral aide on how the town plans to pay the bill: “We’re looking into selling our children.”

Skeptics outnumber believers, though. Music critic Jim French wrote last week that “That great rocker/theologian Bono, from U2, once said ‘The God I believe in isn’t short of cash, Mister,’ and I believe him! Besides, why would God wait so many years to pick up his checks?” Televangelist Rob McNobb accused Fitzbubble of trying to ruin the televangelism industry. And politician Betty Jo Greene asked the question on everyone’s mind: “How’s she gonna get the money to God once she collects it?” Fitzbubble may never see any dollars for the divine, but she’s become a part of Americana. Why? In true American cultural fashion, her moves have inspired two copycats: a Florida man has filed papers to collect back royalties from rabbis who hand-write their own Torahs; and the suspiciously brand-new Estate of Lao Tzu has demanded a user fee from Taoists all over the world. (They had, of course, merged with Microsoft.)

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