JERUSALEM—Overwhelmed by a constant deluge of prayers and appeals for salvation, Jesus Christ announced Monday the hiring of Tacoma, WA, customer-service supervisor Dean Smoler as Associate Christ.

Jesus Christ, swamped by requests for guidance and divine forgiveness, hired 38-year-old Dean Smoler (left) as the first-ever Assistant Savior.

"I've been in need of an Assistant Savior for a long time now, and I'm thrilled to finally have one," Christ told reporters at a press conference aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. "Dean is an experienced guy who will really help ease my workload."

With the hiring, effective June 1, Christians seeking spiritual aid or guidance will be able to pray to either Jesus or Dean.

"This is an extremely exciting opportunity for me, and I look forward to hearing your prayers," Smoler said. "To the millions of Christians around the world, I just want you to know that I am here for you, should you wander down the wrong path. If Jesus happens to be busy, please feel free to turn to me in your darkest hour."

"You can expect the same great service from me that you've always gotten from Jesus," Smoler said.

Jesus said He chose Smoler for the Assistant Christ position because of his considerable experience in dealing with the public. In addition to his six-year stint as customer-service supervisor with the Tacoma-based Consolidated Coolers, the nation's third-largest manufacturer of coolers and thermoses, Smoler worked for nine years as a human-resources manager with Sears.

Though some observers have questioned whether Smoler will be able to absolve Christians of earthly wrongdoings, having never died on the cross for humanity's sins, Christ dismisses such claims, saying that he has "complete faith in Dean."

Assistant Savior

"Whatever you wish to say unto me, you can say unto Dean Smoler," Christ said. "I am 100 percent confident that Dean is fully capable of bathing you in the healing light of forgiveness and salvation. Turn to Dean, and you shall not go astray."

From now on, Jesus advised Christians to address prayers to, "Our Lord or His Associate," "Jesus or Dean," or "Jesus or anyone acting in His employ."

Monday's hiring has led many Catholic Church insiders to speculate that, once Christ retires, Smoler will become the One True Savior and Son of God.

"After nearly 2,000 years of flock-leading, Christ appears to be getting tired," said Cardinal John O'Connor of New York. "I strongly suspect that Dean is being groomed as his successor."

Lending credence to such suspicions is a new book of the Holy Bible, which details Smoler's newfound authority and divinity. The book, tentatively titled, "The First Letter Of Dean To Mankind," will be included in the updated 1999 Bible.

Smoler's hiring as the first-ever vice-Christ is being well-received by Christians.

"If Jesus says it's okay to pray to Dean, then it's all right by me," said Grand Rapids, MI, resident John Bouton.

"I accept Dean Smoler in my heart and will pray to Him daily for eternal salvation," Beatrice Moorehead of Montgomery, AL, said. "Jesus and Dean are Lord."