Monday, March 13, 2006

Give Me That "New" Old Time Religion?

Do they ever look in the mirror? You know, those religious fundamentalists, who hate everybody in the name of God's love.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church in North Carolina before anybody ever heard of the Moral Majority and Jerry Falwell. We didn't have cable TV yet, and the religious stations had not caught on.

Sure, sometimes the preacher would scare the hell out of you in order to get you into heaven or to increase the offerings. Every good business does that. But, I never heard attacks on homosexuals and claims that God was punishing people before they died with diseases like AIDS or Herpes. It was only after these guys had an irresistible, huge, loud pulpit on a majority of American's TV's that they claimed the big lie that they were the majority.

I began to hear that some sins were worse than others, even though I had always read that Jesus told people, "Those without sin... cast the first stone."

Well, I went to a Southern Baptist Church for the first time since 1985 last Sunday. My friend had told me there was no hate in his church and that he hadn't heard any hate in Baptists in years.

So I went ready to pretend to be one of the faithful. I shook hands with all the smiling folks, happy to see another white guy that might join their church. Sorry, not one black in the church. I did see someone who was suspect, maybe mulatto, or very tanned, but she had blonde highlights and big hair, so she fit in.

The pastor welcomed everyone with a smile standing behind the podium. He looked around pleased to see people like himself. He felt safe to begin his rampage. No one had GAY written on their forehead, though I did see a guy wearing a pink tie.

This slightly heavy, 50-something man worked his way smoothly from Jesus Loves You to I have something painful to say. We all leaned forward. One man said, "Go ahead, brother."

"I have been watching the Fox TV news this week. Every day I see reports of more American soldiers dead or injured. My heart breaks for their loved ones," said the preacher.

Now, I guess all this sounded very loving to most, but what was missing was disturbing to me, not a word about the Iraqis that lost their loved ones or would never walk again, never get the medical attention for their injuries that our soldiers would. Instead, he focused on the belief they were deprived of the true word of God. Yes, this was love. Finally, I was hearing his compassion. He felt sorry for them, not for their deaths and injuries but their depravity, for their hell bound destiny.

He did not once say, "They are going to hell." He simply said they weren't going to heaven. This is love. With a smugness and gentility befitting of a southern gentleman, he sweetly told us what sinners they were and that they would most likely die without the warm love of Jesus to save them from the hot fires of hell. It never occurred to anyone in the congregation that he was sending them to hell by refusing them heaven.

My friend kept looking over at me as if to say, "See, he's a lover, not a hater." I returned his looks with my "Eat Shit Grin."

I will admit he never once said Iraqis and Arabs were agents of the devil. But, the message was clear; they are not US. God feels sorry for them before he sends them to eternal damnation for their misguided ignorance.

"But we must reach out with our prayers and Christian love; that they might find the true path."

I felt so assured of my reservation at the table of the saved. Everyone was nodding their heads, or nodding off; I'm not sure which. But, he did his job. He made everyone feel so right they would go home, fill their bellies and vote for the God-appointed President again if they could.

Afterwards, I politely told my friend I had other plans for lunch, but I "so enjoyed the sermon." I was so sorry for staying away from the fold for so long. I told him I would certainly return the next chance I had (when I had nothing better to do, like sleep in, or swallow nails.)

This was truly a different kind of church, the kind that could say, "I love you... but you're going to hell." They might even kiss you on the cheek, the kiss of death.

I only hope I fooled them and their God into believing I was righteous, as I would hate to get on their bad side. I mean, it's forever, this death then hell thing.

What ever happened to the love part? Or did I just miss that when I was growing up? Was it always this way, and I just didn't notice?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yep I think you nailed it on the head!! It gives good honest Christians a bad name but really they have no one to blame but themselves! What kind of garbage does this "southern gentleman" think he's spewing to his congregation?


If we use Jewish and Christian "historical" records we know he was a Shepardi Jew. This may come as shock to some b/c of the Passion movie but let's be honest they didn't have central air conditioning back then. Jesus looked liked an Arab b/c he was an Arab. You know the kind you see on U.S. magazine's protesting Zionism.

Speaking of which this preacher you saw was probably up to his neck in. Remember folks you don't have to be Jew to be a Zionist. Z's come in all shapes and color's just like racists.

What ever happend to the notion that we were all of God's "children"?

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