Saturday, September 15, 2007

They're Baa-aaaack

Remember last October, when I wrote about the hateful Christians who'd set up shop on campus?

Last Wednesday I was walking to one of my classes, halfway across campus from the English building. Passing the library, I heard a ruckus. The ranting so-called Christians were back, standing in front of the library waving placards about hellfire and damnation and how anybody who doesn't subscribe to their extremely narrow definition of righteousness will fry forever. Want to see heaven? Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, liberals, feminists, and gays need not apply.

These people send my blood pressure through the roof. The last time they were on campus, I tried to tell them that they'd make a better impression if they tried, oh, feeding people or building transitional housing, which of course got me nowhere very quickly. This year, students sitting on the library steps were trying to argue with them, but the folks waving the signs are very good at not listening.

Funny. According to my reading of the Gospels, the one thing Jesus never did was ignore anybody. But then, the people waving the signs aren't reading the same Bible I am. (I've long maintained that if Jesus came back tomorrow, the Christian Right would crucify him again in about ten seconds, because he'd be hanging out in all the wrong places: shooting galleries, welfare offices, gay bars.) Something truly gnarly must have happened to these people to make them this way, and I know I have to pray for them: but dang. Y'know?

This year, I went up to some of the students on the library steps and said, "I just want you to know that I'm Christian too, and these people don't represent me or my faith. Some of us really believe in love and acceptance." The students smiled and assured me that they know that.

I gave the same speech to both of my classes; my students seemed relieved that someone was addressing the issue, although some just viewed it as street theater. In my freshman-comp class, one woman perked up and said, "Oooooh! The Crazy Christians are back? A friend told me about them last year."

"Yup," I said. "The crazy, intolerant, hateful, homophobic Christians are back." (So much for love and acceptance, right? Mea culpa! As always, the biggest challenge is being tolerant of intolerance!)

Another student said, "All the religious groups on campus should go there and just hold hands in front of them." I thought that was a great idea.

Yet another student told us that somebody had quoted Scripture back at them, gleefully citing some text about false signs and deceivers. Very clever, but of course, since the CCs a) don't listen and are undoubtedly b) oblivious to irony, what good would it do?

Students who'd listened to them longer than I could bear to did assure me that the homophobic rants have been considerably toned down from last year. I suspect somebody told them that outright hate speech isn't allowed on campus, although the anti-Muslim stuff's bad enough.

After my fiction workshop, the class halfway across campus, one of my older students walked back to the English building with me. When we got near the library, she steered me away from the turn I'd usually have taken, which would have taken me right past the CCs. "No, Susan, let's go this way. Don't listen to them. Just don't listen to them. Just breathe. Look at the sunlight in the trees! Isn't that pretty? Okay, we're almost there."

Smart lady. I think she has the right idea.

What if the Crazy Christians had a hatefest, and nobody came?


  1. About a year and a half ago I was preaching at my former church, which has services at 9 and 11 each Sunday. Between services I learned that we were being picketed by a group who are opposed to any recognition or equal rights for sexual minority persons. Those of us who were able decided to go forth and give them the warmest of Christian welcomes. So, I shook hands with each and every picket, ignoring the repetitive and robotic chanting of Scripture, as did several others. We invited them to service; we offered them the use of our rest rooms and told them to ask us if they needed cool water to drink (it was a terribly hot day). We advised them where to stand to minimize exposure to the sun. We about killed them with kindness. Other church people looked out for those members whose emotional woundedness was such that they could not handle interaction. The picketers folded up and left during the second service, probably disappointed at not stirring up a confrontation. Truth compels me to confess that I took a rather mean pleasure in knowing that I had probably horrified them by touching them -- they had "the Gay" on their hands, and the only close place to wash was OUR RESTROOM, and you KNOW they weren't going there!

  2. Bless you, Terri! I wish I could respond that way (I've occasionally managed it, but not often enough).

    Your approach is most certainly what Jesus would have done!

  3. Anonymous7:10 AM

    This is all so sad. People were originally called Christians by other people because their lifstyle spoke louder than their words. The originals were following something with such single mindedness that their pursuit was facinating and compelling to behold. They were and are unlikely marathoners who plowed through, around, and over the obsticles of life and the failings of human fraility, to reach not a mere destination but a face to face encounter with the very one whose voice had been calling and encouraging them every step of the way.
    These rules of the race require the runners to jog in place if you will and answer questions from the spectators yet never taking their eyes off of the prize. They extended invitations or rather as the one who called them calls others the runners make room for the new starters. They have to travel lightly. They have to lay down things that they bring to the race that are slowing them down. Sometimes those things are ideas. Sometimes they are habits. Every time it hurts to lay something down. Yet a little further down the road there is great appreciation as the trail gets steeper that the load is lighter. But it is so hard.... It is easy to understand why runners fall, or stop and hover around an idea or a "cause". Its not right. Its not a scheduled race activity. It is however, understandable until that thing is compared to the prize that these things have strongholds on the minds and imaginations of the runners.
    It is so sad to see the energy that was meant for running be used to attack people and ideas that in the long run will be laid down voluntarilly when the weight of them become too much to carry.


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