Saturday, September 15, 2007
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?