Religious Ranting

I've got a rant brewing inside me. It started to peek out in the comments to two of my recent posts (here and here). At this point, I think I just need to put it out there. So, here it goes.

Where should I start? I was raised Christian. Protestant. When I was young, my family and I went to church pretty regularly. We didn't talk about God or religion a lot in my house, but my parents were involved in a bit of charity, particularly through community work. We didn't pray before dinner, except on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

By the time I was in high school, my family became Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers. I went to church a few times on campus in college, but just never really got into the habit.

In my current town, I'm a member of a church. I, once again, go to Church regularly. I volunteer, I do some community work, and I feel pretty strongly, as I've written here previously, that the work that I do has a strong religious component.

But I've always just been very turned off by what I feel are "preachy" Christians. Sure, you've found happiness in your Christianity, and you want to share that. But I feel like there's a time and a place. And, I know, I can see the obvious argument against that. That Jesus didn't just spread the word when the time was right, but He did it all the time. And maybe the fact that I'm uncomfortable with it somehow makes me less of a good Christian.

But, I feel like some people spend too much time talking about what good Christians they are, and not enough time being good Christians. And I feel that actions speak louder than words.

Last week, I was waiting in the doctor's office waiting room. A woman came in, went up to the desk to check in for her appointment, and I noticed that she was up there for a long time, talking to the receptionist. She then went and started talking to a woman in the waiting room. I assumed that the woman she was talking to was a friend that was waiting with her. I could overhear parts of her conversation.

"Ever since I found God in my life..."
"The Lord is my Shepard..."
"I am a woman of God..."

It was none of my business, so I tried not to pay attention. But she was loud. She was talking about how she had moved to a new neighborhood last year. And before she even moved in, she had printed up flyers. "To tell them about me, about my kids, about my miracle of how I found God..." She invited everyone in the neighborhood, through these fliers, to a meeting at her house because she wanted to organize a neighborhood watch group. "I wanted them to know what my car looks like, and know what their cars look like, so if Satan comes to take our children, we're on the lookout." (Wow, Satan drives a car now?) To her surprise, no one from the neighborhood showed up at her meeting. "I guess they couldn't face a woman of God, knowing that they're all sinners." Hmmm, gee that's it. I couldn't help but think, "Or maybe they already had a neighborhood watch group. How about that?" But, like I said, none of my business. I just wanted to read my crappy magazine from two years ago.

She then got up, though, and went to an empty chair near two other women on the other side of the waiting room. And I could hear her talking again. I started to pay more attention, because I realized she wasn't with any of these people, she was just evangelizing to them.

I could hear her telling them this story. Her kids, apparently, had either called the police on her or went to court about her. (Or both.) "I never beat my kids," she said. "Sure, I spanked them, when they needed to be spanked, but I never beat them." I don't know much about family court, but her children must have gone to court and gotten a restraining order and permission to live with their aunt.

"My sister! My sister! And she's a thief. She used to steal from me all the time. And she's not even a Christian!" So, the police had come to her house, and served her with the papers. She started telling them about the word of God, and one of the police officers said something along the lines of, "Yes, we were warned you were a lunatic."

And, now the woman was shouting in the waiting room. "I told him, you can call me crazy. You can call me a Jesus freak. But you cannot ever ever, I mean ever, call me a lunatic. Because that is what they called My Lord. And I'm not even half as good as Jesus Christ to fill his sandals!"

All I could think was "WTF? When did they call Him a lunatic? And, even if it's in your Bible, isn't that just a translation, when maybe a translation of 'crazy' could've been just as appropriate?"

Well, finally, someone in the little reception window looked out to see what was going on, and I heard her say, "Ethel, she's at it again, you have to go get her."

And, with that, they called the lunatic's name to bring her into the doctor's office.

And as she walked in, she turned around to the entire waiting room and said, "There's too much sin here on earth. You've all invited Satan into your hearts. And that's why you're sick and in the doctor's office."

Me? I was just there for a physical. But I think we can all guess who the sick one is.

That very night, I happened to catch this crazy episode of Trading Spouses. One of the women was a Christian (the woman you see screaming in the commercials), and the other was more... spiritual. (She classified herself as a Christian, but she also believes in astrology, hypnotism, etc.) The Christian woman was very upset to be in a "darksided" home.

But what upset me more was the way that the Christian woman's friends treated the hypnotist lady. They're in Louisiana, and the hypnotist lady invites all of the Christian lady's friends over for a dinner. She hopes that it will be good for her to get more insight into the family she's staying with, and ways to connect with the kids.

One of the women, as soon as she walked in, said "Are you a Christian?" The hypnotist answered, "Yes." The woman asked, "Well, do you believe in (finger quotes) 'God' or do you believe in (finger quotes) 'a higher power'?" The hypnotist lady answered, "I believe in God." "Well, when was the last time you went to Church?"

The hypnotist explained that she was raised Catholic, and that she's now a member of a Unitarian congregation. "Well, what do they believe?" the Christian friend asked.

"We believe that all people are created equal..." before she could even finish, the woman interrupted, "What? Like the terrorists and the pedophiles?"

I just think this is so hypocritical. First of all, this woman is welcoming you into "her" home. (No, it's not really her home, but it is for the time being.) And before you even get in the doorway, you're interrogating her, interrupting her, and judging her? To me, that's not Christian. The hypnotist woman is a better Christian, because she's the one who is taking the time to get to know other people, and to try to understand them and connect to them.

Then, finally, on that same night, was this episode of Amazing Race, which, through the miracle of Tivo, I didn't watch until the next night.

This season, there's a family called The Weavers (also known as "the Florida family"). They make for the best television, and I think that all of the dumb American quotes that I've featured here have been from them.

And, as you can see from the comments, they're rude to other teams, make fun of other teams (not that I wouldn't), and then say, "Why doesn't anyone like us? We're good Christians!"

Being a good Christian isn't something you just say, it's something you do. In fact, I think that the more you have to say it, probably the less you're actually doing it.

And, as my father says, "Be nice, those people chose your President." I guess he's right. I guess there's some majority in this country of people who are more comfortable saying "I'm a Christian" and telling others how to live a Christian life, then they are just living a Christian life - accepting others, and practicing peace.

And they chose one for President too. He can sure talk about Christianity, all the while standing by while people get killed in war and by the death penalty, obviously ignoring the commandment, "Thou shall not kill." But, maybe he figures if he gets someone else to do it for him, it doesn't count?

So, that's all for my rant. I'm annoyed at these people. I think they give a bad name to Christians everywhere.


  1. I was with you up until you started implying that the President isn't a good Christian. I don't know if he is or not, but I disagree with your analysis that his actions you've cited show he's unchristian.

    As many others do, you misinterpret the sixth commandment: You shall not commit murder (not "you shall not kill"). With that understanding, neither of the examples you provide show actions that are in violation of Christian principles.

    Oh, and for the record, I'm against the death penalty, but I support the Iraq war.

  2. Exactly.

    That's all I have to say about that.

  3. I guess it's obvious that it's open for differences of opinion, but I believe that the death penalty is in direct defiance of the sixth commandment, and is the government committing murder.

    Therefore, I believe it is an unchristian thing to support or to allow to happen if you're in a position to stop it.

    But I don't want think this post is about the death penalty or politics. I certainly feel that would be deserving of a whole post of its own.

    Instead, I'm just venting my frustration with those who talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

    Whether it's the death penalty, intolerance to gays, or just simply making fun of other people rather than getting to know them, I think actions speak louder than words. And those people shouldn't be able to hide behind the mere words "I'm a good Christian!" if their actions show otherwise.

  4. I certainly oppose the death penalty.

    I do not agree that imposition of the death penalty violates the Fifth Commandment (I'm Catholic; we number 'em a bit differently).

    God handed down the Ten Commandments along with much additional law in Leviticus and Deuteronomy - some of which allows for the death penalty under carefully defined circumstances.

    In the same way, I might point out, the Constitution contemplates the death penalty, so its application is not per se violative of the Eighth Amendment.

    It's simply wrong. But neither the Ten Commandments or the Constitution is a definitive list of all wrong things. We may choose to abhor the death penalty without needing to claim it's unconstitutional or defiant of God.

  5. I can't wait for christians to find out how irrelevant their commandments are, how irrelevant their justifications are for all the murdering and excluding and judging and hating they do. I suppose it will happen when they die, which they are all excited about anyway.

  6. All I know is that I am IN LOVE with your sense of humor... Great Blog.

  7. I'm with you. I consider myself a pretty serious Christian, but I don't see much of my religion in the hysterical and judgmental actions you describe. I worry that religion in general is getting a bad name from these displays. I have read the New Testament many times, and each time I am more convinced that it's all about kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance. I guess those folks have a different version.

  8. I watched the second half of Trading Spouses after reading this column. Holy crap that lady was totally crazy! What was so sad was that she denounced everything the other family was about, and the other "mom" thought mostly of the crazy lady when handing down the $50,000. Ironically, after stating the money was tainted by the devil (and presumably finding out how it was to be spent) the crazy lady decided to keep the cash. Apparently, after time, and if the money is spent as the crazy lady felt acceptable, the family could keep it, regardless of crazy lady's earlier statements.

    I felt really bad for the astrologer family. They tried, but she was just too intolerant of any other beliefs but her own. I know that the show was edited to make viewers feel that way, but she really did seem completely intolerant--and like a lunatic.