Saturday, October 16, 2004

Losing my religion

Right. I am SO PISSED OFF.

Laura, Adam, Jo, Badar and I went out to the town centre of Bournemouth to have lunch and do some shopping. We walked around the square, and there was this guy singing who was really good, and then we noticed this group of people standing further away with signs, and one guy was shouting something through a megaphone.
We walked a bit closer, and I realised it was some bible thumper meeting, and the guy was hollering something bible-thumpery.
I've gotta say first, I am probably what people would call a Christian, even though I'd rather drop that kind of label. I used to be evangelical simply because that was the part of Christendom I got in touch with first. But that is long time gone. I moved on to being post-evangelical, which is now drifting towards what one could call mysticism with elements of sufism, but I am reluctant to say that because it's just another way of labelling.

But even during my evangelical days I was totally turned off by bible-bashing street preachers using coercion and guilt trips to convert people. It is cheap manipulation which has nothing - NOTHING - to do with genuine, positive, healthy faith, and I clearly distance myself from groups practicing this.

Anyways, I find bible thumpers quite amusing. I like watching them and seeing their self-righteous expressions, and I know the mindset so well that I can read off their faces what they are thinking about the people around them: it's a mix of condescending pity and binary thinking, considering all of them enemies/brainwashed by the enemy/blind fools who need to be led to the light/conversion objects, you name it.

So I stood there with Laura, wondering which group that was, when this preacher-looking bloke came up to me.
He hollered something at me in a really thick accent, so I had to ask him twice to repeat himself, and finally understood that he said: "I bet you don't see this every day."
"Sure as hell not!" I said, absentmindedly taking the little pamphlet he was handing me and looking at it to see who I was dealing with. I was smiling and making a lighthearted comment to Laura, and unsuspectingly opened the pamphlet to have a look inside.

I didn't really grasp what I saw at first. And then my heart stopped. I could feel the blood draining from my head.
What I stared at in shocked disbelief was the picture of what was probably an aborted baby lying on a white blanket, covered in blood, with its head torn off, lying at an odd angle to the body, seeming to be attached to it by nothing than a shred of skin.
I never even got to see the rest of the pamphlet. I heard myself burst out "Oh my god that's sick!", before I slammed it right back into the preacher's hand. "You can have that back, man! What's wrong with you??!"

The preacher looked at me like he had no idea why I was freakin out, and an old lady smiled at me like I was an idiot and said, with a mildly warning tone in her voice: "Jesus is the only way!"
I didn't even know what to say. My head swam, and I just walked off, with Laura in tow.
"That's why I hate those bastards!", I hissed. I could feel the fury rise inside me. Poor Laura probably had no idea what was going on, and I hope she is spared that kind of bullshit.

We went to the Moon to have lunch, but I felt totally knocked out of my mind. I couldn't get that horrendous picture out of my mind, the way the preacher handed me that pamphlet, knowing its content full well but acting like it is the most normal thing in the world. I suppose their twisted idea of faith justifies stuff like that. It just totally shook me up.

For God's sake, there were children out there, everywhere! Those religious maniacs go on talking about God's love and the necessity of purity and whatnot, and they pass out pictures sporting mutilated babies. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE????


Today a fundamentalist group called "Christian voice" made me feel ashamed to be a Christian.
And it reassured me that leaving the church, leaving the Christian subculture and doing my "walk with God", to use an evangelical phrase, on my own, far away from any notion of brainwash and manipulation, was the right decision.

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