Monday, August 29, 2005

I have never been so loved...

Or so the flier says.

We're waiting for a table at a local Chinese restaurant, and a woman with three kids offers me a spot on the bench next to her. I accept. She and her husband politely comment on L--she's beautiful, how old is she? etc. Then they ask "Are you from around here?" Hmmm, getting a little personal. But we're killing time anyway, so what's the harm in answering a couple questions?

Soon I'm holding a flier for her Baptist church and lying through my teeth: "Yes, we're Christians." Now please leave us alone.
"Have you been saved?"
"That's great. Because that's so important. I love to preach the gospel and remind people that Jesus Christ . . ."
The 30 minute wait suddenly got a lot longer.

I don't begrudge this family their right to worship or even to talk to people about what they believe. It's the prying into my personal life and the manipulation to get us into their church that bothers me. What's a polite way to tell someone that I really don't want to answer personal questions about my religion? My husband joked later that we should have responded with questions about their sex life.

For me, it is that personal. I don't want to discuss whether or not I'm going to hell or whether or not there is a God who gave his only son so that I can be saved. I lie because I think it will make the conversation end faster. I'm not worried that a devout Christian will be rude to me if I pour out my spiritual soul, but I'm afraid that telling the truth is offering them a big opportunity to Save Me.

The whole incident left a bitter taste in my mouth.


Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

How about the truth? Politely, of course. Something like this:

"I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I feel quite comfortable with my faith. I came here to have a nice meal with my family, not discuss religion. Thank you for understanding."

If they persist, tell them: "I've politely asked you to refrain from this conversation. Do I need to call the manager here? Most businesses don't allow solititation."

You'd be surprised at how well it works. And remember, most restaurants and public places have non-solicitation rules that they will be happy to enforce.

In my younger days, I'd carry around pamphlets from the Rev. JC "Bob" Dobbs' Church of the Universal Sub-genius, of which I am an ordained minister (cost me five bucks plus postage), and try to tell them about salvation through the process of raising hell and getting off like a big dog. And if they protested, I would scream "SATAN SPAWN! UNCLEAN! FILTH OF THE DEVIL!" and spray them with Holy Water from my Junior Jesus Squirt Gun.

That worked too, but it tended to end the dining experience rather abrubtly for myself as well.


8:42 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

I'm with BP on this one. I always tell them I'm Buddhist and I don't believe in Christ. If they try to talk to me further, I ask them not to. If they won't leave me alone I ask the establishment to remove them or seat them far, far away.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Old Man Rich said...

Befriend them. Embrace their views. Invite them round. Sacrifice a goat. Talk about how God gave the earthly domains to our true lord Lucifer. Tell them why incest and child molestation are the true path towards redemption. Mutilate their first born. Believe me, there is not much more fun on this planet than mocking 'true' believers.
by the by,I know a few Buddhist Christians who would spend years stalking you once they thought you had done the hard mile. Best not to try that (especially if you have ordered non-veggi).

12:50 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

OMRich: have you ever thought about a career as a minister in the Rev. JC "Bob" Dobbs' Church of the Universal Subgenious? You'd fit right in.


2:54 PM  
Blogger Anna Pet said...

ooooohhh you are so insightful...I feel the same way. I know that these people are doing this because they strongly believe it is the right thing, BUT they make me feel really uncomfortable and harassed. My mum is VERY religeous and I often chastise her if I see her harrassing people about God or their faith...She doesn't realize she is bothering people...I say that when it comes to religion it should be don't ask don't tell. They should only preach to people who ask to be "taught or informed" about being saved.


6:50 AM  
Blogger Anna Pet said...

Great story baloon pirate! Oh I SO love blogging! The joy that such a simple thing can bring! old man are in FINE form as usual....I adore your sense of humour...this is a fantastic blog jessica.

6:53 AM  

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