Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Guest Post – An Agnostic’s Testimonial

I made up the title. John, the man who submitted this testimonial did not give me one. Instead, he offered his experience with Christians and their moral superiority as a way of responding to my post, Do Christians have any other argument? He touches on the true love of Christ as interpreted my mean spirited Christians.

John – thanks for sharing.

I grew up in the Church of God headquartered in Anderson, Indiana. And here's a funny side note to that: When I was in business in Hattiesburg, MS in the 80s there was a chap that came in for one of my clients to order window screens for the rental units my client owned. He informed me that he was Church of God too and while I hadn't been for some time I told him that that was nice. And then he informed me that the difference between me and him though was that the church he belonged to didn't have it's headquarters in Indiana. No indeed, his Church of God had it's headquarters in Heaven. And then he stated further that I couldn't possibly know the joy that he had in his heart. When I asked him if he didn't think I had joy in my heart his reply was that while I might have SOME joy in my heart I couldn't possibly have the kind of joy that he had because I didn't belong to his Church of God. I even managed to keep a straight face through all of that.

Anyway, In 1956 I came down to the states from Toronto and went to work at The Gospel Trumpet Co. . . . the publishing house for the Church of God in Anderson. There was a beautiful German girl working there that in her job moved around through the various departments and when she walked in to where I worked it was like a ray of sunshine had just come into the room. That girl, Katie was her name if memory serves, was so full of joy it was contagious. Everybody responded to her with delight she shone that bright. And then one day, the light went out. This girl had made a terrible mistake . . . she'd fallen in love with a CATHOLIC . . . . OMG!!!!!! And her good, German, Christian, Church of God father had tossed her out of the house. He told her that his daughter had died . . . that she was no longer alive to him. And her light was snuffed. I moved on from there shortly thereafter so I don't know the final outcome of that story but . . . that was one of the biggest eye-openers' in my life on how people do terrible things to others, even their families, in the name of Jesus and his love.

And on another occasion, several years later, I witnessed another sad commentary on the same theme. I was living in San Jose, CA and was the shipping supervisor for The Warner press . . . the publishing arm of The Gospel Trumpet Company. (The Gospel Trumpet was the church magazine for many years. Last I heard it was called Vital Christianity) We attended the Church of God in San Jose and there was a beautiful, senior, black gentleman that attended that church who reminded me a lot of the German girl back in Anderson . . . he absolutely shone. He always had a brilliant smile and a 'So Happy to See You' joy about him that one couldn't help but respond in kind. Except that there was a family that had moved to CA from Georgia (remember that this was the early 60s) and when this beautiful person greeted them on the steps of the church and proffered his hand in fellowship, this hate filled (but good Christian) white man just glared at him and I watched the light go out to be replaced by unbearable pain.

Having lived, briefly, in MS ( 58 - 61 ) I knew what prejudice looked like and I knew that some Christians justified their less than loving views of African Americans from/by the Bible but I had never seen such hateful behavior demonstrated so dramatically as in that moment. Christians are supposed to be family, right? ? ? ? are supposed to be brothers and sisters to one another? Forget it . . that's true only if you look like, act like, talk like and think like one another. If by birth or choice or happenstance you appear to be different . . . it ain't gonna happen. I know, I know, one can't make generalizations like that but after viewing any number of instances of this kind of cruel and unseemly behavior I decided that I could be an even better person if I just stepped away from all of that. So I divorced the church. I can be more loving (or hateful as the case may be) on my own. I think that's a choice we can all make without any help from organized religion.

My life is full of these type of stories too. I bit my lip the other day as a friend told me he would only let his daughter date boys from their church because nobody else had the proper moral grounding. Geesh.

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