I saw police arresting two men holding 10 foot tall wooden cross on a bridge spanning the 91 freeway near my home. The crosses were emblazoned with words REPENT is red letters. The police had these traffic stopping nutballs up against a chain-link fence. I cheered silently.
I was stopped in traffic today. There was a small accident blocking traffic. The car in front of me was honking vigorously. I noticed a large cross hanging from her mirror. A Christian fish on her bumper, and a sticker advertising a Christian festival. She flipped me off when I drove past.
I stopped for gas in an odd spot near Newbury Park. A man tried to talk to me about god. Not the Christian god mind you, but the Muslim version. I happen to walk in on him while he was reading the Koran. He shared a few verses with me. He was old and friendly. We shared a cup of coffee together before I moved on.
I drove by a man walking on the guardrail of a bridge over the same 91 freeway I mentioned above. Once slip and he would die a horrible death on the pavement below. I drove slowly passed while calling 911. The operator asked if I thought the man was going to kill himself and a bunch of other questions. While I was talking another car pulled up and said, ‘Maybe we should pray for him.”
I spoke to he executive pastor of a church going through a sexual abuse scandal. He told me that this crisis was causing him to question his faith. Not in god though, that will never waiver he assured me, but in people. When I told him that trust is something that should be earned and never given freely, he told my attitude was unchristian. I reminded him that people do things and sometimes they do very bad things. God has nothing to do with it. He claimed God guides everything for a purpose, but he could not see the purpose in the rape of young girl. I waited… he has my number.
I spoke to a victim of clergy sexual abuse.She wanted to know my story. What I told her is that as a youth, my church choir toured California and Arizona. On the tour 4 of my friends were molested by the choir director. I was not touched. My theory is that even as a boy of 16, at 6’2”, I was to man-sized to fit the profile for abuse. One of my friends, one of the abused kids, killed himself a few years later. I did not find why until 8 years ago when contacted by lawyers looking into the abuse. It was like light clicked on in my head. I remembered why I quit singing. The victim had been thinking about killing herself, she decided to get counseling instead. She also made the calls necessary to report the crime.
Life is interesting. Religion is pervasive. I’m an out Atheist, so it feels like I’m an island in a sea of believers. I talk to pastors every week. The same goes for victims of sexual abuse. I can’t escape this role I’ve created for myself. It is not what I intended, and it brings me in close contact with religion every week. I’m not sure I like that.