Driving home from work the other day I had the misfortune of pulling onto the freeway just as the traffic suddenly slowed down to a crawl. After poking along for nearly 30 minutes, I finally saw up ahead where the traffic was starting to clear out, but there was no accident and no police cars with flashing lights - just a guy standing on the side of the road holding a sign.
So now I am ticked because the only reason it has taken me an extra half hour to get home and caused me to sit in traffic burning gas is because of people slowing down to gawk at the sign this guy was holding. And here is what it said:
"All Religions Are False Accept For Born-Again Christians"
As I was forced to creep along looking at this guy's sign before finally being allowed to speed up, I was struck by the audacity, the ignorance and the arrogance, not to mention the bigotry of this statement. What exactly was he trying to accomplish with this message? Does he really believe he is going to convert people to his belief system this way?
This pretty much sums up the problem I have with the right-wing fringe of the Christian evangelical movement. This holier-than-thou, simple-minded view of a black and white world where people who think exactly like them are going to heaven and everyone else will be condemned to hell. Sorry, but I don't buy it. The God that I believe in and worship would not send billions and billions of people to hell simply because they were born into families and cultures that did not adopt a specific, narrowly defined belief system. What makes these people believe that God would create such a vastly diverse and complex universe and then insist that everyone and everything adopt the same narrow belief system or risk enternal damnation?
I wish the guy had been holding up a sign that said "Jesus Loves You" and then I could have made it home just slightly annoyed and not so ticked off. Instead, he adopts the slogan that I first heard in the lyrics of a Folk Festival song "Jesus Loves Me, But He Can't Stand You."
I consider myself to be a Christian of the liberal variety which unfortunately seems to be losing ground these days to the fervent fundamentalists. I believe that everyone will one day be judged based on how they lived their lives and how they treated their fellow men and women. If they lived a life like Jesus did, loving their fellow humans here on Earth, then it won't matter whether they were Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists, they will pass on to the next level and be closer to God. If they do not, well, I'm really not sure what happens but I don't believe in eternal damnation. I think the idea of do-overs makes better sense for a loving and compassionate God - keep trying until you get it right kind of thing. But we shall see.