Ambushed by religion

Even though my wife lived in Canada for 8 years and got a little taste of North America, she is still getting used to the things that are very different here in the U.S. Even though Kansas City is much more slower paced that Chicago, it is still an American city and it moves at a good pace. When she is surprised by something here it makes us both laugh and reminds us how cool it is to have a similar background, a similar understanding of life. Actually we spend quite a bit of time laughing, from our little inside jokes to just getting each other’s sense of humor we spend quite a bit of time chuckling.

Religion is one of the things we have in common, and funny enough we ventured outside of the Catholic faith during our younger years. I think I did a little more venturing than her, but we both agree that we like going to mass and get something out of it. We don’t have a policy in religion for our friends and respect their beliefs or atheism. We are actually quite open to discussing the subject and explain what is the whole deal with the Virgin Mary or Rosaries or whatever it is that people from other faiths just don’t get. However we do not evangelize or try to convert people with words and arguments.

This week my wife was ambushed by religion. On this particular denomination I happen to have a lot more knowledge because someone in my family is a Jehova’s witness… I think this was the first time she encountered the no birthday policy they have. She asked a coworker if she wanted to sign a birthday card and was met by a very short “We don’t celebrate birthdays.” from a person she likes and appreciates already.

That right there is my problem with some institutions. The moment where you have to take a “we” stand… the moment where you stop being yourself and become just a piece of the big puzzle. Then when an unsuspecting person approaches you and touches the “I have been told I cannot do that” button, they are met with an uncharacteristic programmed response.

Some of the closest friends I made during my time in Michigan were from a very fundamentalist church. This was my second time trying a very strict protestant church. I respected most of their beliefs and helped out quite a bit around the church. I hanged out with them all the time and they became my support structure. It all ended when I refused to believe that they had a prophet that actually knew when rapture was going to happen.

I have seen this tactic before first hand and both times it involved money. The more you gave and sacrificed, the more “grace” you were going to receive. Furthermore, if things were not going well in your life, you were not giving enough. It was run like a business and they were selling salvation and in some extreme cases healing. The preacher would drive around on a brand new jag and had a brand new Harley while everyone else in the congregation could barely afford the Sunday clothes.

Like the time before when I had been ambushed by religion, they had a sit down with me telling me that I either believed what they said without challenge or I could not attend church anymore. In one conversation with someone I though was my friend my support structure was completely removed. I was very close with a couple that attended the church and we kept contact after the whole incident, but it was very clear that hanging around with me was going to cause them problem so I am waiting until the time where the world was supposed to end to give them a call. Actually it might have already passed so maybe I should call them to see if now that the prophet failed to predict everyone’s demise we are allowed to hang out… maybe there was an extension to get every last cent from their pockets.

14 Responses to Ambushed by religion

  1. I don’t quite understand your annoyance with the “we” stand. I mean, why else do you associate with a group of people unless you have a common belief? It does not mean that you have EVERY belief in common but there is usually a small set of beliefs that most of the people in that group conform to. For a Jehovah’s Witness, I think one of their common beliefs is not celebrating holidays. I don’t think that person has stopped becoming themself, they just have a part of themself that happens to fall into a certain group of beliefs. For me, I believe that Jesus was the Son of God and I would say that probably 100% of the people that go to the same church I do believe the same thing. How does that make me less of an individual?

    I’m now very curious what church you went to in Michigan and who the people were that were trying to sell you on this prophet guy.
    Ugh. It makes me sad to hear stories like that. It tends to make MOST Christians sound that way instead of a select few. I am glad that I attend a church that encourages people to open their bibles and not simply to take the preacher’s word for everything. Whenever I hear mention of the “Prosperity Gospel” like you described I wonder if any of the people that buy into it ever read the bible or specifically the book of Job!! You know what happened to Jesus’ closest followers? Did they retire in the lap of luxury? NO! They were persecuted and most died in a similar fashion like Jesus did!

    As far as the prophet predicting when the “rapture” will happen, again don’t people read their bibles?? It specifically says that NO ONE knows the date and time of his return, only God does! Maybe this is really a product of the times and people just wanting to be told what to do and not having to think for themselves? =)

  2. Faith is a bitch (no not the blogger, the mental state). Maybe I should have said blind faith is. I have no problem with somebody asking themselves the big questions and joining a group with similar beliefs. On the other hand, I do not care for people who do what they are told without at least thinking about what it means.

    I have spoken enough on my own experiences with religion elsewhere. And that’s all I have for ya today, I hope Bea wasn’t hurt by her coworkers stance and they can still have a productive work relationship

  3. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    I must confess though, that when it comes to unfounded and nonsensical “we” stands, the Catholic church seems to follow shortly behind the Joehovah’s Witnesses.

    I know dozens of catholics who have been so for their entire lives yet can’t explain why they partake in nearly anything. Yet they still do it.

    Beautiful people, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

    -Brad
    http://www.SimplyOneLife.org

  4. I’m following you around today, Nuke. And you keep cracking me up, man! I wish I could follow you around more often…

    I mean that in a non-creepy way of course. ;)

    My husband grew up in a “cult” that his parents belong to. They moved from Hawaii (where he was born) to South Bend, IN to be a part of some community called People of Praise. I don’t know a lot about it, but it’s cultish to me when it comes to their contribution requirements, and just like the church you described, Logtar, the leader drives around in a fancy car and lives in a nice house while the followers all live in the ghetto.

    The way my husband was raised with this organization pushed him away from the church (with the help of regular beatings from his father who then pushed a bible into his hands and told him to read it…), and I’m working on helping him understand that it’s not necessarily such a bad place after all.

    It’s hard, though. And it’s difficult for me to understand how two seemingly intelligent people could be drawn into a sect like this, and continue to see it as being valuable to their faith in some way.

  5. Glad I could help a gal out!

  6. I thought I typed this once already earlier this morning but I guess it didn’t take. I don’t see what’s the big deal. Some people don’t celebrate birthdays, others don’t eat pork, still others sacrifice a goat. I just shrug and move on. I hate office card signings and money collections anyway. And birthdays are overrated.

  7. Nuke, I wasn’t hurt at all. In fact, I’m very respectful of other people’s beliefs. I guess I was just surprised that I lived with a J.W. when I was in college, and I didn’t know about the no birthday policy. I said “Well, that’s sad!” and my smiled co-worker was nice about it; she knew I was joking.

    As for the “WE” word, I think we all use it when we have a sense of belonging to any organization, group or belief. It is not a Catholic, Christian or whatever thing. It’s a human thing.

  8. I know “we” don’t do that sort of thing back on Colombia. Oh wait…

  9. Christianity:
    The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father (by magically raping a 13 year old Jewish girl named Mary) can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master so he will remove a magical curse from your soul that all humans are born with because a woman made from a man’s rib bone was convinced by a talking shapeshifting snake to eat a fruit from a magical tree.

    Truth is stranger than fiction some times.
    (this comment ment to be humorous)

  10. Atheism:

    The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.

    Makes perfect sense.

    (this comment meant to be humorous, too)

  11. Agnosticism:

    The belief that God’s existence can neither be proved nor disproved, on the basis of current evidence.

  12. I grew up in the Catholic church and I’ve honestly been “ambushed” by Catholics more than any other religion, though admittedly, a lot of it’s among the older generations. I see what you mean about the “we do this” or “we don’t do that” phrases in that it does sound a little brain-washed when it’s one person talking to one other person and saying “we” because there wasn’t another person for him to really include in the “we.”

  13. RecoveringPOPer

    This is a response to Faith:

    I’m not sure if I know you or not but I am also a former member of the People of Praise. I recently started a blog that you, or your husband may find helpful and interesting.

    http://www.thecultofpraise.blogspot.com/

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