A friend (I’ll call her RZ) made a comment on Facebook in response to my voicing my opinion about Pastor Smith’s message of hate on the church billboard and in his sermon.
I’ve known this woman for many years through our sons who attended some of the same schools. It’s no surprise to RZ that she has a reputation as an outspoken parent regarding issues focused on improving the schools and education. I’ve had my moments, as well, and I’m glad to find people speaking up about issues on behalf of positive change.
That is why I was (sort of) surprised to read her short message when she suggested I “take a deep breath.” I had to shake my head at her comment and wonder, is that the only response you can come up with after seeing this church billboard message? Others have had opposite reactions: some locals told me how they thought the same as I did when they saw the sign.
RZ, it’s not a matter of taking a breath. I sat on this issue for a couple days as I considered how to approach the glaringly prejudice undertones of this pastor’s hostile message. I would suggest you read what I wrote about the offensive messages advertised by this church/pastor. I researched the issue and found various leaders’ opinions (including two popes). I can’t say the same about this pastor who chose to apply broad strokes of hateful generalizations in his incendiary sermon.
A mensch and a mitzvah
Jesus (a Jew, his church should be reminded) offered a message of being kind to one another. You don’t need to bow to one person’s God or another’s to appreciate any person who has a kind heart. My family would call this being a mensch; being a good human, regardless of your religious beliefs, your skin color, your age, your marital status, your politics, your income, your country. And that he expected nothing in return for his kindness and generous spirit can be considered a mitzvah and a blessing.
From what I have learned about Jesus and his intentions, he was a person who did something for the sake of doing what’s right and helpful. I rather think, a person with that character (and they are rare) wouldn’t want generous actions of the heart and spirit to be ruled by dogma that boosts a limited selection of like-minded devotees while injuring too many others. Didn’t a warning light turn on in Smith’s conscience as he moved forward with such brutal descriptions of an entire population? I wonder, did any of Smith’s flock question the stereotypical propaganda? Did anyone speak up and say it’s not right or moral to state such negative stereotypes? Did any parent tell their child not to treat people with such a lack of civility?
This pastor’s message does not reflect any sort of mutual respect or anything that would inspire cooperation and hope. Instead, Pastor Smith’s path appears to be one of advertising vile behavior. If a child watches their parent being mean to someone, would you expect a child to act differently than how they are taught by example? Smith’s words encouraged his flock to bulk a population of people into tiny categories inaccurately labeled as people who lie. (In case you didn’t read it already…) His message—based on his sermon quoted in my blog and on the church website—is that Jews are evil, wicked murderers. I can’t fathom how this type of negative behavior could be considered to be Christ-like. Can you?
As I mentioned elsewhere, what if you changed the word from Jew to…well, anything else:
- “Justice mocked by the Christians.”
- “Justice mocked by Canadians.”
- “Justice mocked by the Muslims.”
- “Justice mocked by anyone with red hair or blue eyes or someone who eats pancakes.”
Again, this is not a matter of taking, as you said, a deep breath. The only benefit to seeing his message posted on a public sign is knowing he is insulting Jews to their face and he’s not concealed behind a mask while spitting on their backs.
Loud bitch? Or strong leader?
It is unfortunate, RZ, your comment reflects how little things have changed when a woman has an opinion and chooses to voice her opinion. In today’s world, a woman expressing her opinion is considered a loud bitch—who should take a breath?—while a man doing the same is considered a strong leader. They used to call women with opinions, hysterical. (RZ, you know me better than that)
This is a matter of pointing out something that is—at its very foundation—wrong and hurtful with the potential of creating divide. Haven’t we all (all the people of the world) had enough of that behavior? If you hold a flame under a piece of paper, it is going to burn. When someone acts like this pastor—this “man of God”—to insult and demean and reinforce stereotypes and lies, why expect the object of his negativity to roll over and do nothing? Every step toward change starts with someone taking a small step, and this is mine.
If I appear upset by this blatant endorsement of hate, it is because it is frustrating to witness how someone in a position of influence (over numerous adults and too many children in the church school) appears to be propagating hate in the world my children will inherit. It saddens me that this is how this pastor chooses to evangelize church passersby and maintain his grip on his flock. Instead of opting to promote the positive messages offered by Jesus, Pastor Smith has opted to apply Machiavellian tactics; choosing to fuel his followers’ fears and perpetuate fallacies and stereotypes that can only cause harm to the subject of his contempt.