Every person is unique, thank goodness, and by being individual, each person has the potential of offering something wonderful to their family, friends, community, country and the human race. This week, I have been writing about how a local pastor has been promoting messages that divide and categorize people. (Today is the second part of Pastor Mark Smith’s sermon “Justice Mocked by the Jews.”) And as I further contemplate how his actions, his choices, lay the groundwork for anti-Semitism and hate in my community, I realize how much I feel sorry for him and the people to whom he preaches.
Yesterday, I wrote about how he separates people into those who are saved by Jesus, and those who are not. The latter group, he insists, ultimately will be damned if they do not believe what he does; what his church believes. If that is one’s belief, then one has the right to adhere to that belief…as long as one does not force that belief onto someone else, or intentionally hurt others in the name of said belief.
“Keep in mind that when public figures get in trouble for something they said, it is usually not because they misspoke, but because they accidentally told the truth.”
–David Carr, New York Times writer
Just when you think you are making progress to get people to see things from a different perspective, your faith in people’s fair play, decency and altruism is tested…and disappointed. After I (and other people) complained about the Anti-Semitic tone of the sermon title on the billboard facing out onto a busy intersection in front of Berean Baptist Church in Rohnert Park, the title, “Justice Mocked by the Jews,” was changed to “Fundamentals of the Faith.” I’m so very sad to say, the antagonistic sermon title has returned for part 2 of this sermon scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 15. Continue reading →
“It is our belief that every kindness, every moment of empathy and compassion, every act of true sharing, elevates humanity’s potential and all of our actions are aimed to influence the progress of our world. “
On a brighter note…Hope is a wonderful elixir. No matter how malicious some people can be or how cruel they can treat one another—regardless of that behavior occurring in your own neighborhood or in another country—it is profoundly refreshing to learn about people whose life mission is to improve the world, strengthen community and lay the foundation for a more cooperative, thoughtful, creative, generous future.
I am speaking of StayUNITED: an organization created by two people who discovered they shared the common goal—the hope—of finding ways to improve the world. They didn’t act to prove their devotion to one faith over another; rather, for they created their own journey to do what they can to help others while inspiring more people to do the same. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
I’m more of a secular Jew than religious. I am married to a Methodist man and we have raised our children Jewish. I’m a native Californian, and I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of my life. My mom grew up in San Francisco in the Marina and doesn’t remember experiencing much bigotry. My New Yorker dad was raised in the Bronx of New York City where he thought everyone in the world was Jewish. When he was very young, his filter of the world was shattered one Easter when a gang of Catholic kids crossed a big boulevard and entered his neighborhood with clear intent to hunt for Jewish kids walking alone. My father was beaten up for being a “Christ killer.” He was called many names, including “Kyke.”
I remember my own early Easter experience when I came home from school and asked my mom if the Jews killed Jesus. Continue reading →
“Justice Mocked by the Jews. Pt. 1.” That is the Berean Baptist Church’s disturbing message posted on its billboard facing traffic on one of the busiest corners in my town. If you visit their website, you will see this is the topic of two Sundays’ sermons (Feb. 8 and 15, 2015). They have also posted the following excerpt (http://www.bbaptist.org/) from Pastor V. Mark Smith’s sermon:
“There is not a whole lot more that can be deduced from the Jews’ determination to murder Christ other than Continue reading →