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.
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 →