Wow. There’s just so much to write about these days. Let’s start here: Someone (thanks, Mel!) sent me a link to this story about Daryl Banther and his 8-year-old son. The poor guy. He just wanted to hand out pamphlets and religion “surveys” to unsuspecting festival-goers in Georgia. But the cops chased him away.

Now he’s considering suing the city of Ringgold, GA, because, as he says, “I have rights…They’ve taken all the Christian rights away.” He used the example of an atheist at a football game. If the atheist doesn’t like the prayer being said, “they can get it taken out of the football game.”

Of course, if they were praying to Allah at a football game, we know he’d be the first one on the ground, throwing a hissy. He just doesn’t get it.

What evangelicals fail to understand is that their beliefs are personal.  Hello. Like a favorite football team. Like a favorite restaurant. Like a favorite brand of deodorant. I don’t want him rubbing his deodorant on me or my kids. (I know, eeeew.) I bet you don’t either.

Thing is, he’s not really doing any harm. Not really. He’s more of just a pest, like a fruit fly, only bigger and hairier and waaay more annoying.

This whole situation is funny to people like us: the guy wants an apology. And he’s gonna come back, whether we like it or not. He thinks he should be allowed to pedal God. In a way, I agree with him. But there’s an appropriate time and place for that. He can stand in his own yard and do that, though if he were my neighbor, I’d have to move. Hell, we all, as tax-payers, even provide him with a place to meet with fellow “persecuted” Christians: his church. They can stand in front of their church and wave folks in like the wacky wavy-arm guy.

But here’s what is really sad: This guy and his kid have been conditioned to believe it’s not only their right, but their duty to pimp for the divine trifecta. And he can’t understand anything else. You’ve seen that illusion of a young and the old lady, right? Well, some people, no matter how hard they look, they can only see the old lady, not the young one. Or vise versa. Their brains are just stuck in one gear. Is that his fault?

Do we lock this guy up for being an almighty dumb-*ss or do we have a little sympathy for the poor fool and the son he’s raising?  Hmmm.


33 responses to “Evangelizing

  1. I try to tell my kids that their personal rights end when someone else’s rights are infringed upon. And it’s okay if someone wants to hand me a pamphlet, I’m an adult and I can say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But this dude was also using his kid to pimp his beliefs to other kids. And that puts adults in an awkward situation because that poor child is just doing what he believes to be his right and divine duty. And let’s face it, dude knows exactly what he’s doing by using his kid. He’s making it difficult for Adults to turn them away. I can only imagine how mortified he was to have the cops called. I mean, THE INDIGNITY! Those godless heathens tried to have me arrested in front of my kid.

    Whatever happened to taking responsibility for your actions, even if you believe you’re morally right? You’re infringing on my rights by shoving your beliefs down my throat. Dude, this is on you. Feel free to believe what you want, but if I ask you to back off, then maybe you should respect my rights and it’ll be easier for me to respect yours. /rant.

  2. You have an extremely interesting article. Proselytism is illegal in most Eastern countries. In fact, in some Eastern countries it’s illegal to observe or promote any religion than the religion of that country and is punishable by death in most cases. (America is an exception to the majority where freedoms are concerned.)

    I agree with you that these people practicing Evangelism, for the most part, have become a huge nuisance. A lot of the time they convey their messages with force, anger, hate, which gives their entire religion a bad name. However, when it comes to someone’s freedoms, their freedom of speech, and freedom to believe what they want and to practice what they believe (as long as it doesn’t cross certain boundaries [IE: the hate mentioned before is ridiculous and there is no excuse for it]).

    In other words, I think they should be allow to proselytize as long as it’s not forceful and that they can accept rejection from people in a mature way. There should be designated areas where Proselytism can take place away from where the major part of an event is taking place. That way people who don’t want to be disturbed can avoid such a disturbance. Finally, I think there should be a “proper channel” established for people who want to practice Proselytism, mainly getting proper permits through court and staying in the designated place.

  3. I went in to get lattes for my ex and I at a coffee shop once, and came out to find him cornered by three evangelists. They were literally yelling at him… I thought he was going to come up swinging. And he’s pretty pacifist. These three were downright in-your-face aggressive, because he said, “No thank you” to their offer to attend their service. Handing someone a piece of paper is one thing (wasteful, but relatively harmless)… getting agressive when refused is something else entirely, and completely violates “free speech.”

    I also would very much appreciate if they’d stop knocking on my door. It’s my home… their “free speech” ends at the beginning of my driveway.

    • The Truth Hurts

      Shanan, BEAUTIFUL !! I live next door to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

      They often gather in their suits and dresses, briefcases of crap literature in hand, on Saturday mornings to swarm on unsuspecting neighborhoods (majority *Christian* neighborhoods, which believe in a different set of fake rules & rituals in lieu of thinking!).

      It may be irritating if you actually want Girl Scouts selling cookies to ring your doorbell, but my city has a rule about unwanted soliciting at our doors. If you tape a piece of paper on/near your front door saying “No Soliciting per XYZ City ordinance 123.45,” the religious nuts can’t bother you. Check your local laws.

  4. Not very poetic or high-brow but I saw this and felt it applied: “Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around, and PLEASE don’t try to shove it down my children’s throats.”

  5. A few years ago I was approached by a woman while at the gas station. She said something like, “Can I talk to you about Jesus.” I said, “No thank you.” She then demanded, “Can I ask you why not?” Really, a complete stranger comes up to me, raises a topic and because I don’t want to discuss it demands to know why not. Using your example above of deodorant, we’d all be pretty creeped out by a stranger approaching and saying, “Hi, can I talk to you about X brand deodorant?” “No thank you.” “Can I ask you why not?” Yet when it’s about religion it’s supposed to be OK.

  6. If somebody at a festival tries to hand me a religious pamphlet, I smile, say no thank-you and move on. It’s not a problem. What this man was doing, from what I read, was targeting minors when their parents weren’t noticing. And asking the kids to provide personal info like addresses and phone numbers. No wonder he was reported to the police.

    I also read that there were two stages at the festival with groups performing gospel music. How unchristian of the town!

  7. Some people think that religion is a get-out-of-jail-free card…literally! Anything that they want to do in the name of religion, by which I mean Christianity in this country, Islam in others, etc., should be tolerated, if not outright promoted.

    The fair had procedures (or at least that’s what they say now, though it is not unreasonable to believe them) and these guys didn’t follow the procedures. But they think that because they’re preachin’ the gospel, the rules don’t apply to them.

    And if they don’t see the problem with asking people to give them, that is, total strangers, personal information, when then they’re just plain stupid. Too bad there are lawyers that will exploit them and the situation for private gain.

    Finally, this is a case of the most despicable kind of brainwashing and emotional abuse associated with religion. No 8yo boy wants to hand out pamphlets in a parking lot. What a young boy wants to do is hang out with his father and gain his father’s acceptance. It is so sad that the boy is doing this most likely out of emotional need for his father’s approval than for any real belief. But then again, I think that’s why any child follows his or her parents into religious observance.

  8. My sympathy stops right after he files suit, taking up court time and forcing a municipality to defend itself over his alleged persecution.

  9. Evangelizing is one up near the very top of my list of problems I have with a certain brand of religious folks. You know, you have a right to believe whatever you believe, but you DON’T have the right to impose it on me. (That’s me talking to them, in my head, anyway.) And as much as they cherish their “right” to “share” their beliefs with anyone within earshot, I don’t think they can honestly say that they would respect a non-believer’s right to evangelize their non-beliefs. I swear, it’s the reason I finally became so vocal about where I stand on matters of god and religion – because they won’t keep their traps shut, and I want equal air time, dammit.

  10. While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about missionaries!

  11. @Lisa, as I’ve noted on this blog before, I watch The Atheist Experience on YouTube and heard religious people complain about that show. You mention equal air time. Well, TAE is on a public access station in Austin, TX for one hour a week. Yep, one hour on public access, and people complain. Meanwhile, there are entire cable networks dedicated to religious causes (and monetary donations) running religious programming over cable 24/7/365.

    Forget about equal air time for now. The internet is changing that, though, so we have reason to be optimistic.

    Missionaries. My position on missionaries (pun intended) is rather complex. Some religious organizations go into poor nations to deliver tangible aid and when people ask, “Why do you do this?”, they can answer, “Well, let me tell you about Jesus.” OK, that isn’t totally the way I would do it, but if they let the people ask the question without prompting them, I say that’s ok. Not great, but ok.

    Other religious organizations go to these regions and make people listen to sermons or do bible study before they’ll feed them, and I can’t abide that. How people could hold food over people as a way to make them listen to their religious nonsense is beyond me and has to be the most un-xtian thing I can think of.

    And then there are the “vacation missionaries.” I teach in the deep South, and I’ll ask my students, “So what are you doing over Spring break?” One recently said, “Oh, I’m going on mission.” I follow up politely, “Oh, where?”, thinking Haiti, South America, or even Mexico. The response: “Italy.” Italy? She’s going on mission in Italy? WTF? She might have been a Mormon, but I don’t think so. I think this is the rise of vacation missions: no shots, no State Department warnings, no war-torn regions… Eating pasta for Jesus! Praise god!

    • @Anonymous….That’s a funny pun.

      Italy? What the heck? The cities there are far better off than most in the deep south here. Most citizens live very modestly, but you don’t see the poverty like you do here. And they’re Catholics. That just sounds like a trip that they can write off on their taxes.

  12. The term “secular” either means nothing to people of this ilk, or it is spit vehemently from pulpits as evil. And yes, I have heard this disdain for secularism personally.

    And I am sick of this fake “War on Religion (read: Christianity only)” or “War on Christmas”. It simply does not exist. But they are pushing it and pushing it, every time someone dares to suggest that, perhaps, the Founding Fathers they so worship DID want separation of church and state. Jefferson’s writings on the matter are crystal clear, as well as his general distrust of clergy and organized religion.

    Guaranteed, this blow-hard is pulling this public stunt just to prove to his brethren cronies what a fabulous Christian he is. Those who tout their faith the loudest are usually the biggest hypocrites around. Do I want to stop his freedom of speech? No. But public arenas are no place for religion, and I agree, if it had been a Muslim, he’d be running them out of town on a rail.

  13. I think that people like that kid and his father are doing what they believe to be absolutely necessary in light of the spiritual emergency they see going on around them. If they fully believe in the bible and the mandate it sets forth – “spreading the word”, and so forth – then everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus Christ is condemned to an eternity of torture. Putting aside the fact that we think this mindset is ridiculous, seeing it from their perspective convinces me that they think they’re doing the world a favor, and it’s out of love for one’s fellow man. I’m not defending it … but from their point of view they don’t have much of a choice.

    I also think – as you do – that they believe their religion to have special status in this country, as demonstrated by their complaining that their “rights are being taken away” at the first sign of having to play by the same rules as everyone else. My bet is that if they were to encounter Jews, Muslims, or people of other faiths on street corners doing the same thing, they wouldn’t necessarily have the same charitable outlook regarding their rights to proselytize.

    In the case of the Banthers, I don’t even think they were breaking the law as much as not complying with event rules of conduct:

    Ringgold city officials said in a statement that they have “established procedures” for participation at the event and “those exhibiting must have prior approval, and have a booth to operate the activity they are conducting.”

    If they had followed these rules, they could have stayed and done their soul-winning without a hitch. I see something similar at our state fair every year.

    • @Senator Jason I agree with you–I think they feel compelled to evangelize, but, while it may be “out of love for one’s fellow man” I also think it was because they learned that’s their way to salvation.

    • ” I think that people like that kid and his father are doing what they believe to be absolutely necessary in light of the spiritual emergency they see going on around them. If they fully believe in the bible and the mandate it sets forth – “spreading the word”, and so forth – then everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus Christ is condemned to an eternity of torture.”

      Which actually makes evangelizing a mostly selfish act because a great many of them are doing it to “prove” their love for god so their reservation behind the pearly gates isn’t cancelled.

      • I think it’s partly personal, but it’s also done as a way to publicly score points for “their side”. Being convinced that you’re a persecuted soldier in a spiritual war and the only hope for the fate of someone’s soul has a tendency to inflate the sense of ego and self-importance in a lot of people :-).

    • LanceThruster

      An old joke (with a ring of truth to it)

      A Christian missionary who, after delivering the good news to a pagan people, was asked, “If we did not know about Christ and Heaven, would we go to Hell?”

      The minister thought for a moment and said “No, not if you did not know.”

      “Then why did you tell us?”

    • The Truth Hurts

      Senator Jason,

      Most “believers of this blog/website” wouldn’t be commenting on your religious websites.

      There’s an extra cushy, white cloud and an oversized, golden harp waiting for you and your personal buddy, Jesus, to hang out on after you die. Trust me: you are really racking up extra points for trying to “win souls” in hostile enemy territory!

      • I’m not sure I understand your response. I’m not taking their side, only suggesting that from their point of view, there’s a huge spiritual “emergency” going on that they feel they have to respond to.

  14. As someone posted earlier – some use religion as an excuse for anything AND expect it to be accepted at face-value. Fortunately all my encounters with proselyters have ended after max three clear but polite refusals.

  15. LanceThruster

    I generally take everyone’s lit (“know your enemy” and all that) to see if I recognize the group and what their agenda is. It’s usually what a lowly worm I am as a human being and how getting right with their invisible buddy will fix that. My pal Bernie the Attorney says they’re like used car salesmen that only promise to deliver “the goods” after you die.

  16. I have sympathy for his son, not for this man. I can only hope that his son some day will turn his back on christianity and instead turn to reason, rationality, logic and science.

  17. I pity the son he is raising in such an unjust way. I’m sorry, but I know how traumatizing the church can be and to know there are children out there having this kind of nonsense fed to them against their will … isn’t that some sort of child abuse? I’m only sort of kidding, I will not judge others who chose to tell their children how to think, but I do feel sorry for the kid all the same.

    • @Rachel Me, too. I feel sorry for the kid. Imagine how embarrassing it must have been to have the police confront his dad. Just being dragged along seems so unfair.

      • That is so true, Deborah! I must admit, it is very embarrassing for a child to see their parent in legal trouble. I can’t imagine how this kid feels seeing his dad in trouble for religion based offenses. And, it sounds like the dad is being unreasonable about the whole situation anyway. We can only hope this child doesn’t learn from his examples.

  18. Wow, did you guys know that there is actually an organization called Recovering From Religion (http://recoveringfromreligion.org/)? I had never heard of it until someone mentioned it in a comment on my blog recently. It’s great to know that there is an organization out there like that, but also sad that there’s a need for it.

  19. Would the guy have been turned away if he was promoting the Atlanta Falcon, or the By Scouts? If so, he was rightly turned away. If not, then he should not have been turned away.

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