Don’t Do Me No Favours!14 April, 2008
Over the past three months or so, I have been asked three times (by three different people (and two of them on the SAME FUCKING DAY!!!)) if I have been saved (see my posts An Attempted Drive By Saving and A Nancy Kerrigan Moment). I am still trying to get my little mind wrapped around the question, “Why do people (Christians) think this is acceptable?” While lying in bed last night (enjoying the pleasant afterglow of a Red Sox defeat of the Yankees), I (in my mind, at least) added another layer to the explanation. I realized that those rude, obnoxious proselytizing asshats actually think they are doing me a favour. Here’s how it works:
Billy Baton and his wife, Susie (nee Snowflake), have a wonderful life. He sells insurance and spends much of every Sunday in church. Susie stays home, takes care of the four kids, shuttles them back and forth in her minivan and, in addition to Sunday, volunteers about fifteen hours a week at the church. They are happy to devote about one hour in fifteen to the church because they know (KNOW!! mind you) that they have the one and only key to eternal salvation in the entire universe and they also know (KNOW!!) that every single other person on earth is doomed to eternal damnation.
The idea that all these other people, these otherwise wonderful people (well, some of them, anyway), are going to hell because they don’t love the right God in the right way for the right number of hours makes them feel uncomfortable. In fact, this little problem of the lost souls troubles them. Billy Baton, though, knows how to make himself feel better and, at the same time, help the lost souls — he asks friends and family (and the occasional total stranger) if he (or she) has been saved.
Billy knows that he is not intruding into a private (or semi-private) area. He is not being rude to acquaintances or strangers. He is, in fact, doing them a favour. After all, if Billy Baton can help just one person, just one sinner, see the light and accept Jesus Christ as his personal friend, saviour, and ruler, then he has just saved one soul from an eternity of fire, ice, listening to George Bush speeches, staring at nude pictures of Dick Cheney (or Nancy Reagan), pools of acid (not the good acid, either), and the smell of feces, fire and brimstone. More important to Billy Baton, though, is the ease it provides his mind — he tries to help the lost, but they won’t listen. Now he won’t be wracked by guilt up in heaven singing Hossanah’s and eating Jello and whipped cream deserts.
My wife has a wonderful comeback for people like Billy Baton (or his vaccuous wife Susie): “I am saved. I’m an atheist” (or some variation on that theme). I’m thinking, though, that the next time I am asked (and I’m sure it will happen again (people seem to think I look like I need to be saved, I guess)) “Are You Saved,” I will look at them and say: “I know you think you are doing me a favour by giving me the opportunity to avoid hell. But you are not. You are being rude and intrusive and are making my life here on earth hell.” Nah. My wife’s reply is still better.
Letting my mind wander at night, though, did help me come up with more explanatipons as to why Christians proselytize. I know they aren’t supposed to keep their light hidden under a bushel basket, but that has always seemed like an incomplete explanation. That the proselytizer may think he is doing a favour for the proselytizee adds to the explanation. That proselytizing may help assuage the bad feelings for the punishment all of us non- (or wrong-) believers will suffer also adds to it.
Reading this over, I arrive at the conclusion that proselytizing is, at least in some part, a selfish act. Yes, the Christian thinks he (or she) is doing me a favour when they try to save me from hell and for god. But he is also clearing his conscience — he tried, I wouldn’t listen, its not his fault I’m gonna burn in hell forever.
What a wonderful attitude. Makes me glad to be an atheist.