Bible Says Spread the Word. Please. Don’t

My wife and I volunteer at a local food pantry.  While she and a few others spend time there nearly every day, the rest of the work is done by shifts of people who volunteer once every few months. It takes an army of people doing the unglamerous work sorting and lifting to keep that place going.  One could not find a better example of community goodness.

An interesting sidebar of the place is that the majority of workers are provided by churches.  Several churches volunteer to take a week where their members sign up to give their time.  On top of that, the churches do their own independent food collections and bring them to the Pantry.

There are also some people from the Freethinkers who volunteer.  There are not as many, of course, because there are not as many Freethinkers. 

And how do these people get along? Great.  There seems to  be an unwritten rule that no one wears their views about religion on their sleave, Freethinkers included. 

Contrast that with the evangelical soup kitichens where poor souls come to get something to eat.  They have to endure a sermon and prayers as their payment for the food.  Wouldn’t it be just as effective if the management would simply say, “This facility is provided by the — Evangelical Group”, and let it go at that?

The even bigger problem is that once a set of people has it embedded in their minds that they are to spread the word at  any and every occasion, the ability to turn if off when its inappropriate seems to be lost.  Every year new people are elected to office and carry this embedded idea with them, carrying on about how Christian they are and how they will bring this into office with them.

Please, check both your guns and religion at the door.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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8 Responses to Bible Says Spread the Word. Please. Don’t

  1. Avatar of Mac Mac says:

    Jon, there seems to be two types of people who are compelled to ‘spread the good news.’
    The one type seems take a more positive, broad-brush approach and speaks of or demonstrates the altruistic qualities of the Bible–compassion, acceptance, humility, thoughtful contemplation and so forth.
    The other type seems to take a more negative, shame based approach dwelling on sin, the need to acknowledge and repent, with the understanding that if this happens on a regular basis, you will be rewarded with eternal life in paradise. It’s also very important to this group that people be categorized by quantity and severity of sin.
    I like the first type much better.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Good observation, Mac. Both groups are trying to help. While the first group is less intrusive usually, it is not necessay to be a Christian to follow the qualities they believe are part of the Bible’s lessons.

  2. Avatar of Sundown says:

    Did it ever occur to you that maybe the people going to to the evangelical soup kitchen want to pray and hear a sermon from the Bible. I guess maybe if you are a “freethinker” you might consider hearing a sermon to be torture but not everyone does. I guess if they don’t want to hear a sermon they would be free to go to the other food pantry instead. Oh and I don’t check my guns OR my faith at the door.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Thanks for the comment. There are circumstances where people don’t have options, those at the soup kitchen, prisoners in the pen and military personnel doing service. In all of these constrained circumstances there are complaints about the presence of proselytizing. It’s my opinion that the Christian message would be better received if it were always optional. In larger cities, there are secular soup kitichens. From what I’ve read, there is never a lecture about why secular is better.

  3. sg says:

    I agree with Sundowner, and thank you for your comments. Jon, a prayer or a sermon is not a lecture. I volunteered at two shelters in Minneapolis, one for 3 years and one for 2 years. These were one (secular) and the second (Catholic). Surprising how many times a visitor would begin a prayer at the secular shelter, chanting sometimes would fill the room. Nothing was done to stop it, prayers were heard. At the Catholic shelter, prayers were said but not mandatory. As far as proselytizing – Christians are told to spread the good word of the Lord. There is no hammer over your head, beat it into the ground sort of thing that the good book teaches, and I don’t see that it is overbearing or even a constant in a shelter/soup kitchen, let alone a prison or in the military? My nephew has served 4 years now, he has not ever said that is a practice. Where do you get this stuff?
    Also, no, I won’t check my guns or faith at the door, either. The guns protect the faith, whether you have a belief in God or do not – as well as all of our other liberties. The founders knew that, that is why it is in the Constitution. Without the 2nd Amendment, the others would not exist for long.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      sg–I’m glad your nephew did not find any forced religion in his military experience. There are lawsuits and several organizations trying to halt forced Christian indoctrination in the military. One group fighting this is Atheists in Foxholes. There is a big dispute about such things at the Air Force Academy. My point is this. When there are circumstances where a person or group exercises power over others, it is unethical and/or morally questionable to introduce religious indoctrination. The soup kitchen is one such circumstance. Prisons and the military are others. Prayer in school was eliminated for just this reason. A teacher has power over students. It would be equally unethical if atheists ran the soup kitchen and stood up before a meal the explained why there is no god and the clients had to listen or go hungry.

  4. Jason Schoenack says:

    I agree with Jon. To be fair, it seems, at least to me, that the secular position is the fair and just position to take when you have a captive audience, like in a prison, or in a soup kitchen, when the audience doesn’t have a choice in the matter (hear it or starve). It’s like the religious folks are sort of taking advantage of the situation by commissioning themselves to preach to all within earshot in these situations.
    I say keep the sermons optional. Would you rather catch fish honestly with a hook and bait, or just shoot them in a barrel?

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