Shameful Intolerance at the Rose Parade   Leave a comment

It was a beautiful day for the Parade of Roses in Pasadena, California this year, and also a day that gave the Occupy Movement an opportunity to share their passions and complaints with what was perhaps a new audience. Unfortunately, the otherwise great day – both for the parade and for Occupy, couldn’t overcome the ignorance and even hatred of a small percentage of the onlookers. Even sadder, was the fact that some of the hatred was coming from those claiming to be Christians.

Let’s start with the locals. I suppose they came for one experience, and ended up with an additional experience. It wasn’t a “bait and switch”, it was only an unexpected ending to the event. (The Occupy protestors with their police escorts, followed in the trail of the floats, and didn’t interrupt the parade in any way.)

Maybe that caused bouts of irrationality. In any case, many people in a youtube video who voiced an opinion about the Occupy protestors didn’t really rise to the occasion. One guy in an LA Dodgers shirt shouted “Stop complaining and start working!”, and another gave the “thumbs down” sign. Another older guy with a sinister grin just gave the cameraman the finger. Another using a rolled up newspaper as a megaphone yelled, “Get a job!” Yet another held up a sign “Obnoxious, Whiners & Slackers.” Warren Jensen, actually gave a brief interview: “I think it’s ridiculous. They should put as much effort into getting a job as they’ve … out here not working. [The ellipsis is his, not mine.] I think they’re spending a lot of time wasting time getting out of doing things instead of doing things they should be doing.” Well put Warren! I couldn’t have said it better myself! (Well, actually, I wouldn’t have said it, and I do have some problems with what you said.) For instance, what makes protesting problems in our society so ridiculous? Is that what you said during the Civil Rights Movement? Is it time “wasted” to try to communicate with people (like you) who apparently don’t know what is going on, just what IS going on? Suppose there is actually a problem – or even quite a few problems in our beloved country. Isn’t it good if someone makes some noise about those problems?  And why do you and the shouters assume that the protestors don’t have jobs? You’re not working either at the moment – does that mean you don’t have a job? What “should they be doing” instead of this “waste of time” that would please you? Maybe they should have just stayed home on their fannies watching the Rose Parade on television. Would that be considered a better use of time by you? Have you thought lately about what it means to live in a democracy?

I wish that were the worst of it, but on top of being disappointed by someone from my home state of Ohio, I was grieved  by others claiming to share my faith – claiming to be Christians. (They were dressed more like Hell’s Angels or Guardian Angels – some kind of angels, but they didn’t act like angels, or Christians, or even nice people. They acted like ignorant, hateful bigots, and in the process – even though they were a small minority of the people present, made me and every other person who professes faith in Jesus Christ look bad.

This is what the “angels” spokesman was yelling, “You guys are nothing more than communist revolutionaries. The jig is up. We know who you are. You people need to occupy a jail cell.” On their t-shirts the message emblazoned, “JESUS said, he that believeth not shall be damned.” Really “believeth”? That’s how you tough guys talk?

Now, Christians do believe that people need to believe something and in someone – yes, actually Jesus. But most Christians believe in showing respect to others in the process, speaking to them in a gentle, respectful, considerate, caring way. Along this line, the Bible instructs Christians to  always [be] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (If that’s not the way Christians have treated you, I apologize for them as well.) If these shouters had read even one book in the last 25 years about speaking to others about their faith, they would have known that their approach was block-headed, shameful and doomed – doomed, not only to be ineffective, but offensive and counterproductive. What they did brought shame, not only upon them, but upon the church of Jesus Christ at large, and that’s just sad. (I had a Christian friend who would wear a t-shirt somewhat like these guys were wearing. It said, “Turn or Burn!” I always thought that it was more about his pride and (immature) zeal than about any real concern for others. He wasn’t effective either – but he didn’t care. Probably another point of contact with the L.A. “angels.”)

I have to end with just a few more questions for these men with the shirts and signs. Are you so all knowing that you can see there are no Christians among the protestors? And who made you the judge? And what about not throwing the first stone – or trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye when there is a plank in your eye? (Jesus warned against that.) In other words, take a look at your own behavior and be humbled before God, and let that humility inform your approach to others. And what makes you think you can tell that the Occupy protestors are communists. Again with the bigotry and ignorant slurs – but even more than that, since when did being a communist in this country become a crime? Your assumptions show us all “who you are” and it’s your “jig” that is “up.” You apparently want a country where everyone has to believe like you do – or else be jailed. As I asked Warren Jensen, “Have you thought lately about what it means to live in a democracy?”

Can you hear the “Lord Jesus Christ” (whose name is written large on your signs) weeping over your behavior? Just listen.

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