If we are to believe ancient, secondhand accounts, Jesus once said “Love your enemies.” Blissfully ignored by millions daily, this divine command for adversarial love is not easy, especially when you are facing the evil incarnate that we all try to avoid: the Salvation Army bell ringer.
Volunteer ringer Kristina Vindiola allegedly was attacked by a woman shopping at Wal-Mart in Phoenix for having the audacity to wish her happiness this holiday season. Unfortunately that happiness never materialized, as the shopper/vigilante Christian badgered the volunteer bell ringer by demanding, “Do you believe in God? You’re supposed to say ‘Merry Christmas’!” And in a fit of wonderful Christian irony and horrible Christian PR she slapped the well-wishing bell ringer.
Why do some Christians get it so wrong?
While the pugnacious Christian shopper is a bit of a rarity and a slap in the face to most Christians, this is what happens when Christians, currently about 80% of all Americans, are repeatedly told by Fox News (sic) and televangelists that they are actually under severe religious persecution. Someone will eventually believe that they really are a victim and want to fight back.
I think something deeper is going on: Hyper-intolerant Christians are facing an increasingly diverse America. The idea that more and more of their neighbors are normal, decent Americans AND don’t worship Jesus is deeply disturbing to them. They kind of like kidding themselves into thinking this was, is, and always will be a “Christian nation.” (The framers of the Constitution just forgot to mention Jesus—it’s more of a typo than an intentional omission.) Living a delusion is great for a while, but sometimes that little bit of irrationality can burst forth like the dramatic final act of Judas.
Now Judas purchased a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. —Acts 1:18
If they choose to selectively read their Jesus quotes, they could stop turning the proverbial other cheek and instead dwell on this gem:
Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. —Matthew 10:34
While completely ignoring this bipolar opposite sentiment:
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. —John 16:33
Christians who bristle at the phrase “separation of church and state” somehow think that the only good thing big government can do is pick religious winners and losers…as long as it’s their savior whose picture is hanging in the public high school’s Hall of Honor.
Sadly there is no commandment that unequivocally states: “Thou shalt not attack a volunteer raising money to feed and clothe the needy just because they wished that you would find some happiness in late December.”
And though it would have really clarified things for us, Jesus evidently never said, “Love your enemies unless they wish you ‘Happy Holidays.’ Then slap ’em. Slap ‘em good.”
Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.