One of the things I do to track what’s happening with the various local iterations of our ministry is read through articles/blogs that are surfaced by Google Alerts. Each day, I get a sampling of the school papers, real papers, blogs and other online media in which Crusade is mentioned.
Most of them are very innocuous. A staff member or family keeping folk updated on what’s going on in life. Theological musings by people associated with the ministry. That sort of thing. Other stories are news coverage of outreaches or events. Sometimes people will do a story on something religious and get a quote from the local ministry leader.
I am always amazed at the way some of these devolve into ridiculous arguments about whether or not it’s OK for someone to espouse their beliefs in the presence of other people. Or for any religious group to make use of marketing that secular organizations have used for years. Now, I’m not saying that it’s wrong for atheists/freethinkers to have their say. Any more than it’s wrong for Christians, Muslims or Jews (or adherents to any other faith system) to post comments on blogs or articles by Atheists (or other forms of non-adherence).
What I don’t get is why we can’t allow space for others to state their beliefs without jumping directly into the “I’m so offended I must shout out my disgust to the world” reaction. The end result of these knee-jerk over reactions has been one of two things-
— both sides just get louder about which is the most offensive, OR
— one or both sides shut down
In either case, there is no constructive dialogue. We see this in conversations about religion, politics and subdivisions of both of those.
Sometimes I wonder if we all need to grow skin that is just a little thicker, even as we grow hearts that are much more attuned to the feelings of the “other” A little empathy and curiosity could go a long way.