The preaching is getting worse. Forever, maybe longer, subway preachers have roamed from car to car, warning of brimstone and hellfire, admonishing commuters to get to know Jesus, and sometimes handing out their little palm cards geared towards the hurting and the fearful.
More and more these days they have added something to their shtick, speaking to current events, often with an overtly political bent.
This morning a woman came in preaching the America was chosen by God and had better not forsake him. She had a litany of concerns about how religion is being banished from public life in this country (the irony of her screaming this in public was obviously lost on her) including a claim that George Bush is not going to swear in on the Bible when inaugurated.
I ready to say something when she started preaching about America being blessed and the rest of the world needing the light that America can cast on it. I was going to tell her how outrageous that is and talk about all the crimes the US has commit around the world. But I had no idea she would find the words to sanctify the suffering caused by the Tsunami. The Tsunami victims were apparently killed because they worship cows, sell kids for sex for $35, and have rejected the book of the bible.
Before I knew it I was yelling, and flushed with emotion. I told her that I had never heard of a more cruel, more cold-hearted, more hateful, vengeful, and ugly version of religion to justify the pain of millions and the death of so many tens of thousands. That if her god caused all that he was indeed and awful god, not an awesome god. In fact, the suffering was in large part caused by the fact that the people affected couldn't get the warnings that SCIENCE had provided. Science, that is under attack right now by her hateful version of Christianity. And that kids in those countries weren't being sold for sex because people didn't believe in Jesus - that didn't save all those little Catholic kids from the priests - but because her “god blessed” America and other imperialist powers had so exploited and impoverished these countries for so long that people were reduced to that for survival.
A man on the train had been speaking in agreement with me as I went, and when I was done he could tell I was shaking and told me that I said what needed to be said. He had been agreeing with me as I spoke, but now he pointed out to me that I had actually driven her from the train.
Every day almost thousands of us listen to this preaching in silence. Every time I have ever spoken up against it there have been people who thank me, some who start going at it as well. One time a woman got up out of her seat after I spoke and told the guy, who was preaching that people get AIDS because of their sins of being gay, that he better get off at the next stop. He did, because it was clear that she was not just asking.
I think it would be a very good thing if more people did this. Not just telling preachers to shut up, but challenging what it is they are saying, pointing to the real causes of the problems they are speaking about and pointing out how their brand of religion (not to condemn all religion) is actually standing in the way of solving those very problems. I always also throw in that I don't believe in any god - because I don't.
btw, here's a piece worth reading about the Tsunami for real: