Christianity Johnson on 19 Aug 2008 12:05 am
I went to an amusement park this past weekend. After parking, I walked to the tram that carried me to the front gate of the park. While on the tram, they played a tape that summarized park policies. This press release demonstrates the policies of a typical American amusement park:
In particular, this policy was given special emphasis on the tram ride:
Clothing with rude, vulgar or offensive language or graphics is not permitted at any time (shirts cannot be turned inside out as a solution)… Park admission may be denied if clothing is deemed by management to be inappropriate.
Policies like this are reassuring. Why would I want to have my trip to the amusement park disrupted by oafs wearing intentionally offensive apparel?
I was therefore shocked to walk into the park as an atheist and to be confronted at every turn by religion. Religious clothing was everywhere.
But the thing that was even more ubiquitous than the religious clothing was the crucifix. Crucifixes are worn on necklaces by men and women alike. In a typical visit to an amusement park, I imagine that the average visitor sees hundreds of crucifixes.
It is amazing that crucifixes are allowed in an amusement park that has a dress code. The reason is simple: crucifixes are highly offensive to anyone who is not a Christian. A crucifix is no different in its impact than a Nazi Swastika or a Confederate Flag.
Why are crucifixes so offensive? Because people who wear a crucifix are making the following statement:
“Anyone who does not believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection like I do will be sent to Hell â€“ a place of unimaginable torture â€“ for eternity. By wearing this crucifix, I publicly affirm my approval of this form of unending torture. Believe what I do, or you will writhe in Hell forevermore.”
That is the core message of the crucifix, and what a lovely message it is. It has even been proclaimed by Texas Governor Rick Perry according to this article: “those who don’t live their life in accordance with Christian values are ‘going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket.’”
The problem with the message is twofold. First, the wearer is proclaiming that eternal, unimaginable torture is acceptable. The repugnance of this proclamation is obvious. Second, the message separates Christians from non-Christians and then declares non-Christians to be sub-human animals deserving of such torture. The implicit Christian mindset thus becomes: If my “God”/”Father” despises non-Christians this much, why should a follower of God be required to extend any sort of respect or dignity to non-Christians here on earth? Why not begin the torture now?
It would be easy at this point to ask the obvious question: Why would Christians sign up for such a repulsive belief system? But there is no way to explain this. Christians always defend their beliefs, no matter how twisted, using some sort of bizarre logic. The story of Noah’s Ark is a perfect example of the process.
So instead we should ask this question: Why should Christians be allowed to display a message that is this cruel, ridiculous and offensive in a public place like an amusement park? Isn’t it time for non-Christians to acknowledge the message of the crucifix, and to ban the display of such an offensive symbol?