OK, I probably shouldn’t have dropped the F-bomb.
But there they were, telling me I’m going to hell because I have a beer in my hand.
I’m walking along, minding my own business, looking at the merchandise in the tents at Bele Chere, and I hear someone with a megaphone (because shouting doesn’t irritate people enough, I guess) saying the woman with the beer is a hopeless sinner and headed to hell.
My first thought was that this person knows nothing about me. He doesn’t know I’m a Christian, he doesn’t know about my work advocating for people in need, he doesn’t know anything about me.
“You are SO F*%(ing obnoxious!” I yelled in his general direction.
“Well, if you don’t like what I’m saying, you can move on,” he answered. “But I’m talking about your soul!”
Yeah, right. You’re seeking attention, hoping to offend people so someone will say you can’t use your megaphone to spoil people’s day. Then you can pretend to be persecuted.
I hollered back: “I can move on but these poor merchants can’t. They have to listen to your crap AND lose business because of you.”
These guys are effin’ obnoxious.
They aren’t even from Asheville; most of them travel from place to place trying to make trouble so they can say Christians are persecuted. They crave attention and there’s nothing Christian about their actions.
I guess part of why it annoys me so is that I grew up among their ilk in a very fundamentalist church, where hatred was practiced every week.
When my best friend got pregnant out of wedlock and lost a set of twins in her seventh month, she was told, “See? God punishes.” Her father was chastised for not being able to control his daughter.
They hated gays, of course, and they hated the “godless gooks” (right from the pulpit) in Vietnam. They hated everyone who didn’t agree with them.
They sent children out into downtown areas to hand out religious tracts and “witness.”
That’s what this harassment of festival-goers is about. It’s called “witnessing,” which they do because Jesus told his followers to be a witness.
You can be a witness by allowing people to witness you behaving in a manner that befits followers of Christ. Help the poor. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemy.
I would say standing on a street corner telling people they’re going to hell by screaming it through a megaphone isn’t exactly Christlike.
And normally, I wouldn’t even acknowledge their presence, but I’m tired of them.
Two years ago I was with my niece and her two kids when we approached Pack Square, and there they were, screaming about illicit sex. My 3-yer-old grand nephew wanted to know what he was talking about.
Really? I came out for a fun family day and I had to try to explain this nut to my little grand-nephew.
Last year, I stopped at a merchant and wound up leaving without buying anything because I couldn’t stand the hate coming out of the megaphone set up right next to the merchant. I apologized to her as I left and she said she understood.
So, these clowns are costing local merchants business, but they have a right to use a megaphone to spew hatred while families try to enjoy a day at a downtown festival.
It’s not the beer making this event unpleasant for families. I’m just sayin’.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.