This blog must begin with an obvious statement — I am near or completely stupid
most of a good portion of 99.9% of all of the time. This morning’s tale demonstrates that. Most of my blogs should start with that obvious statement. I will not ask for a vote, although I am sure that a vote on my level of competency will be a more sure vote for most people than the upcoming presidential election.
I am also going to ask any reader of this blog to visit this web site, study it a little if you have the chance, make your own decision (if that is necessary) about the organization that I encountered in this morning’s adventure. The web site is http://www.churchrepent.com .
As I have shared here in the past, I volunteer a few times a month as a parking lot attendant at my church, which for me means that I get to wear one of those nifty orange reflective vests and wave/smile/talk to people as they arrive for church services. It’s not much and I have done other things over the years that may have had more significance in the lives of others, but I seem to be a good fit for the parking lot guy gig. I want to do more, although some of what I have been allowed to experience in my life qualifies in the top ten of really deep spiritual service category. Mostly I have been a pretty average Christian though. I am not sure what that means. I guess that means that I have been comfortable.
According to what I was told this morning, comfortable = apathetic = enemy of God. It also means that I am not a true Christian. Comfortable is the unforgiveable sin. At least now I know. Stupid me, I should have realized that a long time ago.
If the Church Repent folks simply made it their mission to help Christians and churches to overcome apathy to make more of a difference in this world, then I would be applauding them and saying “More power to ya… er.. more of GOD’s power to ya!”. If they tried to accomplish that mission in a way that honors God rather than attack God’s people using God’s name as an excuse, then I would at least be a fan of Church Repent. What the Church Repent folks have done is replace God with an idol, a cause that has become their idol — to fight abortion by shaming the church into becoming activists against abortion. If you’re not picketing Planned Parenthood or protesting an abortion clinic, then you have no value.
One look at the Church Repent web site makes that very obvious. “Churches” (yes, they place that word in parentheses) who they have judged as shallow, who do not punish those who have had abortions, who do not condemn abortion in the way that Church Repent thinks is adequate — will be subjected to a protest. During that protest, Church Repent will treat the people of those “churches” as non-human, enemies — ironic if you think about it. Church Repent has made the fight against abortion their God Idol, reminding us that we need to value the lives of the unborn, yet the behavior that I witnessed and experienced this morning demonstrated that they do not apply that principle to the lives of the already born.. or born again even.
Stupid me also thinks that you can reason with lunatics. I’m still stupidly naïve that way. My first expectation is that everyone, for the most part, is going to behave reasonably.
Is that wrong?
Back to Steve the Parking Lot Guy story. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and warm, a slight breeze that cooled pleasantly . Our church has an east parking lot and a west parking lot. I man the east lot, a bit tricky because it has only one entrance/exit as well as being close to the traffic light and intersection that most use to get to the church building. This morning, the lot filled for the early service, then filled again for the second service. Getting out of the parking lot after each service was challenging, although I am always amazed at the way each driver politely takes turns as they leave. I guess I shouldn’t be. It’s church, after all.
My friend and co-attendant, Mark, arrived at our parking attendant posts a few minutes before the early church service concluded. I removed the “Parking Lot Full” sign from the entrance, took my spot in front of the first aisle to monitor the parade of vehicles out of the lot. As we took our spots, two men and a woman walked along the front of the lot, next to the street, set up signs that featured fetuses in the womb as well as a list of condemnations for those who do not take a stand for the unborn. Two men stood at the corner, at the light and intersection that people take to get to the church building, and began shouting through a bull horn at the cars and people as they entered, and soon after as the cars/people left. The woman positioned herself about 20 feet from me, at and in the driveway that cars used to get in and out of the east parking lot. She immediately began yelling condemnations, holding a pamphlet while trying to get cars to stop and take from her. At times, she walked directly into the path of a car to stop it.
Before she took her spot, I received a call on my walkie talkie for help with a situation in the west parking lot. Apparently, one the Church Repent protestors, a young man holding a large fetus sign, decided that he should protest next to the door where people were exiting to the west parking lot. Adding to the issue was the fact that the west lot is where many of the young families with children park. So my co-attendant high tailed it to the west lot.
Right after that is when the chaos started at the lot I was tending. I was by myself, with raging lunatics on a bull horn causing a disturbance at the street corner in front of the lot, and an insane woman ranting 20 feet away from me, calling people evil and sinful, surely everyone in our church were Pro Choice, something she kept screaming as the people and cars passed. People coming out and in their cars were confused, some wondering why our church would stage a protest like that. I did my best to explain that this was not something that our church was doing or supporting. But it looked that way.
Yes, that bothered me, maybe more than anything else.
Confronting these people would be foolish. I called at least five times on my walkie talkie for security. No one answered. So I did a foolish thing. I walked up to the woman who was screaming at the parking lot entrance, asked her if I could speak with her. She ignored me. I put my right hand on her left arm, hoping to get her attention. The woman screamed that I was attacking and assaulting her. As calmly as I could, I asked her to stop blocking traffic and if she would kindly join the men who were protesting on the corner. Instead, she screamed that she had a right to be where she was at, refused to move, and I had no right to ask her to leave.
OK. She was right that she was on a sidewalk and on public property. I could not make her leave. I asked her if her and her friends had talked to anyone at our church, with any church leader or staff member, before the protest. I knew the answer to that one. No. She confirmed than, then shoved a pamphlet in my face, which I took as I walked away.
I would like to say that I completely hid my displeasure. I didn’t. I didn’t yell or scream either. Let me tell you this — it was really difficult to keep from losing it. But I had done a very stupid thing by first touching the woman with my hand, then confronting her with those questions. These people were looking for conflict. They were looking for a fight. Unwittingly, I had given them a target for that conflict.
Security finally showed up. They asked me to stand near the woman, make sure that traffic kept moving into the parking lot, which I did but with my back to the woman. There is always a lull between services, when most of the early service traffic has cleared and before the people coming to the late service begin to show up. Due to the disturbance, people were late leaving, so I was kept busy directing traffic as people left the parking lot. However, traffic coming in was light and as the amount of cars leaving dwindled, the protestors turned their attention to me. Police had shown up and made them put away their bullhorns, but the were able to yell insults at me from the corner.
“Hey comfortable parking lot man in your important orange vest. You think your comfortable life watching your kids play football and taking them to Disneyland is such a good thing. You are a sinner, a worker of iniquity.” They quoted their version of a passage from Psalms, apparently justifying their worker of iniquity accusation. “You brutalized and abused our sister. You know nothing of God and he hates you. You are an pathetic apathetic mess and not worthy of being called a son of God.”
I am not making this up. The woman chimed in.
I ignored them, kept being Mister Parking Lot Guy. It was stupid, really. I should have just left. A large part of me wanted to, but a part of me wanted to stay there to explain to the confused people walking in that our church had absolutely nothing to do with the rude protest.
A man in a red tee shirt, one of the protestors and apparently the leader, joined the woman and started yelling insults at me, telling me that I had abused the woman and was not a Christian, not even worthy to direct traffic in a church parking lot. He took a spot on the sidewalk across from me, threatening me, telling me that if I did not apologize to the woman, he was going to call the police and say that I had abused her.
During that whole time, I said nothing except once to tell the man that I would not be drawn into their fight. Yes. It was stupid of me to stay. I should have just walked away. By that time, the lot was almost full and my duties were done. But the man kept threatening to call the police unless I apologized. So I walked to within a few feet of them, and apologized for asking the woman to leave. Then I did go back inside the building, as the man continued to yell insults at my back. I didn’t look at him, just kept walking. When I got to the front door, I turned around as the man was dialing his cell phone. He called the police.
I guess it’s OK to lie if you think it helps your cause. They told the policeman that I had grabbed the woman and dragged her down the sidewalk towards the corner. They told the policeman that they wanted to press assault and battery charges against me. They told the policeman that they had video to prove it and would post it on YouTube to prove it.
Yeah, the woman had a GoPro around her neck. It would take a real creative edit to prove what they were claiming. The policeman told me that he had serious doubts that they would even produce the video that they claimed they would produce.
I had parked my car in the west lot. I walked out to my car to the taunts of the protestors, calling me an abuser and saying that I should apologize for my actions. Instead of going to my car, friends picked me up and took me a few blocks away. They waited for a few minutes, then another friend brought my car to me. We didn’t want to risk the Church Repent lunatics getting my car’s license number. Who knows if they would show up at my house?
So, there is my crazy day. Crazy people. It’s a crazy, mixed up world and it’s just getting worse.
Apparently, if you aren’t willing to join their club, pay their dues, follow their rules, then you are only worth a damnation.
There is a lot more I can say, but I have already said enough that is judgement of the Church Repent protestors.
If you are interested, here are a few pictures of the pamphlet they were passing out. There actually is a little bit of sense to it, in between the crazy.