I once knew a woman named Erin, in a different Toastmasters chapter. Erin looked ravishing, so I was more than pleased when she finally gave me her number. But it only took one phone conversation to reveal her true nature. During this exchange, I mentioned my foreign friends in college–particularly from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand. When I told her they were Muslim and Buddhist, respectively, Erin loudly grunted. I asked her what was the matter, and she replied, “They don’t believe in Jesus Christ!”
Now this was a grown woman, about ten years older than I. She was a well-traveled Navy nurse. She was a very intelligent, professional, articulate person. But her spirituality had remained stagnate. There are alot of people like that here–Pensacola is known as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”. Erin had proclaimed, in her Toastmasters speeches, her rigid devotion to Christianity–so I should have known she was just another one of these people. Or maybe I did know, but was blinded by her outward appearance.
At 42, I have alot of regrets–most of them over things I did not do. And this is one of them–that when Erin said, “They don’t believe in Jesus Christ!” I didn’t say, “Well maybe Jesus Christ doesn’t believe in you!”
According to the Gospels, Jesus (who, I believe, had nothing to do with Christianity) despised bigotry–especially religious bigotry. Erin was a bigot–not because she was Christian, but because she dismissed anyone who wasn’t.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? We see this everywhere, especially on bumper stickers and T-shirts. And of course we don’t know the answer–we can only assume it, based on what Jesus allegedly did. Yet perhaps we should also ask, WHAT WOULD JESUS NOT DO? And based on what Jesus allegedly did not do, we can assume that he would not dismiss someone because that person didn’t share his beliefs.
In biblical terms, bigotry is a sin.