Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Subway Preachers

Is it just me, or does anyone else find the people who preach religion on subways really offensive?

I mean, I get it that there's free speech and all, so legally there's no reason to make them stop, but morally I find the practice absolutely disgusting. There's a thing called freedom of religion, too, folks, but I think fewer people remember that nowadays.

Take today for instance. I was on a very crowded 6 train from Union Square, reading my book and thoroughly minding my own business. I had a seat, though, so I didn't mind the cramped car, and I was almost enjoying the ride to my school.

Then some loud asshole gets on at 42nd street, ranting about the Free Masons and the Illuminati and whatever, saying how they should hide because of something something, and true Christians shouldn't be afraid of them because they were pure and faithful, blah blah blah. Now, he, unlike some others, did not tell me I was going to hell, which I appreciated. But he was so goddamn loud that he made me feel like I was already there. When I got to my stop I bolted off that train like Satan's fire was at my feet.

There was another event on the E train one morning. It was very crowded (no surprise there) and all I wanted was to get the hell off. I had someone's ass in my face and another pressing into my shoulder from where I sat next to the door, and I was praying to my own special subway god that neither of them had eaten beans recently. From across the car I heard a woman's voice.

"Good morning, everyone!" she bellowed. "I am here to tell you about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..."

I think I groaned quite audibly as I mentally kicked myself for not having charged my iPod the night before.

On and on, she rambled, listing the multitude of ways one is refused from entering the Pearly Gates. That's it, I thought, I'm screwed. Luckily, I do not subscribe to a religious doctrine, so that means I'm all clear, right?

Not according to her. As much as she praised Jesus and spoke of his unending love for his children, she also said that sinners and nonbelievers were to burn for eternity.

That's what always gets me, and probably what bugs me so much about hearing these people preach. Although I am not a religious person, I am both aware and respectful of other beliefs. But when all you're telling me is that because I choose a different spiritual path I am to suffer in the flames of hell, I'm no longer sympathetic, just offended. I try very hard to keep an open mind when it comes to religion. Is it too much to ask you to do the same?

For this woman, clearly it was. After a while all her words began to sound like "Listen to me, for I am clearly superior." I, along with my fellow passengers, was getting to be very agitated, especially since the train was taking its sweet, delicious time getting to the next stop.

"All you need," the woman shouted, "is to embrace Jesus!"

"All we need is for you to shut up!"

The response came from beside me, a thirty-something businesswoman who was clearly even more frustrated than I was. All eyes went to her, and from somewhere in the crowded car I heard a few chuckles. But still, the preacher continued her sermon, despite how obviously unwanted it was. 

When we reached 53rd, there was a mass exodus from that E train. The doors opened and a sea of irritated commuters flooded onto the platform, leaving the woman in a nearly empty subway car with no real audience to speak of. I assume she continued, despite how few people were left to listen. I stepped onto the escalator and sighed. When the automated voice reminded me to "please be courteous to riders behind me" I smiled. That's the kind of preaching I don't mind. Because, hey, everyone needs be reminded to be courteous every now and again.

No comments:

Post a Comment