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Jay Chrisman

Daily acts, not dogma,
are better gauge of faith

On American Airlines flight 34 on Feb. 6, pilot Rodger K. Findiesen asked Christians to identify themselves and then told passengers that they should discuss the religion. As odd as it sounds, it doesn't surprise me.

Last year, while at Magoo's partaking in some post-finals celebration, I noticed a table with five beautiful girls flirting in my table's general direction. Here's where a lot of liquid courage steps in -- I went over and started a conversation.

After a few minutes, they asked for my religious affiliation. That's when I realized they were being nice to me for a reason. For the next 15 minutes they tried to use sex appeal and guilt to lure me to Sunday Mass.

And then there's the Campus Center Christians, trying to convert you with free chili, sodas and music. That's OK, I don't mind a free lunch. But I don't like the appeal.

Just look at Christianity as a product. I mean think about it; they come to the Campus Center, they knock on your door, they try to infiltrate your mind just like any corporation.

Nike gets free advertising every time you put on a piece of its clothing. Christianity is brought to you by your friends at the Campus Center Board, Mel Gibson, Hollywood, the press and even those rock bands that try to disguise their lyrics so you'll still listen.

A few weeks ago my friend was lured to a Battle Royale concert. Although Battle Royale is a pretty good band, I refrain from supporting them because their reason for being a band and the basis of their lyrics is Christianity. Like people who despise Metallica for ruining file sharing, I refrain from listening to Battle Royale.

My friend isn't Christian. He doesn't believe in Battle Royale's message, but he's still out there listening. If he had a susceptible mind, he could be born-again by now. He wouldn't be changed or assimilated into the religion because he agrees with its beliefs, but because he enjoys a rock band that happens to be soliciting followers.

Look at other denominations that solicit followers. Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are despised by some people for their cult-like following and efforts to convert others.

I've heard entire conversations devoted to verbally bashing Scientologists and Jehovah's Witnesses. I know people who refuse to read "Battlefield Earth" because L. Ron Hubbard later founded Scientology.

Religion should be based on a belief system; a strict ideal that one follows. And in order to solicit more followers to your religion, you should make an example of your beliefs, not prey on people's weaknesses. Be a good person. Do good things for your community.

Soliciting new followers shouldn't include mailing Jesus propaganda to every home in the state or sending Jesus Survival kits to school with your children to hand out to friends.

As much as free lunches and entertainment please audiences, they don't represent a positive influence on society. They are just tools used by one more religion that annoy everyone else to serve a few.

In no way is this an attack on Jesus; he was a pretty cool guy. He taught people to treat everyone the same way you want to be treated. He also helped the less fortunate.

The Bible tells of a man stripped and beaten by robbers. Priests and travelers all pass him lying in the road. Then, a Samaritan stops and helps him to an inn, where he bandages the man's wounds and pays the innkeeper to let him stay as long as he needs.

This, it says, is the way you should treat people. However, it doesn't say that the Samaritan first asked the man what his religious denomination was.

This is a challenge. Make people believe by providing positive examples. Organize a community cleanup. Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club or the Humane Society. Educate disadvantaged youths. But don't educate them on your religion. Using your advantage over someone is despicable.

Jay Chrisman is associate features editor of Ka Leo, the UH student newspaper. His essay was published previously in Ka Leo.


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