12/10/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy NYdiva ~
It was the end of a busy week and I was going home on the New York City subway. On 116th Street, two young men and an older woman got on the train. The woman sat next to me. As soon as the train’s doors closed, one of the young men starting preaching. He said we all needed a savior because we were sinful and that God sent Jesus to die for our sins.
Before I could check myself, I said very loudly, “What evidence do you have there is a God?”
Everyone looked at me. New Yorkers are used to subway preachers, but no one expected a black grandmother to challenge one.
The young man looked at his friend and they smiled nervously at each other. The young man turned to me, “I know God is real because I feel him in his heart. I used to smoke weed and now I don’t smoke or gang bang anymore.
I paused. If this boy from the “hood” was really a former gang member, I didn’t want to criticize his attempt to rehabilitate himself. For better or worse, the inner city church has done remarkable things for many troubled people and this type of “rehab” was common for low-income people.
Yet I challenged him, “Which god do you worship?”
He frowned, “Jesus, the one true god of course.” His friend nodded.
“But people have worship thousands of gods over the centuries. Why should I believe in yours? How do you know your god is real?”
“Well, I’m not going to argue with ya…”
“I’m not arguing with you. I just want you to give me an answer since you are the one preaching I need your god...”
At this point, the older woman who had gotten on the train with the young man told him in Spanish that Satan was using me to distract him from witnessing for God. I didn’t interrupt her speech. She might have rebuked me in the “name of Jesus” if I did. When I got up to leave the train at the next stop, a Black woman walked over and whispered something to the young man.
I spoke to the second young man who was standing near the door. “Everything your friend said... a Muslim could say the same thing about Allah. Think about it.”
Having been a “fool for Christ” for almost 20 years, I know I could lose a lot of business were my skepticism widely known. Yet, these days I am finding it more difficult to keep my mouth shut.He smiled at me as I left the train. As an African-American, I understood the looks of uneasiness on their faces. Blacks and Latinos are the most religious people in these United States which is why I’m fed up with their constant preaching. It seems like most “colored” folk can’t have a conversation without dragging religion into it.
As a small business owner, I belong to dozens of professional Black business organizations. Yet, one would think they were faith-based organizations because more than a few members preach faith in God as the solution for what ails Black communities.
One can always expect a religious answer from someone whether or not religion has anything to do with the subject. God’s existence is considered a fact and one better not question it. I found this out after I mentioned being a skeptic while doing volunteer work for President Obama’s re-election campaign. Up until then, the Black organizer liked me. After that, I was not invited to any more meetings. The snub was loud and clear.
So I have tried to remain silent. Most of my Black clients are very religious and religious Black folk view the non-religious with suspicion. When Steve Harvey said on national television that a Black woman should not date a Black man who doesn’t believe in God, he was merely repeating what many Black Americans feel about non-believers. “After all, if a man doesn’t believe in God,” said Mr. Harvey, “where does he get his morality from?”
Having been a “fool for Christ” for almost 20 years, I know I could lose a lot of business were my skepticism widely known. I don’t like challenging someone’s religious beliefs. Yet, these days I am finding it more difficult to keep my mouth shut.
You see, I don’t want my grandchildren taught creationism at their public schools and I can’t remain silent anymore when told Jesus is the answer to complex social and economic problems. I’m fed up with religious clichés like, “I’m too blessed to be stressed or I’m not gonna let the Devil steal my blessing.” Sheesh!
Like many believers, the young preacher on the subway doesn’t understand that I am an unbeliever because there is no evidence for these religious beliefs. That’s why I don’t want these religious ideas to shape public policy whether it’s on evolution, stem cell research or equal protection under the law for all Americans. That’s why I couldn’t take the preaching any more.