I figure it’s time to give you guys another cult story. You’ve been so very patient with me!
I have very few regrets from the past 26 years. One of them is that I was an evangelist. Sadly, I wasn’t a Tammy Faye evangelist. I was much more sinister. I was one of the ones who show up at the mall with an armful of Chick tracts and remind you of your certain damnation while you’re trying on shoes at Macy’s. The kind who roams around an arts festival with the intention of getting all of the filthy hippie heathens saved.
My first evangelical outing was to the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. We had a class to prepare for it about two hours before we left for the day. My pastors were really into the whole Way of the Master thing. For the uninitiated, it goes something like this:
Evangelist: If you were to die today, do you think you’d go to heaven or hell?
Dirty Rotten Sinner: Heaven. I’m a good person.
E: Oh, are you? Have you ever told a lie? Even a little one?
DRS: Well, yeah. Who hasn’t?
E: Did you ever steal anything?
DRS: No. I don’t steal.
E: You’ve never taken a pen from work/school?
DRS: Yeah, but that doesn’t count.
E: Have you ever hated someone?
DRS: Is this a trick?
E: Have you ever looked at someone and thought about how hot they are?
DRS: I am human, you know.
E: Yeah, well, so far, according to Jesus, you’re a lying, thieving, adulterating murderer. You still think you’re a good person?
DRS: I, uh, err —
E: Let’s pray for your filthy stinking soul right now. Repeat after me! Jesus, I’m a sinner in need of a savior. Come into my heart. I love you. Amen.
DRS: [ Repeats ]
E: Congrats! You’re saved! Here’s a tract! Have a good life!
Just like Jesus, right? Right.
So, yeah. I distinctly remember standing by the fountain at Point State Park, trying to hand out the 20 or so tracts I had to every person who walked by. I was on a mission for the Lord and I would not be stopped. After watching the umpteenth person get 20 steps away and throw my tract on the ground, I actually ran after this one couple and had a major Hilary Faye moment, snatching the discarded tract and shouting something along the lines of, “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GO TO HELL?! DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON?! YOU’RE NOT YOU NEED JESUS OKAY!”
It’s a shocker that I didn’t get shot or something that day. I didn’t get anyone saved, for the record. No jewels for my heavenly crown. Nothing.
We never had any other major evangelical outings that I can think of. We did go to the other mall, tracts in hand, a few times for youth group, though. No heavenly crown jewels there, either. Eventually, I realized how incredibly silly it all was. I was a youth leader, and my best friend at the time and I ended up hiding out in Gap or something instead of picking up sinners or whatever. I don’t think anything was said to him about it, but I had my first of many meetings with the head pastor, youth pastor, and his wife after that. I don’t remember specifics, but the gist of all of my meetings were that I was a bad example for the kids, a bad christian, and I should be ashamed of myself. It usually ended up with me crying and apologizing profusely because all I really wanted was acceptance from my authority figures. Yeah.
I think that was the last time I went out fishing for (wo)men. One summer, I showed up early to help set up for youth group, and my youth pastor had a giant stack of Chick tracts raring to go to take the kids to the mall, after not having done that in almost a year. I immediately said I had a migraine and got in my car. I think I only had like 12 phone calls insisting I come to the mall on the way home. I’m sure there was a “You suck. Cry about it.” meeting involved, too.
So, yeah. One of my biggest regrets was being a douche bag for Christ.
I still collect Chick tracts. I just realized most people probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Look at me, being a bad blogger and forgetting my audience!
Here’s a sample from my favorite one, “Kidnapped!” The gist: Girl gets kidnapped and put in the trunk of a car, the following scene happens, girl is immediately rescued by the police.
Click it for the entire tract. This one’s pretty mild. There are some severely anti-Catholic/gay/everything ones on that site, too. If I ever find someone who actually found the Lord (or however you want to put it) through one of these, I will make them the best cake.