Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Wrong Kind of Christian

As I've mentioned numerous times I don't consider the religious beliefs that people decide to adopt to be any of my business. People choose their beliefs for many reasons, most of them subjective, and while I often find myself in disagreement with ideas propogated by both mainstream and alternative religions I also know that a lot of people feel the same way about Thelema. So in the end it evens out - we all have the right to think as we will.

It's when religious beliefs lead to dangerous and potentially destructive actions that I start having problems with them, whether it's an ignorant Pagan leader teaching nonsense about how magick works or a Christian who decides that in order to be virtuous they need to harrass anyone who practices a different form of spirituality than their own. Like this guy.

About 4 p.m. in front of The Sacred Grove, a metaphysical bookstore and pagan community center at 924 Soquel Ave., a black Isuzu Trooper screeched to a stop, book shop representatives said. A man got out and took a sign - which said "Witchcraft wares and magical supplies, potion brews and unique gifts" with a pentagram on the back, said Sacred Grove owner Michael Correll.

An employee noted the license plate number of the SUV, which was black and said "Jesus Saves" on one side and "confess and forgive" on another, police said. The vehicle's description was dispatched to authorities, and Capitola police spotted it on northbound 41st Avenue at Capitola Road a few minutes later.

"He passed a car on the right, almost got hit and took off," said Capitola Sgt. Darrell Harrison.

Police tried to pull him over, but he drove about 55 mph in a 35 mph zone - which was his top speed for the entire pursuit, police said.

He didn't stop at stop signs or red lights on his way to Santa Cruz, Harrison said, and Santa Cruz police assisted in the chase when it entered the city going through parts of downtown.

Authorities tried to lay a spike strip at Ocean and Water streets, but the man drove around the strip and eventually onto Highway 1 - where the CHP took over, police said.

The man eventually exited at Morrissey Boulevard and was stopped at Morrissey and Fairmount Avenue, police said.

The driver, 41-year-old Kelly Piper, was arrested by Capitola police, Harrison said. No one was injured in the pursuit and no cars were damaged.

The sign was found in his car and returned to the shop, police said.

Correll, the shop owner, said "I'm sure he did this because of his views."

"The sign's a minor thing, it's a symbolic thing of us being messed with by Christians."

I'm sure that Piper thought he was doing God's work by endangering the lives of other drivers and pedestrians in order to accomplish something as trivial as stealing a sign - which, of course, is in itself a violation of the commandment forbidding theft. Let's hope that God is a little more evolved than that and can see the big picture. I don't believe in the whole heaven/hell metaphysical schema, but if I did I could easily imagine God throwing Piper into perdition just for being a douchebag.

I do sometimes find it kind of tiresome when Pagans start complaining about Christians because I've heard it all a million times, but at the same time it's this sort of nonsense that gives reasonable Christians a bad name. I've met many such Christians and would contend that they constitute a majority within the faith, but it's the extremists who make the most noise and get the most media attention.

Correll is right that the theft of the sign is a minor issue, but it highlights a much bigger problem with Christians like Piper who feel such criminal actions are justified. Really, how hard can it possibly be to just leave people who don't share your beliefs alone?

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