When I lived in the Rocky Mountains, it was sort of a novelty to be an evangelical Christian. We had them, but they, along with most folks there, kept pretty much to themselves. People were conservative, but in a “if it doesn’t hurt anyone else then what you do is your own business” sort of way. Call it western values.
So the recent news that a Pagosa Springs neighborhood wants to fine one of its residents for not removing a Christmas wreath with a peace sign in it runs opposite of what I remember about the Rocky Mountains. Times change, however, and over the past 20 years <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Colorado Springs has been over-run with Dobsian Focusers. and it seems there has been a swell-storm of evangelicals, the annoying kind, to the region. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
As the story goes, the Christmas wreath in question is offensive to some on two levels: it is making an anti-war statement–and sub-division policy does not allow any signage with a message–and the peace sign is a satanic symbol.
As weird as that sounds, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such a thing. Working in a church in Baton Rouge, we painted a peace sign on the youth room wall and the next Sunday found a note pinned next to the pagan symbol in question saying it was an upside-down chicken foot and a tool of Satan. Ugh.
This one is so obvious I’m embarrassed to even be spending time writing about it. But as a minister-type and would-be follower of Jesus I cannot remain silent. This is corn-ball nutty bananas.
Peace on earth, good will toward humanity. This is what the angels proclaimed about the arrival of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the one who would bring the advent for turning swords into plowshares and Lions laying down with Lambs.
So if it seems that I am less than willing to embrace these complaining neighbors up north as my siblings in Christ. it is because I am weary of being associated with such unreasonable and reactionary behavior.
It is a Christmas wreath! In the shape of a peace sign! Stop making us look stupid. Please!
Tim Sean Youmans is minister to youth at First Baptist Church in Shawnee, Okla. This column appeared previously in his blog.