Something just happened that made me livid.
I had Buffy on her leash, and these two kids greeted me as I walked out the door. One asked me if I would take a tract. I took it as Buffy zoomed down the stairs to the grass to pee, and when she was done with her various business, I headed back up the stairs.
The kids were still there, dripping sweat and knocking on doors.
They asked where I lived, so I told them, and they wanted to ask me some questions on the tract.
I had read it while waiting for the puppy to do her puppy excrement things, and there was nothing on there I wanted to discuss, even with a couple of kids. As politely as I could, I told them that my life had taken a different path and offered them some water, which they declined.
“They have you out in this heat?” I asked them.
“Yeah, last summer was bad too.” They kind of laughed it off, but they were sweating through their shirts.
There was a phone number on the tract they gave me. I won’t mention the name of the church because I’m about to rip them up one side and down the other.
First of all, to have children out proselytizing in 106 degree heat is repugnant. Repugnant.
Secondly, sending children to proselytize is something of questionable morality to me as well. I could write a dissertation about how I feel about a child’s role in deciding his or her own faith, but now is not the time. Suffice it to say that it’s not the role of children to convince adults what to believe.
Finally? I thought for about thirteen seconds, then I picked up the phone and dialed this church.
A woman answered, voice chipper and polite. For about two seconds.
The moment I explained why I was calling, I could almost see spike-covered walls fly up and smell burning naptha above my head, ready to cover my body with boiling pitch.
This is what I said to her:
“Hi. Erm, I’m calling because two children just came to my door distributing tracts, and it’s over 100 degrees outside. There is a heat advisory in effect, and I feel that it is dangerous to have them out in this kind of weather.”
Her response: “It’s all volunteer-based.”
Me: “They’re children. It’s over 100 degrees.”
Her: “It’s the same as kids playing on the playground right now. Their parents signed permission forms and dropped them off. This was a pre-planned event.”
Me: “I’m sorry. That’s no excuse for them to be out there. I would hope the church would take responsibility for the safety of children put in their care and postpone or cancel events in the case of extreme weather. There are better ways to spread a message.”
Her: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Anyone who’s ever had someone give that kind of bullshit apology knows exactly how bullshit it is. That’s not taking responsibility for wrongdoing — and do not mistake me, subjecting children to extreme heat in the name of proselytizing is wrong, wrong, wrong — it’s giving someone the finger.
“What, you don’t like it? Fuck you, then.”
Yeah. Not cool.
Volunteer or not, how much say do you think those kids had in doing this today? I used to be very active in church, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I heard kids their age chomp at the bit to go spread the gospel. In fact, I can count on my fist.
Because uh, NEVER. Even in a thriving church like I used to attend, it was the parents saying, “Yep, you’re going to share Jesus with the heathens.” (They didn’t put it quite like that.)
Having kids hike up and down stairs going door to door to distribute tracts is not the same as playing on a playground — which, if I had kids, I wouldn’t allow during a heat advisory either — it’s more irresponsible and downright endangering them.
So am I supposed to believe these kids were sent out there on their own free volition? Apparently. Apparently I’m expected to think they waved their little hands around, hoping to be picked for the honor of such a mission.
Shame on their parents, and shame on their church.