Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Some Ministers Are Assholes

Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds has written a sad post about her grandfather's funeral describing the minister's use of his pulpit with captive audience to proselytize, and how it made her (and probably several others at the service) so uncomfortable and angry that she really just wanted to leave.

I have been fortunate in that most of the funerals I have attended did not include this type of thing. The one exception in my experience still brings steam from my ears and tears to my eyes, 27 years later.

When my best friend was killed in an car accident, two other friends and I drove 300 miles to her hometown to attend her funeral and extend our sympathy to her family. The small-town minister who officiated the service, and who did not even know her, proceeded to gas on and on about what a shame it was that my best friend had wasted her life and would be burning in hell for all eternity because she had left her family to live in the big city, in sin with her boyfriend. Her family said nothing. Perhaps they agreed - she had been estranged from them for a few years, but had visited on rare occasions, and, in fact, was killed while driving home from her most recent visit. They were always happy to take the money she sent from her "big-city" job. They had to have provided this asshole with that information. Adding insult to injury is the fact that her name was spelled incorrectly on her headstone. By her mother. But that's a whole other issue.

Had I been bolder then, and in my dreams now, I would have stood up and let that man have it, even though I didn't believe in heaven or hell. What right did he have to talk that way about my friend, who he had never even met. Shouldn't he have been comforting the grief-stricken? Instead, the most I could bring myself to do was to get up and leave. My other friends gave me the bad news that he continued in this vein to the end, and exhorted the remaining attendees to get right with GAWD so they would not suffer eternal damnation like my best friend. When we met with her family later, I was still upset, but managed to mumble something about her having been one of the best, kindest, most generous people I had ever known. I miss her still.

Some ministers are just assholes. I would say "thoughtless" assholes, but I truly believe he knew exactly what he was saying and had a specific purpose for saying it. How in the world could that have been any comfort to the family? How DARE he? I would love to think this was one of a handful of rare occurrences, but I suspect it may be all too common in certain sects. I still get upset when I think about it. My hands are shaking right now as I write. Asshole. Asshole.

In memory of Angela Denise Rainey, 5/29/67 - 4/21/88.

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