The Hypocrisy of a Trading Village - Part 2
Censorship and discrimination at its finest!
Last month I posted part one to this post, which talked about discrimination on a broader scale and the American rights that we all have. I also briefly mentioned that just because it is our constitutional right doesn’t necessarily mean we should exercise that right. 1 Corinthians 6:12 explains it perfectly. We have the right to do pretty much whatever we want, but not everything is beneficial. So, it is with discrimination. With our freedoms also comes the responsibilities to carry those freedoms. We have the freedom to own a weapon, but we have a responsibility to not go shooting everyone. We have freedom of speech, but we have a responsibility to not go yelling “fire” or “bomb” in crowded buildings. We have the freedom to deny service to anyone for any reason, but we have a responsibility to consider people’s feelings in regards to our actions. Even more so do believers in Christ have such responsibilities and more.
This post I am going to delve into my personal experience at a certain market here in the DFW area where I felt that I was discriminated against—and I fear, it will be a long post.
So, I rented a vendor space at this particular market, and I spent the first day with no problem but the second day one of the employees of the market stopped by my space, and during conversation he had mentioned that the owner does not allow “religious or political material without approval” which was posted on their website in the list of things not allowed to be sold. Now it was my error in assuming that what was meant by “religious material” was stuff like specific church flyers and invitations, religious pamphlets trying to convert, and the such. Anyway, I obviously didn’t get approval because I sell fiction books, not pamphlets and materials related to specific religious organizations such as individual churches. My fiction is general Christian fiction that Catholics, Baptists, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Assemblies of God can enjoy, as well as even non-believers. This I didn’t think applied to the above-mentioned religious materials. That was on me!
So, for a few hours, I am sitting there not selling any books (they let me finish out the day), and I am mulling over this situation. I am dwelling on it and getting angry. You see, just a few booths over I could see t-shirts with Jesus’s face, necklaces with Jesus on the cross, even those wall decoration crosses with and without Him on it, candles with Jesus, Mary, etc. I even saw a booth selling paintings, one of which was the last supper. So, you can see how I might be getting angry. What is the difference between my books and these t-shirts?
Let’s fast forward to after I decide to pack up a couple hours before closing time. I take all of my stuff to my Jeep, and then I head over to talk to the office for an explanation about why these obviously religious shirts and the such can be sold, but not my books. They call for the owner, and he gave me a list of things that were not allowed to be sold with the religious one circled and apologized that it may not have been clear on the website or that no one explained it to me. I told him that I assumed it was more like pamphlets and materials related to specific churches and the such. Well, I asked him why shirts with Jesus are allowed, jewelry containing the cross and Jesus on the cross, and paintings of the last supper are allowed to be sold, but my books aren’t. He said it (shirts, crosses, the last supper, etc.) doesn’t offend anyone and it is a generic symbol of religion. I explained that Jesus is specific to Christianity, Catholicism, and maybe a few religious sects in between, so it isn’t generic. He further explained that my book being sold there could result in someone getting offended that it was being sold at this particular market, but the shirts, crosses, and paintings wouldn’t cause anyone to get offended. I asked him how he deals with people being offended on the opposite end (religious people not allowed to sell there). As far as I recall, he did not answer me. He just commented that other than generic religious items, nothing is sold, even my fiction books.
Somewhere in the conversation, I mentioned that these same people shop at Walmart which sell bibles and religious material but still shop there and don’t complain. I also mentioned that if they get offended by it that they don’t have to buy the books. He simply replied with “They get offended.”
To digress for a second…I really don’t understand how someone could be more offended at a book being sold than pictures. Once you see something, you can’t unsee it, but with books, you have to be intentional about actually reading it. If you know you won’t like the material, then you don’t have to pick it up and read it. With clothing and the such, it is often not intentional. Our eyes see candle, crosses, shirts, which is not necessarily an intentional as these items cross our paths we might see them. I don’t know if that makes sense…it does to me. Anywhoo…. back to the market.
So, it seemed that the owner didn’t care one bit that “religious” people get offended -but let me be clear, here. The owner was very professional and very polite. Not once did he indicate that he was upset or hateful – so, there is that. He only seemed to care that non-religious people didn’t get offended, but that is neither here, nor there.
I think I was – and am – more offended by his hypocrisy more than feeling discriminated against because of my faith. He wouldn’t allow me to sell my books, yet there were a plethora of religious-themed items there. I was actually very, very, offended and angry, but did not show it. My close friends know that when I get angry, I try to speak very carefully and think a lot about what I say – I have been known to speak in anger without thinking and that has never gone well for me.
I don’t know if I felt so angry because I felt that this discrimination was an attack on my religious views or an attack on my livelihood as I am trying to make a living through my writing. What I do know is I despise hypocrisy….and yes…. I know…. I am a massive hypocrite about many things in my life. I get that, nobody can be perfect, but the hypocrisy that I think I find offensive is the hypocrisy of ignorance. I mean, it just doesn’t make sense to me that this man would say (or truly believe) that pictures and symbols are less offensive than books. In fact, public schools have banned shirts with pictures of illegal things (yet pictures are non-offensive), and I remember growing up wearing Christian t-shirts and people getting “offended.” Now offense these days are blown so out of proportion… probably much like I am doing right now with this blog…but…yeah…. anyway…I remember people commenting on God and Jesus because of my t-shirts. I also remember sometime recently there was a big issue with a billboard that had the bible on it….it was offensive to some…. There are so many offices that do not like their employees to have pictures of Jesus and the such, not to mention the military. So, it is my personal experience and observations that pictures of Jesus ARE INDEED OFFENSIVE to some people.
So, here is the BIG DEAL, for the first time in my adult life, I felt discriminated against to the point where I was not allowed to participate in an activity. It definitely isn’t a good feeling, and I was indeed very angry. I can truly see from the perspective (in some small way) from the eyes of the black community, the Hispanic community, the gay community, I don’t know, maybe the female community. There are many cases of gender discrimination in jobs and the such…but I am sure we all know about that. Anyway. I have never been for discriminating against in such things as cakes, flowers, etc. because of differences of personal beliefs or lifestyles. I believe in love, not condemnation, and for this reason, I think Jesus would have been kind enough to make a cake or create flower ornaments for a gay wedding, Jesus actually DID ignore racial divides in the scriptures……but…. I REALLY didn’t want to be JESUS to this man! I had planned to contact the radio stations, newspapers, even possibly pursue legal action…. but…wise counsel explained that Jesus (like me) had just cause for retaliation however he chose the higher road of love and sacrifice…. love even to the point of healing the ear of one of those who came to kill him. This wise counsel explained that because of my desire to reach people for the kingdom of God that having this dark mark of a lawsuit - though justified - would not help to further the kingdom of God through my writing.
To close out this extremely long post, here are my last thoughts. Basically (my interpretation) is that the owner of this particular market doesn’t want people to come in the office complaining and getting offended by items that are sold there but doesn’t care that potential vendors get offended. I doubt that “offending” people is his true motive in censoring Christian literature, and it is censorship!
I wonder if he was hurt by the Christian church, yet does not associate this hurt with the Catholic faith (as pretty much all religious materials appeared to be Catholic) or if he doesn’t want other mainstream religious material such as Islamic, Jewish, Satanic, etc. materials to be sold…and well…that is his constitutional right….but…I wonder his true motives, or if he really believes that pictures of Jesus are less offensive than religious…specifically…Christian fiction books.
Next month I will have a very personal and real post about some certain struggles that I have faced in my life and that resurfaced in a small way the other day. I will be getting very vulnerable with you peeps. I think it will be a good read.