As I noted in my last blog post, I have been in and out of churches for a very long time. I have longed for the community of a good church. I have joined my local Secular Humanist group and attended my first meeting this past Sunday. The topic of discussion piqued my interest. A local church group, along with the local police department (in conjunction with the police department? I really don’t know…) held a prayer walk and vigil on the streets where the local prostitutes work. The humanists were appalled by this for a number of reasons, which I’ll get to later. The last line of the information that was provided for the group meeting was, “Humanists have a better plan.” Well, OK! As a woman, I am concerned about this topic. Too many women are using their bodies to pay for drug habits. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the profession, but I have a heart for the women who feel that this is their only option, for whatever reason.
The group meeting began with introductions and then the facilitator passed out copies of the church’s flyer advertising the prayer walk and vigil, which took place on a recent Saturday morning. Next, the facilitator read us a personal anecdote about his own experience as a young military man who was approached, along with his buddies, by ladies looking for a “good time”, or has he called it, a “date.” The only reason he did not partake was that he couldn’t afford it. I listened and tried to understand where he was coming from. He preached about the “victim-less” crime and how it should be legalized, blah, blah. Fortunately, many of the group participants spoke up and took him to task for condoning the exploitation of women (and men). The talk then turned to how we, as Humanists, could do better. More on that later.
The group was starting to sound pretty judgy. The judged the supposed white, middle-class women at the church preaching to mostly women of color. I shook my head in agreement, but still wondered how we could do better. Unfortunately, I spent the 60 minutes in the group attempting to explain to these people that church groups do offer a lot to those who are in the midst of crisis. They want you in church, they invite you to their groups and they can be very hospitable and caring. I have seen this in my own life with people I have known and not every Christian is judgmental. Still no good answers to how Humanists could do a better job. No one really wanted to meet the prostitutes where they were and offer them comfort, a meal or some coffee. With all the bitching that atheists do about Christians being judgmental, these people were just as bad, if not worse. At least the Christians they complain about actually do try to help others. I’m sure there are good Humanist and Atheist groups that help, but this was not it.
I decided to do further research into this church and their ministry and found that the leader is a recovering addict herself, who was welcomed into the church while she was in jail. The people from the church came to visit her while she was in jail and cared about her in a way that she had never known before. I also viewed pictures of the event on their Facebook page and saw much diversity in the participants.
No answers or solutions were given during the group time, except that drugs and prostitution should be legalized, thus subjecting them to regulation. I suppose that is one way to look at the problem, but these are people with real issues and they need a lot more than governmental interference.