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Dear Evangelic@l Tr@ct Distributors:

I received the above tract in my mailbox today after work. I had a lot of mail in there. One company's flyer wanted me to buy a stylish man's suit in slate grey. Another wanted me to partake in excellent prices on however much meat I could fit into a brown bag. A third flyer wanted to help me become a rising star in our local business community.

I was not angry at these companies and stores, because they are just doing what their money-driven selves are driven to do to get my attention. I expect these organizations to force themselves on me physically at home through my mailbox and carelessly use up our dwindling resource of trees and try to make me believe that they and they alone can give me the best suit or the most meat or greatest success.

You, though, Evangelic@l Tr@ct Distributors, are different, and I am angry at you. You are not seeking anything monetary from me. The only thing I can think of that you are trying to get from me, and I assume that you must be trying to get something from me, are extra points with your god, but I don't think that you have given enough serious consideration to your chosen method.

You started off quite well. You immediately drew me in by asking me the question So you don't believe in Hell? It was one that you assumed I would agree with, and I did. You chose your audience well, or so it seemed, up to this point; of course, your audience, being me, thought for a second about the question and was annoyed at how aggressive it was. If someone I did not know came up to me at the pub, that den of iniquity I hold dear, and threw this question at me out of the blue, I would have replied with Fuck off.

Evangelic@l Tr@ct Distributors, you should have been nicer. I was just coming home after hearing some very upsetting news from a friend, and I needed a welcoming Oh baby, let me rub those tense shoulders for you, not an attack on the validity of my basic beliefs.

The real proof that you did not think your strategy through carefully enough lies in the fact that you proceeded to threaten me with my imminent descent into Hell if I did not do exactly as you said. If you read Matthew 7:1 in the Bible, which warns you to "[judge] not, that you be not judged", you might think twice about making threats against my soul, even if, according to your religious text, it is in danger.

But really, I must be honest here. I could give a flying fuck about your concern for my soul, so your threat of Hell just kind of seems silly and misdirected. It is highly unlikely that I will lie awake tonight gripped in a desperate fear of dying before I have my soul properly saved.

Do you want to know what really pisses me off? Your religion has some good things to offer. It tells you to turn the other cheek rather than lash out in anger. It tells you to rid yourself of jealousy. Those are good things, but do you recall what else it tells you? IT TELLS YOU THAT YOU ARE STEWARDS OF THE EARTH.

I noticed that you chose to print your threat on small slips of paper, which is far better than full-page tracts, but honestly, you are riding the wave of our planet's wanton murder of trees so that you can threaten all of us non-believing swine! That's just nasty disregard for the whole not being judgmental thing, and it's a horrible example of stewardship of our natural resources.

A method of ministry that would use up far less of our natural resources but still employ your tactics of uninvited home invasion and idle threats would be Telephone Soul-icitation™.

You could call me up and give your message of fear and wrath the personal touch that is so lacking in the public sphere these days. You could have your caller be a nice young man from your church's youth group who laments that the majority of his high school class is going to Hell and won't be able to join him in that big reunion in the sky.

You could have his script start off with your flyer's aggressive and finger-pointing question So you don't believe in Hell?, and then when I agreed and said that I didn't, your nice little judgy youth group boy could call me an "unbelieving sinner" and promise me a one-way trip to Hell, no turning back, because your supposedly loving and merciful god lets Satan have his way if I won't have your god's. That way, your intolerant and damning child victim could have a conversation with one of the world's sinners and mix with us like Jesus did with prostitutes. I have to say, though, that it would be a short visit.

He would get through the finger-pointing and name-calling and threatening part, because I am overly polite sometimes and wouldn't want to interrupt him mid-program, and then he'd build up to that all-important, soul-saving question: Do you take Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour? And I would answer: No fucking way, and then he would cry, because he had lost another soul to the fiery and eternal pits of Hell, but he would be fortified in his righteousness at knowing that he was not going with me.

See? With Telephone Soul-icitation™, we would both win, Evangelic@l Tr@ct Distributors. It's that kind of personal touch that can make all the difference.

Sincerely, from one who has doubts about how many points your particular style of proselytizing could possibly gain you with your god,


The Emperor's New Clothes