When I first moved to South Carolina, I was distressed and amazed at how much religious material - let me clarify, Christian material - there was displayed in places like doctor and dentist offices. After living in Atlanta for many, many years, I never saw such public displays of Christian faith in professional areas. I know that Atlanta is in the South, where proselytizing is akin to breathing, but as the "international city" it prides itself in being, such passive proselytizing in a professional atmosphere would never fly.
At a dermatologist's office several years ago in South Carolina, I saw a derogatory editorial cartoon about gays in the military posted in the waiting room. I finally snapped. When the doctor came in to the office (he was an old codger on the verge of retiring), I commented on the cartoon. I told him, "I find that cartoon in the waiting room offensive. I know many gay and lesbian people who have served this country with integrity and pride and they ought to be able to do it openly."
He grumbled something I couldn't quite understand before shoving a prescription slip in my hand and trundling out of the office. This is the same "Christian" office where I witnessed the rough treatment of an older lady. The receptionist (a sour lady if I ever met one) gave her the HIPPA forms to read and sign. The lady told the woman she couldn't read and the receptionist barked, "I haven't got time to read it for you," and slammed the glass window shut.
I sat down with the woman and read the form to her and helped her understand what she was putting her mark on. It was a stark reminder that though many say, "Lord, Lord," they have not a clue how to behave as a follower of Christ in this world.
I ran across an interesting example of this clueless and cowardly form of public proselytizing over at the Ragan.com site (a site for PR junkies like me). A blog post by Mark Ragan recounts his time in South Carolina and the endless number of, "Have you received Jesus as you personal Lord and Savior?" questions he was asked at inappropriate times.
He presents a video from a St. Louis television reporter, who is interviewing a public officials who shamelessly uses Jesus as a shield to avoid answering some tough questions. Have a look:
That wall of separation between church and state is about as thin as the walls in an old apartment building I used to live in. Sad.