Archived Story

Write Again . . . Where everyone is welcome

Published 8:55pm Monday, August 18, 2014

From very early in my life I have tried to be open-minded and not judgmental with respect to the religious views and affiliations of others.

I regard my own views as simply that — mine. I don’t try to persuade or dissuade anyone to accept or reject a specific view or belief.

Lest anyone infer that my tolerance of others’ views extends to those evil jihadists and their extremist ilk, please let me set that straight. They are evil. May their kind be eliminated from this earth.

So. All of this is prologue to a column written in the bulletin a while back by the Rev. Chris Leak, associate minister at our church. In his monthly column, Chris told of the welcome extended by Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community in Daytona Beach, Florida.

It reads:

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, y no habla Ingles.

“We extend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

“We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket.

“You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woke up or just got out of jail.

“We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s baptism. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.

“We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters.

“We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or down in the dumps, or if you don’t like ‘organized religion.’ We’ve been there too.

“If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the world is flat, work too hard, can’t spell or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

“We welcome those who are inked, pierced, or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid, or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake.

“We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts . . . and you!”

Thanks, Chris.

APROPOS — “The highest result of education is tolerance.”

— Helen Keller

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