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Take my religion, please.

Never has a Muslim, Buddhist, or Jew come to my house, knocked on the door, and tried to convince me to believe what he believes. But this morning, a couple of middle-aged women in calico pinafores came up the driveway and rang the bell. Church ladies: I could see it as they approached. Their driver parked his black minivan on the edge of our lawn. He got out and headed toward the house across the street, his suspenders stretched across a crisp white shirt and a voluminous belly. I guessed his wife was the older of the two missionaries who were headed up my sidewalk. She probably had pressed that shirt dozens of times.

It’s been a while since a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons came through the neighborhood with their backpacks and bicycles. I try to be kind, answer the door, mutter something like, “We’ve got our faith, thanks,” and wish them luck. But in the meantime, I’ve gotten older. This morning, I felt annoyed. For one thing, I was in the middle of writing prayers for tomorrow’s service at House of Mercy. Also, I’m coming off a week where my annoyance with Michele Bachmann has reached epic levels, with her accusing an aide to Hillary Clinton as well as Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison of “having ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood. She is so much the opposite of what Christ represents, spreading false accusations and downright lies. She gives Christianity a bad name. She gives Minnesotans a bad name. She gives human beings a bad name.

When I opened the door, the older of the two women had a leaflet at the ready, stretched toward me as if I had no option but to take it. I gave it only a passing glance—the word “awe” or maybe “awesome” against a backdrop of beautiful sky. She invited me to a revival next weekend in a town a couple hours south. I said no, thank you. “What church are you affiliated with?” I asked.

No church, she said. They just wanted me to come to the event. “Take it,” she said, continuing to thrust the leaflet at me.

“I don’t want it,” I said. “We won’t be going.”

“Take it anyway,” she said. The smaller brown-haired woman behind her smiled charitably. Why didn’t I want to join their cult?

No, I said, closing the door. All I would do with the leaflet is put it in the recycling. Okay, maybe I’d google them first, confirm my suspicion that they were associated with Michele Bachmann. But then what? Sit powerless in my anger and frustration. To what end?

It just so happened that before they arrived, I was struggling with a particular part of my prayer for tomorrow’s service:

God, we are surrounded by conflict—
Differences of opinion in politics and religion
Over who should be free
And who should be suppressed
We face violence from bullies and power-mongers
And people who are just-plain crazy
Should we stand our ground?
Dig in our heels?
Run for the hills?

Good questions, right? Lacking the leaflet, I googled the name of the town where the revival is to be held, along with the dates, and the word “events.” In short order I discovered that the calico kittens and suspender man are with Living Word Christian Center. And yes, Living Word’s leader and founder, Mac Hammond, is Michele Bachmann's “spiritual advisor." I knew it. They had that vibe.

Satisfying as it is to be astute in one’s vibe-reading, I was still left with an unanswered prayer. How would God have us respond to people who think their beliefs are absolutely correct? How do we respond when someone knocks on our door and offers us some Kool-Aid? In the name of God and Country, indivisible, they tell us our friends who are gay should not have the right to marry; that anyone who doesn’t believe as they do should be investigated; and that they know for sure what God intends for us—not just them, but for us and the people we love.

Do we stand our ground? Dig in our heels? Head for the hills? Maybe we simply say, “Thanks, I’ve got my faith. You’ve got yours. Sorry I can’t wish you luck, but your ‘living word’ aims to divide God’s children in a way that Jesus could not possibly have intended.”

Next time, I’ll say that. Maybe.
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