It was like a scene out of the 1980's movie, "Airplane." I was accosted by Jesus freaks at the Port Authority Bus terminal in New York City. Listen, I was raised in a religious family. Born Catholic, but my parents consider themselves non-denominational Christians.
But, I don't like religion shoved down my throat. In "Airplane," the Leslie Nielsen character confronts all sorts of peddlers as he's strolling through the terminal. He punches them out and kicks them, as each approaches.
I kind of felt that way at the bus terminal. "Have you been saved." they asked. "Have you found Jesus." I could have responded with a bunch of crude jokes, but I bit my tongue.
Like many other public places, those who solicit inside these spaces are heavily regulated. Often, the vendors are told to move from place to place. But, the people at the King James Bible Baptist Church in Manhattan have a free reign.
They hand out tiny leaflets with titles like "this WAS your life", "men of peace", "no fear" and "Satan." They're religious stories using cartoons and they're designed to steer you on the straight and narrow. Again, no problem. That is until, they shove them in your face and begin lecturing you as you walk through the bus station.
I sense that because they are a religious, non profit organization they can have free reign. You wouldn't want the ACLU breathing down your back.
Listen, I get irritated when the newspaper vendors are yelling in your face, hawking their wears in front of Penn Station. It's a gauntlet really.
It's about time these "public places" treat religious organizations like for-profit enterprises. Some of the brownstones in my neighborhood say "No Menus." Yet, there's nothing stopping the Jehovah Witnesses from knocking on my door and lecturing me about Jesus.
Like my sexuality, I'm comfortable in my religious beliefs, I just don't want to be molested by the Jesus freaks.