As a reluctant atheist, I find myself envious of those who possess an unwavering belief in a benevolent God and an everlasting life.
I can't imagine how comforting that must be.
For the record, the actual God of The Bible is not exactly benevolent. I've read the book cover to cover three times, and I'm hear to report that the God portrayed in those pages does a lot of things that aren't close to benevolent, but that's an argument for another day.
Occasionally I will meet people who try to convince me to believe. They share the good news. Assure me that God loves me. Encourage me to embrace a faith in a higher power.
At last night's Def Leppard/Journey concert, they stood on the street corners, warning me that I was about to listen to the devil's music.
For more than a year, I lived with a family of Jehovah's Witnesses who encouraged me to enter into the ministry. Not only did they want me to believe, but they also recognized my ability to stand before an audience and speak clearly and convincingly, more than 20 years before I would discover this ability myself.
Sadly, faith cannot be achieved on a cognitive level. You can't simply choose to believe in something that makes no sense to you. The belief in something we cannot see or touch cannot be achieved as easily as flipping a switch.
If you could, I would have done so long, long ago.
But I will say this:
If you want to convince me to believe in a higher power, I'm far more likely to be drawn to the message of the first church than to the admonitions of the second.
Threats are stupid. Warnings about the devil will never get anyone to believe in your message. A sign like this only manages to portray yourself as angry, frightened, intolerant, and awful company at a church picnic.
But combine a little bit of religion with a joke about sex and I might be at least intrigued enough to pop my head into that church to see who was smart and bold enough to approve that clever and amusing sign.