A story from Warsaw, Ohio, is catching some attention today (August 13, 2014). It seems the dancers at Foxhole nightclub decided to picket a church that had been hassling them for years. Apparently the members and pastor of New Beginnings Ministries felt called by God to try to rid their community of “evil.” For nine years, they had been showing up at the club to call the women who worked there terrible names and video the men who entered, threatening to go public with the footage.
Finally the club’s employees retaliated. Many of the picketing women were topless as they marched in front of the church. The owner of the Foxhole, Thomas George, explained why they were fighting back: “They [the church people] come up every weekend, and they’re very abusive and certainly unchristian-like. Calling the girls (expletive) and (expletive).” The pastor justified their actions, saying, “I take very seriously the responsibility as a pastor to see to it that the gospel of Christ is lifted up … and that evil is confronted.”1
This may seem like a rather extreme confrontation between the church and the world, but it brings up important questions about the tension between our public witness of Jesus and the desire to make our communities as clean and safe as possible. It brings us back to where we started: Is there a way for us to stay faithful to God and our sense of moral obligation without ostracizing, judging, or coming off as jerks to everyone else? In other words, are we to force cultural change like conquistadors, or is there another way of influencing without judging?
Halter, H. (2015). Brimstone: the art and act of holy nonjudgment. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.