David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Preachers, Prejudice

Preachers

• Woodrow Wilson’s father was a Presbyterian minister who was paid by his congregation for preaching. One day, a friend said to Reverend Wilson, “Your horse looks very well, Reverend Wilson. Much better than you do.” Yes,” Reverend Wilson agreed. “You see, I keep my horse, but I am kept by my congregation.”

• A preacher was more than ordinarily long winded during his Sunday sermon. One bored parishioner asked another, “What follows the sermon?” The answer came back: “Wednesday.”

Prejudice

• Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once invited a woman named Chaya Adler in his congregation to go with him to visit a Hasidic man. She tried to beg off, saying that her skirt was too short to be seen in a Hasidic community and that the men there might be shocked, but Rabbi Shlomo insisted that she accompany him. While there, Rabbi Shlomo introduced her to everyone, saying, “Everybody should meet my sweetest friend, holy sister Chaya. Do you know that she is an outstanding scholar and learns Hasidic thought brilliantly?” The Hasids were all pleased to learn from speaking to her that she was studying the thought of the Ishbitzer Rebbe. Later, Ms. Adler thought about the visit, and she realized that Rabbi Shlomo was breaking the barrier of stereotypes that both she and the Hasidic men had. She says, “On that day, both they and I learned a valuable lesson: to suspend judgment and look beyond dress and appearance for the divine spark that resides in each soul.”

• When John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, ran for President, he was frequently asked if a Catholic could become President. In part, people were worried that a Catholic President would have divided loyalties — to the Pope and to the United States. In reply to the question when asked by a high school student, Mr. Kennedy pointed out that he had pledged his loyalty to the United States when he entered the U.S. Navy, when he became a U.S. Representative, and when he became a U.S. Senator: “If I was qualified to serve my country in those other capacities, I am qualified to serve it as President.” He added, “No one asked my brother Joe [a pilot who died in action in World War II] if he had divided loyalties when he volunteered and died for his country.”

• On January 1, 1965, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) held a dance in San Francisco. Before the dance, the religious ministers and gay members of the organization let the police know about the dance, thinking that the information — and the sponsorship by religious leaders — would prevent the police from disrupting the dance. No such luck. The police showed up and arrested several gay men and lesbians, and a police officer even told a minister, “If you’re not willing to enforce God’s law, we will.” The arrests resulted in massive negative publicity for the police department, and a judge dismissed all charges against the gay men and lesbians.

• When country comedian Jerry Clower was 12 years old, he was confused and bothered by some of the racist things that happened in his home state of Mississippi. One night, a black man was beaten, and the following Sunday, young Jerry asked in his Sunday School class, “What about the beating they gave the man last night?” His teacher told him, “Don’t you ever bring that up in this church again. There are just some things that you don’t discuss.” Once young Jerry became a Christian, he knew that he couldn’t be prejudiced and be a “maximum Christian,” so he overcame his prejudice toward blacks and sought to love everybody.

• Long ago, a man with an Eastern European accent wanted to rent an apartment in a building managed by an anti-Semite. The manager noticed the man’s heavy accent and said, “We don’t rent to Jews.” The man replied, “I’m a Christian.” The manager didn’t believe him, so he decided to test him. The manager asked, “Who is our Lord?” The man replied, “Jesus Christ.” The manager asked, “What was his mother’s name?” The man replied, “Mary.” The manager asked, “Where was he born?” The man replied, “In a stable in Bethlehem.” The manager asked, “Why was he born in a stable?” Fed up, the man replied, “Because bigots like you wouldn’t rent apartments to Jews.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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