The first of the two occurred last weekend, at my city's Red, White, and Blue Parade. A college-aged guy was walking around handing out fliers, and when he got to me he handed me one and said, "Parade flier". I took one.
It wasn't a "parade flier" at all, unless you interpret that to mean that it's a flier he was handing out at a parade. I figured it was a list of sponsors or participants, maybe some advertisements, or something like that. It was nothing of the sort.
It was a religious tract, and a bad one at that.
It's not my point in this post to argue the religious points in the flier, but rather to argue against the misleading nature of the flier itself and of the person who handed it to me.
While I have no problem with evangelism per se, I would prefer if it were done as Jesus himself did it--go to where the sinners are and make yourself available to them if they want to come to you, not try to lie to or trick them. Doing what this young man did goes against what's in the tract, and one of the things it mentions in the tract is hypocrisy!
The flier points out isolated stats regarding adultery, fornication, rape, pornography, abortion, theft, greed, murder, drunkenness, and hypocrisy--and uses that to make the point "America the beautiful is no longer beautiful. Violence and sin has made her ugly." Is there ever a time when these vices did not exist in our country? Part of the Cadet Prayer at West Point reads as follows, and it would be good for Living Waters Publications to practice it:
Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.
I'm not convinced they even tried to give the whole truth. Why would someone feel compelled to use deceit to bring people to God?
Of course the sins mentioned in the tract are bad, and our country as a whole would be better off if fewer individuals partook of those sins. However, to list some statistics with no context and use those points to state--without proof, of course--that they are evidence that God no longer sheds his grace on this country, is at least deceptive and perhaps worse.
The tract reads, "The United States of America is continually being plagued with killer earthquakes, new incurable diseases that are outwitting antibiotics, killer hurricanes, devastating tornadoes, calamitous floods, terrible droughts, and the return of once 'conquered' diseases such as tuberculosis."
While true, that's no evidence that God has turned his back on this country. These disasters have always been with us, and it's just as reasonable to assert that because so many fewer people die from them today than in the past, that God is heaping more blessings on us now than ever before!
I choose not to speak for God, as I believe that He does in fact work in mysterious ways. Trying to determine God's "frame of mind" by picking and choosing isolated instances seems sacreligious to me, something in which I will not participate.
The people who printed this tract, and those who handed it out, may in fact be well-meaning, but they're hypocrites--for all the reasons I've spelled out above. It is they, by their attempted deceptions, who actually bring scorn down upon the very God they claim to worship. I have nothing but contempt for them.
The second lie told to me happened as I was opening a new certificate of deposit at a bank I've done business with for a couple decades. I mention that last part to emphasize how much data about me that they must have stored somewhere.
I was asked for the usual information, and then I was asked for my drivers license number. Why, I asked? "Because it's required under the Patriot Act." Uh, no it's not. "Well that's the only information I have here."
I don't doubt for a moment that the person on the phone was sincere, truly believing what his computer screen told him about the Patriot Act. However, I knew it to be untrue (note to libs--that doesn't mean he was lying) and asked for a specific section of the Patriot Act that required my drivers license number. Of course he couldn't provide it, so he passed me on to a supervisor.
Apparently the supervisor's computer screen provides more information, as she was able to tell me that Section 326 of the Patriot Act required it. "Would you read that section to me, please?" And she did. Know what was missing in there? Any mention of the words "drivers license"! That section requires anyone opening an account to prove their identity to the bank--but again, I'd been banking with them since 1979! I even gave them the secret code word (mother's maiden name) to establish my bona fides on the phone, and still they wanted my DL number. Here's what I found about, in layman's terms, about Section 326. Definitely no word about drivers license numbers.
I told the supervisor that doing this is wrong. The bank's lying about the requirements of that law--which already has some people on edge anyway--only breeds contempt for that law and for laws in general. If they want the information they should ask for it, but not lie about their reasons for asking for it.
Update, 1:48 pm: A Wells Fargo rep called while I was responding to a comment on this post. Want to know what happened? Go read the comments!