Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Monday, May 07, 2007

Not-So-Sweet Protest

As you've likely read by now, an 18-year-old high-school student named Marcus Hyde allegedly tried to perform his own Marx Brothers routine this weekend in Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish, flinging a pie toward the church's embattled rector, the Rev. Donald Armstrong. It apparently happened during the rector's message, which was ironically titled "Of Christian Love and Charity." A pie in the face seems like a poor way to show Christian charity. But I digress.

According to church spokesman Alan Crippen, the Gothic building church has been "tagged" with graffiti a few times in the last several weeks. The church is mulling upping security.

Maybe other churches should mull the same thing.

Churches are supposed to be open to all comers: They're intended to be a place of trust and refuge, and I think most pastors in town want to welcome visitors, no questions asked. No one wants to see churches install X-ray machines or pie-sniffing dogs.

But this city attracts a lot of attention for its religious activity, and perhaps on some level it's surprising that these sorts of things don't happen more often. The issues that churches address, by definition, inspire impassioned and sometimes unreasonable debate. Armstrong essentially shrugged the pie incident off in print, but I imagine he knows that the pie could've easily been a knife or a gun.

A few years ago, long before the Rev. Ted Haggard fell from grace, I was covering a story one Sunday morning at New Life Church. The church had already snagged some national news coverage and significant notoriety. Haggard was head of the National Association of Evangelicals, an up-and-coming religious leader and, already, controversial.

In the row in front of me was a backpack sitting in an otherwise empty section of seats. It looked innocent enough, I thought. Probably a congregant forgot it -- left it there after the first service. Or maybe someone put it there to save the seat. After about 10 minutes, a congregant called it to the attention of some New Life security personnel who, after another five-minute debate, removed the pack to the lost and found.

It was, apparently, a completely innocent satchel, indeed left there by a forgetful congregant.

But what if it wasn't?

These are questions churches don't really want to ask, and some would argue they shouldn't have to ask them. But, in this town, at this time, perhaps they should.


Blogger noel said...

Pieing is a time-honored form of non-violent political protest. Your "fear" take on the incident seems a bit overreactionary.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous n.prophet said...

Yeah, it being a pie seems to take all of the fear and loathing out of the event. Not much that seems to be very alarming or scary.

Now if it was haggis we'd have a different story. :0)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Paul Asay said...

I'll have you know I've eaten haggis, and that indeed would be a frightening tale of woe.

Hey, I'm just saying this is stuff that, in an age where conversation seems to be getting more shrill, these are things churches need to consider.

9:37 AM  
Blogger noel said...

I just think that, school shootings aside, we're on the verge of losing our senses of humor and, in turn, our souls. Perosnally, I would be appalled if someone went into a church and did something that was actually violent. But a pie, come on.

10:16 AM  

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