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Loving the God-lovers

By Dan Cassino
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 25, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dan Cassino

I like religious people. Not "I want to be just like you" kind of like, but more of an "admiring from a distance" kind of like.

When I say "religious people," I don't mean people that have a religion, go to church, say their prayers before dinner and celebrate holidays. I mean people that go to church three times a week. People that go to church group meetings. People that go to church parties. Those people.

Many around campus don't like the religious people. That's too bad. The religious people help us out in all sorts of little ways.

First off, they give some sort of moral presence on campus. We need a moral presence. We do all sorts of bad, sinful things, and we enjoy them. One of the major reasons that we enjoy doing these things is that no one can stop us. We can do whatever it is that we want to do. However, some of the joy in that comes from knowing that someone, somewhere, is disapproving. And there's not a thing they can do.

In a strange way, they take on the role of parents. Before we came to the university, we enjoyed going out and partying because our parents wouldn't want us to. Perhaps they couldn't do anything about it, but if they had condoned the activity, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.

This isn't to say that religious people are all disapproving. They're not. Most are tolerant, well-rounded people. But they are a lot more fun when they're disapproving.

Another great thing about religious people is that they care. This is an idea alien to most of us. Sure, we give money to charities or the homeless, but few of us go out of our way to help out. Religious people enjoy helping. They care about everyone's well-being, that they have a home, and a family, and lunch, and that they're going to heaven. They allow the rest of us to do nothing and still feel good about ourselves; we know that the religious people will help out.

There are problems with this, of course. Sometimes they care too much. Some people enjoy wallowing in sin. A few of us don't really think about God overmuch. But that's little tarnish against the backdrop of all the good that they do.

Religious people are also good for the parties they have. They get together, pray a little bit, drink Dr. Pepper and listen to Jars of Clay. Religious people have lots of fun at these parties. You might think that that doesn't make much of a party. And perhaps it doesn't. But that's hardly the point. When a party is great, we're comparing it to other parties. The worse one party is, the better others are in comparison. So, the parties that religious people have not only make them happy, but make the rest of us happier as well.

When I speak about religious people, not everyone gets the same image that I do. Rather than a moral, caring, upstanding citizen, some people think of the religious people that speak on the Mall. These are the people that sometimes make us regret that whole "free speech" thing. But even they have their uses.

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to witness a discussion between an old friend and one of the lecturers on the lawn. Perhaps "discussion" isn't the right word. It bore more of a resemblance to a bar fight. They were shouting at each other, surrounded by a ring of onlookers cheering them on. I couldn't get close enough to hear exactly what was happening, but the spectacle of it was wonderful. Who needs cable when this sort of thing is going on for free?

So, even the extreme sort of religious person, the kind that initially seems to be the most annoying, has his use. He's entertaining. He also makes us feel good about any irrational views that we may have. Maybe you're both pro-life and pro-death penalty. This guy thinks that eating moose will send you to hell.

Maybe the most important thing to remember about religious people is that they do care about you. They do all these great things for your benefit, and all they ask for is a little moral superiority. I think that we should let them have it; we're certainly not using it.