If you believe that there's a heaven and a hell, and you could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life, or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward - and atheists who think that people shouldn't proselytize, just leave me alone keep your religion to yourself - how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
If I believed that a truck was coming towards you and you didn't believe it, and the truck was bearing down on you; there's a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that.
On May 18, 2011 I met Bill. I was praying the rosary with some others in front of an abortion clinic. Bill parked his car across the street and walked over to our side. He saw our rosary beads and asked if we were Catholic. He then proceeded to tell us that we were damned to hell, that our priests were all pedophiles, that we worshiped idols, and other interesting facts.
I walked over to him and started defending the faith. The conversation became heated, and for about 10 minutes he and I shouted in each other's faces. After a while we got tired of yelling. I told him I'd listen to him without interruption or contradiction for as long as he liked if he would do the same.
He told me he was an altar boy, and wanted to be a priest, but his mother stopped him, because had he stayed in Catholic institutions he knows he would have been repeatedly raped. He told me that I worshiped my rosary without knowing it. he told me that priests are evil, and contrary to the Bible, which is the sole word of God. He told me that all churches were evil, and that Satan had entered into the church. And he told me I had only a few days to live, because the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. But most of all, he sincerely thanked me for listening.
In turn I told him that priests who break their vow of celibacy are not living what the Church teaches, that he can't know what would have happened, that I use my rosary as a counting aid so I can concentrate on my prayer, that priests are all over the Bible (remember Caiaphas?). I agreed about Satan, and told him the Pope had said something similar and that we must understand that we (he and I) are not enemies, but our common enemy is Satan. And I told him that I thought he was wrong about the world ending.
Bill remained unconvinced, but we spoke calmly and respectfully to each other after that. I explained to him that the reason why I defended my faith so vigorously wasn't because I hated him but because I wanted to see him in heaven. God wills all men be saved, and so it is important to me that he hear the truth in order to have that option.
In the end, we hugged and parted friends, although still disagreeing on many thing. I made Bill and offer (that still stands); if the world didn't end on May 21, to come back one Wednesday and we'd have lunch together and talk more. In the meantime, I said I'd pray for him. Bill replied that if he wasn't taken up one May 21 he'd know he wasn't saved and there wouldn't be any more point to life.
I prayed hard for Bill. When he didn't show up the next Wednesday, I prayed harder, hoping that he hadn't done anything rash when he wasn't taken up. I kept this up for weeks, and carried a Bible with me wherever I went, so that if I met Bill, I could show him some passages.
I never did meet Bill again. As you can see by this blog post, I still think about Bill, and still pray for him. I pray for you too, dear reader, and ask that you pray for Bill, and for me. And Bill, if somehow you read this blog post, come on back. Lunch is on me.