Our Old Time Religion

Yes, we believe in God. We know it’s not fashionable, and that you think we’re wackos. But we’re not apologizing.

Why should we?

The southeast section of America touts the most religious states in the Union. And I didn’t make that up, I heard it on the country radio station, right after hearing, “Clinging to an Unchanging Hand’”— Conway Twitty’s gospel masterpiece.

We flat-out like the idea of God. And we can’t quit liking this idea because you think we’re Southern-fried wing-nuts. Religion is in our drinking water.

Case and point: once, outside Tuscaloosa, I saw two fellas in a parking lot about to fight — I’m not making this up. The troublemaker raised his fists and shouted, “God’s ’bout to give me victory!”

The other man, nearly nine-feet tall, shed his Lynyrd Skynard jacket and said. “I’m fixin’ to make a River of Life flow out of you, son.”

I bet ten bucks on Lynyrd.

Before either of the God-fearing cage-fighters took a swing, a teenager butted between them. The boy began reciting the Sermon on the Mount in a loud voice, with trembling hands. In that moment, we all set our beers down and bowed our heads.

Which is what our mama’s taught us to do when someone quotes Jesus.

The two hoodlums never threw a single blow; four onlookers came forward for salvation; I lost ten damn dollars.

Our religion gets bad press, and I’m offended by that. Because I’m Southern Baptist — most of the time.

Sociopathic Bible-thumpers have lifted their legs and tee-teed on what we believe, waving their ridiculous hand-painted signs outside courthouses. Whoever these angry folks work for, it sure ain’t God.

I know this, because I know God, we were college roommates for eight years — and no, I’m not a doctor, just bad at math.

See, I like how God makes camellia’s bloom, and oak trees grow lopsided. I enjoy good rains, and summer days with enough sunshine to melt earwax. I like dandelions, puppies, babies, and art.

I like Coca-Cola, peanuts, and Conway Twitty.
Montgomery, Alabama, and Oklahoma City.
Touchdowns, Cam Newton, and baseball gloves.

And I like God.

Because God is love.