May I Say God If I’m Not Cursing?

Bette Dowdell

Some people nowadays lack interest in the “love your neighbor” concept. None of that wussie stuff for them, thank you very much. That’s for lilies.

Let weaklings do that love stuff. These people want their own way. They want control.

Some control by bullying. Making others cringe with fear cuts down on the possibility they’ll complain about anything.

Others control by condescension, a high-rent form of bullying. They have the brains. They have the talent. You have nothing of value to offer, so keep your ideas to yourself.

Now there’s a relatively new subclass of controllers: The offended. If they decide to be offended, you have a duty to stop being who you are.

I know that for sure because I’m a Christian. With some people, the fact I’m breathing is enough to offend. And my habit of declining repeated invitations to grovel and beg their forgiveness really offends them. And I don’t talk about my faith unless I’m asked. No matter. They’re offended.

Now, mind you, I’m just living life large–if only in the sense of peace and joy. I wait to be invited to talk about my faith. But sometimes you have to take a stand.

I started a new, large-company job a few years back. Management decided we newbies should introduce ourselves by creating and posting a bulletin board collage describing who we were.

As I mulled what to include, a new collage appeared that seemed to indicate its creator might be a Christian. I went to introduce myself and found a very disheartened colleague. His hints about his faith were deemed, by somebody or the other, as too blatant and offensive for tender eyes. Our manager had just ordered him to remove his creation.

Well, what’s that about? You ask who I am. I tell you who I am. And you say that’s not allowed?

So I sent my manager an e-mail. (Heaven forfend I walk a dozen or so steps to speak with him in person. And that was just as well. Fully committed to impressing upper management, he would need time to cipher out his response.)

“Hi, Jack, I just spoke with Bob. He told me that we’re not allowed to mention God as part of our collage. This puts me in a difficult position. Since I’m a Christian writer, I can’t accurately portray who I am without mentioning God, and I don’t want to portray myself inaccurately. For that reason, I will not be able to participate in the bulletin board project, and I’m sorry. Bette”

He didn’t respond, but by the next day, the bulletin board sported a “Celebrating Diversity” banner. The word went forth: We could now mention God–and we didn’t have to curse to do it–which form of mentioning God had always been allowed.

Slightly over a year later, I submitted my resignation. I liked the work, and I was very good at it, but my pick-the-lint-off-a-gnat manager could take the starch out of anybody’s socks. I became, as I remember, the sixth person to leave our little department.

At my exit interview, seeking to prove the problem was me, not them, the HR lady brought up the bulletin board incident. It showed, she insisted, that I’d always been a troublemaker.

Name-calling is another method of controlling.

Exit laughing.

Bette Dowdell grew up in The Salvation Army, then worked in high tech–as an IBM Systems Engineer, consultant and software company owner–and also taught the Bible to anybody who would listen. This article is about her stint in mutual-fund land. Learn more about Bette, her books (How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, The Christmas Invitation and On We March: A memoir of growing up in The Salvation Army), articles and speaking at . Learn why people tell Bette how much she helps them take on life.
And check out her original, take-the-hill quotes at .

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