Asheville, religion and diversity

Recently, at Bele Chere 2010, we took this video. Here is the message that the street preachers were preaching, some of the people that opposed them, and others who supported what they were doing. If you pay attention to the end of this video; a man is opposing the street preacher, and an African American woman takes the side of the preacher and tells him to “Rebuke that in the name of Jesus” and to “Preach on!”

Asheville is called the “Buckle of the Bible Belt” by many faith based arenas. Some churches are wondering why their “hometown” is being consumed by other religions and philosophies; while millions of dollars a year is going to “Save” 3rd world countries and missionaries. Is Asheville North Carolina numb to Christianity? I doubt it. There are plenty of strong faith based works going on everyday in the AVL community. Churches like C3, Church In Motion, and Seacoast are coming into the area strong, in addition to already established congregations such as Crossroads Assembly, North Asheville Baptist Church, Trinity Baptist Church, Biltmore Baptist Church and many others. A lot of good, sometimes unnoticed or unseen, comes from these local congregations.

There are many religions in the world, and now they are in Asheville NC. Is everyone allowed the same freedom of speech as the other religion? Is there only one right way? How do we all get to heaven and live happily ever after? Some say by faith in Jesus Christ, others preach faith and works, and then there are some who believe that you just have to be a “good person” and it will all work out in the end. Pretty simple, right? Not exactly. Legalism comes into many of these groups where you must conform to their principles that according to them, had originated from the Bible. I have been in churches where they called women whores if they had makeup on; and preached against men who wore striped ties and used deodorant. I doubt this has anything to do with the Bible, religion or salvation. Extremism has hurt the mission of many pure hearts who sincerely care.

Why do churches want to reach a community? We have heard some of these reasons: To build their congregation, to be instrumental in saving our souls, to help our lives, to build a faith based relationship, to teach us the scriptures, etc. These are just a few of the many reasons, both negative and positive according to who they are trying to reach. Some people have refused and rejected the offer and have a perfect right to do so; and going to “face the consequences” according to others.

Is freedom of religion really a part of Asheville North Carolina? Are Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses treated with equality when it comes to what they believe and expressing their faith? Are people who do not have any faith allowed to do so without being badgered or stoned? On the other hand; can someone have faith and still be treated equally by folks who do not have any type of religion?

What has your church experience been like in Asheville or Western North Carolina? Leave a comment below. Thanks.

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