It is ironic that the group of missionaries with their briefcases and neat clothing who were divvying up the three buildings surrounding our parking area were visiting the homes that were bought up in the 1960’s and 1970’s by Jewish retirees from up north. Whole neighborhoods from NJ and New York transferred after the first pioneers struck out for the Sunshine State. The prices for apartments in the new-fangled condominiums outbid the idea of paying out money to a landlord. Affixed to each doorframe was a MEZUZAH. Most of those original owners of condominium homes have passed on and new owners, mostly Hispanic in our area, have kept the Mezuzahs without really knowing what and why they were there. The rationale is simple as the Bible injunction: “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house.” These are, of course, the words that proclaim you should love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your might.
The missionaries have gotten a second wind, perhaps having felt the breeze coming from the White House that their occupation, faith based, is in favor. These particular missionaries have heard the word that Christians only need apply to get in the gates of heaven. They forgot about the original owners of these apartments, the Jews who once were the defining group living in Sunshine and hurricanes.
Now, I am for any and all organizations that believe in something. I would prefer that they believe in good things and are really out to help the believers rather than those who raise the money and decide for whom and how it will be spent. This is an admission that money, raising it and dispensing it are all part of a belief system. In some religions, going out to convert the heathen or unconverted, is a duty for which there is no earthly recompense – the missionary has to provide his or her own funds. In other religions there are vast arrays of organizations with the stated aim of wholesale conversion. This has not been as popular as it was when the European nations paused in killing each other about differences in belief and turned to making Christians out of the Asians and Africans they found were theirs when those lands were conquered either militarily or commercially by energetic Renaissance people. It has become popular, once again to go forth to convert with the imprimatur of the Conservatives who back the presidency of G.W. Bush.
There seems to be a competition between non-warring Christian sects in contrast to the warring between Muslim sects such as the Sunnis and Shiites. There was a time when proselytizing and forced conversion by warrior Islamists almost conquered all of Europe. These present day believers in Allah are busy converting even while fighting each other. The Muslims and the Christians, if they ever get together will finally erase the Jews who started the whole thing.