Don’t be fooled by religious salesmen

Guest Column: Anthony Bernardi

The first couple weeks of classes are a dizzying array of academic madness and social buzz that can understandably leave a person spinning after the lull of summer. Anxiety, excitement and nervous energy wash over even the coolest of heads. I found myself struggling to stay afloat by the second Thursday, eagerly awaiting the weekend ahead of me as I made my way to the Wildcat Den for a bite to eat. Like many of my peers, my thoughts occupied my newly emptied wallet, compliments of the various syllabi outlining rules, regulations, and the additional cost of education. I was in rough shape, but little did I know I was about to walk into a nefarious plot of exploitation meant just for people like me.

It was a simple table near the Den entrance decorated with hand-drawn signs in brilliantly bright contradictory colors, expertly conceived to draw attention, but utterly impossible to read from afar. The creator had undoubtedly been one of those prototypical high school overachievers that dwarf their fellow classmates with expert drawings and fancy displays. If I had not been so preoccupied, I would have been able to whiff the unmistakable odor of something notorious.

“Would you like to win $50?” a casual young man asked. “All you have to do is take a survey.”

I don’t know whether it was his assurance of a cash prize or the relatively non-threatening approach to his sales pitch, but I was compelled to participate.

There’s no denying it; I had been played. Logging onto Facebook at a computer stationed atop the table, I entered the required information to begin the survey.

Question one: How would you describe your relationship with God?

I stopped. The sly fiend was a telemarketer for Jesus. From the moment I had entered my information, I had effectively been hustled. He now had my name, address and phone number. Everything one would need to reach me wherever I go. I knew it would only be a matter of time before a flurry of phone calls and letters would arrive proclaiming that I could be saved! Bible studies and retreats. Barbecues and fund raisers. Scrambling with my own thoughts, I began wondering what was the nearest location of any type of bulky scrap or an iron deadbolt in order to barricade my door in keeping my would-be assailants from forcefully entering and dragging me to salvation.

I have never been a seriously religious person, but I knew enough that I could identify what just happened as crossing an invisible line. This God fearing organization was preying on the frantic raddled passersby, using greed as a tool of entrapment.

I reluctantly finished the survey with answers I thought would leave me the best chance to escape any future contact. More than a little disgusted by the trickery, I immediately went into hiding and am still currently residing at an undisclosed location, hoping a miniature tracking device wasn’t planted on my clothes, or satellites in geosynchronous orbit haven’t calculated my position via the use of Internet. I am in a state of fear. A state caused by an organization that touts virtuous and forthright ideals, but disregards the very things it stands for in hopes of procuring new members.

No matter how well I have chosen my safe house, I can imagine the congregation of criminal poachers have saved a moment for me at their next mass. Everyone will raise their hands as the echoing chant is belted out.
“And we ask you God, let our fellow brothers and sisters see the light! And may the evil columnist at The North Wind be struck down for exposing our scheme!”

With God as their hitman, I have given up any hope of surviving this ordeal. I’m not so frightened to abandon my accusations, although this may be more of a last will and testament than a newspaper article at this point. The only hope I have left is to dodge enough lightening bolts to get this to the editor, so that it may be read by people who recognize the disturbing nature of religious recruitment. I suppose I should wear something well padded with rubber.