On my way home from work last Friday night, I had the pleasure of having a subway preacher standing next to me and loudly proclaiming that Jesus was his savior and the one true god, etc., etc. I hate subway preachers. I don't like most forms of subway shilling, whether it's two kids doing a breakdance routine (always the same spiel, usually the same music, only the faces are different), a homeless person asking for money, or people selling candy. When I'm on the subway I just want to listen to my music and/or read my book, and all these interlopers force me to turn off my music (I can't hear it over theirs) or put away my book. However, I reserve my greatest loathing for subway preachers. At least with the other unwelcome types, you know that the show or the begging will be over by the time the train gets to the next stop. But with subway preachers, they just stay where they are through every stop and tell you all about how you're going to Hell if you don't accept Christ. This guy got on the train at 42nd St. and started by reading something from the Bible, and as soon as he got it out I knew that I'd be stuck with him next to me until I got off the train at 86th St. Sure enough, when he finished with his Bible passage, he started going on about how all the problems of the world were due to too many gods, and that Jesus was the only true god. And he kept it up, even though everyone in the car was ignoring him. When I got off at my stop, he was still going strong, telling everyone that he was on his way home to meet his wife and kids and that they were going to church that night. Well, good for them.
Later that night, I was back on the 4/5 train going downtown, on my way to Brooklyn. I was reading my book and listening to my iPod again (sometimes I can multi-task) when this woman got on the train at 59th St. She put her bags down on one of the benches, stood up at the end of the car, and started talking about Jesus. Then she started singing a gospel song, complete with clapping and exhortations for the rest of us to clap and sing along. Honestly, where do these people come from? I think she gave up somewhere between 42nd and 14th Sts. and moved to the next car, so I got a few free minutes with my music before I switched lines at 14th St.
I have no problems with anyone's religious beliefs or with free speech. But is a subway car really the best place to spread the word? Maybe I don't get it because I'm Jewish and nothing in my belief system tells me that I need to convert the heathens. In fact, rabbis actively discourage potential converts. You don't want any part of this, trust me.