Christian or hippie — which would you choose?

One of the pastors at my church passed along a story from Dry Bones Denver: “Ask Me Why You Deserve HELL”: Reflections on the DNC. It is a bit dated, being from the Democratic National Convention here in Denver last summer, but it is also timeless. The author was with friends in the downtown area and observed a group of Christians whose behavior was somewhat less than loving, and a group of young anarchists who welcomed the pastor and his friends with open arms.

Here’s the christians:

“Ask me why YOU deserve to go to HELL!” My heart dropped and I hung my head in shame as I approached the banner waving these poisonous words. Riot police surrounded the group of christians (emphasis on the little “c”), protecting them from the enraged and ever-growing crowd of pedestrians; men, women and children. Other signs that littered the street corner and held up traffic for blocks on the 16th St. Mall read:

• “Homo sex is a threat to national security”
• “Looking for change? Then do what Christ said and repent. Hell Awaits You.”
• “You are headed for Hell”
• “WARNING: Baby Killing Women, Party Animals, Rebellious Women, So Called Christians, Liberals, Jesus Mockers, Porno Freaks, Muslims, Drunks, Homosexuals, Sex Addicts, Mormons…GOD WILL JUDGE YOU!”

Here’s the hippies:

Tattooed and dread-locked hippies relaxed in the sunshine. Droves of police, outfitted in full riot gear with masks down and guns out, stood nearby occasionally walking in single-file through the crowd to make their presence known. I took it all in, amazed by the eclectic group of people. We walked up to the hippie gathering and saw a sign that read “Doc’s Place” and another one that said, “Food not Bombs.” As it turned out, “Doc’s Place” was a volunteer-run, free medical clinic. Anyone could come by and receive limited, but free, medical care. “Food not Bombs” was a group that thought “…dropping food instead of bombs…” was the cool thing to do, so they decided to fix three meals a day for anyone who wanted food. They cooked everything on-site and if you ate, the only requirement was that you wash your own dishes in the provided buckets of soapy water, and then hang them in a tree to dry.

Here’s a quote from the conclusion:

Friends, I witnessed two very different groups of people this week. One group was filled with hate, judgment, and self-righteousness. The other group was loving, accepting, and humble. One group was insulting and abrasive and the other group just wanted to serve food and take care of people. One group called themselves Christians, the other group stayed as far away from them as they could. The way I see it, one group looked and acted like Jesus, and it wasn’t those who claimed to be His followers. This is the ultimate tragedy.

Read the entire story here.

Grace and Peace

15 thoughts on “Christian or hippie — which would you choose?

  1. Eric From Cowtown

    I think that the author just doesn’t get it. Yes, the “Christians” at the rally need a lesson in Gospel 101. They’re missing grace from their equation, and aren’t showing the love that we’re supposed to show even to our enemies.

    The “loving, accepting, and humble” hippies at the rally are missing a variable from their equation too, God’s justice and wrath. We can show compasion to unbelievers, but at some point we need to tell them “why they deserve hell.” We need to know why God has a problem with us – how our sin has separated us from the possibility of God’s acceptance and love – before we can truly appreciate the need for Jesus as our saviour and the great love of God in sending his Son to die for his people.

    Yes, Jesus ate with tax-collectors and prostitutes. He met people where they were, without the loathing and hate of the “Christian” protestors, but he also spoke of hell and the coming judgement. The hippies didn’t “look and act like Jesus” anymore than the angry protestors did.

    We don’t need to re-define Christianity, as the author suggests, we just need to go back to rediscover the gospel, in its fullness.



  2. Matt Strid


    I dont think the author’s point was to redefine Christianity, but to redefine how we live it out. The message of judgement and wrath, while true is the the primary message Christ came with. He came with love, once the gift was accepted He warned…when the gift was not accepted, He condemned. But He never led with the right hook of wrath.

    Just my take.


  3. geochristian

    I agree with Eric from Cowtown that the hippies don’t get it either. The author of the article was not saying that the hippies were the real Christians; that wasn’t the point at all. The focus was on behavior, not on the doctrine of justification, and the hippies won the behavior contest hands down.

    The hippies were in need of the gospel, and the author is actively involved in reaching out to these sorts of young people with the love and gospel of Christ. But again, that was not the point of the article.


  4. Anne

    –One way to get through to “hippies”—–Years ago, when I was not a Christian, but was a “hippie”, living in a house with a big vegetable garden but no central heating and no hot water, my husband used to leave the radio on all the time, to a funny little station called “Truth Radio”. There I began listening to a program with a couple of guys reading and discussing some book in the Old Testament, just reading and talking about it, not urging anyone to become a Christian. It was fascinating. It was my first experience of the notion that Christianity could be a choice for intelligent people, not just because of childhood “indoctrination”, or poverty and desperation, or drug addiction (this had been my rationale as to why people became Christians). It was these two men, with their quiet, rational, and friendly voices, and their insights into a history which I had only thought of as ultra-violent and cruel, who led me to finally ask Jesus for forgiveness, and ask him to live in my heart. I figured that if these guys believed, there could be something to it, and it was worth a try. And, though I didn’t know it until I asked, there was a need for Him in my heart. How I wish now that I knew who those guys were, to thank them!

    The point here is that hippies and New Agers think of evangelical Christians as at best mis-informed, and at worst pushy, ignorant, close-minded, and possibly violent, and you have to somehow get past that barrier before you can talk to them about Jesus. I’m glad that God got through to me, and I’m praying for my hippie friends–I still don’t know how to talk to them myself.


  5. MarkusW

    Yep, seen this from hippies many times. Hippie/punkers are cool with you as a person sometimes when you even state you’re a christian. Present yourself rationally and lovingly and most people have no problem talking to you.

    When I was a Lutheran many christians attempted to ‘save’ me but to no avail.


  6. WebMonk

    “Was”? Sounds like someone succeeded in “saving” you!

    (Just teasin’)

    One of those less attractive parts of the modern American church is the occasional insistence that people have to join the right team to be a “true” or “best” Christian.

    One of the things that this article (and Markus’ statement) brings to light is the general intolerance which can be found among Christians (and everywhere, but since Christians are the focus here…). Jesus demonstrated and taught quite the opposite, but even His disciples fell into that trap at times.


  7. adam

    How can any one of you possibly know the relationship any of those “hippies” has with Jesus? Have they broken some christian dress code that condemns them?

    As for the choice, I can see no reason to make it at all.

    Simply be yourself, and open your heart to God.
    If you fall under the label “hippie” welcome home my brother/sister.
    If not, well, welcome home my brother/sister.

    The church Jesus talks about in the gospel, is not a building, place, organization, or club.
    It is the body of true believers. The only requirement for salvation, is belief.

    Dear God, Open our hearts and minds to the power that governs the universe,
    and the peace that grows from within and expands through-out.


  8. lazyhippiemama

    I think Adam says this well. I would be sitting in the hippie camp with my braided hair and my “weird” clothes AND I am a born-again Christian. In the Bible it’s pretty clear that Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry and LATER, when they asked why, told them of God’s love. I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a single time when he walked up to a “sinner” and told them they were on their way to Hell. “Love is kind.”


  9. gabby prince

    Hey I am also a hippie and in our little place we take care of the poor we also run a clinic and other SO-CALLED Christians that swear and watch porn movies and so forth always come over here and always push us around, so my best friend that BOUGHT the place asked them: if you are going to threaten us of my piece of land,are you going to take care of the less fortunate, so they left and the next day they came and took my ” Flower Power ” Combie and they burnt down our place called Little Helpers Flower Shack
    They almost killed my dog Daisy!!!


  10. mark

    Can someone please tell me a place I can go where there are NO hippies and NO Christians. It seems Heaven is full of self-righteous judgmental Christians and Hell is full of smelly, environmentalist, drug taking, gay hippies, while earth has BOTH making a ruckus in every town. Maybe China? No, too dirty and they’re commies. How about Thailand? No, too much AIDS. Seriously, where can I go to get away from this complete douchebaggery?! HELP!


  11. geochristian


    You have it all wrong. According to Jesus, self-righteousness is a sure ticket to hell, and I have no doubt that some smelly, environmentalist, drug taking, gay hippies will be in heaven. Not because they are that way, but because Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.


  12. Anne

    What a sad scene this article showed! I’m not American so where I live (Australia) we don’t usually see as many extreme displays of hostility from christians but the attitude is still around unfortunately. It saddens me so much since one of my siblings is gay (and atheist) and asked me (after viewing hateful propaganda on youtube like the one described) ‘I know you are a Christian, please tell me why God hates me so much?’ Feeling shattered, I told her that those people are extremists who are not representing God’s people or message but are on TV / YouTube because they draw attention. I agree we need to be more loving and come along side people in a more public way. I say ‘public way’ because many of our caring organisations (Salvation Army Care, Anglicare, St. Vincent de Paul, Brotherhood of St Lawrence, UnitingCare, BaptCare, World Vision etc etc) do actually do this and DO embrace others like the ‘hippy’ group.

    I grew up hippy and with christian influence from grandparents. I’m now a Christian with a little hippy influence. Why? Because the hippy path looks all embracing but there really is not a lot of room for difference (there is still a dress code, language and philosophy to belong). There was little substance and the emphasis was on self gratification while looking communal. Children’s needs were often not met as ‘anything goes’ and often social boundaries for any order broken to enable self expression. This included vandalising property and aggressive demonstrations to make a point (ie. opposing forestry plans). The reason I am posting this is that if ‘extreme’ hippy’s were on show rather than the friendlier ones the article described, and peaceful christians were there instead of the aggressive hateful ones it would be a flipped coin scenario.

    Lazyhippiemama, it is disgraceful what happened to you at the hand of those people calling themselves christians. I think Christians need to challenge those that behave this way and point them to Christ and his example. Maybe even Christian leaders could make a public declaration that they are not in agreement with such acts, hopefully this would show people that these groups are in error and extreme (much like the terrorists in Islam). Finally, continue to follow Christ and share his Way with others without damnation – for we are not judges but followers. You can’t scare anyone into fellowship with God, it’s an invitation…


  13. I remember one “Christian Women’s Prayer Breakfast” I was invited to years ago. The doughnuts were nice but it was a glorified fashion show. One gruff-looking woman in a black dress (the wicked witch of the west) got up at testimony time and stared holes at me, saying “I used to be a hippie but the lord delivered me”. She didn’t appreciate my colorful long skirt and bandana (hiding my bad hair day). It took me years to learn that Christians conform to this world like everybody else, and it’s a much bigger sin to “hide your nakedness” than to show the world your midriff or your thighs. Can you imagine Jesus’ mother in a tank top and shorts? Christians should, rather say, “I used to be a pro-war, materialistic, money-crazed, loveless hypocrite, but the Lord delivered me.”


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