What do you think of when the word traditional pops up?  My first thought goes to clothing.  I know, I am a bit of a nutter, but there it is….first thoughts.

I think of Nuns in habits, ladies in Hijab and Abaya..Amish with their long dresses and white lace caps….

We have a large Mennonite population in Enid.  We also have an Air Force Base here with a varied ethnic population.  People here rarely think twice about a woman wearing traditional clothing, unless it is an hijab. Then the stares begin. Then the rude comments.


Is it because there is a misconception about Islam?

Non-Islamic people seem to think the women are “forced’ to wear Hijab.  That simply isn’t so, unless they are in a country where Human Rights are not valued…such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Here in the States, women can wear whatever they please, and that my friends, includes our Muslim brethren. 

Are Nuns forced to wear the habit?  Are Orthodox Jews forced to wear scarves? How about the Hindu?  Are they forced to wear traditional clothing?

And why do people only complain about Islamic traditional clothing anyway?

When I was in Israel and again in Egypt, I purchased several Abayas, a couple of salwar, and about 100 scarves.


I loved the way the clothes looked and felt.  And it seemed appropriate to wear…far more appropriate than the clothing I usually wore. And FAR more comfortable than the clothes I normally wear.  One simply doesn’t go into a mosque or a temple in immodest clothing.  It is a matter of respect.

I noticed that others in my group felt differently though.  They refused to wear a scarf or hat, and some went so far as to refuse to see the inside of a Mosque. They had no problem wearing a scarf over their heads to go into the Orthodox churches but loudly refused to wear one to go into a Mosque.

Personally, I thought those women were the worst of humanity…..Ignorant, bigoted and wanting to remain that way.  In the crowded streets of Jerusalem or Cairo they acted as if they would be violated in some way if they so much as brushed against someone of a different faith.

I tried a small social experiment over the last few Sundays.  I researched the service times for seven churches here in town, all of differing denominations. I got dressed in a nice blouse and skirt and tied a scarf around my head and neck. Then I went to a service.

The first church I attended was the Roman Catholic Church.  I was greeted and shown to a seat in the back of the church even though there were many seats available closer to the front. No one spoke to me except the “greeter” who said, “it’s just you then?”.  No one spoke to me as I left…not even the Priest.

I tried another church later in the day….this time a Protestant one of no denomination. I wasn’t allowed to enter the Church and was told it was a “special day for one church family. No one but family today”.  yes, right.

I tried another..this time a “Church of Christ Redeemer”….  again, I was turned away at the door. No explanation, just an up and down look and the doors closed in my face.

The next Sunday, I did the same thing…three churches, all Protestant. One Presbyterian, one Baptist, and one Methodist. No entry allowed and one “greeter” at one particular church said “we don’t want YOUR KIND here”. I will leave you to speculate which one was the rudest.

This past Sunday I went to a Mennonite Church. I was greeted, asked my name and if it was my “first visit”.  I was shown to a seat in the front of the church and introduced to a dozen women on the way to the seat.  I was invited to stay for lunch. I was asked to come back again soon.

I also went back to a few of the churches where I was turned away.  This week, I took off the scarf.  And every church welcomed me.

Now, YOU tell me. What would YOU believe about Christians after experiencing that?







5 thoughts on “tradition!

  1. Suze, you nailed it with this post. I, also, have had wonderful experiences with people of the Mennonite Church. The “in your face” attitudes of some evangelical Protestants herald a new age for that church morphing from the compassion of Jesus to the politics of hypocrites.


  2. This is shocking to me. Maybe I live in a bubble but I had no idea that someone would not be welcomed in a church because of what they were wearing…certainly not because of a scarf. Sad that the people who claim to know Jesus have such cold hearts. The people in the Mennonite church obviously do know Jesus.


    1. It no longer shocks me when church goers act so inappropriately. and it IS inappropriate. Jesus would have a conniption fit if he saw people who profess to believe in Him acting like a bunch of Pharisees.


  3. What an interesting and telling experiment, Suze! It goes to show that we are really only comfortable with ‘people like us’ and feel threatened by anything different. Even if this is an inborn, animal instinct, surely maturity and education should bring us to an understanding that beneath the trappings we are all the same. I have been doing an experiment myself of late: When I go out anywhere, I try to get into the skin of any random person I see. What does the shop woman feel about having to serve me, for instance — the eighteenth well-fed and choosy old codger of her long and tiring day, before she goes back home, perhaps to cook and clean and feed her children. I am ashamed to say that I often failed to see people as people before. I’m thinking school children should be asked to do this as an exercise in empathy — minimum dose, one a day!


    1. excellent idea! All nations should teach their children we all bleed the same color, we all have feelings, fears, hopes and dreams.


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