White Robes On The Way

(Originally submitted to the Forks Forum)

Neal Thompson is on a pilgrimage across America.

White RobesWearing white robes he designed himself, a wide-brimmed white hat, and a dice necklace spelling out “Jesus,” Thompson has been traveling on foot, trains, and buses on a “walking ministry” five times already, in 1997, 1998, twice in 2004, then 2005, visiting all the contiguous United States except New England.

“I’ve even got in some sight-seeing,” said Thompson, a handsome, tanned man with beautiful skin. “I’ve been to Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Boston. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument and the White House.”

On July 2006, he took Amtrak to Poplar, Montana, to visit students he had not seen in five years and who asked him to visit again. From there he set out on foot through Washington, Oregon, and California.

“It’s beautiful here,” he said, sweeping an arm toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, beyond the parking lot at Ray’s Grocery, where he stopped for a rest and a snack on his way to the Pacific Ocean.

He said that people on the Olympic Peninsula didn’t seem friendly or offer him rides (he is walking with a staff, and was probably mistaken for a hiker). A local resident whom he’d spoken to earlier left him a tent, a bed, and food and water near the Hoko River sawmill. He’d slept outside since July nine times in 55 days.

“People help me with food, water, shelter, and laundromats,” said Thompson, pointing to the white robes.

“I began reading the Bible when I was ten years old,” he said. “Now I’m spreading the gospel of God, Our Father.” He went on to quote Old Testament texts and some of the New Testament epistles from the Apostles.

“The churches don’t like me,” said Thompson. “75 percent of the churches are working for the devil. 75 percent of Christians are the devil’s children.”

Born in 1954 in Hammond, Illinois, Thompson, with his brothers and sisters were taken away from their mother and placed in government orphanages.

“We were mistreated,” said Thompson. “I was beaten and starved, and cursed at. I saw what bad people do. I’ve been one of the most sinful. I drank and did drugs and I cursed, too. I began reading the Bible when I was ten years old, and I knew what I had to do to make things better.”

“Hammond and Bethlehem both have ‘ham’ in them,” he said. “So I knew it was a sign.”

“We need to fight the people who want to take God away from us,” he said. “We need to divide this country up. It was supposed to be a stew, but it’s just slop. This should be a Christian nation. Anybody who doesn’t like it can leave.”

“Drunkards and the slop who curse and throw beer bottles in their yards and gays and lesbians won’t live there. Black people can have two states of their own.”

When asked how this could be accomplished, Thompson answered, “We’ll get rid of their toys. We’ll close down the strip joints and the adult book stores. Then they’ll just move out.”

“All the people who need those things will live east of Missouri. The Indians can have three states — just not Missouri.”

By his own account, Thompson has been in the papers fifty-seven times, fifteen times on TV, run out of town twenty times and in jail three times, for disorderly conduct, littering and trespassing on private property. He displays a handful of newspaper clippings, laminated because “I get so sweaty sometimes.”

Thompson is the father of three children, a 29-year-old son and twin daughters.

“They ran off and left me fifteen years ago,” he said. “My wife hated me and made my children hate me too. I knew it was gonna happen, because it says in the Bible, if you love Jesus, your wife will hate you.”

“I’m a simple man,” said Thompson. “I can’t read or write past a fourth grade level, or spell past second grade.”

Thompson plans to travel to different countries, starting with Israel.


6 thoughts on “White Robes On The Way

  1. We met Neal today, and he’s the friendliest, warmest, calmest person I’ve met in a long time. While we talked to him, the local police came and harrased him because a lady in a coffee box was scared by his attire. (Neal told her that she’d probably be afraid of Jesus too when He comes back, because he will be dressed similarly). He was searched, he was questioned, and he was left to speak with us some more. Great pics, great day, GREAT GUY

  2. My father and I were traveling to Canada on our motorcycles this past August, and we spotted Neil on the side of an old highway in northern Washington. I pulled off, and persuaded my dad to turn around and atlest speak with this interesting man. Neil was very kind and respectful, and still had a sense of humor in the ninty degree heat. After a few pictures and some conversation, we rode off. Turns out, that friends of ours had spotted Neil in Newberg Or. nearly a month after we did. If you see him, stop and give him some of your time for a conversation. He surely has given quite a lot of his.

    Peter and Remmy

  3. Ask him what he thinks of gay people. Or where he wants to force people to move in this country, and how he wants people of color to live. I feel sorry for him, and if being in contact with genuinely nice people and walking in the sunshine will help cure him, then all the better. But he hides a core of fear and hatred for people not like him — non-whites, gays, non-Christians. You were warned to watch for false prophets, remember?

  4. Just spotted your web site again, Donna. I wonder what this Mr. Thompson would do in Sacrmento which has been named the most culturely diversified city in the United States? We have, just to name a few of the groups: Hispanic, Vientenese, Chinese, Blacks, Russians, Arabs, Indians from India, and Indians from America, and a few Caucasian Americans. Then you add the gang-bangers, the liberals, the gays, various mobs and you’ll understand why we voted to keep Arnold in office.
    (signed: a former resident of Clallam Bay)

  5. I’ve wonder what Arnold would do to my gay friends. I know what his father’s generation did to them — the torture, the burning, the murder, the concentration camps. Those who would like to see gays disappear in this country — would they lock them up in the camps?

    I’m glad that the world is gradually gaining MY values — that women are equal and deserve to vote and be paid the same as men, that gay people and people of all races are human, that all children need to be fed and educated, so that they are not entrapped by the lies of cruel and controlling religions.

    We will be free yet.

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