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Wow, how shocking is it that I received in the mail today a response to the letter I sent to one of the churches in my neighborhood. Here is the original letter I sent to the Churches.

July 7, 2011

Mr. Church Leader,

Sir, my name is Stephen, there are a couple of incidents that have occurred lately that have prompted me to reach out to you and your church. Let me preface this letter by stating that I am an atheist who was once a Christian, but saw the “reason”.

As an atheist, I am always asking questions, seeking answers that make sense, being good to other people without thrusting my views on other people regardless of religion, race, socio-economic status, ethnicity, etc. I am also attempting to raise my daughter in the same method, asking question, treating everyone with respect. As a result, one of her friends recently invited her to church, I said “sure, keep an open mind, and ask questions”. She just recently confided in me that the Sunday school teacher stated that “atheists are fools” and that at that time she felt “sorry for me”, which wasn’t necessary, but she also asked why the people at church would say such things about atheists. Has this Sunday school teacher ever talked to an atheist? I can assure you, I am no fool and my daughter knows this. Will she be joining her friend at your church again…probably not?

Second issue, I also live in close proximity to your church, so many of your members also live in this area. I don’t like to do this without facts, but there is a probability that some of your members, or that of Covenant Life, or Journey’s Crossing, or the Int’l Church of God is one of the culprits. Over the past month, my car my car has been the subject of propaganda requesting that I find the "lord", suggestions that reading Romans XX:XX and John X:XX will make me convert. I can only assume the reason my car is a target is due to the small Darwin fish and another stating “Friendly Neighbor Atheist” on the back fender.

I started reading the bible critically and it created more questions and doubt about god's existence. More research led me totally away from the church. So, a couple of notes will not sway me, however, I see there is a need to provide your church community with information about atheists. I would be more than happy to a conduct a question and answer session with your church members to show that atheists are not evil baby eaters, but that we are valuable members of the community with families, morals, and are capable of doing good things without a god.

I feel that a constructive dialogue does much more good and builds strong relationships in the community. The approach used by Christians in this area is the opposite of this. A book I have read I Sold My Soul on eBay, by Hemant Mehta, describes the view of Christians and all faiths through an atheist’s eye. Since, I have been on your side; I feel that I may be able to describe the atheist views on life, politics, morality, religion, giving, and separation of church/state in a non-threatening/non-confrontational matter.

I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.

Here is the response I received from the Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, MD. This was the church where the Sunday school teacher labeled atheists as fools.

Thank you for your thoughtful letter and desire to help us know you better as a member of the local community. We appreciate the time you took to carefully and respectfully explain your concern and to offer your services.

At this time we will need to decline your offer to hold a question and answer session here, but I trust you will continue to have meaningful conversations with Christians and people from all kinds of backgrounds as we all try to understand and appreciate each other more.

Sincerely,

Pastor Stephen Homey
Director of Adult Ministries

Nice of them to respond, albeit a month later!

Now to analyze the response a little.

  • Apology for promoting HATE?
None, no mention of the Sunday School incident. Am I surprised? Not really, I'm guessing the trash they are spewing comes from Psalms 14:1

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, t
here is none who does good.
Probably a hundred other places they could of found other offerings of hate, but it is as good as any.
  • Christians reaching out?
The last paragraph (run-on sentence) declines my offer for a Q & A, not surprised, it is their prerogative. However, putting the onus on me "to have meaningful conversations with Christians...", well, sure, I will do that because I am a friendly atheist. However, he also says "...we all try to understand and appreciate each other more." I call bullshit on this! Absolute bullshit. You want to reach out, start doing some real work in the community, stop proselytizing to everyone, stop spewing hate. This sort of nonsense may work in his church community, but it sure won't pass the evaluation of people who care and are willing to call bullshit when they see it.

I must say this though, I'm surprised the Church of the Redeemer responded, they seemed the most fundie of the local Churches. What about Covenant Life? Journey's Crossing? Int'l Church of God? Not hearing from you. This is why I continue to be vocal and outspoken against religion.

 

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Comment by Mundify the Epigastrium on August 7, 2011 at 8:40am
Thank you for your interesting post.

It reminds me of when still living in Finland I decided that it is high time I 'resigned' from the church. This was the Finnish Leuterian Church and my reason for 'declining' their pious self loathing club was not that I had 'converted' to atheism or come out of any 'non-theist' closet but rather that I had found out that you could do this rather conveniently by clicking a couple of buttons over the internet. How cool is that! The same service (no pun intended) should be available in every country.

The Puritan- excuse me the Lutheran church replied to me also and with a heart warming letter via snail mail that simply said, and I quote: "You are no longer a member of our Christian community".

Aaaw, they really, really care...

Fight the good fight - its nice to be the sum of an infinite amount of possibilities with scientific explanations to the big questions...

Regards, etc. etc.
Comment by ryan cameron on August 6, 2011 at 8:19am
when I deconverted, it was exactly that: people living happy, morally upright lives outside of the church.  Where I expected depression and depravity, there was acceptance, love and genuine concern - tempered with more humor and culture than I was accustomed to.  I would say that was the most powerful "anti-witness" against the extremist worldview I was born into.
Comment by Torkoal (Gotta catch 'em all) on August 5, 2011 at 11:56pm
>in which the church's response completely missing the point.

Unfortunetly, accusing them of evading a clear accusation will result in waiting another month for a similar response.
Comment by Jeremy Raines on August 4, 2011 at 10:32pm
You are obviously very comfortable with your worldview. It would appear that the pastor of this church lacks the same comfort, or he certainly doubts the assurance of his "flock." Maybe if you had billed yourself as a lascivious, bitter, confrontational anti-theist (dabbling in neopagan rituals perhaps), he might have been less threatened by your presence in his church.

Nothing frightens clerics more than people living meaningful, moral, and happy lives outside the confines of religious belief.

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