July 7, 2011
Mr. Church Leader,
Sir, my name is Stephen Burrows, 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.
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?
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?
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.