The Friendly Atheist, Part 1

March 9, 2007

church / politics

Recently, a friendly atheist has been appearing in various media outlets. Hemant Mehta, who is the friendly atheist, became the eBay atheist when he took bids to attend church. Bids increased the amount of hours he would spend. The auction money was donated to the Secular Student Alliance, who works for things like taking God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I think it is in every way wrong for Christians to try to enforce prayer in school, put God into the pledge, put God on currency, and any number of other things. America’s not a Christian nation; it never was, never will be, and furthermore it shouldn’t be. The very idea of a Christian nation is an insult to the kingdom of God as Jesus understood it. Even if it wasn’t, America certainly hasn’t ever done anything to deserve such a name.

In any case, this guy visited several churches to learn about Christians. Several people across the blogging Internet have noticed an interview with him in Outreach magazine where he recounts his experiences. Without summarizing the article, I want to note the following:

Clearly, most churches have aligned themselves against non-religious people. By adopting this stance, Christians have turned off the people I would think they want to connect with. The combative stance I’ve observed is an approach that causes people to become apathetic and even antagonistic toward religion as a whole. Many evangelical pastors seem to perceive just about everything to be a threat against Christianity. Evolution is a threat. Gay marriage is a threat. A swear word uttered accidentally on television is a threat. Democrats are a threat. I don’t see how any of these things pose a threat against Christianity. If someone disagrees with you about politics or social issues or the matter of origins, isn’t that just democracy and free speech in action? Why do Christians feel so threatened?

You need to spread the message of Christianity the message being what Christianity stands for: loving each other, helping the people around you. Those are things everyone can get on board with.

Also, atheists: we’re not non-believers. We do believe in a lot of things, but they come from other experiences and other encounters, not necessarily a book.

Many Christians are beginning to notice that the ridiculous war metaphor doesn’t work anymore. I think it was always a terrible metaphor, but it’s worse now. People in western culture, and those who look at and are oppressed by western culture are dealing with enough imperialism and possibilities of totalitarianism in our faces without putting that kind of face on spirituality and the things of God. I’m considering a small series of posts about my views on the various things this man mentions that some Christians believe are such a threat.

After these statements, he gets something that Christians seem to be unable to grasp: Christianity is about loving each other. This man’s quoting the Bible, and he probably hasn’t heard the passage he’s quoting! People will know we are Christians by our love for one another. If more Christians had shown him an authentic love as he visited these several churches, rather than dry ritualism, fear, and an overall lack of genuineness, what would he have said about us? More on its way. I will continue these thoughts.