The Reason Rally is one month away! For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me that evangelical Christians will be there handing out Bibles, tracts, books and such. I actually look forward to talking to these people. I read the “True Reason” Christian response site today and decided to fill out their contact form. Here’s what I wrote:
“Hi, I’m Kate, and I just became an atheist a few months ago after being raised in the Reformed Baptist tradition and sincerely loving my life, my family, and my God growing up. I have no regrets about ever being a Christian, and I am grateful for the lessons I learned in life through having that worldview.
I appreciate the sincerity of your efforts, and I do look forward to speaking with some of you at the rally. I do want to clear up what the rally is about, as it seems you’ve gotten the intent a bit confused. This rally, first of all, is not about a collective desire to destroy religion. The movement is to show that atheism is more common than people think and that we’re a very misunderstood group. I consider myself an agnostic atheist, but I do not insist on the nonexistence of God, nor do I think it is necessarily wrong for a person to believe in God. There are a lot of atheists who think similarly to me.
At this rally, we hope to encourage those who still are hiding their non-belief to be honest with others, because suppressing your own true convictions is such a disservice to yourself and others who love you. I was terrified to tell my family and friends that I lost my faith, because I knew that some of them would turn their backs on me. And I was right. I lost some of my best friends, even though I’m essentially the same person I was before, just without a belief in God.
I can’t help but notice that all the lessons I learned in church growing up about how minority Christian groups in some nations are martyred for their faith are strikingly similar to how atheists are being treated in this country. There are silent atheists everywhere, especially in churches. They’re even preaching in churches, and they don’t know how to be honest about their beliefs out of fear of being ostracized from all the people they love. Unfortunately, this fear is valid, because a loss of faith often results in a loss of so much more. As much as Christians talk about love and humility, it’s hard to see it in these particular situations.
It’s also hard to see it with your group in how you are coming to the Reason Rally, not with open ears to what we have to say, but with your open books to expose your dogma to us instead, even though almost all of us have already read it a million times over. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve read the books on Christianity and Atheism from both perspectives. I’ve painstakingly weighed the issues. I’ve suffered through doubts, and I’ve spent years begging God to help me trust in him. I am past that stage of trying to convince myself that what I was told to believe is true. I just can’t see how it is, and I’ve likely read the books you want to give me that’ll show me what you believe is true.
I’m not really trying to be mean here, and I don’t suggest that you refrain from attending the rally. I suppose I’m asking that you do the same for us that you’re asking us to do for you: listen. Listen to what we’re actually saying and understand what we actually believe. You might discover it’s different from what you thought it was.”