My eBay “soul buyer” Jim Henderson will be featured in the Christian Science Monitor tomorrow. He moderated a dialogue with Christians and atheists titled “God – for people who hate church.”
What prompted this dialogue? Jane Lampman writes:
Some Christians, concerned that millions of Americans never cross the threshold of a church, want to understand why, as well as learn what it is in evangelistic efforts that turns people off. Some atheists, worried that polls show they are the least accepted social group in the country, want to break down stereotypes and change people’s attitudes.
At a conference in Salem, Mass., last Saturday, for example, Christians from several states listened to atheists and neopagans talk about who they are, the origin of their ethics and beliefs, and what challenges they encounter in a society that is predominantly Christian.
“I’ve never understood treating a people group as [the enemy] because their belief system is different,” says Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering, a Salem church that sponsored the conference.
Here are some excerpts that won’t be a surprise to any atheists:
“It’s Christian militancy that has evoked a backlash of atheist militancy,” says Michael Bleiweiss, a physicist and atheist from Methuen, Mass.
Henderson also conducts interviews with men and women who are nonbelievers as an event at church and pastor conferences. Many Evangelicals “are obsessed with conversion,” he says, and always speak of non-Christians as “lost.” The interviews show Christians immersed in their own culture and how that sounds to the people they approach.
At the Salem conference, Mr. Bleiweiss recalled a co-worker who “worked Jesus into every conversation we had.”
I should mention they discuss me and my book in the article as well.
I love the idea that Christians like Henderson and Wyman, and certainly many others like them, are willing to hear (often very bluntly) how they come across to atheists and other non-religious people. If only more Christians were willing to hear what anyone else besides people in their own church thought…
These are at least decent first steps towards a larger goal of atheist acceptance in the general public. As well as general Christian decreepyfication.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Jim Henderson, Christian Science Monitor, God, Jane Lampman, Christian, Salem, Phil Wyman, The Gathering, Michael Bleiweiss, physicist, Methuen, Evangelicals[/tags]