On behalf of evangelical Christians* everywhere, I would hereby like to apologize for ever, in any way, insisting that atheists should become Christian.
The reason it’s wrong for us to insist upon that isn’t because we don’t think it an excellent idea for atheists to convert to Christianty. It’s wrong because (we now see) communicating that to atheists cannot help but be righteously offensive to them. And offending people isn’t exactly the shortest path to in any real way communing with them, is it?
We see that now. Forgive us for not seeing it sooner.
We certainly get angry enough when you atheists tell us Christians why we shouldn’t believe in God, don’t we? So of course it’s unreasonable for us not to expect you to get angry when we tell you that you should believe in God. Of course that’s how you’d respond to that. What were we thinking?
Please understand that what we were, in fact, thinking, is that we love you. We want you to become Christian because we don’t want you to go to hell. As you know, we believe an eternity in hell is the fate awaiting anyone who dies without first believing in Jesus Christ. We don’t want you to go to hell. We don’t want anyone to go to hell. Hell’s the worst ever. So we try to save you, see, by … well, being pretty completely obnoxious to you.
Please don’t think of us as intolerant, shallow, egotistical, intrusive, overbearing, smug, judgmental, hypocrites. Try instead to think of us as people who genuinely care about you, and are only trying to stop you from suffering in a way that we believe you will if you don’t open up your heart to the joys and realities of what we very definitely believe is God. That’s all it is. We sincerely apologize for all the times and ways that we’ve turned what we only ever really meant as an expression of love for you into something that we now understand you couldn’t have possibly received as that.
Furthermore, we’d like to extend to you our true and deep respect for the way you’ve utilized and shown your respect for rational thought, which (believe it or not) we too consider a paramount value. We’re actually huge proponents of rational thought—a fact that we know too often gets lost in those media storms occasioned by our, shall we say, less personally constrained brethren. We apologize for not often enough making clear the degree to which we value rational thought—and for how much we appreciate why anyone would want to make it the primary vehicle they use to wind their way through this decidedly bizarre series of experiences we call life.
Thanks for reading this letter. Hope it helps start making things better between us.
With all the love in the world,
All the Evangelicals
* I personally am not what is commonly referred to as an evangelical Christian. See, for instance, my Unfundamentalist Christians. Or just about anything else I’ve ever written.