If you’ve grown up in conservative white Evangelicalism, the chances are that you’ve heard some horrible things said about those who do not share in the Christian faith. That world sees enemies everywhere, and at the very top of that enemy list: atheists.
Growing up in Evangelicalism, we were constantly quoting Psalm 14:1 as a way to equate Atheism with foolishness. We were given caricatures of atheists and told they were truthful representations of who atheists were. Then, we laughed at that caricature. We never realized that we were laughing at a false image we had created in our minds. We created a false narrative and called it the truth.
I say this was a false narrative because, do you know what I don’t remember? I don’t remember ever inviting an atheist into our community to find out their story. I don’t remember being encouraged to get to know any atheists to understand their beliefs or how they arrived at their conclusions about God and faith.
I don’t remember ever being encouraged to view atheism with a curious or compassionate heart.
I remember the opposite. My Christian community taught me to be afraid of atheists because they only wanted to hurt good Christians like me. Atheists held an agenda to destroy my faith and make a mockery of Christ.
Friends, we do ourselves and the atheist community a disservice by creating and promoting lies. It shows a lack of integrity when we perpetuate such things. It demonstrates a lack of love for people different from us when we choose to make assumptions. It also shows great insecurity in our own faith when we lash out at those who believe differently than we do.
The truth is that the Christian community needs atheists.
We need their compassion. We need atheists to challenge us out of stagnant faith. We need them to love us just as much as we need to love them. I know that my faith is much richer because I chose to do life with those who believe differently than me.
We need to stop fearing them, and we need to stop teaching others to fear them.
Atheists are neither an enemy nor a threat to Christianity. Imagine if they were? What a weak faith that would be that someone could destroy the faith of another simply by not sharing it.
I believe Jesus is stronger. I believe that my faith can stand firm, even with people in this world who disagree with me.
Let’s be better and do better, friends.