Some of you may think that my recent post about Christians, churches, and how they spend their money reflects an angry hostile attitude towards Christianity. I want to clarify a few things lest anyone misunderstand me.
First, I am not hostile or angry towards religion in general. I think many people find religion to be helpful and it gives their life meaning and purpose.
Second, I think there are some denominations, churches, and pastors who do good, meaningful works as they minster to the poor, sick, homeless, and disenfranchised.
Third, as long an individual Christian doesn’t try to evangelize me, witness to me, preach at me, attempt to turn the secular state I live into a theocracy, try to have creationism taught as science in public schools, or try to codify the Christian religion’s moral code into law, I am indifferent towards that person and Christianity. However, since many Evangelicals think they MUST do these things, they should expect me to be push back and oppose their efforts.
Fourth, I think churches and ministers should be stripped of ALL federal, state, and local tax exemption. Most of their money goes towards staff, buildings, and infrastructure. The actual amount of money spent on charitable acts ministering to the poor, sick, homeless, and disenfranchised is quite small. I am for them receiving tax exemption as a non-profit IF the actual amount of money spent of charitable work is 70-90% of their total income. Until this happens, I am against using taxpayer money to support what is essentially a private club.
Fifth, giving money to a church is not the same as giving money to the Red Cross, March of Dimes, or United Way. I don’t think Christians should receive a tax deduction for giving money to their church. (I see no difference between a church and the YMCA, Elks, Moose, or VFW) If the church becomes a non-profit like I mentioned above then I would support their donations being tax deductible.
Sixth, I hope Christians who comment on this blog will remember I am an atheist. I hope they will also remember that I lived for 50 years in their world and that I spent 25 years as a pastor. I know their world inside and out. You may not like my observations or critique of Christianity but you are not my target audience. I am glad you read my writing and I am glad you take the time to comment. However, you are not who I am interested in reaching. I am far more interested in helping those who are considering leaving Christianity or who have already left. Knowing this, I hope you will understand when I don’t let you use this blog as an opportunity to witness to people. If you are a Christian you KNOW the difference between conversation and evangelizing. The former is fine. The latter? Please don’t do it. I will delete EVERY comment that is an attempt to evangelize or preach at me and the non-Christians who frequent this blog.
Seventh, I oppose fundamentalism wherever it is found. If I seem angry or hostile towards fundamentalist Christianity it is because I am. I think fundamentalist Christianity is harmful and often leads to mental and spiritual abuse. I make no apology for this and no matter how much you try to convince me you are a “nice” fundamentalist or that your church is a “nice” fundamentalist church, I know what I know about fundamentalism and I will not be swayed. I would love to see every fundamentalist church closed (not by coercion but by loss of members). I realize this will never happen because there will always be people who demand certainty and need someone to tell them how to think, live, and act. For this kind of people, fundamentalist Christianity is their drug of choice. All I can do is stridently and publicly appose fundamentalist Christianity and when given the opportunity encourage and advise fundamentalist Christians to seek out friendlier, kinder, and more inclusive churches.
This is my way of saying to the fundamentalist Christians who stop by to WOW me what they think they know and to tell me how wicked, evil, and headed for hell I am, that I have a short fuse when it comes to fundamentalist Christianity and that is just how it is.
As always, thank you for reading The Way Forward.