I respect atheists. (apology included for crediting quote to wrong author in last blog entry)

If you listen to an aplacetotalk podcast you know that I respect atheists primarily because they have the courage to ask questions that your normal “religious or Christian” crowd won’t.  In the introduction of our podcast my buddy Ben says just that, and while he said – I edited into the introduction that plays at the beginning of every podcast because I really love and agree with that line.  Speaking of quotes, I miss-credited a quote the other day right here on this blog and I’m writing today to apologize to two self-proclaimed atheists.

I accidentally credited Courtney Sajben, with a quote by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. I am blogging today to apologize to both the late O’Hair and Courtney.  I certainly didn’t mean to miss-quote either of you, I am sorry.  (By the way, if you look back at this blog entry for my mistake, it isn’t there anymore because I corrected it today.)

By the way the quote was, “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.”

One more thing, if you think that quote is anything different than what Jesus would live and teach I believe you’ve misunderstood Jesus because I believe Jesus believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church.  I also believe that Jesus believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said and He (Jesus) strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He, Jesus, also wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, and war eliminated.  The impressive thing with Jesus is… I believe He will get what He wants while still allowing and working through the free will of man.  It is a long slow journey because we are stubborn, but I believe Jesus and His love will win!

I have so little courage…

I’m typing a blog right now that I am afraid to let the world see. My eyes are filling with moisture as I write, I’m emotional because I’m afraid of what others will think. I bet that is a shock to many, because I usually speak my mind so freely…

By the way, my fear is only about the ridicule that I will receive from people who call themselves “Christian”. It seems that my atheist friends / acquaintances always treat me fairly and with respect, it is only religious folks I know who yell, ignore, defriend, and mock my faith. It is religious people who say there is no hope for me… amazing – a pastor actually said that to me recently, “There is no hope for you, Josh” even when I pointed out that we were supposed to be giving hope, not taking it… he never said a single word of apology. He never took back those words. I was amazed then, and still am obviously today.

I received an email from a Pastor yesterday asking about my opinion, he actually said “I write to you because I value your opinion on such matters. I see you as a critical thinker and a biblical thinker.” That was humbling… and shocking considering the treatment I’ve been getting from religious leaders.

A friend of mine wrote this on facebook today and it was her words that made me embarrassed that I hadn’t been more open with my words. Here is what she wrote: “I hope you Evangelical’s are happy……I am on a rant , so bear with me. So angry, to the point I could cry for the way we as the church are looked at by the world. I work with all Evangelical’s who are gloating over the fact that Amendment One (defining marriage between one man & one women) passed. I could take it no longer, I piped up that I voted against it….a look of shock…I explained that I don’t want the government intruding in our lives. That although I don’t approve of a gay lifestyle, I don’t think it’s our business. I got the argument “well, the Bible clearly says…” I said: Where does it stop, do we outlaw divorce too, the bible is clearly against divorce too, how about heterosexual couples living together, do we outlaw that? Silence…I proceeded to tell them about a Barna poll that asked young non-christians what Christian’s stood for, and their answer: They hate gay’s…..I said that Jesus only had harsh words for the religious, not the sinners, He was known for hanging with sinners, but we don’t want to get dirty, so we pass laws……..Silence…..My heart breaks!!! We are known for the very opposite of what we should be known for!!!! How has your church gotten so far from your heart, forgive us….”

Another friend of my admitted to a pastor that she would be voting against the amendment, he told her that he never wanted to see or talk to her again. He said that she was disowned… if she would vote for the fags, (his words not mine) then she was no better than them!” Novel idea, pastor… I believe we are no better than anyone else. My mom (I’m so thankful for her teaching in my life – even though we probably voted differently on every point yesterday) used to tell me when I was too young to understand, “Josh, no one is better than you, but you better never forget that you are no better than anyone else!” Great words to live by. I pray my kids hear that enough from me that they never forget it.

Here’s my response to the pastor who asked me for advice yesterday about the Marriage Amendment…

I did a podcast about this, so I’m not afraid to speak about my opinion to this. (Well I wasn’t to him, but I was afraid today… Religious people go ahead and write me off, I can’t worry about what you think.) You can listen to that, or I’ll give you my short answer here… I’ve been back and forth on this. At first it was obvious – FOR, then I heard the fears of domestic violence – AGAINST, then I realized that was a lie, FOR… then I thought about why are we doing this, AGAINST, then I realized that we are killing Muslims as a country and war hasn’t even been legally declared – so why on earth are we wasting our time with this garbage, AGAINST… then I prayed… “God, does this really matter…?” I think His answer to me… this isn’t for everyone and I wouldn’t tell you, except you asked… (Now, I’m sharing it with everyone… things can change overnight.) PLEASE DON’T ASSUME I’M WRITING THIS LIKE IT IS PROPHECY OR A WORD FROM GOD, I DIDN’T HEAR AN AUDIBLE VOICE AND I KNOW THAT THIS WAS SOMEWHAT MY MIND, BUT I HEARD IT AS IF IT WAS ALSO SOMEHOW THE MIND OF CHRIST… “Josh, the results of this vote are less important than the fight and you can’t vote against the fight… the fight itself says that My people are more concerned still with sin and standing in anger against other people than they are about healing people and helping them know that I love them. One time the people demanded the right to divorce, and I’ve always tried to protect them from the danger of divorce (or degrading marriage in anyway), it was never My plan, but they wanted it, begged for it, and were going to live in hatred toward each other whether I allowed divorce or not… so I allowed it under some circumstances. It wasn’t My will, but the people needed to stop focusing on rights, and sin, and fighting and just believe that I love them. Josh, they are going to live however they want, I already gave that freedom… now We, you and I have to keep loving them… So vote how you want, just be sure that you don’t use this issue as another opportunity for believers to show disdain for unbelievers… I love them, and their sin doesn’t repel me… I WILL overlook and forgive their sin, just like I do yours.”

I’ve never done that before… shared so detailed what I feel like I heard from God. Some would get angry about that… as if I could speak for God. That wasn’t my heart, I’m just sharing what I felt like He was saying to my heart… We have the mind of Christ, 1 Cor 2:16.

Well there it was… I’m sure some are ticked, and some wrote me off before I posted this… I love them anyway, and I pray that someday we can make loving God and loving one-another primary, not our fight against and focus on sin.