For the Love of an Atheist
The mid-day crowds at the ferry terminal were sparse because the next boat wouldn’t arrive for a while. Without anyone to engage, I watched a young woman take her protest sign, prop it up against a bench, and sit down in the shade.
One side of the sign stated in bold letters Seattle Atheists. The flipside read: Religion Causes War.
Since I was waiting for the ferry, I decided to sit in the shade with her and ask what she meant.
She was happy to talk and declared emphatically, “People are brainwashed by religion. Look at how many have been killed because of it.”
“Do you think atheism is the answer?” I asked respectfully.
“Look, people kill those that don’t follow their religion. You see it ALL the time.” She spoke loudly, although no one was close enough to hear.
I turned to face her. “So, is this a God problem or a man problem?”
“People do what their religion tells them to do.” She said, waving her hands dismissively.
“And atheists don’t do that?” I asked.
“Atheists don’t BELIEVE in God.” She said rather slowly, as if I didn’t understand what atheism involved. “They don’t kill people for religion, because they don’t have a religion.” She sighed with a sense of satisfaction, having won the argument.
We sat quietly. A few people walked by and looked at her sign, but most ignored us sitting together on the bench.
I ventured a bit further. “Did you know that Stalin, Mao, Lenin, and Pol Pot killed over 100 million people? They weren’t Christians, they were atheists.”
This young woman, who cared deeply about the world’s injustice, couldn't see that atheism could do harm too.
She cocked her head to look at me more closely, “You’re religious, aren’t you?”
I smiled and said yes. “But I wouldn’t hurt anyone, nor would millions of other Christians. Someone once said that if your religion asks you to kill someone, it’s time to find a new religion.”
As I left to go buy my ferry ticket, I thought the one thing that makes a difference in the world is love—something Jesus told us to offer everyone.
I looked back and saw that she was standing with her sign, waiting for the arriving ferry crowd. I smiled and waved at her. She smiled broadly and waved back. I hadn’t changed her mind, but at least I left her with love.
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
1 Corinthians 13:6
FYI: Throughout human history, 1763 wars have been waged. Only 123 of those were fought for religious reasons. And of those 123 wars, 66 of them were fought in the name of Islam. That leaves 3.23% that were caused by the rest of the world religions, including Christianity. Encyclopedia of Wars