A few years ago, I saw a newspaper article with the following headline: "Atheists will be among friends at group’s annual convention." There is an organization called the Freedom From Religion Foundation that had a convention. Atheists and agnostics from all around the country attended.
I’m not writing about this so I can jump on them for promoting atheism or agnosticism, just so we as believers should be aware that they are out there. They are evangelizing – telling their story. We need to be able to defend our faith against their attacks.
Actually, I support the right of this group to meet. Freedom of religion isn’t just limited to my religion, and atheism is not a lack of religion, it’s not freedom from religion, as they might say. Atheism itself is a religion. In fact, it might take a lot more faith to believe what they believe. However, I will challenge their concerns with religion. They claimed religion - and they were speaking of Christianity - was evil. I do think they are terribly mistaken on that one.
I once attended a Fall Missions Festival at the Hunt Baptist Church. They had speakers from about a dozen Mission Outreach programs. People who are offering free clothing, and greatly reduced groceries, school supplies, Christmas gifts, etc. All this in the Hunt, NY area – a very small, very rural community. And as I look around this very rural community, and I see what the church is doing to help others, there is a noticeable lack of anybody else doing anything to help others.
Where is the Freedom From Religion group when they see people in need? What are they doing to feed and clothe their neighbors who are struggling? Are they helping with school supplies? One group we saw was soliciting donations of computers to be used in Africa in an initiative to greatly improve education in that country. What is the Freedom From Religion group doing to improve education in Africa? Or even here for that matter?
While they believe that religion is an “evil”, it seems to me the charity of the church is helping where no one else is. Locally, in the Waverly area, there are six food pantries in the valley. All of them run by church organizations. It’s the church that has the only homeless shelter in our county. It’s the church that’s helping people put food on their tables. It’s the church that is clothing the poor and feeding the hungry with free meals on Thursday through the Bridge. All of these services are available free of charge to the recipient.
The church scores very high marks in national tragedies, as well. Several years ago now, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf coast, the church responded in incredible ways. And I saw a report that of the main groups that responded, as far as the satisfaction levels of those who were being helped, the Church was way out in front. Less than half of the people served were satisfied with what FEMA could do. The Red Cross had a huge response, but the satisfaction of what they could do was only 65-70% level. The church was over 90% - over 90% of the people helped were satisfied with what was done for them. And these were people that came because they wanted to, because they saw a need, and their love for their fellow man prompted them respond.
The group, Freedom from Religion, calls for a nation without God. I don’t know what a nation without God would look like, but I wouldn’t want to live there. We need each other, and we need the church. The comfort and compassion that the church gives is desperately needed. And we won’t see that kind of comfort and compassion from organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
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