Dear Pastor

Dear Pastor,

I walked by your church again today. I guess that you would call it God’s church, but the thing is, I no longer believe in
God. I know, I know…you’re probably shocked. A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I no longer consider
myself to be a “believer” anymore. It’s been a long process, this leaving of my religious faith — I’ve been the one going
through it for the past four years, and it hasn’t been a fun little jaunt through the park. But it’s okay now. I’m okay.

Perhaps you have a dozen or three dozen questions for me. Please ask. Listen to my side. I’ve been on your side of
the fence, the Christian side. I liked it there. I liked attending church. I loved reading the Bible, singing, praying.
I felt enriched and enthralled by all things “God.” I thought that all of that would be part of my life
forever. We don’t plan to “lose” the things we value most highly. We don’t plan to “move away” from the things that we
mean the world to us. Yes, sometimes it all works so well…until it just doesn’t.

The last time I attended your church — which was also the time I decided to give church a break for at least one year — you
preached about how we “non-believers” have it all wrong. You said some unkind things about us and made a lot of assumptions.
I wonder how much you actually know about agnostics, atheists, former Christians, secularists, and so on. I think that if you knew
some of our stories, you’d see that we really aren’t so different.

I don’t plan to deconvert you from your faith. I respect your faith. Like I said, I’ve been on that side of the fence —
the God/Jesus/Bible side. I have a good idea of how that side operates. When you preach against
us who have “backsliden,” I hear a lot of judgment, a lot of stereotyping, a lot of misinformation.
I want to help open up the conversation between the people in the pews and the people who have left the pews. I want to
help open up the conversation between you, behind the pulpit, and me, your former attendee.

For starters, to get this out of the way, I don’t think that most of us got to this place in our “faith journey” just so that we could
have sex and drink alcohol with reckless abandon. We weren’t looking for an excuse to behave in certain ways.

I haven’t left the faith to rebel against my parents. Or because I’m mad at God. Or because I got bored of the Christian lifestyle.

I have not left the church because of how God’s children treated me. I have had very positive experiences within
God’s family, and I’ve had very negative experiences within God’s family. As well, I’ve had very positive and very
negative experiences with people who are not affiliated with any religion. Other people’s
behaviour towards me has not been a big determining factor in my deconversion.

This is more of an intellectual issue, not a spiritual issue. I simply no longer believe many of the stories within the
Christian religion (the virgin birth, the resurrection, many other “miracles,” etc.). I don’t think that the way to be
“saved” is to confess my sins and commit to being Jesus’s foIlower. I think that the “Biblical” ways of thinking and living
are often quite unhealthy.

I think that love is important. I think that compassion,
generosity, peace, and all that other good stuff is very important. I just don’t think that it is necessary that we
insert God and Jesus into the equation. I don’t think it is necessary to place such strong emphasis on a man
who did or not live, die, and then rise from the dead 2000 years ago. I think it’d be okay for us to see this as a myth
that no longer works for us in North America in 2015. I think it’d be okay for us to admit that it’s an interesting
story, but not much more than that. Yes, Christianity has done a lot of good, but we cannot ignore all the harm that it
has done, too. I really don’t think the pros outweight the cons.

There is so much more that I could add to this. Maybe you have a dozen questions for me, or maybe you have zero.
I hope that, if nothing else, you’re a tiny bit more curious about “those atheists” you were preaching against.