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Disappointed in response to freethinkers

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POSTED January 27, 2014 12:29 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

I am writing as a Christian who has an active and ever unfolding belief in, and relationship with, God. I attend a church here in town on a regular basis. I was disappointed that some people had chosen to “protest” the recent gathering of freethinkers, invoking God and country, no less, as their champions for their activities. I know that there are many Christians who share my feeling.

Pastor Perea stated that the purpose of their gathering was for worship, and to let the freethinkers know about their beliefs by their presence. Yes, people have the right of assembly in this country. It’s also true that many of us do not feel comfortable entering a place where there are those outside who do not want us to come in (think pickets outside grocery stores). The tactic is to discourage and disrupt. This was clearly the agenda of the Christian group at the library.

In most religions we are encouraged to evangelize, that is, to draw others into our faith. It would seem that the most effective way to do that is to communicate the most compelling information, in the best way, and at the best time. I don’t think the best time was at that gathering, with picket signs, or standing in silent judgment. While there may have been dyed-in-the-wool freethinkers there who had their opinions about Christians confirmed, probably also included were those who are on their journey to find life’s meaning and purpose. The same people who attended for this reason may also be showing up at churches in our area to continue their search — or maybe not, since they’ve already seen evidence of the intolerant nature of Christian congregations.

I take exception to Pastor Dillman linking the freethinker movement to the undermining of education and moral decay. The absence of God (Christian teachings) in our schools may be more a reflection of religious diversity in our population (non Christian students/families) than the reason for moral decay and subpar education; these are problems in their own right. And again, love of this country and democratic principles are, I’m sure, also embraced by people of all faiths and non-believers as well. It’s easy for all of us to get caught up in “righteous speak”, but I think we are obligated to untangle these elements for objectivity.

I look forward to attending the next event. I think it sounds interesting and I will listen with respect and in quiet. If I have a question that does not carry an agenda, I will ask it, but will leave the floor to others. I am perfectly capable of maintaining an unshakable belief of God’s grace in my life, while hearing other opinions about belief systems, and historical or evolutionary rationales. Everyone has a right to their opinion and belief, and I support and respect the process of exploration and discovery. It takes on-going effort and commitment. I may or may not agree with some of the information presented because I believe God can co-exist within any series of factual or probable events.  If I am in general disagreement, I will hope and pray that some of this group, at some time, will encounter God’s grace in their lives and know the source.

Pat Silva


Jan. 25, 2014

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