To: List of people
From: Darwin Bedford <email@example.com>
Subject: handed pamphlets to Bellingham church goers
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999
Today I drove to Bellingham, Washington to hand out pamphlets to the congregation of an American church (Hillcrest Chapel http://www.hillcrestchapel.com/chapel/ ). I stood on the sidewalk directly outside the main doors wearing my man-throwing-a-cross-away T-shirt and a Humanist Association cap. The pamphlets contained the "Some Questions for the Believer" list from Atheists United along with my email address and Web site URL after the credits.
Immediately a senior staff member of the church freaked and told me that I would not be permitted to hand out the pamphlets on or near church property. He asked me to leave and said he would call the police if I did not do so. As I handed the pamphlets out to people he was telling people that I was an atheist and not to take the pamphlets. He went so far as to grab them back from people. I reminded him that the sidewalk was not church property and he would have to call the police to have me move further away from the church. By the time the police arrived (which was not very long at all), he and others had invited me to attend the service. When the policeman explained to me that I could hand pamphlets out on the sidewalk but could not go onto any of the church grounds, I told him that they had already invited me to attend the service. He turned to them and said, "Well there is nothing I can do then." The policeman asked for my name, address, and phone number because he had to write a report on the call.
Some members of the congregation tried to physically block my access to the sidewalk area in front of the church doors, but after a while people were going out of their way to get a copy (or two) of what I was handing out. One man stared into my eyes like he had never seen an atheist before in his life. I don't know what he was expecting, but he must have been thinking that I seemed like an ordinary person!
I was there from 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. I handed out 125 pamphlets to two congregations. The whole time I was there were people escorting me, asking me why I was doing it, and trying to get me to accept Jesus.
They were impressed that I drove all the way from Burnaby, BC to their church. I told them that their Web site contained a map to the church, the time of the services, and enough information for me to tell that their church was well attended. However, a few of them were convinced that God had sent me to their church.
P.S., Below is the e-mail that I have received from them today.
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 14:24:52 EDT
Subject: Re: "Some Questions for the Believer"
Thank you for taking the time to pass out your pamphlet to Hillcrest
Chapel this morning. I was not in attendance today, as I was sick, but my
brother brought it home and showed me. It is good to discuss these things.
You're right. If the God of the Bible cannot stand up to questions
of His existence, then He is not worth following. But He can.
I will only respond to question 19 this morning ("What would it take
to convince you that you are wrong?"), and I have a few questions for you....
My response: Prove to me that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. If
He did not, then He was not God, as He said. If He did not, Christianity
crumbles for lack of a foundation. If He did not, the Bible is not
trustworthy. If He did not, then there is no reason for me to follow Him.
A few questions:
*Have you read the Bible? (Old and New Testaments)
*Do you believe that the God of the Bible exists? Why or why not?
Thanks in advance for your time, and your reply.
* * * * *
From: "Dean H*******"
Subject: God loves you!
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 13:55:40 -0700
It was a pleasure meeting you this morning at Hillcrest Chapel. I would like to invite you back to listen to one of our services I think you would enjoy. I looked for a long time to find peace in things of this world it never lasted. When I asked Jesus into my heart and made him Lord of my life I found a peace that is not like anything I have ever experienced, don't get me wrong I still have those days but I Know that God will always be there for me.We all have our stories I know this that God brought you to our service this morning for a reason. I want you to know you are always welcome and would like to talk more with you.
God loves you!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
To: List of people
From: Darwin Bedford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: handed pamphlets out to church goers
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999
Today I handed pamphlets out to church goers at the popular Willingdon Church ( http://www.willingdon-church.bc.ca/infofrme.htm ). I stood on the sidewalk between the church and the lower parking lot dressed in my man-throwing-a-cross-away T-shirt and a Humanist Association cap. The pamphlets contained the "Some Questions for the Believer" list from Atheists United along with my email address and Web site URL after the credits. I started with 45 pamphlets 20 minutes before the first service ended and the second service started. Then about an hour later I gave out another 45 pamphlets before the end of the second service and the start of the third service. I got them coming and going. I could have given out 2 or 3 times as many if I had more of them. About 40% of the people passing by accepted them as I offered "some questions for believers".
Two people had never heard the term "atheist". A few people handed them right back to me after taking a few steps. A few people asked me who I represented and why I felt I had to do this. Two people read the questions during the service and wanted to discuss them with me. Two people said they would check out my web site with the intent of conversing with me. I was invited to attend a service by three people.
As I was writing this e-mail, I received the following:
From: "Matthew J*******"
Subject: Response to "Some question for the bliever"
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 22:09:23 -0700
Hi Darwin .B
I am a member at Willingdon Church & have received your list of
questions for the believer. I am willing to answer those question & discuss
them via e-mail if you are interested. I am a person who is very interested
in logic & truth. It is my goal, as it should be for all, to explore the
truth at all cost through logical deduction. I have briefly perused you web
site & intend to take a more in-depth look at it when time permits. I am
interested in rationally & logically discussing the atheist vs. Christianity
debate. In the pursuit of the truth, my one condition is that we both take
up a challenge. That we both will adequately look at the evidence presented
in our discussions. A bigger question is have you read the Bible from
Genesis to Revelations (all of it)? If not I would insist that you take the
time to read it. The only way you can understand what Christianity is all
about is through the Holy Bible. People are not the definition of
Christianity, the Bible is. Anyone can claim to be a Christian & do things
in the name of Christianity, & yet they are not at all Christians. Are you
willing to explore the evidence that I will present, as I am willing to
explore the evidence you present? If you don't wish to take this challenge,
that's Ok. Im aware that it may be a little time consuming. If that is the
case would you permit me to send you some site which I feel give strong
logical support for the Christian faith?
From Matthew J******* (Christian for 20 years)
P.S. I am not some major authority in the field of Apologetics, nor greatly
versed in philosophy. I am a 25 year old University student who has some
very strong, yet logically supported, convictions about my belief in Jesus
Christ my God.