It occurs to me that many churches may be unwittingly promoting atheism. It is a bad thought, but a true one.
I don’t have a huge opportunity to speak with many atheists, but I have read many writings by atheists. One thing keeps popping up–they like Jesus. His teachings, His love, His ideas are all good to them. They like that He spoke againsts social inequality and cared for the outcasts.
Another thing that pops up, though, is that some church at some point was hurtful to them in some way. Whether people were disingenuous, hypocritical, overly critical, or obnoxious about being right, something drew them away from belief. In some cases it was some dramatic event and in others it was a long-time-coming kind of thing. Either way, they left.
The church often offers fast and easy answers to difficult/messy questions. Other times there is no answer offered at all, only condemnation for asking such a question in the first place. Life is messy and so is some of the Bible if you are not accustomed to it. Christians need to try to see all that we believe from an outsider’s perspective. Maybe then we could better understand the difficulty some have with what they hear and read.
Our goal is to help people get to know Christ, not promote atheism. Jesus wasn’t afraid of messy people, situations, or questions. I pray that we can have the same courage.