A bill of rights for unbelievers

Published 5:02 pm Saturday, August 8, 2015

In the book “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People,” by Dave Burchett, the author exposes the disturbing misdeeds taking place in the Christian community, issues such as hypocrisy, legalism, self-righteousness and bigotry.

I recommend the book to anyone, whether to Christians who are embarrassed and outraged over the evils of hypocrisy, self-righteousness and other issues in the Christian community or to non-believers who have experienced hurt and abuse from other Christians.

Burchett creates a Bill of Rights for Unbelievers. Here are the rights.

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I have the right to never have faith forced on me.

I have the right to never be treated in a condescending manner.

I have the right to always hear the truth.

I have the right for you to patiently hear my concerns and doubts.

I have the right to seek answers to those questions and doubts that you can’t answer.

I have the right to be steered to resources for my own study and investigation.

I have the right to be loved, no matter how I respond to the Gospel message.

This should be a tool for Christians to share the Gospel to the world. Even though we call ourselves Christians, sometimes we can be very stubborn, lazy, snobbish and selfish when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

We have become like the religious rulers of Jesus’s time, overwhelming people with legalism but making excuses for ourselves when we are caught in the wrong (Matthew 23).

Someone asked me, “What rights should gay people have?” After thinking about it, these seven things should be a start. I would also add these two things: They should have the right to receive help from us when those who hate them threaten their lives. And they should have the right to receive mercy and to know that God cares about them and only wants the best for them, despite their sinful lifestyle.

All people should have these rights.

As Christians, we should not forget where we come from. We were once people who wasted our lives on things God did not approve of. We weren’t always godly, and we still have flaws in our lives. If we forget who we once were, we can have no humility or compassion for other people.

For non-Christians, let me say this on the behalf of the Christian community: we stand before God and we stand before you guilty as charged.

Too many times, we have overwhelmed you with our legalistic attitudes, belittled you with our self-righteousness, robbed you of God’s grace and mercy and disappointed you with our hypocrisy.

We ask God and you for forgiveness, for we don’t know what we are doing.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native pursuing her bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in strategic communications and a history minor at Regent University. Email her at kenysmi@mail.regent.edu.