Open Letter to Pastor Tom Tate
Today, @AtheistUndrwrld tweeted a church sign picture that moved me. It didn’t make me smile, or curse, or drop my jaw in incredulity. It filled me with hope. I’m showing the picture before the break. Following the break is the letter I wrote to the pastor before starting this post. So, without further babble, here’s the picture:
One more quick note before the letter: The picture alone provides all the necessary information to quickly find this church on Google. Normally, I wouldn’t include the address of a person whom I’ve never met, but the web made this so easy that I thought I might as well break that rule. Here’s the letter:
Tom Tate, Pastor
Rose City Park United Methodist Church
5830 NE Alameda St.
Portland, OR 97213-3426
27 March 2012
Dear Pastor Tate,
Fair Warning: I intend to post this as an Open Letter, either on my blog, or on a DIY petition site so others can sign on, or both.
I’m an atheist. And I live about 600 miles away from you. I don’t know you, nor before a few minutes ago even knew OF you, but I wanted you to know that you turned a dismal rainy day into one I will long remember.
Today, you made my day.
You made it the instant I saw a picture of your church sign, linked to by a Twitter user I follow, saying:
GOD PREFERS KIND ATHEISTS OVER HATEFUL CHRISTIANS
I’ve rarely seen such a clear declaration that some in the religious community are indeed in favor of, at the very least, tolerance. And with the mass media in our country seemingly acting as stenographers for the farthest right of the religious nutcases, I can’t recall hearing of any clergy raising their voice in opposition to the hate they spew, at least no clergy with a national audience. And while your audience may not be national, you do have an audience, and you declared yourself clearly to the audience that probably matters most to you, your neighborhood. That took courage.
Your statement confirmed to me what I’ve always hoped, that coexistence without rancor is possible.
As an atheist, I will not pray that your statement reflects not only tolerance, but a desire to coexist peacefully with all in this world. But substitute “hope” for “pray” and strike out “will not” in my previous sentence and I’m all in.
With this, I fulfill my intention of posting the letter on my blog. As no one has (yet) responded to my Twitter plea for a DIY petition site recommendation, I ask you, my readers, to comment if you want to sign on. Better would be
a recommendation for a petition site to sign the petition of thanks I’ve created at change.org. BEST would be for you to write Pastor Tom your own letter!
One more thing before you all start bombarding me with comments. AFTER writing the letter and signing, then sealing the envelope, I gave myself a forehead slap: Wait? What about Rev. Al Sharpton or Rev. Jesse Jackson? Yes. They are clergy with a national audience who have raised their voice. But at the time I wrote the letter, that part of it was true, I hadn’t (yet) recalled them to mind!
Thanks for listening,
If you can recommend a DIY petition site AND you’re on Twitter, please tweet me the link to it: @sjdorst Overtaken by events! I’ve created a petition online at change.org. You can sign on HERE.