"Why I'm Not a Christian"
What's the first step to telling others about our faith? Listening. That's right, listening. By doing so, we can begin to discover how our friends feel about God, faith and Christianity. And as we hear them out, we can find ways to address their real questions and concerns.
With this in mind, we talked to six high school students about their reasons for not believing in Christ. As you read their responses, we hope you'll get a better idea of what some of your own friends might be thinking and feeling.
Campus Life: What's your religious background, if you have one at all?
Ankur: I follow Jainism, an ancient religion from India that's basically about non-violence and "live and let live." We're not supposed to eat meat because that's taking the life of another animal. So we're vegetarians.
Rick: My mom's Catholic, and my dad's Lutheran. I'm neither of those. I believe that there's a God, but there's no Christ. Or there was, but he wasn't a prophet.
Bud: I have no religious background at all. But I do think there's a God.
Jeff: I used to go to church, but I stopped when I got to confirmation. My dad went to church for certain occasions, but usually it was just my mom and me and my brother. Now I really don't have any particular religion.
Rachel: I'm Jewish. My family belongs to a synagogue, and I'd say we maybe go to a service once a month. We're not extremely religious, but we are very committed to our Jewish heritage. My grandma was Jewish and lived in Germany during World War II. She escaped with her family to the United States. So I have a lot of history.
Susannah: My mom doesn't believe in anything, but my dad and that whole side of my family is Roman Catholic. I went to church till about a year ago with my dad 'cause he made me go, but I really don't believe in anything. I think if I had to choose anything it would be Buddhism, maybe.
What do you think Christianity is all about? What's the main idea?
Ankur: The only real contact I've had with Christianity is from The Simpsons—and their neighbor Ned Flanders. His main idea is "Love thy neighbor." Even though Homer Simpson does all these mean things to him, Ned Flanders still likes him.
Rick: I'm not sure Christians believe in "Love thy neighbor." Look at the Crusades. "Take back the Holy Land; let's go kill some people." Christians don't even have a unity among themselves. Some of them believe in peace, but others want to go attack people who aren't like them.
Bud: Christianity does the same thing as the law, really. It's a set of guidelines to live by, and if everyone would follow those guidelines, everything would be OK.
Rachel: I think Christianity is mainly a belief in Jesus. It's also about morality and what you do, but the more central thing is what you believe. From what I'm aware of, if you believe in Jesus, then you will lead a moral life. At least you'll try to.
So what do you think about Jesus? Who was he, and what was he trying to do?
Rachel: Jesus was a Jewish carpenter, and he was a good guy. I think he had a good message.
Jeff: Jesus sort of put religion back on track. The rules and guidelines were there, and some people were following them, but there was a lot of confusion. Jesus became a symbol and a focal point of how to practice religion.
Rick: I believe he was just a man, I guess. But I think he was probably slightly demented. Maybe he had some mental problems, and he thought he was the Son of God. He went around telling people this, and they wrote stuff about him. Then some people started making up stories, like the one about him splitting some bread into thousands of pieces. I've never seen anybody in my entire life take water and make it wine. So I can't really believe that it happened.