The congregation of a former evangelical Christian pastor who publicly converted to atheism in 2011 is being threatened by members of the Christian Taliban who live near them in Louisiana. It seems that these so-called Christians are somehow threatened by the presence of an atheist church and their members, even though Christians greatly outnumber atheists in the area.
Jerry Dewitt had been a life-long Christian who became a pastor, but when he begin to doubt his own beliefs in the supernatural and was no longer unable to accept the idea of hell, he quit preaching and became an atheist. He wrote a book called Hope After Faith and joined the Clergy Project, a group which lends confidential support to preachers who no longer believe in God. His conversion to atheism did not go without repercussions. He was fired from his secular job at the time and his wife left him.
Dewitt currently lives in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area and heads up an atheist gathering called Community Mission Chapel. It has apparently become successful enough that it has attracted the ire of a few “Christians” who live in the area. At least one of them sent the following letters to Jon Jeffels, an adherent of the Community Mission Chapel. Jeffels, who has a family, found the below letters in his mailbox…
We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. You’re little group of devil worshippers isn’t welcome here. Let the love and message of the Lord filter through you and may you escape from the eternal damnation that you have condemned you and you’re innocent children to. Repent you’re Satanistic ways or you will find that the Lord works in VERY mysterious ways. You are against God and are not welcome in this area and we WILL spread his message to the hearts and minds of your innocent children. To deny His word to your children is abuse, and if you do not learn to love Him and His word then we will have no choice but to take action to protect your children from your devil-enabling ways. Do not even try to report this to the police — we are every where and His work will be done in His name thru us, the true beleivers.
You could not keep away from it, could you? You and your group are infecting this area and driving THE ONE TRUE GOD out. We have warned you before. We are warning you again. We will stop you any way we have too. He has misterious ways. Keep you’re family close.
You probably noticed that the author of these threatening letters is a bit grammar-challenged, particularly struggling with the concept of “your” or “you’re”.
Jeffels is taking the letters seriously. He reported them to the police and moved other family members to another location, at least temporarily. He also emphasizes that he does not believe the letters are representative of all Christians in the area.
And on Facebook, he wrote a response to the letter writers:
To whoever is leaving us these hateful notes in our mailbox, I implore you to contact me directly and allow us to have a reasoned discussion over what has happened up to this point. If the group that I am part of is offending you and your beliefs, then let’s talk about why that is, and how we can move beyond it.
Despite the obvious threats that you have made against me and my family, I have done nothing but encourage people to try to co-exist with the local communities. It hasn’t been easy because my family is my world and they have been threatened, but I also understand that your beliefs are your world to you and you feel that those are just as threatened by us in some way.
I want to understand why you are threatening us like this, and why you didn’t just message me directly in an interactive fashion – that’s perhaps the most frustrating part of all of this. There is no need to terrorize us and make us feel unsafe and unwelcome in our own home, not to mention in our own community. Why do you feel the need to follow that path? Threats won’t make us change our beliefs, nor would we wish to try and change yours, but through reasoned discussion I hope that we stand a chance of understanding one another better and co-existing on common ground that we can discover together.
I don’t want for anyone to get hurt, lose their job, or even worse over all of this if we can work this all out as reasonably and amicably as possible. Let’s set a positive example and use this as an opportunity to bridge a gap in understanding on both sides of this issue. Despite all of the stress, concern, and paranoia that you have generated, I want us to be able to produce something good from it all. We may not be able to agree on a lot of things, but I hope that we can cement home that instigating fear is not the best way forward for anyone and that everyone benefits from reasoned discussion.
Yours in anticipation,
Jeffel’s letter is not much different than when Christians request that peaceful Muslims condemn the extremists within their ranks. Let’s hope that the true Christians in the area come out and support Jeffels and any other atheists who may have also received these letters, and condemn the author(s) of these letters. We’re guessing that Jeffels is not the only one who received them, given that there is no apparent reason why his family would be singled out by the terroristic Christian Taliban members.
The following exchange, unrelated to the above letters, was posted on the Community Mission Chapel Facebook page in September. It’s just another indication of the passive-aggressive animosity that so-called Christians have towards those who don’t believe the same way they do.
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