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  • Courtney Heard

6 Christians I Love and Respect


"I don't understand how you can hate Star Wars,"


I was in the lunchroom with a co-worker when I worked at a print advertising company. We'd been discussing movies and television, and I'd just finished raving about my all-time favourite show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.


I had said precisely nothing about Star Wars.


"What? Where did you get that I don't like Star Wars?" I squinted, tilting my head like that infamous WTF meme.


"I mean, I guess I just assumed since you're a Star Trek fan."

I wasn't about to entertain this absurd conversation, said I had to go back to work and left. I mean, I hadn't seen Star Trek or Star Wars until I was in my twenties. So I'd missed the whole rivalry thing, just skimmed right past it and went straight to the "two things can be awesome simultaneously" phase of life known to some as "adulthood."


Now, it's some ungodly number of years later, and I'm even deeper in this mess called adulthood, and I still find myself having to explain that two different things can be super fantastic at the same time. Every day, some giant sauce pot waddles along and suggests that he can deduce that I loathe Christians simply because I'm an atheist.


Here's the tea, though, dinglenuts: Some atheists and some Christians can be magnificent at the same time. I don't hate anyone. I definitely don't hate Christians just for being Christians. In fact, I love and respect a lot of Christians and before you ask, "Oh yeah? Who?" like you think you found a gotcha that will leave me stumbling, here's a very incomplete list:


My family


Yeah, you read that right. I know that for years, I have been telling you that I'm a third and possibly fourth-generation atheist and that my parents and grandparents were all godless sinners like myself; there are loads of other people in my family who shined a pew from time to time. My grandparents on my mother's side made their kids go to church every Sunday. Though the story goes that having had five kids in four years left them no time to put some stank on the hang down, and sending their babies to God's house gave them some alone time, but that's beside the point. Grandma T and Papa Bob both identified as Christians, and you know what? Not once, not even for a split second, did they ever make me feel ashamed, wrong or in danger for not being Christian. Not once did either of them ever try to push their beliefs on my brother or me. They respected us for who we were, and in return, I will always respect their memories.


John Pavlovitz


While so many recognizable Christians with sizeable platforms use them to make money and collect private jets, John uses his to fight for social justice. Not a day goes by that he doesn't appear in my Twitter feed defending marginalized groups, standing up for the rights of people whether they are Christian or not. John is constantly lifting the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, the black community, the indigenous community. He refuses to allow his faith to get in the way of doing what's right, and I highly recommend you follow this man and read his blog as regularly as you can. Click here for that.


My high school friend


Let's call her Maggie. This girl was there for me when no one else was on so many occasions. Not the least of which was when I moved to Australia when I was fifteen. I missed my friends so desperately, and the kids at the school I attended in Perth were awful. I was also a timid teenager and struggled to make friends. Maggie gave me something to look forward to every day. When I came home from school, I'd run to the mailbox, and there would always be a letter from her. No lie, this was every day. Some days there were two. And the letters were long and full of everything going on with my friends and pop culture back home. Recently, Maggie and I reconnected on Facebook, and I learned that she was devoutly Christian. Worried that my hobby blog and platform might turn her off, I was surprised when I discovered that she doesn't care and supports all the same social justice initiatives I do. When I was posting a lot about the incarceration of Mubarak Bala a lot, she was commenting on it all, showing concern and asking how she can help. The best part is that there has not been one single, solitary word about how Jesus loves me or I'm going to burn in Hell. I know that people like her are rare, but they exist, and I am so happy to have her back in my life.


Jayson Bradley


This guy has a sense of humour that has had me in stitches on numerous occasions. I came across Jayson years ago on Twitter, and we exchanged guest posts on each other's blogs. You can read his blog post for me here. As you might be able to deduce from his blog post, he's a pretty self-aware Christian who can laugh at himself and his ideas. He sees us atheists as equal human beings who are doing just fine the way we are. Jayson is a fantastic follow, even for us Hellbound infidels. Check out his blog here.


Sister Helen Prejean


A personal hero of mine going back many decades, this good Sister has been fighting the death penalty with every ounce of energy she has in her. In her first act as a nun, she moved into a poverty-stricken area of New Orleans to help people in any way she could. Since then, she has been by the side of many condemned men and women, providing them comfort in their last hours and witnessing their executions. She wrote a book we are probably all familiar with called Dead Man Walking, which was made into a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. This selfless woman doesn't care if the people she helps are Christian and even specifically names atheists and agnostics on her website as groups of people she's there for.


My Christian neighbours


I live in a small town, and we have over a dozen churches despite the tiny population. Those pews aren't empty every Sunday. Someone is filling them. But aside from the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who come to my door from time to time, not a single Christian has ever talked to me about their religion. The only real conversations I've had about religion here, aside from the J-dubs, are all with atheists and agnostics. I appreciate the Christian Summerlanders more than they will ever understand, just for staying the fuck outta my business.


Again, this list is by no means exhaustive. I love and respect so many other Christians, but I thought the specific people on this list helped me make a point. Generally speaking, atheists don't care if you're religious. So just keep it to your damn self, and we'll do the same. Promise.


Are there any Christians who stand out to you? Let me know in the comments!


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