It's the kind of thing one might expect from an episode of "Portlandia," but the message is real -- and its biggest advocate says that it's rooted in scripture.
A Portland, Oreg., Methodist church has displayed a controversial message on its community billboard that reads, "God prefers kind atheists over hateful Christians."
Tom Tate, the pastor of Rose City Park United Methodist Church in northeast Portland, told The Blaze that the sign shows his 385-member church's "radical hospitality" towards people who feel alienated from faith.
In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, Tate said the he's received reactions from people all across the country, from Massachusetts to Texas, and that people have been overwhelmingly positive about the sign's message. Tate estimates that he receives "30 to 40" positive responses for every one negative response.
"The ones that are upset think we are pitting atheism against Christianity," Pastor Tate told The Huffington Post, "We are actually pitting kindness against hatefulness."
An Internet poll of readers on The Blaze, a conservative website created in part by Glenn Beck, showed that, at time of writing, more than 69 percent of respondents agree with the statement, compared with 22 percent that disagree.
Tate said the message on the sign is exemplified in the Bible through the parable of the Good Samaritan. To the Hebrew religious establishment of the time, Samaritans were like atheists, Tate said.
The message was posted on the church's exterior billboard in late March, and has since gone viral across social networks.
The Rose City Park Methodist Church is a United Methodist Church affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network, an organization dedicated to the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Clarification: A previous version of this article failed to indicate that the Rose City Park Methodist Church is in the state of Oregon.
There may be some who don't get this but I do, it is about the message of hate and kindness, I have been around kind atheists, and hateful Christians. I would rather be around a kind atheist. An atheist is someone who doesn't believe, and that is okay because someday they may. They won't however if they are around hateful Christians. When a Christian condemns,judges, and preaches when not warranted they repel people against Christ. I have seen this many times. God wants us to bring people to him through love and kindness, that is the only way. Why are rules more the important then people??? One last thing, God used an atheist to help me heal...such and awesome God I love!
I like this. smart answer!
A kind atheist I pray that one day their eyes will be opened to the fact that God is real and loves everyone.
A hateful Christian, which actually doesn't exist now that I think about it...Anyway, I pray that a "hateful Christian" will understand the love of God and in turn become loving and share that love with others.
People, have we forgotten that God is Alpha and Omega, All Powerful, Merciful....Love. HE IS.... Obviously we have forgotten or either never knew of the power that God has. With the help of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we can OVERCOME ALL THINGS. Thus saith the Lord "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phillipians 4:13
That's right, the most hateful person can become love like Christ is love. Just like an atheist can become a strong believer in Christ, yea even a great witness. We have a work to finish. Lets not help the devil.
I agree Timothy, the devil does delight in us fighting and bickering at each other. As they say the devil is in the details and there are a lot of details. Let us keep God on our hearts and minds always, what would he do. I know quite a few atheists who are that way because they went to a Catholic school and were abused both spiritually and physically. I understand why they are atheists in that case and all I can do is just show them love and pray for them but God loves them more. This has been a battle for me, how do I reach someone who is an atheist because they have been taught to fear a wrathful God? How do I reach an atheist who says if there is a God why is there so much pain,wars,killings,and suffering?
Its not you that can reach an atheist or anyone for that matter. Its Jesus who does this work. Let God work through you. With that being said, living by ALL that God has said. Its one thing to say what God's word has stated. Its another to live by it and be an example to those around us. That in itself is a witnessing tool. Lifestyle is a powerful way to witness to anyone. We can't be hypocrites. Being a hypocrite has caused so many to turn away from God.
Now, after all of that, we need to be in God's word. Being able to explain why God allows these things to happen. Line upon line, line upon line. A Thus Saith the Lord.
This my friend is how WE can reach the world and finish the work.