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Milburn needs clarifications on Old Testament teachings

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To the editor:
This is written in response to Mr. Milburn’s recent letter, “Did you know there are atheists right here in Lawrenceburg?” In it, he misrepresents Deuteronomy 13:6-10 as instructing Christians to stone infidels, I mean unbelievers. That is not the case. This law was directed specifically to the Israelites and was not a broad command to kill all unbelievers, but only fellow Israelites who comitted idolatry. In light of the fact that the heinous act of child sacrifice was a common facet of idol worship, it is difficult to label even so severe a punishment as stoning as being unduly harsh.
He then continues with, “...Yahweh has not burnt down this city; which must show that he doesn’t have a big issue with us living here, so why should any of his followers?” This, and the above seem to make the unfortunate assumption that Christians can barely contain their righteous desire to annihilate atheists, and are only held in check by modern legal constraints.
In actuality, an adherent to the Christian faith attempts to demonstrate the love of God to all, and His longsuffering with all. To appropriately cite a passage, II Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I do know many unbelievers, varying from those who do not consider the issue at all, to people who sincerely have difficulty believing that a loving God could allow the obvious evil present in this world, to others who think there is “something” out there, but are unsure of what “it” is, and whether or not “it” cares about them. Not one of them seems to feel the need to hide from my wrath.
Frankly, free thought would take a greater step forward if Freethought members would refuse to denigrate,  through sarcasm and exaggeration, the character and intelligence of those who hold fast to their faith. If an honest, free dialogue is Mr. Milburn’s goal, a respectful attitude towards those who are of a different persuasion will advance his cause much more effectively than securing a nonfaith section to the faith page seems likely to.
Atheism is nothing new. It has been a matter of very public debate for decades, and has reshaped our country, from public school systems to our current laws, and the interpretation of the constitution itself. While the subject of faith versus nonfaith may be a topic for discussion, true faith cannot be argued into, or out of, existence, as it is a new life that can only be experienced personally. I’m not squirming, even a bit. I can feel the Rock, firm beneath my feet Thank you, Mr. Carlson, for allowing me a voice in the matter.

Suzanne Tidei

Lawrenceburg