Why do the Jews embrace the Old Testament? Because it justifies killing people. Why do Muslims embrace the Koran? Because it justifies killing people. Christians supposedly embrace the New Testament (which justifies peace) but most of them choose to ignore those teachings. People ask why I don’t believe in religion.
...and a South Dakota soldier who gave his life to save others:
...the park was where Barnard would go to be with God. Barnard didn't agree with certain elements of organized religion... but he had faith in God and was good to his fellow man.
There are many serious, thoughtful, moral and otherwise noble people who will not be in church this weekend. I'm not talking about the lightweight, flippant, "Oh, I'm spiritual but not religious" types. I mean people who care about life's big questions and want to do something more than take up a bit of space and oxygen for a few decades.
On Good Friday, The Book of Common Prayer has the church confess its own responsibility for failing to reach some and driving others away:
Let us pray for all who have not received the Gospel of Christ;
For those who have never heard the word of salvation
For those who have lost their faith
For those hardened by sin or indifference
For the contemptuous and the scornful
For those who are enemies of the cross of Christ and
persecutors of his disciples
For those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others
One of my parishioners is a college professor who has read all of the major "new atheists." What he finds is that they don't really debate Christianity so much as they point out the failures of Christians.
I certainly don't have a canned solution for this issue. It is likely to be with us as long as the church and the world carry on. Judas will find his place among the apostles and some pagans will show qualities that Christ blesses. But it is a cop out for a Christian to say "The church isn't necessary," because that is not an honest reading or presentation of the New Testament.
The church must always remember that Jesus stands in judgment over "religion." Our laxity on the one hand or extremism on the other can lead us away from the Lord whose body, temple and ambassadors we are meant to be. When people do not get a glimpse of Christ in us, they will walk on seeking the way, truth and life we failed to convey.