Counter Evangelism in Westport

Aug. 19, 2011 KCAC took to the streets for the first time! The corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Westport Road has become a notorious spot for street evangelism. Folks passing out pamphlets titled “Are You Going to BURN FOREVER?”, with Bible quotes, like Matthew 25:41, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” and other clever phrases, like “Turn or Burn,” stand on this corner and harass the good people of Westport as they attempt to enjoy their Friday and Saturday evenings out.

KCAC decided two can play at that game. We went out, banners in hand, sporting our stylish KCAC T-shirts, superior Biblical knowledge in the steely traps of our minds, ready to do battle. Prepared for an evening of what David Burger, KCAC’s director of activism, has coined “counter-evangelism.”

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Unfortunately, those god fearing Christians turned tail and ran as soon as they saw us coming. While we planned for a a night of spirited intellectual debate on the validity and merit of the Christian Bible, with no one to official counter, we simply introduced ourselves to the Westport community.

We waved at cars as they drove past, said hello to pedestrians as they walked by, talked only to those who wished to engage in conversation, and handed out informational postcards to people who wanted to know more about our organization. As it turns out, people like atheist a whole hell of a lot more than street evangelists.

Many cars honked their horns, cheered, and waved in support. Lots of people gave us high fives or shook our hands. Several people thanked us for being there, saying “I’m tired of seeing and hearing these Christians every week.” and “It’s nice to see somebody out here representing my point of view.” Most of our conversations were with fellow atheist who wanted to share stories of dealing with religiosity at work, within their families, or amongst their friends. The obvious need for community building for atheist in Kansas City was never more acute as it was talking to dozen upon dozen of atheist and agnostics in Westport that night about struggling to feel understood and accepted by their religious friends, families, and communities.

Of course, there were a few people who did not agree with our message. We ran into a group of IHOPers who claimed to have witnessed people healed of blindness and cured of paralysis. They claimed they knew Jesus was the son of God because he had transformed their lives personally. One gentleman asked if he could pray for me. After I agreed, he put one hand on my shoulder and his other hand on, what I assume was his wife’s shoulder, bowed his head, and asked Jesus to come into my heart.

All in all, it was a fun evening and a great success. We spoke with a lot of people about KCAC and, if nothing else, spared the patrons of Westport one Friday evening of hearing street evangelists preech at them.

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