I understand when apathy, atheism and agnosticism keep people out of church. I don't agree with them, but I see where others might. I have less of an understanding of a new trend sweeping across the Bible Belt - de-baptism. This is an active retreat from any former dealings with a church or personal religious beliefs.

I understand when apathy, atheism and agnosticism keep people out of church.


I don't agree with them, but I see where others might.


I have less of an understanding of a new trend sweeping across the Bible Belt - de-baptism. This is an active retreat from any former dealings with a church or personal religious beliefs.


These people are not merely renouncing their standing in a church or staying home on Sunday mornings. They want everyone to know they are out.


They get dunked in a mockery of Christian baptism and then are dried off by the hairdryer of reason, which is said to blow away the effects of mysticism and myth from their lives.


Why are these people so offended by their own former beliefs that they would take this step of faith? After all, to be atheist requires a similar amount of confidence in things unseen as any other religious mindset.


Part of the reason is their front-row seat to view the personal failures of people associated with the church.


They see Catholic priests violate young parishioners. They see televangelists have affairs and steal money from their ministries. On the ground level, they see their neighbors hosting raucous parties, cheating in business and cheating on their spouses and then going to church every Sunday morning and pretending to be pious.


Overall, churchgoers aren't good spokespeople for their churches.


But that's like a doctor complaining that there are too many sick people in a hospital. Sinners need to go to church. But merely walking in the door doesn't absolve all sin or prevent a recurrence.


The main problem religious people have is that people only know what they hate. They are also clear on what religious people think they should not do.


If you want to smoke out a religious person, talk about abortion. They'll tell you how horrible it is and how horrible you are for considering it.


What about homosexual marriage? Yep, they'll tear down people on that issue as well.


The last thing I am doing is saying church people should support abortion or homosexual marriage. But if you don't speak the truth in love, all the words in the world only push people further away from where you would like them to be.


In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (New Living Translation)


How many people know you go to church because of your love for others? More often they know what you hate.


I think that's why there are people openly denouncing their former membership in churches and participating in anti-rites.


If our actions showed more than our mouths told, I don't think this new movement would exist at all.


All of us who go to church are partially responsible for the number of people wanting to flee from religion. It is up to us to do a better job representing the faith we espouse.


Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette and other Kansas newspapers. Contact him at publisher@augustagazette.com.