Adjunct professor Todd Hunter, as part of the COMM 470 Communicating Your Faith class, hosted The Outsider Interviews in Needham Chapel on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 6 p.m-7:15 p.m.
The purpose of the event was to hear what speakers Freddy McDonald, Britney Salazar and Jillian Foss think of those inside the Church.
Hunter, along with Jim Henderson, executive director of Off The Map, and Craig Spinks, video producer and board member of Off the Map, served as facilitators at the event.
Off the Map, an organization dedicated to evangelism and listening to non-Christian outsiders, was founded by Jim Henderson.
After Hunter’s introduction, the facilitators asked the guest speakers various questions. About a half an hour into the event, questions were opened to the audience.
The event was inspired by a book called “The Outsider Interviews” written by Hunter, Henderson and Spinks, which was later turned into a documentary of the same name. The book calls those being interviewed “outsiders” because many people of different beliefs feel like outsiders. Sometimes churches will claim to be “open,” yet their actions can be viewed by some as the opposite.
The book and documentary were created in part to break down barriers that would cause people to feel like outsiders.
The event was hosted for the same purpose.
McDonald, age 24, grew up in a Catholic family and believed in God as a child. As he entered high school, he explored his beliefs.
He had friends of other religions whom he considered wonderful people, causing him to question why they wouldn’t go to heaven. He currently is an atheist.
“I do want there to be a god, but no one can truly know until they die, so until then I will continue living and deal with that if and when the time comes,” McDonald said.
Salazar, age 20, grew up in a Christian church where she and her family were actively involved. However, the “perfect” exterior was not reality.
Salazar’s parents divorced when she was a teenager.
She was treated differently at church after this and began to feel like an outsider.
Salazar briefly participated in Satanism, which caused her parents to send her to a Christian mental hospital.
Once released, she attended a Christian high school where she was kicked out for fights about religion.
She is now on a more stable path thanks to a family of atheists that she described as genuinely good people.
Salazar now feels that she doesn’t need a religion.
“I’m a better person for me, not anyone else,” Salazar said.
Foss, age 23, was also raised Catholic. Both of her parents had several medical problems growing up. Her faith was challenged when she began attending a Christian college where she played soccer. Many at the school treated her poorly.
The few people she could count on included her teammates and various professors.
Foss still believes in God, but disagrees with the way the Bible is being taught now.
All three were asked for one thing they would say to Christians.
“Religion shouldn’t define who you are,” McDonald said. “It shouldn’t be an end-all and be-all in a relationship.”
“Don’t push religion onto people. They’ll find it on their own if they want to,” Salazar said.
“Think before you speak and be open-minded,” Foss said.
Hunter closed the interviews with a few verses in 1 Corinthians 9 from the Message.
“I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ-but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view,” 1 Cor. 9:22
Hunter reminded the audience in his conclusion that “conversation is not a compromise.”
“Part of the conversation is listening. As Christians, we tend to talk our way into faith instead of just listening,” Hunter said.