A quick update to my post about some of my early experiences with Christians. I was totally exhausted when I wrote that and threw it together very quickly so I missed a couple of the major points I wanted to make:
A key thing to understand about my early experiences (and the major take-away for Christian parents) is that the children I grew up around definitely knew to be kind and understanding to those who weren't familiar with the message of the Bible. The problem was that since I was so much like them in so many ways they assumed that I'd had the same upbringing as they had. These kids just took it for granted that every middle-class suburban kid knew the different between an epistle and an apostle and had heard about Jesus and what he came here to do. So, looking back, I realize that they treated me so unkindly because they thought that I knew all that they knew about the Bible and its message but just chose to reject it. They probably thought I didn't own a Bible because I threw mine away or something.
Of course ideally they still should have treated me with kindness, but they were just kids and they saw my indifference toward Jesus as a direct insult to someone they loved. I think that seeing it from that point of view makes their reaction more understandable. And, not surprisingly, most the bad experiences I've had with Christians came from childhood. I've found the majority Christians I've met as an adult to be welcoming and positive.
I meant to add that to the last post to make it clear that I understand that a) just because I had some bad experiences with Christians doesn't mean the religion itself is bad but, more importantly, b) I don't think the treatment I received was quite as bad as it seems when you consider the situation as the other kids understood it.