I’ve been working out of town, in Lynchburg Virginia, the past two weeks and staying in a motel. Every morning I go downstairs to have my breakfast. This past Sunday I was eating breakfast and there was a woman standing by the microwave which was close to my table. “How are you this morning?” she asked.  “I’m fine, thank you” I responded, I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to talk in the morning. I’m also a live and let live person and am always polite, but I wasn’t interested in getting into a conversation.
    “We came here to go to the church across the street,” (Thomas Road Baptist Church, the one Jerry Falwell founded) “we came to hear (somebody?) Sing.” I didn’t say anything.
    “Are you going to church today?”
    “No I’ve got to work today.” I said, hoping she would get her food and go sit down somewhere.
    “Well you know the lord don’t you?”
    Oh brother, I thought, I really didn’t want to go there. “Oh yeah, “I lied wishing this to be over. I was getting irritated now. I really didn’t want  to get into a discussion about beliefs .
    “That’s what I’m all about, this life isn’t all there is you know.”
    This whole encounter I felt like was an invasion of my privacy. I would have liked to have told the woman to mind her own business, but I really just wanted to finish my breakfast in peace.
    I’m just wondering if any of you have had a similar experience, and how you handled it, or how I may have handled this differently.

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I wonder what would happen if you leered at them and said, "I'm a Moonie".

Not surprised.  Lynchburg, VA is Falwell territory with Liberty University being there and a strong presence of the SBC.  If you've ever been on the Liberty Campus, they have an area in the student Union that is like walking into religious temple dedicated to Falwell - very idolistic and disgusting how they worship that man.  The only voices critical over there seems to be their local newspaper, which I understand gets negative attention from the community when they expose something hypocritical about the university and the faculty - at least, that was my interpretation from speaking with a professor there that held an obvious disdain for the paper.

I was there a few years ago because the university does a New Years celebration there and the first church I had worked at liked having there youth go.  The youth and I didn't exactly "fit in" with that crowd.

Perhaps she was just trying to make conversation. I'd have likely continued the conversation to the extent she wanted, but been honest about my atheism to the extent it was relevant. I don't particularly like small talk or church talk, but it feels like people are becoming too cloistered and too unable to meet with disagreement. This would be an opportunity to act contrary to those trends.

"Oh no, ma'am. I'm not Christian." in a completely polite voice. Just like telling someone you're allergic to shellfish or you don't eat meat. If pressed, I usually follow up with, "We don't associate with any religion that condones blood sacrifices or bigotry, but thanks so much for your concern. I know it comes from a good place. "  And look apologetically horrified while backing away.

Excellent!  They probably are still realizing what it is you've said waaaaay after you've finished saying it.

"I avoid religions that promote ritualized canibalism."

I would have just simply told her, "Thank you for that, but I'm an atheist and not really interested. Thanks all the same, have a nice day"

@Kieth, I think I'd have done exactly the same.  Its nice to think up witty quips, and they're fun, but faced with reality, I think I'd feel too unkind if I was rude.

When confronted by like minded people I say: "Please take your delusions to someone more credulous than I".  It usually confounds them and they simply wander away.

I believe these people who ask if you know the lord somehow think they will get an extra fluffy pillow to lounge upon on that cloud in the afterlife. It is socially responsible to be polite I suppose but it's much more rewarding to "blow their hair back" with a retort about your pastafarian membership in the FSM church.

Hehe...I love how the first thing you said sounds so much like that Serenity clip.

"You best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord."

I find myself in that situation often. To be honest I simply dread meeting new people because of it. I'm not in the least ashamed of my atheism. What I don't want is another imaginary friend situation. But it's inevitable for the most part. I always do try my best to be as polite as possible on a first meeting/impression with someone. Further interaction will of course reveal my non-belief. After knowing anyone past a first meeting I do come out quickly as a non-believer when I hear the "oh, thank god" salute. I usually ask a perfectly rational question which sometimes gets accepted for what it is. Like, "Do you really think that god works on such a molecular level that he made me find your roof leak, while children get cancer, or beaten, or raped or murdered?".

Sometimes the replies can be really sickening though. "That's the devils work, That's not god's work". Makes me want to shake them, shake them really hard.

I actually found myself refraining on Saturday. Met a new client for yard work who kept telling me "god bless you for doing this". Must have been ten times. But she never did ask me about god. She's just not able to do the work herself any more. There should be future meeting as the clients were very happy with the work and plan to use us on a regular basis. It's gonna come up eventually.

Thanks for a great topic. It's got me thinking about something I normally don't. I just kinda roll on instinct.

William

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