So last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) I found myself in the unenviable position of having to deal with my Conservative Christian co-workers for a day without the advantage of the presence of my even MORE Conservative Christian boss who usually puts the kibosh on religious discussions in the office.
One of my co-workers decided it was his turn to take a shot at converting me from Atheism. After hearing him out, I told him that I had a few dozen reasons why I could never be a Christian again, but the easiest to discuss was my gay son.
This co-worker told me that he loved my son. My family went to church with his family before my de-conversion, so he knew my son before he came out. This co-worker told me that he doesn't love my son any less now that he's come out as being gay than he did before.
After much discussion, I asked this guy if he thought my son should have the same rights as every other American. To my surprise, he said, "yes." I'm still not sure how he could have admitted this.
In my next question I asked if he thought the U.S. government should give my son the same rights as everyone else. Then he said, "no." I'm not sure what the disconnect is there, but I decided to pursue this line of questioning and I asked him if he though that God was going to judge the United States of America for allowing people like my son to marry. After what was obviously a huge internal struggle, my co-worker admitted, "yes."
So my artist-son, the most beautiful and caring person I've ever known, is going to cause our country to be judged by God. Bingo. There's the bigoted religion that I grew up with!
I told him therein lies the problem: Religion allows this co-worker of mine to consider himself a good person, not because of what he does, but because of what he believes. Conversely, as Atheists, he considers me and my family bad people, because of what we don't believe, even though we do good and care for others unlike he does.
This caused quite a stir, but he eventually said that he doesn't consider me a bad person. This lead to me asking if he thought I was deserving of spending eternity in tormenting Hell. He said everyone is deserving of this, but he was going to Heaven instead, because of what he believed.
This really is the key for me, and I'll never go back to believing as I once did, that there is a real God who judges based on belief rather than actions. If my co-workers really believe that they have been given much grace by their God, they would feel free to give grace to others. Obviously this is not the case.
My co-workers are staunch Conservatives, always complaining about how the Government wants to take their money. I've decided that when I return to work on Monday, if the conversation comes up (and it undoubtedly will) I will say this:
Finish this question, "Because I've been given so much by the grace of God, I will take all my Worldly possessions and ______."
I can't imagine how they will respond.