So I've ran into an interesting problem. My sister who was raised largely in a secular manner is identifying as Christian. Not that she goes to church. Not that she reads the Bible. Not that she knows anything about the Bible. But she's becoming sensitive about any swipes I take at anyone who identifies as Christian. The last example was over Christmas when I brought up Huckabee blaming the Newtown shootings on lack of prayer in school. Her reaction was immediate as if it's a wound just waiting to be hashed out. I brushed it aside as my point was that there were more shootings in the 25 years prior to 1963 than in the 25 years after. But her assertion that I always hit Christians and her pain has stuck with me. It's left me with a question. When should I be respecting one's religion? 

Some of you might not know me since I haven't been too active in the last couple of years. I'm anything but shy or reserved. But I'm not aggressive until my head is bleeding on the desk. What happens in the home where I grew up is anything is fair game for discussion. Usually politics while we drink beer around the fire. In the last decade that has certainly included many fervent Christians. I'm usually mocking something like the deciding factor for invading Iraq being Bush's apparent discussion with God on the matter. Or Palin lording her religion as the course to take in life while she has two grandchildren conceived out of wedlock. These jabs are sticking with my sister and clearly causing her some emotional pain. If she were ancillary in my life, I'd probably turn up the heat and watch her leave my life because I don't have need of those looking to defend Huckabee's or Bachman's. But this is my sister. 

I would avoid hurtful discussions with people out of respect. If I run across a Muslim I'm not going to refer to their leader as a drunken repressed bi-sexual pedophile. I'd avoid that. In the same way, I'd not pick on Christianity until pushed if my sister were one. But she isn't one. She seems to be beginning to identify as one and is clearly starting to feel pain. So when do you respect it, even if she isn't being one? Does one need to know who Peter is before you give a crap about their position on Jesus? Does one need to know what Jesus said before you accept them as a Christian? When would you confer respect? This is for a family member and not a stranger on the street. And by respect, we're talking about avoiding legitimate points in discussions where Christians are often over the line saying stuff like theories are from the "pits of Hell". Where is your line? 

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"She seems to be beginning to identify as one and is clearly starting to feel pain".

She may be beginning to identify as a Cultural Christian ... valuing and promoting the positive messages about Christianity.

The pain she feels is 'empathy' for them and I think we should all move this way. Good on her.

I really think that atheists make better Christians than Christians because we know where to draw that line.

She may just need some assistance.


Those strident, in - your - face type atheists were very necessary when they arrived because they needed to be heard, they shouted about it and it opened the way for us.

We have arrived now and the way we speak about religion needs to evolve because there are heaps of atheists around like your sister who would like to talk about it without bringing up witch burnings etc 

It's more important how one defines themselves than how you define them. 

A lot of times, the religious can't grasp the concept that a criticism of religion does not equate to an attack on the religious. Moreover, a criticism of one religious person doesn't equate to the criticism of any other religious persons. Maybe try to illustrate this point to her? Unless, of course if she agrees with Huckabee, in which case I'd say she's too far gone.

Your sister seems to be at a point in her life where she started relying on her feelings rather than her thoughts to guide her, which isn't a problem, for the most part. Maybe try to figure out a way to discuss things on a more instinctual, emotional level in order to level with her?

I respect anyone's right to believe as they wish.  That doesn't mean I respect WHAT they believe.  I never initiate a  challenge with a Christian on his/her beliefs; but if they challenge mine, all bets are off; they will receive my vigorous counterattack.  I have a sister-in-law, a very nice lady who is a devout Catholic.  In the 60 years I've known her, neither of us has ever challenged the other, out of mutual respect for the person, if not the beliefs.  It's also because Catholics, in general do not discuss their religion.


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