My fiance and I are both atheists. Recently, he had a discussion at work about religion, and admitted he was an atheist. Most of his coworkers are okay with it, one is teasing him about it (they're friends; it's what they do), but the last one is being an absolute arsehole.
For the last two full days, this kid, whom I have dubbed "Nitwit" so that this post doesn't contain TOO many swears, has been harassing my fiance about his religion. "Why don't you believe in god?", "How do you not believe in god?", "If you dropped a wallet with $5000 in it, and it was still where you left it the next day, who would you thank?" That sort of bullshit. My fiance answered him every time, very politely and respectfully, just as I thought he would do. Sometimes he teased Nitwit a bit, but nothing mean. For example, when Nitwit asked, "When was the last time you went to church?", my fiance responded jokingly, "December, but I got paid to be there." My fiance played the flute for his mother's church's Christmas service, and he explained that to the kid afterward, but the kid didn't believe him.
Then Nitwit started to take a turn for the sinister. "You believe in hell, right?", "Aren't you afraid you'll go to hell?", "You know you're going to burn forever.", and other things that imply that my fiance is an awful person for not believing in an imaginary psychopathic sky fairy. But again, my fiance told me he could handle it. He said that he wasn't too bothered. Nitwit was being annoying, but my fiance answered him the best he could and told Nitwit to leave him alone.
Oh, but then, I went to pick my fiance up from work today. I was early so I visited him as a little surprise. When my fiance had stepped away for a second, Nitwit came up to me and said, "Do you know your boyfriend doesn't believe in god?"
Whoa. Hold the fuck on, I thought. You have no business trying to get my fiance in trouble with me. His religion and our relationship are none of your fucking business.
This was an attempt to get me to yell at my fiance about his atheism, as if we hadn't talked about it. This was an attempt to sabotage our relationship for religion. This was, in short, an attempt to get me to convert my fiance, as if he's the only atheist in the world and I was going to pressure him into trying to do something he can't do.
I wanted to beat Nitwit's head in with the Clue Stick, but instead I smiled and in a bright, cheerful voice I said, "I know! I don't either!" At which point he narrowed his eyes, put his hands up in front of him as if warding me off, and walked away in disgust.
I honestly have no idea what to do here. This arsehole needs to be taught a lesson. He needs to get in trouble with his bosses or fired for harassment, or be otherwise humiliated for being a jerk. He needs to be taken down several pegs, the arrogant twit. Annoy my fiance, fine. Annoy me, fine. We're big people, we can handle ourselves. But try to fuck with my relationship? You have got to be either suicidal or too stupid to live. We're both fiercely protective of "us" as a concept. We have had several people try to ruin what we have from the moment we started dating. I have no interest in dealing with anyone else's attempt to ruin what is good.
And the thing is? He's BARELY RELIGIOUS. He says he's muslim, but he pronounces "Arabic" as "Arboric," doesn't pray at any of the required times, AND doesn't celebrate any of the holidays. He's the least committed muslim I've ever seen, less committed than Chreaster christians.
My thought was to have my fiance talk to his boss if Nitwit tries to say anything else to him about his religion or lack thereof. I thought he could say to his boss that he's being harassed for his religious beliefs and not necessarily be specific. It's not like a christian would have to qualify that they're being harassed for christianity, rather than any other religion. But I'm not sure, and I'm feeling vengeful.
What should we do? Should my fiance tell his boss? Should we talk to Nitwit ourselves? Should my fiance just ignore him? The last one seems like an awful option, because it enables Nitwit to keep doing exactly what he's doing, and if he doesn't see a private relationship as reason enough not to say anything, he could feel entitled to do worse. That's what I'm worried about.
I'm not paranoid, whatever people have been saying about me, but I'm scared about this and don't know what to do. Thanks very much.
Hi Jenn -
I know, RIGHT? This guy is getting on my fiance's nerves and, by extension, mine. He needs to do his job while he's on the clock and not bother my fiance about his nonbelief all day. Barring that, wouldn't anything be more worthwhile than starting up a needless debate and unnecessary tension in the kitchen? Ugh.
Thanks for replying!
It could be if they are that non devoted that his questions maybe related to his own insecurity of belief. Answering his questions if you can tolerate them might help him on a personal level to rectify his own questions. If your not comfortable doing that then dont and tell him to screw off.
Personally i believe the fact that religion is a taboo subject to question for religious people means we should when we can try to break that wall down. By taking a stance of my belief system of atheism is taboo to discuss im using the same behavior as the religious use to keep people from questioning the silliness of it. Again thats just my opinion but something to think about. As long as we put up the same walls as religious people do we create a mistrust of our own beliefs.
I hate to say take it to an authority unless it becomes a problem with your work environment to the point where its making him not want to go. If that's the case then you have no recourse but to seek HR involvement. Especially if the nitwit is in authority over him.
Hi Stephen -
Thanks for your reply. I guess my post wasn't clear about some of this, and I apologize.
My fiance wanted me to mention that he doesn't have an issue with discussing his atheism as such. He actually really likes debate and has never been uncomfortable talking about it. He's the one who talked to me about atheism and provided such rational arguments that I realized that I was being a hypocrite in believing in some gods and not all of them because they all have exactly the same amount of evidence.
The issue for him is that Nitwit will not let it go. They work in a kitchen, and so all day my fiance has to hear, "Why don't you believe in god?", "Have you ever read the bible?", "You know you're going to hell." It's making it difficult for him to do his job to have to constantly defend his atheism to Nitwit.
The issue for me is that Nitwit had never met me before and decided that he had the authority to butt into my relationship. It would be exactly as if I went up to his girlfriend and said, "Do you know that your boyfriend's religion looks on you as property and considers it shameful that you're showing your arms right now?" I have no right to do that to them, and he has no right to do that to me.
My fiance has seniority over Nitwit, to clarify about the job, since I forgot to mention it, but neither has any authority over the other.
Thanks again for your reply. I'll have my fiance read it for himself when he's got a minute. I really appreciate the help.
Hope it works out for you and him where there is comfort.
Its very hard to feel like we need to defend a position of nonbelief.
Sadly it should be the other way around.
Thanks Stephen. I really appreciate that.
It's hard some days, you know? You feel like you're either completely nuts or the only sane person in a world of crazies. I guess I just don't want my fiance to have to deal with that any more than we already do... I'm a bit overprotective, as I mentioned in the OP. I'm sorry if I seemed like I was jumping on you. I didn't mean to. I'm just very scared about this.
Your fiance is lucky to have such protection.
Questioning your own sanity is proof of your sanity.
Sounds like this guy is incredibly insecure. I would sometimes bother some of the guys I worked with about not believing and it's something I am not proud of, but I never went as far as messing with peoples' lives. That is insane. I may have acted like an arse, but I had boundaries. When I saw it bothered one of them, I stopped.
I now joke around about religion with the guys I used to chide, and two of us read religious text for kicks. I have found that since becoming an atheist, I have become a much more reasonable person. It makes sense.
Hopefully this guy is just an insolent prick and not mentally unstable.
I hope everything works out.
If he's not much of a religious person himself, your fiancee could call him on that. Ask him how he thinks he will be judged if he claims to be a Muslim but doesn't live it (which are more wrongs than he can claim your fiancee did).
And for the rest, tell him that there is a time an place for discussions like that, and if your fiancee and Nitwit like to discuss this, they might as well set a date and have a much more prepared discussion.
This is my first post here. I have had to deal with something like this not too long ago. I work for a municipality in the bible belt. I have been an atheist since the age of 15 and it has been difficult to deal with when you have a church on literally ever corner in your town. During potlucks they would "bless" the food, bow their heads, and pray. I wouldn't participate and I was called out on by a close co-worker. I told her my beliefs but I also told her how against the law it is to do stuff like this in a municipal building. I didn't mind because most of them are Christians and I don't push my beliefs on you if you don't push them on me. I just simply do NOT participate.
Well this became an issue for her and I work with her very closely. Much like your fiance I was starting to be harassed by her. She would make snide comments to me and behind my back. She would ask me questions about "hell" and "god". Once the "hell" became a topic I asked her to stop and go read the Work Place Discrimination Laws that massive and clearly posted on the wall by the kitchen. I also informed her supervisor of the harassment and if it continued I would go to HR. It stopped and so did blessing the food.
So on that note, to help with what your fiance can do is ask him to stop. The Federal Law should be posted in the office or in a handbook. Tell the supervisor and be aware that your fiance has RIGHTS not to be discriminated and harassed due to his or lack of his religion. I hope it helps.
I would give him a choice:
Don't mention my lack of belief again.
I go to HR an make things real messy for you.
If the above two aren't acceptable tell him your willing
to resolve the issue outside in the parking lot AFTER work.
So many good options here. I like to debate, so I'd probably tell him that I'd be down to let him try and convert me to his religion, and obliterate him with facts and knowledge.
However, if you're not one to debate, I think the two options are the best. He crossed the line when he approached you. You are not insane about that at all. He is lucky that he did not approach my girlfriend about that. That's an immediate physical altercation in my book.