So I have this friend who keeps talking about how awesome her church is every time I see her...which is weird. I get it, you love your church. I'm sad that you're wrapped up in the lies of a religion, but relieved that you're not part of a particularly evil sect...and if you're happy, I'm happy for you. Can we not talk about this for a sixth time? I think she has this fantasy where I'm supossed to say, "Oh yea, they don't hate gays at your Church? The music is modern!? Your husband doesn't fall asleep mid-sermon? Hot damn, let's go, now!" I mean, how bizarre would that be for an atheist to do? And it's mildly insulting for her to think that I am an atheist because my old church was shit (it was actually pretty alright, seeing as it was UU).

Recently my aunt said we should hang out more. Seriously, I haven't ever 'hung out' with her, so that came out of left field. I like her. She's a good person and fun to be around at family parties and holidays...but she's my aunt, not my BFF. So we could do something, I guess, but it might be a little strange. Oh well, why not give it a shot? Ok, I say, we should hang out. Then she starts talking about how you hang out with some friends to do different things than you would with others...like some friends would be really into doing something spiritual but she wouldn't dream of doing the same thing with her other friends. Oh, yeah, I say, that's funny how friends can be different like that. Inside I am thinking, wut is happening!??? Does she think 'hanging out' involves spiritual conversion? That is seriously not the type of casual socializing I associate with the term 'hang out.' I guess I'm an atheist 'cause I fell in with the wrong crowd. Damn you, TA. It's all your fault. I just need to chillax with some good old Catholics down at the parish, and that'll set my silly head straight.

These two dear women seem to have the opinion that I lost my faith in the old Jesus-god because of peer pressure and shitty, immoral, alienating church-going experiences. Really now? I'm not a lapsed Catholic! I'm an atheist. I did think about all of this a teensy bit (many years) before up and jumping ship.

This is akward. I appreciate their sentiments, becuase it probably comes from a place of love and concern...but it's mildly offensive. I'm not that flighty.   

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Comment by Gallup's Mirror on December 4, 2013 at 11:51pm

I'm not a lapsed Catholic! I'm an atheist. I did think about all of this a teensy bit (many years) before up and jumping ship. This is akward. I appreciate their sentiments, becuase it probably comes from a place of love and concern...but it's mildly offensive. I'm not that flighty.  

These seem like important parts of your response. (1) Your atheism is the result of a great deal of thought and personal reflection. (2) The perception that atheists are atheists because of some injury suffered at the hands of the church is a stereotype, which is irritating and offensive, and (3) you appreciate they are motivated by concern for your happiness, but you would appreciate it more if they sought (rather than assumed) to understand you, because they do not.

Comment by bongani muthwa on December 5, 2013 at 8:58am

I feel you Kairan. Yesterday I needed a pick-up truck( we call it a bakkie in South Africa) to collect some staff. Awkwardly, the only person who had it was my dear old preacher-pastor-evangelist friend of mine we went to bible college together, apparently he had not yet heard of my de-conversion. How he went on about his ministry and even inviting me to preach in one of his crusades, I could only master the words 'you know I have been so occupied to concern myself with church staff'. I felt like a coward. He just igonered me and promised to send an official invite for me to preach. I mean it has been 3 fucking free years of my life, and I could not even stand up and declare my atheism to someone who would have mattered most to hear from me. Sorry to go away from the point, however I felt you are more of strong back-boned than I am. In the back of my mind I long for the opportunity, especiallly to ppl like my dear old friend.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on December 5, 2013 at 3:58pm

Oh, bongani, I'm not sure I'm any more strong back-boned than you are. I never seem to bump into any of the church leaders I knew...so, I don't know how I would respond in your situation. Don't be too hard on yourself. Maybe you were having an off day?

Comment by Kairan Nierde on December 5, 2013 at 3:58pm

@ gallup. That's it in a nutshell!

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 5, 2013 at 5:39pm

Get your vinegar....and be prepared to speak up.

Comment by David Smith on December 15, 2013 at 11:31am

I understand this one all to well, and of course it's an annoyance that comes from love so its hard to deal with.  Unfortunately its something that requires intervention.

I find it good to assure such a person that you open to changing beliefs based on what happens in your own life but never intend to change it based on what others say/believe.  I suggest kindly that if they are confident in thier god, they should also be confident in it's ability to guide me.  At this point I would point out that pressure to change beliefs can as easily have the opposite affect.  The power in this tactic, makes them think that to prove their god exists to you, they have to show their confidence through silence.

 the sentiment is whats important here, the words should be changed to be as kind as possible to whomever your talking to.  Its also good that they know you appreciate the thought but understand that you need to find your own path in life.  

Because this is something that you want to be delicate but effective with, it may be good to write down and rehears what you want to say.

hope this helps in some small way.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on December 16, 2013 at 4:24am

Thanks David. Delicacy is not my forte but I believe it is where I will start. 

Thank you everyone for your perspectives. It's so nice to be able to 'talk' this over with other atheists.

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