My friend Tim is an Fundamentalist, or as he puts it a "Bible-believing Christian." As an atheist, I think it's perfectly fine to have a fundamentalist friend, afterall... it's not like their dogma is going to persuade us, right? So, what's the harm in being friends with them? To my knowledge, Tim has no idea that I'm an atheist, and I will never tell him. We have been friends since I was a sophomore in high school and I don't wish to ruin that relationship. I thought it was funny that many of my high school friends thought we should "go out." I was thinking - Nope. Not gonna happen. If I'm just friends with Tim then I will not have to get too close to him, that is I will not have to get close enough to have fights over religion and politics.
Tim and I were having a friendly discussion yesterday... and somehow it got to religion. I saw him in the college's cafe and stopped by to have a chat. As usual he had his Bible out, along with his homework. He was ignoring his Bible at the moment and focusing on studying his binder for a class of which I don't know. I noticed, rather amused, that his worn, beaten up, black-leather cover Bible was stuffed with a million and a half papers of various colors, shapes and sizes.
So, after a few moments of silence I inclined to ask him about the paper stuffed in his Bible, as my curiousity was up. Tim thinks I'm an "agnostic" [or his view of an agnostic] - therefore, in his mind, I can still be saved. He HAS attempted to "save me" several times, none of his attempts have worked of course. lol
He has invited me to attend his church several times, although I was understandably reluctant at first, I eventually honored his request and attended church with him. I was impressed that his pastor talked more about the "love of God," than politics and hellfire and brimstone. I haven't gone back to church with him since, but I'm considering it, as I have to keep my image with him and his family if I am to remain friends with them. I can't let them know I'm an "atheist in disguise." Tim has also read several bible passages to me and encouraged me [through a facebook private message] - he must have seen my facebook religious status, which was "agnostic" at the time - that I was "a lost sheep" and that "God will find me." Being a former theist myself, I appreciated his efforts to console me in what he thought was "my struggling" and to be kind to me. You must understand that such a message from a fundie should be considered a compliment rather than an insult. It's when they start shouting at you about damnation that you should tune them out and consider them insulting.
Anyhow, back to the discussion...
When I asked him about the papers in his Bible, he turned red and said he had a million flyers for all kinds of things in there and that he needed to clean it out. - BTW... it's not the first time I've seen theists put flyers in their Bibles, it's just I had never seen so many in one.
The reason why I am friends with and often talk to Tim, is because he is a nice person and I feel sorry for him because he is a highly intelligent young man, but unfortunately, he has been so badly brainwashed that he won't pick up a book that doesn't line up with his childhood indoctrination. If he ever does learn the truth, which he very well might considering his intelligence, he will be freed, but also highly devastated... even more so than me. Since fundies build their entire lives on their beliefs, if those beliefs fall to pieces, they may fall to pieces as well. However, it is doubtful that he may ever lose his faith as he is a passive, shy personality and is most likely not rebellious enough to challenge it. My hope is that by me being friends with him I can subtly put questions in his head that will lead him to question his faith - the first step to freeing yourself from it.
Eventually our conversation turned to politics. Tim was telling me about how he liked Mike Huckabee... to which I didn't mention to him that I don't. He went on to tell me [when I brought up atheism - without revealing information that would indicate I was one] - he said that he had heard of atheists that had turned back to God. "So maybe there was hope for them yet." - I was skeptical of this but I remained silent and listened.
He again invited me to come to his new church [his family left his old one b/c apparently they had changed pastors]. I told him I would see if I had time in my schedule.
This conversation should be an encouragement for atheists to speak to theists on good terms... something which I think is an essential piece to getting correct information about us out there and [sometimes] being able to reveal to people their own irrationality.