Today I was approached by a friend of mine who began a conversation with me with the statement, "I know you're an Atheist, but..." and proceeded to invite me to attend his youth group for a week. Now, knowing full well that he was the son of two missionaries, and is moving to Brazil this summer to learn Portuguese to do so, I expected this. The odd part was I didn't expect to feel as angry as I did with the conversation that followed. I kindly declined his offer, but he persisted, telling me it would be an experience that I wouldn't have to repeat if I didn't enjoy it, (...like eating an exotic food?) and telling me that I would come to learn of God in a different perspective, and that my old church(es) were not the true Christian way. All of this, I expected he would say. (He also threw the hilarious phrase of "Give God another chance!" at me.)
But it made me furious after I thought about it. If he honestly thought I would be swayed back into Christianity by a fancy new church, then he was disregarding all of the research and time I spent into trying to figure out who I was and what I believed in. If he thought I would be swindled by the social benefits of belonging to a church ("You said you lost a lot of friends after your de-conversion") then he didn't want or enjoy the fact that I was proud of who I was. And after reminding him carefully about how my Atheism wasn't a light decision and how it took me years to figure myself out, he reminded me that I had never gone to his Presbyterian church, so it could be a new experience and really "open up my eyes". It's honestly arrogant of him to think that a simple "new perspective" could get me to leave everything behind for the thought of friendship and a safety net, isn't it? Or am I overreacting again?
I don't know.
At any rate, I told him I would think about this. Part of me wants to go, for the wonderful opportunity of being able to ask questions about the fallacies of religion and the bible, but I don't want to be a jerk about it, or fuel the stereotype that Atheists are "God-Hating". (How can you hate something you don't believe in?) Another part of me is afraid to go, because I am still new at debating and I really don't want to be boxed into a corner with something I don't know about yet.
I don't think I'll do it, but I know the debate between he and I will surely continue. I'm not dreading the debating part at all. I'm only dreading the anger I'll feel at the arrogance I think the church imposes.
Oh, the life of a public school Atheist.