I work at a Walmart, sucky job, but it's a way to get by as a college kid. A few weeks ago an older couple came through my line (I'm a cashier) and after paying, there was no one behind them, and they gentleman said "Son, have you heard lately that God loves you?" I was caught off guard, tired, and had heard this opening line before. I have heard this, surprise, so I said yeah, hoping he'd give me a smile and say something about God and leave. Instead, he asks "if you were to die today, would you go to heaven?" I say "sure" knowing that any resistance will be met with more religious BS, and I just want to get him out of my line. He quickly says "you don't sound too sure!" and gives me a quick and dirty version of the Jesus story. Then he starts praying for me, for God to reveal himself and his "holy power" to me right then. I wait, wanting to bust out laughing, wanting to mock or refute him or at least state my atheism, and admit I just didn't want to discuss it. Instead I smile politely and he says "if you feel compelled by the holy spirit, say this prayer with me right now, if you mean it." and goes on the "Jesus save my soul" prayer.
I kind of stare at him, knowing he expects me to start begging Jesus for forgiveness or something, so I tell the truth, with omission, and say I was baptized and saved when I was 14, and that I was in church my whole life. He says praise Jesus, and tells me I should visit his church, and leaves.
Does anyone else do this, pretend or omit their atheism to keep from having disputes in inappropriate circumstances? I wonder if I can honestly do this again, it seems wrong to me to deny a central part of myself because of social problems. Is this a problem for everyone?

Views: 42

Comment by Pam on January 22, 2009 at 10:37am
I'm sure I've done something similar before. The Bible Belt isn't the best place to admit your non-belief to strangers. I don't know about your area. And it's a prickly situation. It's much easier to be openly atheistic behind the safety of your computer, but it's usually not that simple in real life.
Comment by Frink on January 22, 2009 at 10:40am
I've been in similar situations. But these days I'm surly and confrontational with pushy theo-crazies.
Comment by Frank on January 22, 2009 at 11:38am
I work as a cashier through high school at a grocery store and got this stuff all the time. Nobody tried to save me there in the store but people giving me literature and inviting me to church. I always said thank you and I'd see about it. I hadn't realized my atheism till college though. In college I used to go to war with the campus youth group because they could never leave me alone. I apparently have a big religious target on my back that I don't know about. I freely admit my atheism and have some great debates about it with people. Recently I went to a Haste the Day (Christian hardcore band) wearing my cross buster Bad Religion t-shirt. I was disappointed nobody wanted to talk to me about it.
Comment by Jerrid on January 22, 2009 at 6:39pm
I've never been in a situation so crazy at work, but I have had people try to pass me "mini bibles" at work before. I politely tell them to keep it, because it will do me no good, and continue on with business.

The only times I really have to get irate is when they try bombarding me, but this is outside of work, so I have no qualms telling them off. Although, I generally refrain from swearing unless they get brutal. I had to threaten to call the police on the grounds of harassment. That at least gets their attention...
Comment by Jay E on January 22, 2009 at 9:23pm
Whatever happened to that pleasant proselytizing in a controlled environment, that is, on your doorstep every Saturday morning? Rule 1 I feel in the art of argumentation is timing. You sell your case and close the deal when people are 1. somewhat vulnerable and 2. have time to listen. Thumping you in the course of a two minute drive-by cash register transaction won't secure converts. What a bunch of dum dums.
Comment by Atheist Ninja on January 22, 2009 at 9:54pm
Next time ask them if they've accepted the Earl as their lord and saviour.
Church of the Earl
Comment by Suzanne Olson-Hyde on July 31, 2011 at 7:11am

They were just trying to get brownie points towards going to heaven - you were a soul to be saved.


I live in Australia, so if they are going to pray for me, or say god bless you, I say 'Don't bother, I am an Atheist. No compunction. People can get more vehement as they get older. It depends on where you are, what are the locals like, any repercussions there. I am so over being nice.


If they have the arrogance to confront you, they need to know atheists are on the rise.


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