Have you ever hurt a friend talking about their religion?

First of all: Hey, I'm Mike. This is my first post on this website. After being agnostic for many years having not given religion much thought, I recently decided to live my life as an atheist - and I feel good about it. I was really thinking hard on it for awhile and it occupied my thoughts at all times. Now that I'm an atheist, I feel quite liberated. But to be honest, all my Christian friends still think I'm agnostic and I'm hesitant to tell them the truth.

 

Hearing some opinions on this situation is what brought me to this website. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

 

Last summer, I met this Christian girl and we quickly became best friends. We started talking about religion one day and she asked me to go to church with her. At this point I was still agnostic (but still leaning towards atheism). I decided to go because I was curious about it. I saw things that really bugged me and she would ask me what I thought as we were leaving each time. Well, I didn't blow up on her but I was frustrated and I didn't shy away from telling her.

Then for months I barely saw her or talked to her. I tried making plans with her but she wouldn't see me. And the times I had seen her since I avoided talking about her faith. I've been really trying to mend our friendship though - I really do appreciate the friendship we... used to share, at least.

I invited her out last night to a big show in my city (I had free tickets) and she did come, to my surprise. She tagged me in a Facebook 'places' post later that night. This guy (who I think was her pastor at one point) comments on the post "Mike?" and later "THE Mike?"...

So I guess she was talking to him about me, but fine, I understand - it bothered her and she had questions about the things I said (I assume).

But I wonder if he told her not to hang out with me any more... Do you really think someone would do that? That's so... wrong... so... evil. It makes me so sick thinking about it. It makes me even more sick that someone I called a friend would follow an order to avoid me from someone like that without question.

 

What do you think? Any similar experiences?

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Hi Mike

For a short while I was part of a Christian church and whenever I talked about my doubts, they told me it was the devil trying to turn me away from jesus.  When I got sick on the way to a Christian womens retreat and had to go to hospital, they told me it was the devil trying to stop me from enjoying fellowship and worship with other Christian women.  When my husband lost his job and we had to sell our house and it took forever to sell and we were struggling to pay the mortgage, they said it was because I wasn't praying enough, I didn't believe enough, it was the devil trying to get me to doubt!!  Mate, of course "someone would do that."  You are a person with a different world view to them - you are dangerous to their way of life.  They would see your friendship as just another way the devil is trying to turn people away from jesus.

 

Tread carefully here, it sounds like you really care about this person - you could end up getting hurt.  They will try and scare her into staying away from her - and if she isn't strong enough, she might listen.  When I finally admitted that I didn't believe in any god, I lost sooooooooo many friends.  They saw me as a threat, as a person the devil got a hold on.  It hurt, but I was finally being honest and the freedom that gave me was more precious than any fair weather, brain washed, so called friends.

 

Hang in there buddy.

 

Many people only “believe” because of the communities they live in. All the relationships between family and friends will have this common bond. One of the strands of this religion bond is the tacit but mutual understanding that Atheists are not the kind of people that the group would tolerate. So when someone announces to the group that they are an Atheist the group dynamic is upset and then the group polarizes against you. It must in order to survive. So many of your “friends” will need to reaffirm to the group that they are still Christian and one way to do this is to shun you. Another is to send some sort of preacher after you to see if you can be brought back into to flock (herd). These actions (confirmation bias) help to strengthen the group. Once they realise it is not “a phase” you are going through they are compelled to shun you to some extent. It also scares people. They wonder how somebody they have known so long could “suddenly” become an Atheist. They start looking for things to blame – “Ever since he went to college” – “That damn music they listen to”. It is easier for Christians to cast stones that to sit down and think why someone they know could become an Atheist. When it matters our true friends will be there. If not they never were.

Yes, i was criticizing on facebook the holiday religious displays put up and paid for by local or national governments.  I saw it as an unnecessary expense, especially during this recession and a breach in the separation of church and state.  But that wasn't the worst part... it was when i said "why should i have to pay for that shit" that one of my friends was like... "That shit??"  

I felt a little bad but honestly, we are grown folks.  If we cannot handle a little criticism and challenge to our thinking, then we should go back to elementary school. 

 

 I've had a number of religious friends that really are aware of my beliefs, but I have never lost one one because of our differences. My current best friend, my work wife we call it, is catholic. She has read my numerous Atheist ranting letters to the editor that have been in the local news paper countering religious crazies without more saying more than "There is a god." Maybe these friends of mine have been secure in their beliefs and mine don't threaten theirs. I guess your friend isn't like that.

Isn't it strange?  Science thrives on criticism and actively seeks it on the grounds that it will improve its understanding of the truth.  Religious avoids it because it is so insecure that it believes that its precarious belief system will be destroyed by any consideration of alternative points of view and disconfirming evidence. 

Christians and other theists do not really believe that "The Truth Shall Make You Free."  - only that their religious leader's interpretation of the "Truth" will give you a nice experience (also as interpreted by the religious leaders) and save your from a fate worse that death at the hands of the Chief Narcissistic Tyrant of the Universe (reinterpreted by the religious leaders as an example of True Justice and Real Love.  They would all make good Mobster's Marketing Managers ). 

Both your friend and probably the pastor are emotionally tangled up in this socially sanctioned horror system.  They are both terrified because they know from past history that their belief system is not strong enough to survive the type of investigation that enlightens everything else.  Ask them why they believe that their system can be so easily destroyed.

Excellent post, Rosemary. It's HARD to keep a discussion of religion from becoming an argument.  They then just 'dig in their heels' & logic, common sense & reason are beyond even consideration.  Each of us must go down this stony road by ourselves.  Thank Zeus for the internet.  : )   We are not alone.

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