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 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 CJoe on December 4, 2013 at 11:44am

I have gotten that same response from practically all my friends and family who know I'm not a Christian anymore.

They think I'm being rebellious, or that I had a bad experience with the church, or that I'm angry at God, or that it's a phase. I spent two hours explaining to a friend exactly how I lost my faith, in great detail. The next day, while we were having lunch together, she said something to the effect of, "I think you do know the truth and you're just rebelling." Like, everything I told her just went in one ear and out the other. It was so frustrating and invalidating.

I've had sooo many conversations with my mom and she still doesn't get it... or refuses to. Sometimes she concedes points, then forgets it by our next conversation and continues to implore me to believe again, as if it's that easy. Fortunately, my grandmother (who's a lot more intellectual than my mom) understands that I can't just flip a switch and believe.

I used to be a Christian, and I used to try to coerce friends to come to church with me. Honestly, they're not giving it much thought beyond it's their duty to try to "save" you. They've been fed a bunch of malarkey about why people don't "accept" Jesus. They haven't done the same research you have so it doesn't even occur to them yours is a hard-won position. It isn't personal, as annoying as it is. They're not free-thinkers; they don't get what it means to be one.

Comment by Emperor Milos on December 4, 2013 at 1:23pm

Both you and Cara seem to be in a similar situation, and I'd suggest taking a page out of Cara's mom's playbook; in one ear, out the other.

If you really want to get into it with them, you can just let them know that them being preachy is just pushing you farther away from Jesus.

Or just tell them that there is zero chance you will believe, so, to paraphrase myself (never done that before) stop beating the dead horse, there is nothing left of him aside some torn bits of flesh, pulped organs and bone fragments.

Comment by Ed on December 4, 2013 at 2:58pm


You stated: "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."

It will probably become necessary to take your religious friend(s) aside and explain that your friendship with them HAS to be based on something OTHER THAN religion and it's discussion. If they like their respective church they should tell other theists and NOT you because you're simply not interested. There are so many other things of interest that can provide a bond without the need to interject religion. If they are unwilling to accept this preachless condition then it would probably be time to ease on down the road of life for greener pastures.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 4, 2013 at 4:42pm

There is another way of looking at it and it is the approach I have taken when well-meaning relations or sometimes even friends tried to slip an attempt at religious conversion into a staged event in an innocuous manner. I knew it was been pre-arranged and the person charged with the task of saving my soul had being picked because they are so “devout”.

I would be grinning on the inside and almost relishing their attempts. I would allow them to introduce their god into the conversation and build up some steam and convince themselves that they were making some headway (their prayers answered) with me. Then I would start to challenge them about what they believe. Get them to be explicit about it. Ask them to write down the top 5 reasons for their belief on paper so you can study them properly.

This forces them to actually think about what they believe and it can trigger a lot of doubt in their own minds. They may say the belief in eternal life after death but you will be surprised how that can sound to a Theist when they read it back to themselves. They will be compelled to reread and think about their five points before they hand them to you. Sometimes that breaks the spell for them. I have de-converted a few well-meaning believers with this method. Visualise this scenario for a few minutes and you will see that it can work for you too”.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on December 4, 2013 at 6:01pm

@ Cara-I don't think they're deep thinkers. Don't get me wrong...they're smart and capable adults...but they're content to be told what to believe. About a decade ago, I even had a conversation with my friend when I was really doubting Catholicism where we both seemed to be questioning our faith. The next day, it was as if we had never talked about it. I think the uncertainty scared the shit out of her and she decided not to think about it. 

@ Emperor-On the whole, I do let it in one ear and out the other. It's only mildly annoying at this point. They're not being rude. I just find these assumptions about why I am an atheist so ridiculous as to be amusing (and mildly insulting). You know, think I might use the claim that evangelism pushes me farther away from Jesus. I can suggest that what impresses me about Christians is when they walk the walk.

@ Ed-I agree that a relationship between a believer and a free thinker which is based on religion is bound to be pretty rocky. What's odd, is that religion has never been a large part of my relationship with either of these two women. It never occurred to them to bring religion up until they realized I no longer shared theirs.

@ Reg-That's some tough medicine, but it sounds like it cures the ailment. I am going to try for a detant rather than going on the offensive...I don't want to alienate them...they're good people and I value my connection to them. Now, if all else fails...

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 4, 2013 at 6:17pm

My approach could be seen as an offensive but that is never my mentality. I may go “on the offensive” but I am always civil and respectful. It lets them know that they are not going to have a one sided conversation where they can just proselytize to me. By asking them to write down what they actually say they believe, they are compelled to think more deeply about their faith. They think about the wording because they know I will be reading it and this can trigger enough doubt within them to allow your own points of view to be giving more consideration rather than just dismissed. I am not pushing my Atheism on them, I am just getting them to consider what they claim to be the truth. It does work.

Comment by CJoe on December 4, 2013 at 6:21pm

^I think that's an interesting approach. I don't have a lot of these encounters anymore since I've culled the heard a bit. I mainly spend time with people who are, at worst, only "spiritual".

Your method would never work on my mom, however. She's fully insulated herself. Anything that confuses her or gives her pause only causes her to say, "I don't full understand God." Like, she really is okay not having the answers or accepting inconsistencies. SO ANNOYING.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on December 4, 2013 at 7:58pm


Comment by Unseen on December 4, 2013 at 9:50pm

Some thoughts:

Tell them it's not your fault, but that your parents and family failed you and so you fell into Satan's dark embrace..

Can you turn your head around 360 degrees and vomit green slime in a projectile manner? (My point is, maybe you can have some fun with them by getting them to exorcise you. I would love someone to try to exorcise me.)

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.


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