At what point do you draw a line and stop interacting with someone over his/her religious beliefs?

I've recently had to tell two old friends I simply don't want to talk to them anymore if they are going to continue blatantly (or even imply) I am wrong about my non-theistic stance.  Yes, I was a christian in my teens.  Yes, I was agnostic for most of my adult life.  But I am not those things today.  I am more and more offended by off-handed comments about "not being saved" and occasional (but persistant) invitations to come to whatever get-together at their church.


I'll tell you.  All of my adult life I have used the rationales "agree to disagree" or "it's just a difference of opinion" with people to either make them, or myself, feel better or to tone down some discussion which might get heated.


I think I'm fed up with making condolences and coddling mythical fantasies.  Of one thing I'm now certain: acting "diplomatic" about my position on religion harms me psychologically.  It dulls my reasoning and the confounding is getting beyond annoying.  Furthermore, it allows them to walk away with a sense his or her belief may actually be justifiable.


My biggest point I made to them was this:  If a majority of my government's representatives believed that Santa Claus actually, really, truly does exist.  And each year what a wonderful thing it was for Santa to visit all the world's children to give away gifts simply because they were good little girls and boys.  Not only would I question the qualifications of those representatives involving economic decisions, I would have to seriously question his or her psychological wellness based on an obvious inability to discern what is and what is not REAL.  My friends would not concede the analogy.


I think I've been too polite.  I can't even go into it with them about history and how the 3 major religions have inflicted death simply because of a 2000+ year's unresolved issue over which son Abraham took to sacrifice. 


Of course, my last discussion with them was more personal than that.  Over the years they seem more and more unwilling to acknowledge how my reasoning is not less or worse than their belief.


So, I'm asking anyone on this forum.  When (or what) would be the time where you would end a long-term relationship over disagreement on religion?... If ever you would.

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I totally know what you are talking about, and I have decided that the only people I will be secretive/diplomatic with are my blood family members, anyone else just isn't worth the trouble ~ in fact I'm not sure my family even is.

Well, I generally just don't get into discussions with people i know disagree with me on issues i know they wont look at with a rational mind.  This is religion, politics whatever. I mean i know from past experience i will not open there mind and only end up pissed off.  

Now if they bring it up, I just point out that they probably are not as secure in  their beliefs as they may like to believe or they wouldn't feel a need to try to "convince me" of their way being correct.

This usually shuts them up; If it doesn't I would tell them to get the fuck away from me and leave me alone.  Go find some other mindless robot to spout their magical dribble to and let me at least be at peace.

My wife thinks she is a "true believer" and we get along great, in fact better than great; we just don't discuss religion. I respect her and she at least doesn't try to change me.... I don't try to make the kids atheist, i just educate them on "all religions"/non theistic positions, so they know there are a lot of choices and no one has the one true answer.  I hope this lets them decide for themselves not because mommy or daddy said so.

My husband is a "weak" believer also and we pretty much do not talk about religion. Just curious why you said she thinks she is a true believer.

I feel it is just easier to blindly believe than to objectively scrutinize ones belief systems;

whenever, we do dissect subjects that would logically lead to atheism she is right with me till the final step when she realizes "oh my god (pun intended) to say/believe/follow that line of thought" and i am questioning my belief; at this point she retreats(as most do) into "well you aren't suppose to question"

so i drop it..... 

quite frankly most of the time being an atheist is very much a non issue.  it just doesn't matter to me, i don't think of it much as it just is; i don't need to defend it cause i know its what i don't believe if you will.

I find that if i am defending something, particularly if not even challenged, I probably have a few doubts myself....

Yea, I experience the same thing with my husband. Logically my husband knows that his belief is unfounded, personally I think he wants to believe more than that he does believe. 


i think your approach to telling them directly that if you wont stop badgering me i dont want to talk with you is the answer.

if someone respects me i respect them; in fact i prefer to have friends with beliefs that differ from mine and ones that challenge me to think.  But, to harass me for their own bullshit insecurity, fuck off.....


i think i would just stop talking about religion with them and if they brought it up just respectfully decline. i have a hard time restraining myself too when it comes to friends talking about religion so i find myself slipping into religious arguments. I have less trouble with my Druid friend but tons with my Catholic friend.

If I start to feel like I'm their "conversion project". Or like they're just a big commercial for their religion.

If they keep asking me to come to church, etc, but are unwilling to come to anything of mine.

If they put down other religions for being stupid, but then get defensive about insults to their own religion (my Muslim friend was like that).

If debates become too personal, maybe.

I wouldn't stop being friends with someone just b/c we're debating and I can't change their mind about religion, though. I don't like this idea that we have to deconvert everyone. It's too much like religionists' idea of making everyone their religion. I don't expect everyone is going to be just like me and it's too much like trying to change someone's personality.

I really appreciate all the feed-back on this.  I'm a little bit surprised how some of you can actually be married with differing beliefs.  WOW!  But, I've never been married so I guess it's reasonable to presume the day-to-day struggles in life and the hosts of other commonalities amongst couples most often supersede base notions of how this existence came to be.  Kudos to you for sure :)


Right now I'm giving myself a break from my two friends.  I am the one who's changing; almost to the point of becoming militant-in-mindset against religious dogma.  I think it's because of the new-day fundamentalist rise across the world.  I keep asking myself "How is it possible I'm the adult amongst these people making real-world decisions from their viewpoint of juvenile fantasy stories?"  But I remain reasonable because individuals have different needs at varying times in their lives.


So, when they called yesterday I told them I'd be out of touch for a while - more of my diplomatic "I'm really busy.  I'll call you when things slow down" gaffe.  That wasn't honest, but they are old friends.  Just between us here at this forum, I don't know if it's possible for me to return to them.  I can't seem to muster a diplomatic stance on this issue.


Each of your posts have helped me decide and I thank you dearly.

Hi... just read this page at random and thought i'd add. I have friends at work who were of a similar mindset to the ones you mention. They are Jehovah's witnesses or something: i don't care what. I got around the problem by trying to argue at first, but getting nowhere- so i resorted to making light hearted quips along the lines of, "shut up you dusty sandal wearer", or "It's a shame watchtower hasn't got a reader's wives section" etc... all said with a smile and a wave. At first they weren't sure how to take it, but now reply with amusing comebacks... (very slightly amusing i suppose would be more accurate). The point is that by both unconsciously deciding to joke to each other we have preserved our friendship, whilst the line is drawn and theist/atheist debates are no longer an issue. Not sure such a method would help in your case but you never know. :)
Well, to answer when to stop discussing depends upon what is your idea of taking up the discussion. Is it to put across your viewpoint or to change someone. If someone likes what you said they may revert back and and continue a healthy discussion. However, in order to change someone you have to endure. Then be patient and have confidence in your rationalism. Then we ought to keep in mind there is no free will with organisms like us.




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