My cube-neighbor is a devout christian, but the type of religious person that's a good example for others: She doesn't preach or advertise her beliefs, but will discuss it when it comes up. I enjoy working with her and like her as a person.
She did irritate me a few weeks ago by saying, "I know you might not like what I have to say, but I think someday, in the distant future, you and your husband will be saved." I just said that I know that's how all christians feel and it doesn't surprise me, but not to hold her breath!
The topic came up again yesterday, and we were discussing our families, what their beliefs are and so on. She said her parents are both religious- her father is a devout catholic and her mother is a christian "but laid back and cool about it," words to that effect. Meaning, not rabidly insane like my mother-in-law that I often complain about.
Then she told me how, once when her cousin and his friend were over the house, the friend ("a man of science, very smart guy") said that he didn't believe in god. So her mom politely asked him to leave.
I was incredulous. "She kicked him out on account of stating his non-belief?!" I asked.
"Well, NO, she didn't [motioning with her leg] KICK him out, she just asked him to leave," she responded.
"That's kicking somebody out, you don't have to do it literally! She showed him the door. Wow. And on what basis?" I didn't get any impression that the guy was being obnoxious or rude. He merely stated his position.
"Well, what would you do if a man came into your house, and turned out to be a thief, or a rapist?"
"WAIT. You are comparing an atheist to a rapist and a thief??"
Cue the backpedaling. She seemed confused and started mumbling something about humanism vs atheism. I didn't let go, and she denied thinking that. "But you just made a comparison of non-believers to criminals!"
"I didn't say that. That's not what I'm saying. You must've been very scarred to think that's what I meant," she replied with that creepy calmness so typical of christians. I was floored.
"You have to understand," I explained, "atheism just means 'non-belief.' That's IT. It makes no statement about a person's morals or character. That's ALL it means, non-belief."
She didn't apologize, and won't, but I hope a small seed was planted in her brain. She's been spoon-fed information about atheists her entire life, and I'm sure she had no idea about the proper definition. I hope she begins to see some of the hypocricy.
In any case, I purchase and am almost done reading "A Manual for Creating Atheists." While I hate carrying this book around and reading it in public on the train due to the provocative title (because people will automatically assume that's what I'm trying to do all the time, which I'm not), it's an excellent book.
Also, I should add: I get the impression that she's one of those that's uncomfortable with "atheist" and prefers to think of me as a "secular humanist." Because every now and then, she asks me to clarify my position. "Are you an atheist or a humanist?"
I tell her that I agree with humanist principles, but I don't consider myself a humanist except by default. I'm an atheist. It's weird, like she keeps asking the question as if to give me a chance to redeem myself and choose the "correct" answer. Wow, so there really are people out there who think it's a world of difference between the two, and obviously one cannot really have morals without subscribing to some prescribed "religion."
Should begin to, but almost never will.
Much more often they will simply respond, "well the people who did those things weren't true Christians." Or some similarly bad excuse.
I know! and the more the pity!
And every sect, every individual within a sect, has a different definition of what "true christian" is supposed to mean. Probably because the buybull is so totally unclear on the subject.
A "true christian" is very hard to define. There are several reasons for this. The Buybull is constantly being re-written with no surviving true texts of any original manuscripts. One group prefers a certain translation, possibly even to the extent of baseing their doctrine on the wording of that translation. Now look at all the translations that we have. You get an idea of how many doctrines. That's right folks. They are simply making this shit up to produce new versions again and again for the "best selling book of all time."
Next we have certain ones who have the "full gospel." They gibber and roll around in the floor like Curley from the Three Stooges. Others are more restrained. Some even have the balls enough to believe their sacred book has the "words of Jesus in red." How in the hell would that be possible? Who was actually there recording this man's words? If he existed how would you ever know exactly what he said?
It goes on and on. These are but a few ideas influencing the "true christian."
I was in a discussion once with a "true christian" (protestant evangelical) who made a comment about how members of the Westboro Baptists Church weren't really christians. I stated that it must be hard for him to sleep at night with all that responsibility. He asked what responsibility I was talking about. I responded that apparently he was the one responsible for deciding who is and who is not a christian. He changed the subject to baseball.
Brilliant. Excuse me while I steal your line.
Please feel free, and hope it works as well for you.
Keep in mind that to a committed theist NOT believing in god is a sin by simple definition. So you are a sinner right out of the gate, and to not accept god is to continue in sin. Having a meaningful conversation with an unrepentant sinner is next to impossible so she had no idea how to continue the conversation. Better to have expressed your disbelief in terms of YOUR lack of FAITH. That way you can steer the conversation to the subject of faith, why SHE believes as she does, rather than having to answer the unanswerable question about the existence or nonexistence of god.
The ESSENTIAL difference between you and her is FAITH.
I usually respond: "I'm sorry, but I do not share your FAITH in the existence of a supreme being".
Let them respond to that.
I hate to be obnoxious (okay, I really don't mind;)) but she did something in the context of your conversation that shows she is not all that "nice" of a lady. She said you must be very "scarred" to think she meant that. Wow-you thought she meant the EXACT WORDS that were coming from her mouth? That is a disgusting tactic used by brainwashed morons to say that the only reason you aren't a "belieber" is because you were "scarred" in the past. It is a trashy thing to have pulled with you, when she did just compare atheists to rapists.
You could stoop to the same level and suggest both she and her mother must be awfully "scarred' to think that an atheist is as dangerous as a rapist. These mind games they play are huge indicators of what trash lurks beneath the, "I hope you get saved someday" bullshit.
This may be exactly true, Emily, but it is the tactics that the theists are taught to use.
I think we need to be more bold in our statement of being an atheist, and confrontational when believers play mind games with us. Some expect atheist to "not offend" even as believers offend all the time and feel entitled. I found that biting hard enough for them to feel pain is necessary to stop the "pity party, you lack faith, or belief, or god, or jesus, or whatever" and make it very clear that I do not believe in superstitions or scriptures written for Iron Age goat herders riding camels.
I have no problem with people praying, or going to church, or kneeling before some idol. It is when proselytizing occurs, or my morality is questioned that I sharpen my eye teeth and go for jugular.
Yes, booklover/Joan, you summed up my point as well-any person who plays these sort of sick, twisted mind games is not a "nice" lady just because she says "please" and "thank you" and gives a contrite smile now and again. It is very sinister behavior, and should be called out as such. She is a grown ass woman-raised to play these games or not, she knows what she is doing is wrong.