The question in the title is probably not a real question because I won't send an email I just composed.  The woman in question is my 85 year old very kind, very nice Southern Baptist mother in law.  She frequently reminds me and my children that prayer is sooo important to her, and apparently her first line of defense in all difficult situations.  She sent the quote below to my young adult daughter who is going through some life changes.  We have also recently had some difficulty with another of my young adult children, and MIL wants me to "put it all in God's hands."  I know that she grieves that as unbelievers my children and I will spend eternity in hell, and prays for us unceasingly.  : )
Here's the very innocuous quote from the note my mother in law sent to my 27 year old daughter, but it is only one of many such statements from my MIL on a daily basis:
"And yes the word is pray because I am a great believer in prayer. God to me is personal and He cares about me and the people and things I care about."
(she forwarded her email to my daughter to me to make sure I saw her religous perspective)  Here is the email I fantasize sending to my MIL, but won't:
Here is what I believe.  And I believe it as strongly and with as much conviction as you believe what you believe.
Did you ever wonder why Mitt Romney can buy into the doctrines and stories that the Mormon church promotes?  It is because it has seemed "normal" to him from earliest childhood.  It is tied up in his mind with family and home and with all that is "good", it gives him a warm feeling, he just "knows" that it is right.  He has most likely not questioned it.  He and the Mormon church believe it strongly enough that they want EVERYONE to believe what they believe.
The same is true of devout Catholics.  They believe that the pope is infallible.  They believe that the Catholic church has the one true faith.  Catholic tradition and customs are intricately interwoven with family and culture and all that is "good" in their lives.  They accept this without question.
It is only with DISTANCE, with the eyes of an objective observer, that it becomes evident that what helps a person feel "secure and good" has little to do with objective reality.
One difference between those who are religious and those who are not is that in general religious people have a mission that everybody else SHOULD believe what THEY believe-- in fact for some the belief is that those who do NOT share their beliefs are in grave danger. 
It was primarily those pronouncements from the Southern Baptists that initially made me see that I could not be a part of any such culture.  Years ago when "Benny" (pastor) proclaimed from the pulpit, in the hearing of young children, that people should "get saved" NOW because they might get hit by a truck and die on their way home from church, I knew that this was, to me, dangerous nonsense. 
When my eight year old daughter became terrified because teachers at vacation bible school told her class that the devil might swoop down and take children who hadn't "given their hearts to Jesus", I was beyond livid.  I was insanely furious.  My child had nightmares for months and didn't tell me until much later about the horrible things that some misguided person had spewed into the ears of impressionable children.  Horrible. 
However, it is not comments from such foolish and insensitive people that are my primary objection.  I know you are curious about what I believe.  You won't like it.  I don't like what YOU believe, but I don't feel a need to change your mind.  If I could change your mind I don't know that I even would since you are so dependent on your faith.  If you choose to reject me because of what I believe or don't believe, that is your choice.  I would, however, like for you to KNOW where I stand so that we don't have to pretend.  I think it is unfair and one sided for religious people to be able to express their beliefs at any time and to any audience because what they believe is "good and nice and acceptable", while for a non-religious person to do the same is considered rude and crude.  If you find me rude and crude, so be it. So, in the interest of truth, I will include some details. 
(Well, I stopped at this point because I knew I wasn't going to send it anyway.  I had thought of including some posts I have made on this site, or possibley a link to the site, particularly the piece that shows that, taken out of cultural context, Christian beliefs make no more sense to the objective observer than Santa Claus, the Muslim religion, or Mormonism.) 
I think I made the right decision not to send the email, even though "intellectual honesty" would require that I do.  What do you think?

Views: 591

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I liked the way the letter started.  It would be cool to see it finished.  I would hold off on sending such a letter unless you want to limit contact with your MIL.  

I am at an age when my mother-in-law's generation is no longer with us but I get religious emails from friends, family and sometimes total strangers.  I usually just hit delete.  However, I did have a thought in reading your dilemma since your mother-in-law knows how you believe.  There is a place at the bottom of an email where you can plug in a permanent message.  Maybe you could put something like, "I am a non-theist so would appreciate receiving no religious emails.  Thank you."  Maybe after your mother-in-law reads this a hundred times, she (and others) will finally get the message.

I very much like your not sent Email reply!  I'm not going to judge you on your decision, or try to tell you what to do, because I don't know your circumstances well enough.  Plus, I'm not a god-like advisor :) 

However, for me and my circumstances (and personality), I would add some details, a few more statements about my appreciation for her concern (at the first of the Email), and send it!

Idaho Spud, I very much like your suggestion that I add at the beginning of that email some acknowledgement of my MIL's goodwill and genuine concern and my appreciation for her.  She is, in fact, a very good person, not to mention that she is 85 and treats others with kindness at all times and has a sharp mind and excellent memory.  In addition to that, we live in the same house, and she is very easy to get along with.  How many people can say that about their MIL?

I ALMOST, but not quite, think that she might be able to read my comments and perspective with an open mind.  (Please note-- my conclusion is that she ultimatley could NOT.)  She might not reject me, but she could not, I believe, allow herself to see the logic of what I might have to say.

At 85, she is probably looking forward to seeing her dead family members in heaven.  She won't, but why bother her with this information?  Since I can't offer eternal heaven (yuck!) to others, I don't broadcast my beliefs unless asked -- or triggered by an attack of salvation.  I think you're right to leave her to her fantasies.  (But keep the letter; an occasion for it might arise later.)

Hello BK,

I feel your dilema.  My daughter in kindergarten was told she was going to hell because she wasn't a baptist.  She was 5 & did not even know what the meaning of heaven or hell. She came home in tears & had nightmares for months.  I would agree w/JW that since she is 85 why argue the point ? 

 They were conditioned from birth to conform.  That was the norm.  Her intentions are based on what she was taught.   She just doesn't realize there are other points of view. 

Well you said she is 85 very kind and very nice - so in that case I would not send her the email. I don't think it would change her mind and it would just cause problems (more problems).
Just leave her to her myths and fantasies.




Update Your Membership :



Nexus on Social Media:

© 2019   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service