I know this might not come as a shock to many here but, I thought I would share it anyway. I have been operating as an Atheist with the understanding that ALL people have the ability to drop the shackles of their belief system. I thought they where just misguided. I felt if a person was provided enough evidence to totally dismantle their belief in a positive discussion with NO aggression they would drop it and start thinking for themselves. Well.....I was wrong.

I actually have a court date now because of it. The guy actually tried to beat me up after I proved him wrong on every point he tried to make and he was unable to answer even ONE of my questions. They funny thing is that it was almost 4 hours later when he attempted to assault me. I'm not mad at the guy I just really don't understand.

I didn't even ask for the debate. I was at work. He came to me asking questions about god, satan, ghosts, even aliens. I simply answered them. While the conversation was taking place every other employee including management got involved and started asking me questions. Mind you, I live in the bible belt. For someone to say the things I am saying is unheard of.

He was not the only one to try to "stump the Atheist." The others asked questions as well. After the conversation was over two people had changed their minds! YAY ATHEISM!! I think about 8 have really strong doubts about their religion but aren't ready to take that leap. But the one guy just walked off quietly. Didn't say a word about it the rest of the day. He talked to me like normal for the rest of the work day.

When we got off he waited for me in the parking lot. He approached me and asked if I thought it was funny to bring his coworkers to hell with me. I was about to respond when he swung at me. I was trained by the military so the altercation didn't last long. I called an ambulance to come pick him up and stayed to speak to the police department. Now I'm going to court. WTF?!?!?!? lol Oh well, I live by a saying I learned in the Army. Stand for something or fall for anything.

The Update for easier reading.....

Ok so here's what happened. I know I kinda spoiled it but, I knew a lot of you where on the edge of you seat trying wanting to know how the courts would deal with it. Basically the judge told him "EVEN THOUGH this man doesn't believe in Christ he was able to act with more morality than you are even capable of understanding. You are a menace and uncontrollable. Your actions have put a bad name not only on yourself but, on all people who believe as you do. You ought to be ashamed and I hope when you go to your probation violation hearing the state picks this case up and runs with it to the fullest extent of the law."

You like that? "EVEN THOUGH"?? As if we are incapable of being moral by the "Christian" standard. In my opinion he acted better than Christians did during the Inquisition. He addressed me "Mr. 'A' (I don't wanna use my real last name) I apologize for this inconvenience and the court will not take any more of your time. You are free to leave unless you have anything to add?" So I calmly said "Your honor, the only thing that I would ask is that you put yourself in his position. The man lost his job, the use of his arm, his pride, and now quite possibly his freedom. I understand he broke the law...however I broke his arm. I know this is not a carnal society as in the days of the Inquisition (yes I said it) but I feel like he has had his punishment. The only thing I would like to stress to this court is that we Atheists DO have morality however, to our advantage, it's NOT God given. Therefore we can and DO alter it to fit the situation. This man only acted as every Christian in the past acted when their beliefs where put through the scrutiny of science. I don't fault him. I fault society. That is all I have to say."

At this, the judge recommended some ridiculously large amount of community service and that he write a formal apology which I declined to accept. I signed a form before I left the court that said he apologized and left it at that.

Now Bring on the Church debate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The later update.....

First and foremost I wanna thank EVERYONE for the support. You guys are still AMAZING!!!!!!!

I spoke with the pastor today. He claims that it's just standard b.s. He said that we wants an open format and to allow audience questions. I asked him what kind of "standard" b.s. he was referring to. His response was "oh, you know things like no cussing and the like." I told him we could just go on good faith that I would refrain from things like that to which he said "I thought Atheists had NO faith?" Good point. He laughed and I told him that he would have to make sure to give me this arrangement no later than Wednesday seeing as he wants me at church on Sunday. He agreed that he would have it done earlier than that. I asked him who I would be debating and he said that he had MANY volunteers but, was "told by God" he should be the one to do it......the phrase "Why hast thou forsaken me?" came to mind but, I resisted the urge.

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These are all valid points. Really they are. I see what you are saying. The only thing is I fail to see how wearing a BIG READ "A" will fix it....we have to give them room to grow just as someone gave you the room to grow. When we reach the point where we are NOT the fastest growing minority in America but the fastest growing MAJORITY then it's time to revamp government. I think jumping the gun would be disastrous.
Larry, I already anticipate the possibility of a theist backlash against rationalists / atheists and I am as mentally and physically prepared as I know how to be to face that.

As to getting the government we deserve, I'd sooner have Obama in the front office, like him or not, than a man with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel and a clueless jingoist in the wings as vice president. Parenthetically, both my senators (one democratic, one republican) and my congressman know where I stand on this and I have made no bones about repeating said stance. As for more personal encounters, I'll deal with them when they arise.
Ok, late to this party and I've barely had time to skim the thread, but let me see if I've got this straight:

Xian comes to you and starts the religious conversation by asking questions about effectively challenging your religious beliefs (or lack thereof). You calmly answer as others come into the conversation. Xian, unhappy with how the conversation ended, waits for you in the parking lot in anger and takes a swing at you. You defend yourself against this larger-than-you-are man. You then stay with him, call an ambulance for him and talk to the police. When the boss wants to fire this Xian for what he did you come to his defense and ask your boss not to fire him - the man who took the first swing at you.

And just to be clear; Christians are the virtuous and moral ones and we Atheists are mean and evil?

I don't think I could have found it in my heart to defend the man's job!

As to your original musing about how some minds simply refuse to be changed, that is sadly true. But I believe it's still worth putting the information out there. The vast majority of Theists believe what they believe because they've been misled or outright mind-raped by others. Often those others didn't know they were preaching a lie, sometimes they do. But either way, I feel I'm only helping the lie if I say nothing.

As others have said here, Theism is so deeply ingrained as is the need to be 'right' that in some cases no amount of evidence will make a bit of difference. But I do take some comfort in knowing that person now has to work to put the toothpaste back into the tube. Ignorance is bliss. It's easy to believe if the only bible verses you're familiar with are the warm and fuzzy ones. Now that person knows the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy ones exist. Toothpaste out of the tube. Your work there is done.

I'm not one to go out 'preaching' anti-theism the way Evangelicals preach their word. But in this case James I think you absolutely did the right thing.
Thank you very much. Yes you pretty much got the story summarized. I was hoping others could see we are not evil and are capable of forgiveness without "Christ" My point was taken well. Like I said, because of my actions I was invited to defend/share my views with an entire church. I couldn't ask for more!!!
Not exactly what's going on here....I didn't put his arm behind his back. I very intentionally broke it. I know this statement could be used against me but, it's the truth. It was dark in the parking lot of our job. There was almost nobody around but we have cameras in the lot. He swung at me and I used his momentum to twist it to the small of his back and yank upwards. I knew exactly what I was doing was gonna cause his arm to break, but I was trying to end the confrontation as fast as possible.

He didn't try to press charges and neither did I. If the cops are called a police report is made. Since it was a fight we have to go to court. The state charged HIM with assault. I didn't charge him with anything. He went to the hospital, then jail, then bailed out. Shortly after he was fired (on my day off) Afterward I came back to work and he was there to pick up his check. He apologized and I accepted. He said his Grandma told him it was un-christlike. I laughed and so did he. The manager walked by and I asked her if there was something we could do about getting his job back. They where both amazed but she denied it. Later she said he was in a cast and could do her no good anyway.

I highly doubt this will escalate and further
You being more trained at fighting abused your advantage in physical combat and that is why you have to go and be judged. One have the right to self defense but not to go further that what is needed to stop the other from hurting you.

you clearly missed when I asked him about excessive force. I'll answer for him.

The guy was much bigger than him and broad, he said.

In any combat situation, the trained individual will know that the best chance he has to win a fight against a bigger opponent is to deal a disabling blow and then try to calm the opponent down once disabled by pain/broken appendage.

If the person was either equal size or smaller, his actions would arguably have been excessive force since he could have passed for ground control. It is, however, very unwise to go to the ground with someone bigger than you if you can help it.

The only other ways he could have disabled a bigger person are by breaking something else (nose, rib, knee) or done something very dangerous like strike him in the throat, eyes, ears (HORRIBLE feeling) or groin. These cause sharp debilitating pain, but are much less reliable and may provoke more anger and not effectively diffuse the situation. Not only are they less reliable, they are MUCH more dangerous than breaking an arm, which isn't life threatening or permanent.

His force wasn't excessive given the guy's size.

Also, in many places if there is any kind of domestic disturbance involving police, there is automatically a court date to determine fault and state punishment.
Exactly what I said earlier. That's why I didn't respond. Thanks Johnny
Wow,just got thru reading this thread.

I too have been in a similar position, many years ago,I was,and still am a practicing karateka and

I was harassed simply for that by the local churches in my town.

Martial arts wasn't as common back then and these nutcases decided I was in league with the devil.

My karate Gi was spotted sitting in my car at work one day! Gasp!!!!!!!!!

These gutless clowns didn't have the nerve to confront me,they tried to get me to

set foot in thier church so they could gang up on me and break my legs with a baseball bat.

I had more sense that to show up,didn't trust them in the first place.

Ultimately I had to take legal action to get them to back off,you can run

into a lot of lawmen hanging around Karate schools,just so happens that one of

them turned out to be the Chief Detective in the nearest major city where I live.
yeah, funny thing!

In every martial arts school I've been to, I have had a friend who was a lawyer LOL. Maybe they're so used to dealing with lunatics that they decide that they need to defend themselves.
James, I think you did exactly the right thing at every step of the way in your situation, including during the physical altercation--you did what was necessary to keep the fight as short as possible. You were the bigger man throughout, and that speaks volumes about you and your philosophies. You were dealing with a person with poor impulse control, fueled by his delusions. I can't think what more he will be able to learn from a fine or jail time than what you (and his grandmother) have already taught him.

And while I do believe it's time for atheists in the US to stand up and be counted, we each need to decide how to do that effectively and safely. A t-shirt makes a lot of sense in some areas, but not so much in others. Your conversation with your coworkers and church visit certainly makes the grade in my book. I can't think why you'd need to wear a t-shirt too. In fact, it seems kind of limp in comparison. Good luck at the church show and tell, and I look forward to reading the recap here on A|N.
Thank you very much Jason. I am very excited about my debate!!! I'm trying to get an audio recorder for the event so I can post the mp3 here!!!
You're very welcome James and thank you again. I've always felt the best way to lead is by example. You didn't lose your cool in a situation most others would have. I don't know if the church is baiting you into an unfair debate or if their motives are genuine, but either way, what I hope some in that church will see is that it was/is the Atheist responding morally here. An Atheist not angrily damning god or announcing his superiority, but simply a person saying "Here's what I believe and how I came about those beliefs."

As to self-defense, having taken many years of martial arts, careful to pick dojos who aren't in it for the machismo but for teaching genuine discipline, it sounds like you approached that situation as well as you could have as well. You and I know size actually doesn't have much to do with it but in court it does help to be able to say "larger man coming after a shorter one ... man going after a woman..."

But summing up from the self-defense point of view: Even though Xian was the one who started the religious conversation, he was obviously not happy about how it ended. He waited several hours, waited to get you alone in a dark parking lot after work, and took the first swing based on his continued anger over a mere conversation several hours earlier.

While that may (and in this case looks like it is) likely be just an unhappy person acting rashly, this is also the setup of someone truly off his rocker and capable of doing something far more deadly. You erred on the side of caution and took him out of the fight as quickly as possible without doing any permanent damage. Absolutely the right (and moral) thing to do!

Finally, on his being fired because his arm is in a cast ... is he aware he now has a lawsuit for disability discrimination? Even if the disability is temporary, and in this case especially because it is. If it's a labor-intensive job that otherwise requires use of both arms, the employer can put him on a medical leave, but it is illegal to fire him on that basis. The employer had better dial back that reason and work on, "Ummm, the real reason we fired him is because he started a fight in the parking lot..."



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