Just tell them the truth: there is no historical evidence soever that anyone named Jesus Christ ever existed; that he was an amalgamation of dozens of prophets roaming around the mideast at the time, and that bits and pieces of dozens of death-and-resurrection deities went into making him. Admit that a rabbi named Joshua may have lived at the time, but only Saul-Paul of Tarsus and the Mithraicist Emperor Constantine could come up with Jesus, giving Reb Yeshua an occidental name borrowed from Hindu mythology (Christ = Krishna). I could go on but this will do.
As you probably can tell, I collect quotes and one that I have found appropriate in the context of your remarks is from the book by Albert Schweitzer, who was himself a believer:
The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb.
This image has not been destroyed from without, it has fallen to pieces, cleft and disintegrated by the concrete historical problems which came to the surface one after another, and in spite of all the artifice, art, artificiality, and violence which was applied to them, refused to be planed down to fit the design on which the Jesus of the theology of the last hundred and thirty years had been constructed, and were no sooner covered over than they appeared again in a new form.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus, Chapter XX Results.
Being Jewish, I never hear "Jesus loves you." But I have been told "God loves atheists." Subtext: even if you don't believe, he's still there, loving you, you undeserving unbeliever. I try to keep it light with something like "Oh, really? How do you know? Did he email you?" (I might add that in the Bible, God does not love atheists and has many awful punishments in store for those who stray from his commandments.)
Any other suggestions?
The legend of Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into Heaven is a good story when archeologists can't seem to locate his grave site. If they found his grave site and there were bones in it then he wouldn't be divine, which many of the Christian religions didn't think he was until it was voted on in the Council of Nicea. He became universally (?) divine by a vote so that pagans who believed in demi-gods would accept him. In exchange for their acceptance of Jesus the Council took their holy days as universal holy days.
Man created god in his own image and this imaginary god's son walked among us? He loves us, especially children who he lets die by the tens of thousands each and every year? Best wish me that Jesus doesn't know about me.
TL;DR "You tell your Jesus to stay the hell away from me!"
Yeah ... damned stalker!
Or tell them that I have a restraining order. The order states that Jesus H. Christ is not to come within 200 feet of me.
"Mario will save you from Bowzer's fiery pits of the underworld."
"May the Triforce guide you!"
"I cast Magic Missile!"
"What does God need with a starship?"
Basically anything that points out the fictitious elements of their statement.
It's my experience most of those who say things like this are motivated by kindness and mean no more than others might by "best wishes" or "take care." It is annoying to hear this message many times and the temptation must be strong to give a smart reply, but rudeness does not strike me as an effective way to respond. A first response should be polite, if cool, in hopes the exchange is over quickly. A smile and "How kind of you" should be more than enough.
Sometimes it is not enough. If something further is said and it becomes clear the person is trying to press religion on you or find out your beliefs, you can try, "I only feel comfortable discussing religion with my very closest friends." Anything further and you simply repeat that phrase over and over with a knowing smile. Should the person become rude or overbearing, act surprised and walk away.
Your entire effort should aim to end the conversation and put the topic well off limits for the future. You have less chance of doing that if you are rude. That only inspires the individual to try harder to continue the interchange or to repeat it the next time you meet. You don't want to give a response requiring explanation.
Mature individuals with good manners recognize the private nature as well as the great diversity of religious opinions and do not try to impose their beliefs on others, but you meet fewer and fewer of them in the modern world. If you do not meet any, you can at least be one yourself.
Just had this happen to me on the way out of the library ~2 weeks ago...
Caught me off guard & only said something like "Yeah, right..."
Kicked myself after for not having something prepared....
There are soooo many possibilities for this one....
Just a few off the top of my head...
- "And I'm sure Santa Clause & the Easter Bunny love you too!"
- "And I'm sure Zeus (Apollo, Thor, etc... ficticious "god" of your choice) loves you too!"
- "And may the Almighty Muhammed shower his blessings on you too!"
- "Praise be to Allah!!"
- "Have you read the Quran lately?? May I give you a copy??"
- "I used to believe in your imaginary "jesus"... then I turned 8..."
- "I stopped believing in fairy tales like that when I was 7... when will you?"
- "Aren't you a little old to still believe in fairy tale characters?"
- "Aren't you a little old to still believe in an imaginary friend?"
- "Awww... isn't that cute... you're in your (30's, 40's, 50's, etc..) and you still have an (or talk to your) imaginary friend... isn't that special." <as in "The Church Lady"... LOL>
- "I don't even KNOW a "Jesus" (pronounce it "hey-zeus"), and besides, I'm not into guys..."
- "He does??? Why doesn't he ever say it to me directly?... I always have to hear it from some stranger on the street!!"
- "Really??? He TOLD you that?? How come he never tells ME these things!!!???"
- "Wow!! He waits ___ years (your age), never says ANYTHING to me, and I have to hear about it from YOU!!"
- "Is he that shy that he can't come down & tell me himself?"
- "Is he that busy that he can't take a few minutes out of his day to come down & tell me himself... I have to hear about it through his social secretary??!!"
- "Really??? Why didn't he say something sooner... I just got engaged!!"
(if you're a guy, you could add... "to my boyfriend" to shock them further...)
- "Thanks, but tell him he's to late... I already have a boyfriend"
(even if you're a straight guy)
- (If you're a woman...) "Tell him thanks, but I'm not into guys with long hair & beards..."
- "What are we... in 3rd grade?? If he REALLY loves me, he should have the balls to come down & tell me himself... I don't want to hear it 2nd or 3rd hand from one of his minions!!"
- "Tell him that his sending you STILL violates the restraining order I had put on him years ago... I'll see him in court!! My lawyer will be in touch!"
On a more confrontational side... (for those not afraid to say what they REALLY think...)
"Too bad he didn't love the 6 million Jews that were gassed in Germany, or the ~3,000 Americans lost in the 9/11 tragedy enough to save them... bet they were praying to him right till their end!"
"He loves me? What about all the hundreds (thousands?) of young children priests molest every year... doesn't he love them enough to prevent their suffering??"
"What about all the thousands of young children that are kidnapped, beaten, raped, tortured, & murdered every year... why doesn't he love them enough to protect them from harm?"
"Given the millions of people that have been killed in his name, his kind of "love", I can do without thankyou!"
If they're being REALLY annoying...
"I'm sure you've heard this a hundred times before... but it really bears repeating... GO F___ YOURSELF!"
"If he REALLY loved me... he'd stop all you *&&*^&^%&% _____ (evangelicals, morons, idiots, etc...) from harassing me every day!"
Ok... I KNOW... they're not all gems... but was fun diversion for a few minutes... :)
(Will have to think on this some more & compile a list of even better ones when I have more time...)
For those that disagree with any of these or some of the other "less classy" replies posted...
As Atheists, most of us have been forced to live "in the closet" most of our lives. We have been marginalized, demeaned, insulted, abused, & punished for our beliefs (or lack thereof...)
However "innocent" the initial greeting may sound, ultimately it is a mattter of them testing the waters to see if you agree with them, (or if they're true evangelicals, if they can either talk you into it, or shame you for it...)
Most of us would never go up to a stranger & question THEIR religious beliefs... (and I, as a Vegan, would never force my personal moral judgements on anyone else... let alone a stranger on the street...) (ie: "Hi, do you eat meat? Do you know the cruelty these animals suffer for your supper...? etc..)
So... sometimes we have to take a stand & let them know that not everyone shares their silly beliefs, & doesn't appreciate their forcing their fantasies on us.
Depending on their approach & demeanor, sometimes you can just say "No Thanks", and walk away... with others you need to shock them a bit... (pick the appropriate level...)
Sometimes we're just in the mood to have a little fun... at THEIR expense for a change... maybe they'll think twice next time they want to approach someone... (probably not though) <LOL>
Thus far, I've never really said any of these these things to anyone, (even when I've REALLY wanted to...) but the older I get, the less I care about propriety & courtesy - when it's not extended to me first... (as in leaving me alone!)
(Sorry for such a lonnnng post)
You are a fortunate man to have such a fertile imagination and so little fear of making enemies. It gives you freedom others can't afford.