I never really thought about converting anyone before reading the 4 horseman books and joining nexus - prior to that I just have always accepted my friends and family for what they believe - and more gone on how people treat me and aim to treat them the same - with respect and so on.
So after the influence of the 4 horsemen and nexus I somehow feel compelled to run out and convert all my religious friends and family to my way of thinking - but is that right?
My instinct previously has been to just be respectful. In fact I feel quite awkward about coming out about my beliefs for fear of causing social discomfort for myself or them. I have one good friend specifically and after knowing each other for about 8 years she still didn't know the I was an atheist - I didn't realise that she didn't know - I was always asking her about her beliefs and what she thought about things and she knew that I wasn't a Christian - as she is - but for some reason she didn't put two and two together or just presumed that I must believe in God. So in a phone conversation about her son saying he didn't believe in God I mentioned that I probably wasn't the best person to speak to about it because I didn't either - I thought she knew - but she didn't and the phone went silent for a moment.
I've always aimed to be supportive of her beliefs - for example the time when her sister in law ended her marriage - it wasn't looked upon well by the family - quite shameful I think - but I was sympathetic to her concern about it. And when her youngest sister came out as gay - I was sympathetic to her concerns. She knows that my mother was in relationships with women for about 16 years until switching sides again - and I've discussed homosexuality with her in terms of the bible - I didn't know what the bible said - but she told me that it was unacceptable to be homosexual. She doesn't campaign about it or discriminate against gay people as far as I know - although she probably would avoid some situations if it was very pro-gay. She now has a gay sister and so there was some family fall out over it - but basically they all love their sister and so aim to accept her despite their religious beliefs that it is 'wrong'.
I'm quite concerned about this 'war on religion' - I'm not sure that it's the best way to go. It's declaring war - and I would rather see things be resolved in a nice way. I suppose I do go for the idea that if it's not harming anyone else then go for it. Which would mean that I would support others in their religious beliefs. But I'm more and more being expressive about my own beliefs. I think it best to introduce myself as a Naturalist as opposed to being atheist as atheist doesn't really stand for something as much as it stands against something.
So basically - I don't think that there is one right way to go with this as such - although we could perhaps get more done if we did all agree - or perhaps we would cause more problems if we all did the same thing - I don't know - but anyhow - what's your answer to the questions - what do you do with religious family and friends?
I let them do their own thing without comment and try to be respectful of their beliefs. Of course, I only talk to my older relatives. The younger ones are mainly in love with money and only being showy about god. They don't really deeply believe. They just are very showy and surfacy about religion. I'd rather hang out with people are deep down true believers, because at least we can agree religion is important and something a person should really think about. It's not just something you do to sell something or make yourself popular. I don't believe in following or not following a religion just to get yourself ahead or to keep up with the Jones.
I feel like needing to put "in god we trust" on all the money and forcing showy religion in public prayers a)doesn't get a person anywhere with god and b) is just a way to force one way down the throats of everyone who doesn't agree. I really think all this public show of religion by putting the Ten commandments on government buildings or making school kids pray is just another way of bullying the disagreeing minorities and has nothing to do with true belief. So while I am against forcing little kids to say under god in the pledge, I am not against a private group doing a Bible study or a prayer meeting public building conference room as long as every other group has equal access to that room. For example, I don't think they should have priority over weight watchers or a bird watching society, but if they sign up and wait their without pushing out the garden club or the ladies sewing circle, then I'm cool with it.
My problem comes in when I can't enjoy a photography club or a hiking club without every meeting being started with a prayer. God doesn't have to be infused into absolutely everything. We can (hopefully) take a cooking class or go to a poetry reading without invoking a higher power.
I've heard that American has a different take on secularism - in that other countries see secularism as keeping religion out of the public space - whereas america more sees it more as freedom of speech in the public space for all religions - correct me if I'm wrong.
I've been pursuing social groups that are non religious by nature - such as the atheist society or humanists or skeptics etc. But even in the other groups I was involved with I've never had a group that started with a prayer - unless I was in a religious group as the main purpose. Or with Christian friends at their home - and they haven't been having prayers around us for a while now - since they found out I wasn't religious perhaps. Or maybe there are just getting slack with their own rituals.
Hey, atheists didn't declare war on religion, fundamentalists declared war on atheists. They lie and slander us all of the time. The reason atheism makes your religious friends and family uncomfortable is what they hear about atheists from other theists.
That being said, I'm all for portraying yourself with what you believe (naturalism, or humanism or whatever) versus just atheist. You'll find that naturalism and humanism have a lot of shared ground with most religious people's views, even if their official dogma doesn't. That's the best way in I've found. Don't challenge, for instance, the official Catholic stance to a Catholic. Find out what they believe, and then ask why they are Catholic.
Use common ground to talk the religious, and you'll find people will either respect your position or move their own beliefs more often than before. At least I have.
The other people who responded earlier have it right, for the most part. As was said, there is no war on religion - - the war is by religion, on all others who don't follow their belief, especially on unbelievers. Believers are told what to "know" about outsiders. One thing is that if someone doesn't worship god, then you must be worshiping the devil. Another is that atheists "hate" god. Stephan is right about explaining the common ground to believers, but I would ask the believer a direct question, "What have you been taught/ told about atheists or other religions?" Then you have something to work with.
I do not interfere with rituals/prayers, but I do not respect their beliefs, just their right to have them.