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 haven't told my mother and most of my relatives. I tend not to talk about it too much. I know how my inlaws would react, because I know how they reacted to my daughter telling them she is an atheist.
I was raised fundamentalist. My first doubts had to do with why humans were supposed to forgive each other everything, but someone had to die in order for God to be able to forgive humans. Other things popped up, and I began investigating lots of other religions. Finally, years after my daughter told everyone she was an atheist, I finally got to the point where I knew I was atheist too.
I think for me, the final thing I had to let go of was wanting to believe there is an afterlife. I can let it go that we do not know there is, so we should do what we do for now, not for a later that isn't there, is not known.
Anyway, I appologize for going on...
My daughter knows. I don't spend a lot of time with the ones on the other side of the state. The last thing that had anything to do with any ritual stuff was my sister's wedding last year. I attended. It was out in a field in the middle of nowhere. Her new husband's brother is a minister, baptist, I think. Since everyone else has their eyes closed when they pray, the fact that I don't pray is really not a big deal.
As for my husband's family, it oddly enough doesn't seem as big a deal. I was protestant when I first met him, and they are all catholic, but not much into practice, so they already were used to me not doing things the way they did.
I am really only not mentioning it to them because I have gotten into enough arguments with people in my own family because I differ in my political beliefs. I am pretty liberal on most things, and they are much more conservative.
My partner is a Philippino catholic and thought that early man co-existed with the dinosaurs like in the Flintstones. I introduced her to natural history and sometimes we discuss Philippino catholicism. I am pleased she is now interested in natural history but we do not discuss Atheism.
I need my friends. They are good friends, not 'frenemies'. Most are agnostic christians but some genuinely believe in the supernatural. Oh well, I'm a bit crazy too. I'm not prepared to let my Atheism distance myself from them.
So, what do you do with religious family and friends ? My answer is, Nothing !
I was raised fundamentalist: the family split apart when my brothers and I broke free of religion. Then my parents started the holy war on their children and on the people we mixed with - I suffered it for many years, but in the end I broke the contact. I´ve never seen any family members since, except for one brother.
I tend to live and let live, only asking questions when I see that someone isn´t happy. I think people should choose their own way in life in full freedom, so for me it´s important to fight restrictions, misinformation and miseducation. As a teacher, I can make myself useful in that respect.
My friends aren´t religious - there´s room for religious people, but perhaps they feel out of place with us.