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?

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Replies to This Discussion

I´m glad it was only your pc, didn´t know what to make of your one word answer..

 :-)  And I hope fixing the pc won´t be expensive.

Alice, please save yourself the trouble of going through this ordeal. If they want to have an intellectual, candid, and respectful conversation about the subject then you should talk about it. But please don't actively try and convert anyone. In my experience, when you ask people about their beliefs they generally get quite defensive and clam up before any progressive talk can be had. Think about it, for some of these people their religion is an intrinsic part of who they are. Although WE know that their beliefs are irrational and even down right silly, they think that this is absolute truth. For some it's as shocking as being told they were actually born a different gender. However, if they are being disrespectful to you or unfair, you should address this immediately and let them know that it will not be tolerated. If they truly care about your relationship they'll respect that.
Thanks for the tip Sara. I suppose I was getting the wrong idea from all these books I've been reading - about religion being a danger and needing to get rid of it - although I think that Dennitt does say that he think's religious people don't convert to atheism more than they die and the new generation have different beliefs. I agree - I talked to my mum the other day and she got really upset about talking about world views - and I didn't even say anything that controvertial
I'm sorry you had trouble talking with your mum. I had the same trouble with some of my family members. I like your Dennitt quote, haha! I agree whole-heartedly. We have to make sure that the next generation forms objective and educated opinions about religion and that the places we live remain (or become) secular. It's like the Jesuit adage: Give me a child until is seven and I will give you the man. Preventing the corruption of young minds through religious indoctrination is the greatest tool we have to fighting the tyrant that is the concept of God.
It's like people need to know that it's not essential for living - if they get by in life without indoctrination as a small child then perhaps they will start to realise that it's not necessary to life. I think they are a long way to that in the UK - I grew up there and hardly had any education on religion.

Lucky you! I went to Catholic school in New Jersey until I was about 9 or so then my mother converted to Islam and my family moved directly into the Bible Belt (North Carolina) lol. Luckily my father is agnostic and he and I are quite close. If not I might've been the one leaving annoying pamphlets on your car. *shivers*



Sara, I agree that we shouldn't go out of our way to de-convert people.  Infact, you're probably right: most people are pretty stuck on their religious beliefs.  I'm just not sure if this is a good enough reason to take such a laid back approach.  Religious people should be aware that they don't have to believe in God, and on the contrary... it's kind of silly to believe in one!  If they get a little worked up, or irritated-- so what! :) haha even in a heated argument about religion, I always find that I become closer friends with that person.


I don't fully disagree with you, and I think we should define  "actively trying to convert" someone, and a discussion (or debate).  Because I see them as the same thing.

Mark, it is quite silly to believe in a deity, I agree. I also agree that religious people need to be aware of that they don't have to believe in a God. The difference between active conversion and a discussion lies within the intent. If you just want to have a healthy conversation that forces you both to answer questions and learn more about each other, then you're not actively trying to convert. If they come to the same conclusions that we freethinkers did on their own that's fantastic after the conversation, but if not that's okay as long as they aren't trying to infringe on my right to religious freedom.  I also don't try deprogram religious people because I don't have a degree in psychology! The mental strain caused by the inevitable cognitive dissonance one questioning long held beliefs are likely to have is something that I'm not trained to handle. Cognitive dissonance caused the mental instability in people like David Koresh and Jim Jones. Those may be extreme cases but you have to be a pretty extreme to believe in a man in the sky :)

Totally-- with that definition we're on the same page.  Basically, we shouldn't preach, but instead discuss (as long as both parties are open for discussion).  Definitely agree.  It's Max by the way haha :D


Wow, I can't believe I never heard of Jim Jones until now.  I think I heard about this mass suicide, but I never knew why or who it was led by.  Thanks for pointing that name out.  Cheers.

Sorry Max!!! I was talking to my partner Mark at the same time and must have had brain fart :)
My family is religious, I just let them do what they want.  Live and Let Live. I don't find it necessary to try to persuade them to believe the way I do. However, I do not participate in any religious services or prayers with them.  I don't have any religious friends.



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