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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I have a friend locally - we don't catch up much, she is Christian - but she told another mutual friend recently that she wasn't religious.  Which I thought odd - but I think that she means that she isn't as practising as others - but she always has blessings written on the end of her email and I'm pretty sure she is a fully believing Christian.  So some people's idea of being non religious isn't the same as others.  My idea of being non religious is that you are atheist and humanist, naturalist, sceptic or basically living a natural life without any supernatural elements.

I think there is a war on religion that is taking place in the public square that was started by the theists  continuing to push the envelope and attempting to insert more and more religious based policy into our secular government.  Atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, etc. and even some theists are rightfully fighting back for the sole reason of keeping the separation of church and state.  This is one type of atheist community activism I believe the four horsemen are writing and speaking about, and I totally support their efforts.  If you want to be a crusading atheist and join the "war" may I suggest you consider joining and supporting some of the many secular groups that are being "watch-dogs" on our behalf and keeping an eye on governmental affairs.


Now on to your own family and friends.  I think they are the last group of people a war on religion should be waged upon.  I agree with many of the previous posters:  we should not be trying to convert theists.  Doing so would be as insulting and shameful as theists trying to convert us to Christianity.  Lack of belief occurs in each and every person on their own time scale according to what makes them comfortable.  In the long run, we have several positive advantages over theists.  Year after year church attendance keeps dropping.  Atheists are coming out and being more vocal.  Books by Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are best sellers.  If you are raising your children in a secular household I think you're making the biggest and greatest contribution to the war by not forcing the madness of religion upon the next generation.  It's a slow process but we are progressing.


Meanwhile, continue to enjoy and respect your family and friends as you always have, but with one caveat.  Member "Sara Leon" stated it best in her reply post above on June 1 so I'm going to take the liberty of quoting her smart advice:  "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."  What I love about AtheistNexus is the intelligence and rationality of it's members!


My best to you and kind regards.  Carl



Thanks for the tips Carl.  I don't have many religious family and friends - but many are of supernatural beliefs - which I think is more tricky, because they have more guards up against change.  My mum for example believes in enterties, souls or spirits - and she also has a belief in reincarnation. She used to believe in God also, but she's given that away for an angel who looks after her.  She doesn't have any religious affiliation, just her own spiritual beliefs.  I talked to her about it the other day and she got really upset when I told her my own beliefs - she has a relativist view and believes that everyone can have their own beliefs and they are all equal and valid - how that works God knows - as mine and hers clash hugely and therefore couldn't co exist.  This problem became apparent and that was when she got upset and had to go.  She's a lovely and loving person - and I've always thought intelligent.  But she just doesn't think the way I do - in a rational way.  She is more about intuition, feelings and keeps her practical nature for practical every day things - away from belief about big things such as life and death - strange - I can't get my head around it.  I find that I like my understanding of the world to be non-contradictory - but I think many people don't think it through that much to see the contradictions and therefore aren't confronted and so don't feel the need to qualify their total contradiction in understanding about the world.



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