General Question

fundevogel's avatar

What do you think about other people's interest in your religion or lack there of?

Asked by fundevogel (15047 points ) January 24th, 2009

The “why can’t you just be like me” question.

I recently outed myself as an atheist to my fundamentalist mother and it broke her heart. What do you think about other people’s needs for you to think a certain way, and their desire for and belief that you could just change your mind and be like them? Especially in in situations where by thinking in your own way you let them down. How does that effect your unfavorable belief/non beliefs or the way you present them?

You can certainly apply this to any sort of thinking or any issue with you people might think could be ‘fixed’, it just seems to come up an awful lot with religion.

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60 Answers

jca's avatar

I’m a Protestant so it’s not very controversial, and I’m not very religious nor do i discuss religion much, so it’s not an issue for me. My feeling is people can be whatever they want as long as they don’t try to push it on me (and i’ve found that people haven’t been aggressive with pushing it).

miasmom's avatar

I think for many Christians it comes from an eternal perspective, and if they are very close to you they can take it very personally because they want you to be in Heaven with them someday. If they believed you could get there by being an atheist, then they wouldn’t bug you so much, but in their hearts they don’t believe that and can’t believe that, so it becomes a big deal.

aprilsimnel's avatar

No one has tried to convert me to any religion except for my aunt (she raised me), who is a Fundamentalist Pentecostal. For her, it was about control, and not so much worrying about whether I’d get to heaven. She was also worried that it would reflect on her before God that she was not able to “train up a child in the way [s]he should go”, because when I grew older I did depart from it.

When I converted to Catholicism in college, she freaked out, and strangely enough, asked me if I did it to be in a higher social class. I told her that if I was to do that, I’d be an Episcopalian. She didn’t get it. She didn’t know what an Episcopalian was. These days I don’t believe in any sort of god at all, much less an anthropomorphic one, and since we no longer speak, it’s not been an issue at all with her or anyone else, and I know some quite religious people.

Also, though, some parents are always going to be pained a little bit when they see their kids not in lockstep with them about anything, but it’s part of the process of growing up and individuation that all people must go through to be vital adults. For better or worse, it’s something that parents have to learn to deal with.

Perchik's avatar

I think miasmom nailed it on the head with the religion thing. With religion, I want the people I love to believe in the same things I do because I’m concerned about their eternal fate.

seekingwolf's avatar

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had some person (usually Christian) force their beliefs down my throat, harassed me, and I’ve been told I’ll go to hell more times than I can count. (when they tell me that last one, I just laugh. I find it funny.)

Then again, I think it’s the area I’m in. Everyone is Christian here. They sometimes get all self-righteous and want to convert me, but I think most of them have given up on me because I don’t budge and tell them to leave me alone.

Common dialogue in my life:
Christian: If you keep believing what you believe, you will go to Hell.
Me: See you there, bub.

I don’t really talk about my religion (Buddhism) IRL because most people wouldn’t understand and I don’t feel like putting myself out there. My religion is personal choice, just for me, and I feel no desire to go around showing it off. I am happy with it and it’s the path for me.

All roads lead to Rome, you know? Let people do their thing. If you don’t like it, then don’t talk and leave them be.

kevbo's avatar

This article speaks about politics, but you might find it useful in your situation.

Perchik's avatar

I am completely against telling people they’re going to hell and forcing my beliefs onto them.HOWEVER Christianity calls us to tell other people about God. Granted there are a lot of “Christians” that get some kind of personal satisfaction out of evangelizing to make themselves look better…but not all of us do. If I’m going to talk to someone about God it will be after I’ve built a relationship with them and we can have a good honest conversation about the issues.

Vinifera7's avatar

I might dispute people on specific points, but atheism is not a dogma. There’s no feasible way to proselytize for atheism.

What people believe is something that they don’t have complete control over. Therefore, looking down on someone because of his beliefs is pretentious. However, there is nothing wrong with criticizing one’s beliefs.

I can’t really comment any further. I don’t completely understand the question.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Which brings up an interesting question—is it belief or actions that get you into heaven, and if you answer belief, how does anyone really know? I’m on the side of actions, like the good son in the prodigal son story. You do the right thing, because it is the right thing, not for rewards. It may help your mom if you tell her that you are still the way she raised you, that the fundamentals are sound, even if you’ve taken a different reasoning as to why.

scamp's avatar

@fundevogel Your Mother got upset when you outed to her because she beliefes, that if you don’t follow the same path she is on, you will burn forever in hell. No Mother would want to think of her child in such long term misery. You may not beleive what she does, but she wants this out of concern for her child, who she loves very much.

Mothers want what is best for their children, and this is what she wants for you.. an eternity in heaven with her, and not eternal flames. so I think that is basically why she freaked out so much.. because she loves you, not so much because she is sitting in judgement of your choice.

squirbel's avatar

I do not believe someone should believe in what I believe in simply because they have not put the mental work into reaching the point that I have.

Perchik's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock if you’re a Christian and you believe in the Bible, Ephesians 2:8;
says that it’s by faith you’ve been saved. Not good works.

fireside's avatar

I am actually surprised when I find people who know about my religion. I don’t have a problem talking about it at the level of interest they seem to convey. But I also don’t go around looking for reasons to discuss my religion with random people (though it seems to come up quite a bit on Fluther).

If they don’t think that my belief is right, it doesn’t bother me. I see a lot of over-generalization in people’s beliefs about different religions (or lack thereof), but it is a personal journey so I try to offer my input on the discussion at hand. Then I usually end up having to explain myself further since my beliefs are not what people typically expect.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

“What do you think about other people’s interest in your religion or lack there of?”

A more appropriate question, in my case, would be what I think about other people’s (lack of) interest in the idea of there being a higher power?

Whether a person does/doesn’t want to believe in a higher power is entirely up to them. Faith is necessary regardless and swings both ways (I believe there is/isn’t a higher power). I don’t really think better or worse of a person either way because who knows what that person will believe one, five or ten years from now? It only reflects who they are at that point in time, and people are forever changing in belief and how they live their lives.

Now why people are sad, disappointed or whatever when they learn that someone they care about does not believe in the same things? I think that mostly stems from wanting the most good to come for that person, here and/or in life beyond the here-and-now.

@AlfredaPrufrock – “Which brings up an interesting question—is it belief or actions that get you into heaven, and if you answer belief, how does anyone really know?”

Well, using the same type of reasoning, you could say the same thing about getting into heaven: if one can’t be sure one gets into heaven by belief/faith (or even both), then how can anyone really know there’s a heaven?

Introverted_Leo's avatar

@Perchik: if you’re gonna reference the Bible, then you might also want to read James 2:17.

Harp's avatar

I went through the whole “mom” thing too, fundevogal. To her (and to pretty much the entire social circle I was raised in) my disavowing that Christian sect was treated essentially as a death. Worse, actually. Then, when I later started practicing Zen, that was a whole new blow to her.

All that was many years ago now. We live hundreds of miles apart and don’t get together often. When we do, I feel that those old wounds are still raw. There’s a lot that’s unresolved, but neither of us knows what to do about that. It’s become our “elephant in the room”. She’s getting old and frail, and I suspect that she’ll die with that longing in her heart that I’ll come back to my senses. That parting will be all the harder for it.

I give her credit for not hounding me about it, nor badgering my kids. But the rift, unnecessary from my point of view and tragic from hers, is painful nonetheless.

Perchik's avatar

@Introverted_Leo The Bible says that you aren’t saved by works. You’re saved by your belief in God and his grace, but if you believe you are called to live a life of servitude. Works alone won’t get you in. Faith gets you in, but faith means you should do good deeds.

fundevogel's avatar

@scamp—I understand that she would rather I didn’t burn in hell, but she has gone as far as to say that she wishes she hadn’t taught me to inquisitive and independent. She would rather I didn’t think for myself, rather I was a collection of other people’s opinions than become my own person—as long as my soul was safe. That was hurtful to me and ultimately an impossible task to ask of anyone, not to mention completely unfulfilling.

@Introverted_Leo—you don’t need faith in absence of a belief, faith is only necessary if there is something in which to believe in, and then only strictly necessary when there isn’t adequate supporting evidence. In other words I don’t need faith to think people can’t fly (without the aid of airplanes), I would need faith to believe it until someone actually provided evidence.

@Harp—I actually think my mum and I might be ok, it was definitely an elephant before I outed, but I think we’ve established boundaries and so far we’ve been better at keeping out of each other’s faith/lack of. It probably won’t stop bothering her, but she’s respecting me so far. Before I came clean she hounded me.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

@Perchik: right, but it also says that faith without deeds is dead, not saving. Just making that clear.

@fundevogel: you, by definition of what it means to be an atheist, disbelieve in the existence of a god. In other words, you believe that because there isn’t “adequate supporting evidence,” as you say, there is no god. Though I’d like to point out that there’s a difference between “adequate supporting evidence” and “no evidence whatsoever.”

Unless you mean to say that you know there isn’t a god because there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of one, then that’s quite a different matter.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Stupid edit button disappeared. @Perchik: What I mean is that they go together, but I think the point is that Biblical salvation is not earned by us in any way; it is a gift from God, but in order to have it you must recieve it first by faith, as you say, then followed up and supplemented by our works.

fundevogel's avatar

@Introverted_Leo—You seem to think that being an atheist requires belief or faith like a religion does. It doesn’t. If I were born on a world with no religion and never encountered or considered the idea of a deity I would still be an atheist without ever considering it.

Atheism simply describes what I don’t think, it says nothing about who I am and what I do think. As an existentialist you could say I believe that life’s purpose is generated by each individual, and that would be a belief because though I have considered it and believe it to be true, there is no way I can know for sure if it is.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i think that in most cases, when religious people are disappointed in the religious choices that people they love make, it’s because according to their beliefs, those people will be going to hell and are generally making a poor decision in their opinion.
in cases when people insist that you believe what they believe, it seems that it’s the same with most things. the more you believe in it, the more you want everyone to see things your way and think you’re right.

fundevogel's avatar

@Introverted_Leo—Also: some evidence is not the same as proof. It’s exactly like presenting evidence in trial. Here is a foot print. It shows that Mr. Man was here at the scene of the crime. But does it? Do you know for sure he left it? When did he leave it there? Maybe he left it there but it doesn’t show he was the killer.

Evidence needs to be interpreted and the evidence for a god I have looked at (both on my own and at others’ request) has not shown me definitive evidence of a God. Maybe it’s God’s footprint, but it could just be someone wearing his shoes. No I’m not framing the way I see the world around a ‘maybe there’s a god’, I’m waiting for the lab to bust out the DNA evidence.

cordovanessa's avatar

I think that if you have given it enough thought and have really came to the conclusion that you do not believe in God or a god, then it shouldnt matter what others think. You say that this broke your mothers heart, well of course it did because she might feel like she is failing as a mother because she was unable to pass along the religiouis beliefs that she raised you with, but if you are athiest you have to remember that there is going to be alot of disapproval and you have to be able to respect other peoples beliefs and religion and not speak out about it. But no matter what people are going to feel like you should think how they do because it is what they believe is right so just ignore them and think for yourself, and dont let others try to impose thier beliefs and what they think is right on you.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Shoot, I lost the post. – _ – I could strangle my sister for hitting the “go back” button, lol.

“If I were born on a world with no religion and never encountered or considered the idea of a deity I would still be an atheist without ever considering it.”

Yes, but the difference between you in this hypothetical world and the world you currently live in is that there is religion in this world and you have encountered the idea of a deity or else we wouldn’t even be having this discussion in the first place. (But the word “atheist” would not even have meaning to you in this hypothetical world without ever encountered the idea of a deity in the first place.)

“Atheism simply describes what I don’t think, it says nothing about who I am and what I do think.”

I disagree. What you don’t think is just as much a part of who you are as what you do think. In an abstract sort of way, it’s like the concept of negative and positive space in art.

Take a look at Malevich’s “Black Square” painting. When asked what a person sees when they look at this painting, what most people would say is, “I see a black square.” Or, “I see a black square inside of a white square.” Or, “I see a white border encasing a black square.” Or whatever they want to say.

The point is, no matter what your eyes (or what you) choose to focus on, both the white space and the black space is part of the painting. It would be silly to say, “No, white space isn’t part of the painting,” because when you take a closer look there is actually a white space. That’s positive and negative space, and both are used to define the object of the painting. The artist only wanted you to focus on the positive space, or the black square, because that’s what is implied by his title “Black Square.” But the white border is just as much a part of his painting as the black square. Still, Malevich was very much aware of the many interpretations people would take on his painting, as any good artist would be.

The same goes for what you don’t think. I don’t think fairies exist beyond the realm of fiction, but I’m not going to say this has absolutely no bearings on who I am as a person today because it makes me different from people who might actually believe that fairies exist. It defines me.

Saying that you don’t think that a god exists differs you from people who to think a god exists. It still defines you, whether you phrase it as a negative/dissent or a positive/affirmation. Because you don’t think a god exists, it also means that you do think that a god doesn’t exist. They’re two sides of the same coin.

“Also: some evidence is not the same as proof.”

I don’t believe I ever used the word “proof” in my replies. But all the same, “some evidence” is also not the same as “no evidence.”

“It’s exactly like presenting evidence in trial. Here is a foot print. It shows that Mr. Man was here at the scene of the crime. But does it? Do you know for sure he left it? When did he leave it there? Maybe he left it there but it doesn’t show he was the killer.”

Unless a relationship was previously established between the footprint and Mr. Man, then the evidence obviously cannot be connected to him at the time of the trial. That’s why you either keep investigating, or drop the case.

“No I’m not framing the way I see the world around a ‘maybe there’s a god.’”

I don’t say this to be mean, but none of us here ever asked you to.

“Maybe it’s God’s footprint, but it could just be someone wearing his shoes.”

That’s the whole point! There are two sides to there being footprints: they are either God’s footprints or someone else’s. And if they are someone else’s, then who exactly is that someone else? The case still must go on.

(Assuming you actually had an example I mind when you started talking about footprints,) here’s the moral of the story: the verdict is not in; the judgment has not been declared and accepted by the world. This is the only reason why atheism and Christianity and all the other categories pertaining to the (non)existence of god are still alive today.

Siren's avatar

@fundevogel: Half of religion is belief, based purely on faith. The other half is a series of laws designed to keep people on the right ethical and moral path, according to each religion. One feeds the other: if you believe your religion’s laws are practical and makes sense, you will similarly believe that your religion’s other beliefs are accurate as well. Furthermore, the three major religions ascribe faith as one of the tenets of the religion ie you’re not going to get much proof until you are dead.

I don’t think any religion needs to prove itself factually to be right for someone, although I’m sure there are many scientists and medical professionals out there who can demonstrate modern-day “miracles” which go completely against science (ie people with terminal cancer who suddenly become cancer-free).

I understand you are going through some issues with your mother with her belief system and your own. I think the higher road would be to simply tell her that you have your own beliefs and just as you respect her and her beliefs she should respect yours as well. Granted, it is your mother and (as in my own case) no matter what you say or do she may still have strong feelings (and make you feel guilty) about your own opinions. Just goes with the territory of having a mother sometimes, bro.

Darwin's avatar

“When I converted to Catholicism in college, she freaked out, and strangely enough, asked me if I did it to be in a higher social class. I told her that if I was to do that, I’d be an Episcopalian.”

<<snort!!!>>

Grisson's avatar

@kevbo Interesting you connected a topic discussing politics to one discussing religion. There seems to be a strong tendency to treat the two the same in the way we think, argue or discuss them.
e.g.
* Two topics forbidden at dinnertime are religion and politics. (—no attribution, I’ve just heard this all my life).
* [re Discussion at the Sidetrack Tap] It’s pointless to discuss religion and politics because you’re never going to change the other guy’s mind. (—-paraphrasing Garrison Keillor)

Perchik's avatar

@Introverted_Leo (back to what you said to me earlier… I agree wholeheartedly :) )

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t particularly want anyone to be interested in my beliefs. nor do I object if they are. I will answer questions but not push anything. Having been raised evangelical Christian, I have had enough of religion peddling from all sides to last me more lifetimes than I expect to have. These days I am a very comfortable atheist and don’t feel a need to defend or promote my view (although I do think it is quite possible to promote atheism as a belief, which it is, and even to be a crusading and proselytizing atheist, because I know some who are).

Sakata's avatar

Southern Baptist -> Agnostic -> Atheist

If people want to ask me how I got from one to the other I’ll tell ‘em. But it’s when they want to convert me over to their “dark side” that I get all excited. I love a good religious debate. Especially the ones that only involve people trying to convert me.

Sorceren's avatar

Most people who ask about my religion are either kids or thrillseekers. Christians “verify” my “religion,” then attack it or try to overwhelm me with pity or guilt or even love.

I respond to people who ask sincerely with trust and love (but neither ‘perfect’) ... :) When asked, “Is it true you’re a witch?” I respond, “It’s true I’m a pagan. What do you think a witch is?”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to my door I share my beliefs with most explicitly: “I believe you’d better let me help you down the stairs to your car. Safe journey, and Blessed Be!”

fundevogel's avatar

Long honkin’ post @Introverted_Leo

hmmm…I’m not sure we’re talk about the same things.

When I say that being an atheist doesn’t say anything about who I am I mean this.

If I were I Christian you could assume I:

Believed in God, but you might also assume, that I believed in an after life, have real issues with evolution, think homosexuals are sinful, that my morality is rooted in the Bible, think hoodoo voodoo is bad news bears, pray, go to church (maybe), believe that the world is just because the lord makes it so be rewarding and punishing people, etc.

But as an atheist you should be able to infer this:

I don’t believe in god.

which you don’t really have to infer because that’s what the word means.

You see Christianity comes with a doctrine that people use to shape their lives and how they understand the world. Atheism doesn’t. There is zero philsophy in atheism. If an atheist has philosophy, they get somewhere other than atheism. Some atheists have similar philosophys, but not all of them. So, yes you can technically say that being an athesit does tell you one thing about what I think. But that one thing is a negative definition and after that atheism can’t tell you anything else about me.
—————-
And because I want to talk about fairies too—I think your statement that you’ve been influenced by your disbelief in fairies, can only go as far as saying that:

You’ve been influenced by not being influenced by a belief in fairies.

Which is a pretty much the same as saying, “Fairies don’t play a big part in my life, since they don’t exist.”
—————
As for your comment here:

(first I said) : “No I’m not framing the way I see the world around a ‘maybe there’s a god.’”

You said: I don’t say this to be mean, but none of us here ever asked you to.

And that is simply not true. Not about you being mean, as far I can you don’t. But for one, we’ve just started talking and you have no way of knowing what other interactions I’ve had. And as a logical person, every time someone offers me evidence for god that doesn’t hold up to my evaluation, but they want me to believe despite their ability to defeat my skepticism, I read that as an attempt by them to get me to suspend my disbelief for their god. I do that for stories, if they’re good.

I do not suspend disbelief when it comes to understanding the world I live in. If I made an assumption about god that was wrong, and then used that to interpret the rest of the world I would multiply my misconceptions. If I hold back until am sure about something, I might not think that I know the answers so quickly, but will know that the ones I have been arrived at through rigorous investigation.

And then you said

(after I said): “Maybe it’s God’s footprint, but it could just be someone wearing his shoes.”

You said: That’s the whole point! There are two sides to there being footprints: they are either God’s footprints or someone else’s. And if they are someone else’s, then who exactly is that someone else? The case still must go on.

that sounds a lot like uncertainty. And yes there is plenty of that in the world, but I try not to base my life on it and romanticize the mystery.

Gah, I was trying to keep this post from getting too long. I fail.

fundevogel's avatar

@siren (you said)
“I don’t think any religion needs to prove itself factually to be right for someone, although I’m sure there are many scientists and medical professionals out there who can demonstrate modern-day “miracles” which go completely against science (ie people with terminal cancer who suddenly become cancer-free).”

I think that this depends on what purpose religion is serving you. I’m fundamentally trying to understand the world. Religion doesn’t help me if it fails to help me understand the world. Not to mention the fact that it attempts to undercut the things that actually do attempt to accurately describe the workings of the world.

then you said:
“I think the higher road would be to simply tell her that you have your own beliefs and just as you respect her and her beliefs she should respect yours as well.”

that’s pretty much how it went. If you substitute my lack of faith for “my own beliefs.”

fundevogel's avatar

@cordovanessa
“I think that if you have given it enough thought and have really came to the conclusion that you do not believe in God or a god, then it shouldnt matter what others think.”

I agree, or I least I want to be the atheist you describe. But for now at least I can’t. I was raised religious, live in a religious country and religion comes into play in a lot in the public and political sphere. It has an influence on the world I live in so I can’t help but have an opinion on it.

“if you are athiest you have to remember that there is going to be alot of disapproval and you have to be able to respect other peoples beliefs and religion and not speak out about it.”

The thing is this applies a double standard to atheists. Christians speak out all the time, they speak out individually and collectively. Many of them actively try to change how I think, and Christian advocacy groups (which receive my tax money) push to get their agendas adopted by the government. Why should I keep my mouth shut when Christian groups try to get their thinly veiled dogma inserted into science classes? Silence is never the answer.

ok I’m done for now. Too much typing. :)

Introverted_Leo's avatar

@fundevogel: You might assume all of those things about Christians, but I’m sure there are people who wouldn’t (for reasons I won’t go into now because we’d seriously be here all day, and I’m hungery, lol).

“There is zero philosophy in atheism.”

The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia says otherwise, but other than provide its definition I’m not going to comment on that any further:

“Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems…” – atheism, from answers.com

“So, yes you can technically say that being an atheist does tell you one thing about what I think. But that one thing is a negative definition and after that atheism can’t tell you anything else about me.”

Very understandable; but to be clear, I never said I could infer anything else about you. Just that “outing yourself as an atheist,” as you said, offers the insight that you don’t believe in God. Plain and simple.

As for the fairy thing… I never said that fairies don’t exist (because technically they do exist—in fiction); I only said that I don’t believe “fairies exist beyond of the realm of fiction.”

“And as a logical person, every time someone offers me evidence for god that doesn’t hold up to my evaluation, but they want me to believe despite their ability to defeat my skepticism, I read that as an attempt by them to get me to suspend my disbelief for their god.”

…When did I say I wanted you to believe in God? As I said in my very first post to this question, “Whether a person does/doesn’t want to believe in a higher power is entirely up to them.” All I’m doing is trying to have a discussion, so I have absolutely no idea why you think I’m trying to get you to suspend your disbelief in God. Maybe you should consider that fact that not all Christians go out intending to convert people when they answer a Fluther question.

Vinifera7's avatar

Fugin’ long-ass answers. Summary, please?

fundevogel's avatar

@Introverted_Leo
“You might assume all of those things about Christians, but I’m sure there are people who wouldn’t (for reasons I won’t go into now because we’d seriously be here all day, and I’m hungery, lol).”

I don’t want you to starve or anything, but but all of the those things are either in the Bible or indirectly instigated by the Bible. Sure, nobody follows every direction in the Bible, but they are directed to and I don’t think any Christian completely ignores the Bibles directions. So it would be a safe bet that Christians does at least some of the stuff and hold at least some of the beliefs that the Bible tells them to. I on the other hand don’t have an atheist handbook to direct me in anyway. And if I did I’d probably ignore it since it certainly wouldn’t have the unquestionable authority of a god.

Atheism is certainly connected to a lot of philosophical systems but it is not one. And on a side note, I’m actually an agnostic atheist . Which I suppose might be somewhat philosophical, if saying “there is not enough informational to prove or disprove the existence of a god” can be considered philosophy.

”…When did I say I wanted you to believe in God?”

my apologies, I simply meant that the arguments made on your side of hill, don’t convince me. If they did I would convert. For your case the ultimate win would for me to say “screw this atheism thing, you’ve convinced me.” While you’re not preaching or attempting to convert, the argument in itself is an attempt, how ever academic, to make me see things your way.

@Vinifera7—Sorry about the length, I’m new. When exactly does a long post become a party foul?

Vinifera7's avatar

It doesn’t. I’m too lazy to read all of that right now.

Darwin's avatar

My religion is just that, my religion. I don’t really care what others think of it or even if they think of it. I simply do the best I can with what I have.

stephen's avatar

i m not sure what ll happen if i cant use search engine like google,yahoo,

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I have been down that road so many times, I hate to even bring it up. I told my Mom ten years ago I was an atheist, she denied it. (She also denied one of my best friends was gay because he didn’t ‘act’ gay). If people want to get snotty and bring up their ‘you’re going to Hell’ fantasy, I will usually indulge them, because when they realize my knowledge of biblical history far outshines theirs, and that I can back up my side of the debate with facts while they are resigned to using feelings and anecdotal evidence to prove their point, well, then they pretty much give up after that. If they continue to toss Hell in my face, then I simply give them my favorite line before walking away. “They’re your rules, it’s your Hell, you BURN in it.”

Religious beliefs are personal, no one has the right to ask you what you believe, nor do they have the right to tell you what you believe is wrong. Period. Anyone who preaches to you, is doing so for a reason. That reason most likely is that they feel threatened by the fact you do not believe the same as they do, and preaching helps them to forget that they have doubts. Those people are way more fucked up than any of us nonbelievers could hope to be. These three little words always work for me, Proselytizing is Retarded.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Of course, to keep the fundies off my doorstep, I created my own religion. Evelynism. (hence my fluther name), and she is the world’s largest deity, 300 foot tall. Catch the double meaning there, and the slight dig at Christianity’s claim of being the most popular (hence largest) religion? Evelynism is just as real as Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, (would that be Jesusism?) or any of the other thousands of known religions. It just depends upon your depth of belief in whatever particular one you follow.

seekingwolf's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra

I love your posts. You’re exactly right. No one has the right to go around shoving their beliefs down people’s throats.

Some people may say that they should do that because “it’s part of their religion.” However, I feel it’s intrusive and disrespectful to others, and should not be tolerated. I don’t care WHAT religion you are a part of, don’t do it!

fireside's avatar

@seekingwolf – I agree, everyone has a right to their own beliefs and should be able to live their life as they feel would be best without being disrespectful of other people.

nebule's avatar

if people didn’t talk about it…we wouldn’t evolve…so we need to be involved in one another’s religion

miasmom's avatar

true, it is ok to talk about it and discuss it, but shoving it down someone’s throat is not ok…if someone says they are not interested in discussing, then we shouldn’t push it

nebule's avatar

@miasmom very true…
although that would make me inclined to push it further…only because it would lead me to wonder why someone doesn’t want to talk about what they believe in, when (for me personally) my beliefs are something i am passionate about… and… ah!!!...perhaps that’s why!!! passionate beliefs > not wanting to talk about them = protection of passionate beliefs… = lack of truth or conviction in beliefs?

miasmom's avatar

@lynneblundell nice equation :) probably it is conviction of belief that makes you so passionate and easy to see why you would want to share, but sometimes discipline in not sharing is prudent in certain circumstances…hard to do sometimes

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@lynneblundell, no we don’t. What you believe has no bearing whatsoever on my life, and vice versa. Whether someone worships Jesus, or Horus, or Cthulhu, it doesn’t matter to me. The only time I take any interest in religion at all is when it is being used to inflict limitations upon my rights as an American. Try to get me to follow your faith, or belief system by making threats of my ‘soul’ going to some place no one can even prove exists, well, then, those are fightin’ words.

I feel that people can believe any damn thing that makes em happy, but they need to realize that other people don’t have to believe what they believe, and they don’t have to respect your beliefs, either. I respect your right to believe what you like, but as for your belief system, I don’t have to respect it at all.

Darwin's avatar

I don’t know about worshiping Cthulhu, though. I mean all those tentacles, the strange lights at night, and that giant pyramid must bring down the property values. Not to mention that Goat of a Thousand Young! Animal Control would be having a major hissy fit!

fundevogel's avatar

@lynneblundell—I don’t think that keeping your religion private is necessarily a bad thing or an indication that one lacks sincerity or passion regarding their faith. There are parts of everyone’s lives that are private. And if that’s how they feel about it and behave regarding it I see no reason to pry.

if it starts creeping into social or legal matters sure, speak up. But if its just their private business that’s fine with me.

Critter38's avatar

I have no problem in people being interested in my “religious” convictions (or lack there of in this case).

People’s religious views influence how they vote, their views on what is or is not moral, judgement of homosexuals, women, etc. It’s a relevant topic of conversation and a fascinating one. Other people’s beliefs matter because they influence individuals behaviour and therefore the net direction of a society. That puts the topic on the table in a general sense. For instance, individual religious beliefs are probably having the strongest influence on gay marriage legislation, and international funding for abortion discussions in the U.S. at the moment.

But having an interest is different from coming to my door and preaching at me or me preaching at others. Uninvited interest is distinct from consensual discussion. So up until the point that someone offers their religious views on a topic, I leave it alone. But I actually don’t mind the topic if someone wants to raise it with me, or even wants to challenge my views. Not a problem.

Knotmyday's avatar

I am more than happy to share my unbelief with the world.

I’m an unevangelist. Care to not join me? Feel free.

scamp's avatar

@fundevogel sorry it took so long to repsond. I was having a little trouble loggin in. Here is what you said to me earlier in the thread:

@scamp—I understand that she would rather I didn’t burn in hell, but she has gone as far as to say that she wishes she hadn’t taught me to inquisitive and independent. She would rather I didn’t think for myself, rather I was a collection of other people’s opinions than become my own person—as long as my soul was safe. That was hurtful to me and ultimately an impossible task to ask of anyone, not to mention completely unfulfilling.

What I am hearing in this statement is your reaction to her words, but not her feelings for you. You may not agree with what she says because you simply don’t believe what she does. But take a minute and try to put yourself in her place. She deeply loves you and wants no harm to come to you….now or in the “afterlife.” I really don’t see what she said as her wanting you to be a mindless person with no thoughts of her own. She sounds like a Mother who deeply loves her son, and wishes he would not question what she believes to be the tuth, and turn away from it.

I’m sorry you were hurt by what she said, but know that she is in pain over this as well. I don’t know how the two of you will be able to come to terms where this subject is concerned, but just remember that right or wrong, she is your mother, the only one you will ever have, and she wants what she feels is best for you. If I repeated anything that was already touched on in this thread, forgive me because I didn’t read the other responses.

I hope you and your Mom are able to find some peace with this. you are very fortunate to have such a caring mother. Many are not so lucky.

fundevogel's avatar

@scamp no she didn’t mean to hurt me. And she probably wouldn’t appreciate me going on about it on the internet, so maybe I ought to shut my trap. :/

thegodfather's avatar

I actually have benefited immensely from people pushing their beliefs on me. I admit that my upbringing and schooling generally followed a narrow path. To be confronted with a human being who not only feels passionate enough to embrace a particular faith, but to break social protocols to approach me about it gives me pause… Before, I could have dismissed their religious expressions without any immediate contact with the expression, like dismissing how cold it is in Antarctica because I’ve never been there, and I don’t care. I can’t just then say, “Well, [blank] religion just isn’t viable” because here I have another intelligent person I’ve had personal experience with who legitimately believes in it. The more I’ve been approached by folks who beat me over the head with their beliefs, the more I have to work to maintain my pluralistic ideals, which, frankly, is a useful exercise. And, I’m not so sure I’d ever have a legitimate confrontation with a religion to form an educated opinion without somebody breaking social norms or pushing their faith on me. In a way, by “pushing” the faith, their true colors are a little more manifest, if they really believe in saving my soul. And that is honest and useful. Frankly, I welcome that. I will exercise my right to disagree or to end a conversation prematurely :) But I do hope to be open minded enough to not just get ticked or slam the door or what not.

Not to exaggerate my point by referencing Jesus, but nonetheless a useful statement from him, if you befriend those that are nice to you, what thank have you? Do not the hypocrites do the same? But to be truly pluralistic and humane, we must open the door to the missionary, listen to the voices around us, give ourselves pause, hear the rantings and ravings from the zealot. If not, are we really, truly pluralist?

candide's avatar

nothing whatsoever…. I believe what I believe and spirituality for me is very personal, but I realise it is not that way for everybody

Nullo's avatar

In your mother’s case, she’s upset because you’ve announced that you’ve decided to go to Hell, which is very upsetting. Atheism is the spiritual equivalent of having suicidal tendencies, and no mother wants that.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Nullo that is if by spiritual you are referring to the many theistic traditions.

Buddhism, for example, doesn’t care.

You can be an atheist and still consider yourself spiritual. SSS = Stop Spreading Stereotypes!

As for the OP, my experience is people take too much unhealthy interest in other people’s beliefs.

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