Social Question

crazyivan's avatar

How do you politely tell a friend on Facebook to shut up about religion?

Asked by crazyivan (4471points) November 30th, 2010

As we approach the holiday season we see more and more biblical quotations and religious references on FB. For those of us who are not religious it often comes off as pedantic, pointless, annoying and superstitious. I don’t want to alienate my religious friends but I’m also getting sick and tired of having their religion shoved down my throat every time I leave a status update.

Any advice? I’d be interested in getting answers from theists as well as atheists.

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43 Answers

tedd's avatar

I had a buddy who I always thought was pretty cool, who regularly posted incredibly crazy political rants on his FB status’. Obama is evil Muslim, blah blah blah, overthrowing the government, end of freedom…. two and three times a day. Sometimes it would even draw me into stupid arguments with him on FB.

Finally I just set my account so it stopped showing me his updates. My blood pressure thanked me later.

wundayatta's avatar

You don’t tell someone politely to shut up. You can, however, ask them politely.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Just block their comments.

marinelife's avatar

Christians are all about witnessing for their faith. If the religious comments are in their threads, I don’t think you can say anything.

You could ask them not to quote religion in comments on your threads.

Otherwise, you could unfriend them.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

You don’t.
It’s their Facebook, they have every right to post whatever they choose. If you don’t want to read it you can block their posts, or just ignore the messages that come up.

AdamF's avatar

A person’s facebook page is anything they wish it to be.

Presumably your access to their site is a choice you’ve agreed to….with all the potential costs and benefits.

So I have to second what some others here have indicated. I think the only reasonable moves available for someone who “doesn’t want to alienate their religious friends”, is to use whatever features on facebook are available to cease their status updates from annoying you.

That way you make contact with those particular friends on your terms…perhaps after taking a deep breath.

P.S. I just cut a distant acquaintance from my list fo facebook friends for very similar reasons. We had nothing in common, and I knew that on a given day, in the right (or wrong) mood, I was going to start filling up their page with lashings of reasonableness… As I thought the cognitive dissonance might kill them, I decided to move on to more productive pastures instead. Some battles aren’t even worth engaging in.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Are we talking about such innocuous things as wishing someone a Merry Christmas, or are we talking about fire and brimstone hell for sinners who don’t mend their ways? If it’s the former, I would like to respectfully suggest you just grin and bear it. If the latter, then drop the offending individual. Especially online, we don’t have to read that which we don’t want to read.

Rarebear's avatar

Lighten up.

Ron_C's avatar

If they are a friend I just say “shut about religion”. If they don’t, I’ll argue point by point until they either stop or admit defeat. It can be fun.

Supacase's avatar

I think this is a totally unreasonable request. You cannot expect your friends to tailor their FB pages according to your wishes.

Soubresaut's avatar

I have a facebook friend that likes to post religious sayings. It really doesn’t bother me—it’s what they think. They’re not posting it on my wall, they’re putting it as their own personal status. And actually, they’re kind of fun to read, too. The fb friend said everything in a very elegant way.

But some other people took offense, let the person know, and I was able to see the whole ordeal on my news feed. It started out “innocent” but just turned ugly, and dragged on for weeks. So many people started to jump in, bashing and defending the openly religious one.
So the elegant little messages turned into a hateful fight, that eventually simmered down when enough people took the side of the one speaking their religious insights, and the others’ messages were drowned out.

It’s free speech. Which means we get to hear anything from anyone. It also means you do have the right to tell others what you’d like them to do, because that’s you (freely) speaking. But I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s just not worth it, and I’m sure there’s plenty you say your fb friend disagrees with but doesn’t want to prohibit you from saying.

People all having such vastly different opinions, that can get heated very quickly, is the reason there’s like buttons, but no dislike buttons.
If you don’t want to see it, just close the feed, and tadah! out of sight, out of mind.

timtrueman's avatar

Click the “x” at the right of their post(s) and then click hide all stuff from that friend. It’s either that or unfriend them.

chyna's avatar

If it’s in the live feed, I do what I do here on Fluther, I skip over their messages. It’s really not that hard to do. If they are posting on your wall, unfriend them.

Foolaholic's avatar

Block them temporarily. You can go edit their settings as to how they are allowed to interact with you. If it’s becoming a real issue and they won’t cease, you could block them for the length of the season, then go change the settings back later.

Blueroses's avatar

When I had an active Facebook account I had about half my friends’ status feeds hidden. Some were just ridiculous TMI (Sharon just got out of the shower and needs to cut her toenails!!!) some were always “donating” their status to some stupid game (Sharon has donated her status for Farmville awareness.) some like your religious friend (Sharon is so thankful that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.)

They weren’t insulted because they weren’t aware I wasn’t reading them in the feed, they could still post on my wall and send me messages so we could all coexist.

BoBo1946's avatar

I would never ask a friend to stop talking about anything. None of my business. Also, the last thing i would do is block them. And, to delete them…geezzzz

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yeah, I’m not friends with anyone that would do that, thankfully.

Ivan's avatar

Scroll down.

submariner's avatar

As others have pointed out, you can keep this person as a FB “friend” while blocking their status updates.

If they are posting religious messages on your wall or in response to your status updates, then you’ll just have ask them to stop. Tell them that your wall is not the place for those kind of discussions.

If this person is a real friend and not just a FB contact, you might encourage that person to start a blog or post on a forum. Those are much better places for exchanging views, because that’s what they are set up for and that’s why people are there, unlike FB where many people just want to keep track of their associates’ contact info and don’t care what you had for lunch, or what you thought of last night’s dancing with the stars episode, so stfu about it already, and no I don’t wanna play Farmville!!!

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Just say respectfully your not interested in listening about their religion, or change the subject.

TexasDude's avatar

Like others have said, just block their comments. You don’t have to see what they say, you don’t have to delete them, you don’t have to have a confrontation, and they are still free to post whatever the hell they want on their own facebook, as they should be. Everyone wins.

Mikewlf337's avatar

You don’t. A person can post whatever they wish on their facebook page. It’s not like they are trying to convert you. If everybody worried about their facebook post bothering others no matter how innocent it is then people wouldn’t post anything at all. Seriously does something as trivial as a facebook post bother you so much?

crazyivan's avatar

I’m amazed how few people thinking cramming their religion down the throats of others is an unreasonable thing…

Supacase's avatar

@crazyivan No one is forced to be friends with anyone on FB or read the feeds of the people they are friends with. You get to choose whether or not you want to read it – that is not cramming.

Soubresaut's avatar

@crazyivan I hate people shoving things down my throat, too. I think everyone who’s tried to give some advice here does. Who likes being told what to think?
But there’s a subtle difference here. The fb friend (as I understand?) isn’t posting “Hey, crazyivan! What I’m saying is right, it’s the only possibility, and you’ve got to believe too!” They’re putting as their status things that speak to them, personally, or things that are on their mind.
I see where you’re coming from. When someone’s saying something you disagree with, it’s hard not to feel as if it’s directed at you, or that they’re trying to convert the world to their mind’s eye. I know I’ve run into it plenty of times—at a loss for a specific example at the moment… Still, sometimes people are just proud of their beliefs and want to express them, without any intention of trying to rub them off on others.
If we want the right to express our own, too, we have to let them express theirs, regardless of how incorrect we think they are.

And if it is your belief that the religious talk on facebook is wrong, (which it looks like it is,) then you do have the right to voice it. I don’t think you should, I think you’re taking it all way too personally, but that’s my belief. To each his own.
If you must express yourself to the person, I would suggest a facebook message, so it’s private for them and for you. Something like, “I respect your beliefs, but sometimes the amount and frequency you express them makes me uncomfortable.” Make it short and sweet, and leave it at that. You can’t make them do so, but maybe they’ll lessen their enthusiam to something that’s more your taste. If not, don’t harp. They owe you nothing, and trying to make them obey your wishes will lead to nothing good.
—Just, if you do decide to take that route, and you’re within your rights to do so, please, never talk about your own beliefs on facebook.

jca's avatar

I don’t always care to read about my friends’ kids, my former high school classmate’s horror movie stuff, or who did what today, or Farmville or who achieved what level with some stupid game, and I’m sure I have written things that people thought were stupid, silly, whatever. However, that’s what Facebook is all about. It’s like being in a circle of friends and each one gets to say whatever is on their minds at the moment. I feel there are bigger problems to worry about than not liking someone’s FB posts.

You scroll down past the stuff that you don’t care about (usually it’s mostly stuff I don’t care about but I respect each individual’s right to say what they want).

absalom's avatar


It’s like you’re opening your mouth to help them do the cramming. And then complaining about it.

roundsquare's avatar

Isn’t it extremely self centered to think you have any right to stop people from professing their faith in a public forum just because its annoying you?

Until they are forcing you to read it, live and let live.

Paradox's avatar

I’m not familiar with Facebook or similar sites. I deal with this (what you’ve described) in real life however. I believe in God but I do not adhere with any religion or religious book. Most around me however are Christians and yes this is aggrevating to me as well. I just try to suck it up. If someone decides to be a little aggressive with their beliefs however I don’t hesitate to get straight forward with them but I only rarely run into these types of people. If it’s only on Facebook you are probally better off letting it live. It will make you look better in the end. Do they know you aren’t religious when they do this?

roundsquare's avatar

@Paradox Its absolutely irrelevant if they know the OP is not religious.

To explain: They are not doing anything directed at the OP. They are posting religious statements in a pseudo-public area (i.e. an area all their “friends” can see). This is distinctly different from what you are talking about since, in real life, the person is targeting you and bugging you. You would need to do something active to get rid of the person. On facebook, you need hardly do anything aside from not read what is being posted.

crazyivan's avatar

I should have specified that I’m strictly talking about responses to my statuses, etc. The example that prompted the question (which I should have cited) was a cousin chastising me for spelling it “X-mas” instead of “Christmas” because I was “taking Christ out of Christmas”.

I should have used the example in the question because I didn’t mean to give the impression that I had any problem with people leaving religious quotes as their own statuses. To each his/her own. I find it a bit silly most of the time, but I appreciate a good bible quote in the same way that I appreciate a good Shakespearean quote, but I wouldn’t fault somebody for professing their own beliefs in any forum.

@Paradox And yes, they know that I’m not religious. I should have been more detailed in framing the question as it is far too vague to earn a meritorious response, though I appreciate those responses that were helpful (or at least tried to be).

Soubresaut's avatar

@crazyivan oh, sorry, that changes it. Feel the need to answer your actual question now that I’ve answered what I thought was your question twice…
I’d still make the response a fb message, but I’d make it very clear and direct: something like, ‘Thanks for the tip, but Christmas is X-mas to me, I see it as a holiday rather than a religious celebration. You spell it your way, please let me spell it mine. It’s just a facebook status, I’m not hurting you.’ That may be a little long or a little awkward, but I’d say something to that effect.
It’s what most everyone’s been saying but in reverse—he’s/she’s taking offense to your public posting…

jlelandg's avatar

Well @crazyivan, you can tell people who are stupid enough to say the Xmas stuff that traditionally X is a representation of the cross and can mean Christ. Tell your Christian friend to stop believing every single thing Sister Bertha Better-than-you says and do some research for himself.

AdamF's avatar

@crazyivan Thanks for the clarification. Most answers here still apply, just in reverse.

It’s your facebook page. You should feel free to honestly express yourself there. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to respond frankly if someone challenged me with respect to my views on a subject. Frankly I welcome it. They might be right. And if they are wrong, then I’ll explain why I think so.

Time for some candour.

But it might be wise to keep such candour as comments and responses on your own page. That way you’re always on a front foot with regards to having a right to post, with clarity and honesty, anything you wish.

If I was similarly challenged, my response would be:

“As you are no doubt aware, I don’t share you’re belief in Christian mythology. For me personally Christmas is a time to get together with loved ones, enjoy good food and have fun. If I choose to refer to this holiday period as Jul, X-mas, Winter solstice, or Sol Invictus I will do so. If such small things threaten your beliefs, then perhaps it’s your beliefs that need further appraisal, rather than other people’s choice of label.
Happy X-mas”

Supacase's avatar

Ahhh, now I see. Well, that does change things! You absolutely have the right to request that your friend knock it off on your page out of respect for you and your friendship.

I would do it in a private message instead of on the wall in the interest of keeping things friendly and non-confrontational. Mention to your friends that you do not respond to religious threads on their pages with comments that challenge or disrespect their beliefs and you are just asking for the same in return.

@jlelandg “stop believing every single thing Sister Bertha Better-than-you says” Love it.

crazyivan's avatar

@Supacase Thanks. Great advice and turns out to be more or less exactly how I handled it.

mithical's avatar

You may want to consider blocking their status updates in the mean time till the holidays are over. However, I honestly have to say that you just have to deal with the realization that other people’s beliefs area always gonna be a very deep part of them and you can’t do anything about it. Simply ignoring the issues should resolve the problems, since they shouldn’t mean anything to you.

Rhodentette's avatar

You don’t, unfortunately. The shoving of religious tracts down throats is the inviolable province of the religious.

Last year, when there was the atheists awareness week on facebook, I changed my profile picture to the scarlet “A” and used a quote from an atheist as my status update each day. I lost 10% of my friends on facebook that week. Bear in mind that these are people who thought nothing of posting biblical quotations, lyrics from religious songs, etc. as their status updates.

I think good riddance to those. The rest who are religious and continue to update their facebook with religious quotes/ thoughts, etc., I simply ignore.

crazyivan's avatar

I’d love to do the same, but unfortunately I’m related to many of them and my genetic predisposition to love and care about them slightly outweighs the annoyance of listening to their superstitious ramblings from time to time.

It is kind of funny the double standard that they hold, though. I’ve noticed the same visceral reaction when I post something that betrays my (lack of) religious belief and somehow the inherent hypocrisy in this never seems to occur to them.

Rhodentette's avatar

I know! After A-week on facebook, I posted about the percentage of unfriendings that I’d got during that week and sent a question to all my religious acquaintances about why it was so apparently off-base for me to post about my lack of belief when they all felt is was perfectly fine to shout their faith from the rooftops.

All the responses I got were along the lines of “It’s offensive.”

I had to scratch my head at that and go, okay, it’s fine for you to be offended by my declaration of my lack of belief but it’s not okay for me to be offended by your declalration of belief? “Yes,” they said, because we believe in God.

I don’t get it either.

crazyivan's avatar

My own sister Facebook-disowned me for a minor offense in that department. Make one little Godless statement and all of a sudden I can’t comment on my nephew’s photos.

(She later refriended me, by the way. There’s your happy ending)

Rhodentette's avatar

At least you got your happy ending, right?

Stuff like that is why I think it’s a good thing for non-believers to be more vocal about their lack of belief. The laws doesn’t offer protection against “being offended” and it’s beneficial to be exposed to different points of view.

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