Religion Question.. Hmm.

Updated on August 27, 2011
M.M. asks from Lake Charles, LA
42 answers

So just a question I have. I am an atheist and am very comfortable in my views, 99% of the people I know are religious and that's a-ok with me. Except that they seem to be 100% NOT okay with my lack of religion. I guess it just blows my mind, I don't walk around trying to convert anyone or even offer my opinion on religion (even when asked). I've learned to just keep my mouth shut because any time I'm at the hospital or anywhere for that matter and they ask "religious preference" I simply say "none". Why is it that I'm expected to be okay with a christians views but it's almost 100% guaranteed that they will have SOMETHING to say about mine? I mean, it's none of your business at all and you aren't going to convert me so yeah.. Does anyone else come across this? I am absolutely NOT asking for comments about my views just why people can't just be okay with someone thinking differently than them.. I don't care what you think if you are a good person and I feel someone should feel the same about me.. Your opinions?

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

I suggest that they aren't OK with you having no religious because their religious teaches that you're going to hell and it's their responsibility to bring you into the fold.

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J.W.

answers from Fayetteville on

Me and my husband have different beliefs. He will just usually tell people..." I'm an atheist but I choose NOT to worship the devil. That usually makes people smile and move on.

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

I think you scare them. It's as if to say, if they meet another believer, then all is good with their core beliefs. With you, by not believing, are basically saying their core beliefs are nonsense. And if there are people who don't believe, maybe there is something to that. Just my two cents so early this morning.

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G.T.

answers from Redding on

You are "religious", your religion is not to believe. I don't believe in religion. I just know God is there and I experience the "relationship", not the religion.

The bible asks us to spread the good news of salvation and the after life, so we have to try, that's why. It is upsetting to us that some will perish. When you are not a believer you don't have any good news to tell us, I guess?
There are none so deaf than those that will not hear.

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M.F.

answers from Portland on

I agree with Marda. I was raised Christian and we were taught that we are supposed to go out and spread the word of God.

I don't like any more than you do.
I never preach or give unsolicited advice, whether its religion, parenting, politics, or anything.
I firmly believe that people should be allowed to believe what ever makes them happy.
Like you said, be a good person, don't hurt anyone, and mind your own business.

But, yes, the reason you get this is Christians and Mormon, and maybe others (I only know those for sure) do actively try and convert people, whether the people want to hear it or not.

So, unfortunately, you will always encounter this from "hard-core" religious folks, sorry.

SHE IS NOT A PUPPY OR CHILD PLAYING NEAR A [email protected]____.com ROAD!!!
She is a grown woman who can think for herself and make her own decisions!
Just because she doesn't believe as you do does not mean she is a idiot or naive or incapable of helping herself!

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C.Z.

answers from Omaha on

For me, I wouldn't "judge" you based on our beliefs, but I do know what is coming (or NOT coming) for you...and it saddens me. Someone who is very biblically scholared once said to me..."I wouldn't send my worst enemy to hell." That statement has stuck with me since.

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S.P.

answers from Birmingham on

In the easiest way to explain I guess for me would be it's like knowing about a GREAT shoe sale (I mean wonderful shoes for free nearly!) or getting a laugh until you cry email. You just can't wait to share the information with others. Christian faith is the same way ... we don't mean to seem pushy (or MOST of us don't want to be pushy), we just feel that others will be missing out on such a wonderful thing and if by chance by sharing our faith, someone else starts to feel that same comfort and faith ... It's a great day!

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S.B.

answers from Redding on

In my opinion, religion, or lack there of, is a personal decision.
There are people who couldn't live without their religion because it bolsters them in their faith and their everyday lives.
There are people, who are very good people, who are terrified of organized religion for whatever reason or simply do not buy into any of it at all.
A person's belief systems are so very personal.
As far as a hospital asking you, I hate to say it, but when it comes down to it for one thing, it's about finding out what religious things you might require or desire such as last rites if you are Catholic. Jewish people have to be buried within so many hours. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood even if it's to save their lives.
I've worked in hospitals and I can promise, at least the ones I've worked at, they don't care what your affililiation is, if any, they want to be respectful of your religious preferences to the best of their abilities.
I think some people who believe strongly in one religion or another are themselves incapable of understanding how a person can't lean on the same faith and understanding that gets them through life.
No person will ever convert you or change your beliefs and I'm sure it's true that you will never convert others and change their beliefs. (Not saying you've tried).
People have been persecuted for their beliefs in one way or another throughout the ages. You are no different.
You are right. It is no one else's business.
Refuse to answer questions.

Hey...there are two things I refuse to talk about even with family members.
One is religion and the other is politics.
It's just easier that way.
I can live and let live.

I think we all should.

Just my opinion.

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C.M.

answers from Texarkana on

M., the reason that Christians don't 'leave you alone' is out of genuine love and concern for you. Because they believe in an eternal hereafter - being either indescribable Heaven in God's presence or the everlasting fires of Hell - and they CARE where you'll be spending that time. It is the nature of Love to want the best for the other person - their health, joy, peace, all come into play. I wonder what caused you to decide to walk on a path that denies God. Was it hypocritical Christians? Not everyone who goes to a church ARE Christians, Just because you go sit in a garage three times a week doesn't make you a car. Deep hurts from a pastor or church body? That happens, people are so flawed and imperfect. I suppose you could ward off all attempts at 'conversion' by saying, "How about you just pray for me and leave my spirituality or lack there of in the hands of your God." That might help deflect frontal attacks : ) I know that's what I'll do, pray for you. : ) I can't imagine trying to make it through a day without His Love, Grace, and Mercy.

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B.K.

answers from Chicago on

I know a couple of atheists who are constantly belittling my religious beliefs and there is a huge group of them near here who nit pick at everything religious in public. I don't try to push my beliefs on them, but I sure feel they're doing it to me. Even to the point of calling me stupid for believing in something unseen. I guess it just depends on your perspective. I couldn't care less what anybody else believes.

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A.M.

answers from Kansas City on

I am agnostic...my husband is non practicing Buddist, and my kids attend a Pentacostal church (Assemblies of God) once a week.

I get more questions of "If you don't believe in God, then why are letting someone teach your children?"...I simply answer "They enjoy going to church and learning about God, and it makes them happy so it makes me happy. Doesn't mean I have to change my beliefs nor does it mean that I have to teach my children to believe the same as I, they are individuals, not my puppets!"...

I wish I knew why people think my beliefs are their concern, I don't run around telling them that I disagree with them. They bring the discussion to me. Then they get all upset when I either A) don't want to talk about it cause it leads to B) a argument ensues and then they usually get their feelings hurt.

Updated: I also think that many people any religion or non religion anywhere do not really fully understand the definitions of the others. i.e. Below someone writes the definitions of Agnostic and Atheist. Right on! Since I am Agnostic, I don't really know what I believe, there are so many options and so many things from each that I think are possiblities that I'm not sure I fit under one category. I live my life as a good person, who is honest, caring, and very selfless...so because I'm Agnostic I am bad to others. Bafffles me.

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D.S.

answers from Jonesboro on

You are absolutely right.....you are entitled to your opinion but as Christians our hearts virtually ache for the Non-Christian. Your friends would truly not be your friends if they did not pray for you AND allow you to see Christ in them....in other words their concern actually shows their love for you.

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

First, we atheists are a minority. A growing minority, but still a small percentage of people in this country.

Second, most major religions teach and preach the need to convert others, for their own good of course. If they truly believe that lack of faith, and particularly lack of their specific faith, will land a person in hell, they don't want their friends to go to hell.

Third, encountering someone who does not believe as they do could force them to examine their beliefs, and since religious beliefs do not stand up to close examination since they are not based on provable evidence, your lack of belief can make them uncomfortable.

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A.S.

answers from Casper on

My favorite is when people think that us "heathens" are less moral and can't possibly care about and add to our society. Personally, I don't need a higher power to tell me what's right. I try to be honest and treat people with respect, because *I* feel that's the right way to live ;)

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

It is a teaching to reach out to others and invite them into religion, not just Christianity.

I guess just like advertising in any aspect, they wouldn't do it if it didn't work. There are many people who may not have believed or lacked religion in their life and turned to religion to find their salvation.

If this is your firm belief, I guess you treat it like I treat any other religion who knocks on my door or preaches to me in the streets. I just thank them and tell them I am not interested.

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A.G.

answers from Houston on

Ive known people of every belief to be outspoken on their opinion Christians and atheists alike. I hate it when someone hears that i believe in God (not a christian but i do believe in intelligent design) They automatically assume i dont believe in evolution. (which i absolutely do.)

Its just prejudice any way you look at it, and prejudice stems from ignorance. The reality of that will be in our religions, our race, our sex and our sexual identity until whatever started this earth, ends it.

No one is excluded from being the one who pre-judges or is pre-judged....but what we can do is leave our minds open to possibilities of other things, therefor inviting our own education and tolerance.

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K.E.

answers from Denver on

I feel that people who are less tolerant of others are because they are taught to fear. Our nation is going to hell because of us non believers and so the current problems are our fault and they are obligated to change us sinners. (I mean pity us we are going to hell ) What they don't realize that some of the nicest people are non christians and we are good because that is the human thing to do not because a god tells us these rules.
Ok I am really sarcastic, but I understand what you are feeling. I have lost friends because I wont convert or because they found out I was not christian. I do believe fear and ignorance is part of the reason. Also arrogance and superiority plays a role. Grandma T shows that by saying we have no good news to tell. What christians don't understand is that we don't have to scream Atheism/Agnostic/ Deist/Pagans Rock!!! Our way is the best!. We live our life and just ask to be left alone, we don't get brownie points for sharing our belief. And they don't understand that we don't feel all sad and empty because we don't have a god to tell us how to live ( my hubby had this conversation with a christian friend )
I think we will always find extremist in all beliefs that want to be heard. I agree it should only be about if we are good people. I do have some Christian friends who love me for me ( I know if they pray for me its out of love so I try not to take offense) I wish we could all just accept each other. So many wars have been fought in the name of a god.

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L.F.

answers from San Francisco on

M.,

You are right-people should respect other's differences in opinions and beliefs. But, we live in a world where everyone thinks their way is the right way and the only way. Some things never change...Now as for your question,why do religious people do this? They feel accountable to try and lead you in the " right" direction of what their faith teaches them. Try not to take it personal, they are really doing it because they love you and want you to be saved. One way you can get yourself off the hook per se is saying---" You know I appreciate your care and concern. Right now I am checking out all different types of belief systems to find out what is right for me. I would appreciate it if you didn't ask anymore. I am comfortable with my journey."

It may help you. GL

M

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K.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

I am by no means a door knocker, but I do admit that when I read that you (and a lot of other responders) are atheists, it saddens me. I know that the only way to heaven is through Christ, and since you have chosen to shut Him out of your life, you won't be going there.
I would never harass an atheist- my in laws are about as born again as they come, and they constantly harass my husband and I because we don't go to THEIR church or to church often enough.
There is a happy medium though. As Christians, it is our duty to spread the word of God. So when asked, I feel like I need to share my faith. On the other hand, if we become too pushy, we can push people away.
I'd also like to add that although Christians are the only ones being bashed on this topic, I personally, have been thoroughly harassed by several other religions....so enough with the Christian bashing! We have such a double standard in this society- if I were to write a similar post about say, Muslims or Scientologists, the question would probably be pulled immediately.
@Laeh- I'm not sure where you got your info, but last time I checked, entrance to heaven is not based on a "points" system. At one time, some believed that good deeds were the way to heaven, but as far as I know, there aren't any churches preaching that now- and if there are, I would question their legitimacy. As Christians, we are expected to behave in a Christ-like manner, but that is only one aspect of our teachings, not a guarantee to go to heaven.

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T.G.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I am religious, but I have atheist friends, including facebook friends. It is my atheist friends who are always posting statuses on how "stupid" Christians are, photos of anti-Christian signs, blogs and articles from atheist websites. So it goes both ways. Actually, I see much more hate and being called an idiot from atheists than from Christians (Christians shouldn't be hateful, but everyone is human so there are going to be less-than-desirables in every sect from buddists to Christians to atheists), but maybe we each only see the bad from the other side because we are all going to see what is directed against us.

Also, please try to understand this. You say you accept the way other people are, which means you accept what they believe, right? So, if they truly believe something bad is going to happen to you and they don't try to help, that would mean they aren't being a good friend, correct?

If you had a friend who was falling down drunk and getting into their car in the Rocky Mountains, wouldn't you risk their annoyance by taking their car keys because you care about them?

I'm actually the opposite, and it bothers me that I am like that. I don't push my views on anyone, but sometimes I do think I'm like that friend who lets her friends drive over a cliff.

So, basically I am saying two things. One, atheists are at least every bit as offensive as other groups of people are. We just don't notice how the people similar to us are. And two, though it may be frustrating, your friends only bother you about it because they care very much about you.

Not sure that atheists are "caring" about me by calling my views idiotic, because the end result is the same to them whether I am a Christian or an atheist, but Christians believe they have your future in mind when they are bothering you, so they (most of them anyway), are doing it because they care.

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A.C.

answers from Raleigh on

The problem is religion. I'm right there with you in being an atheist and I think religion is the root of all evil. It's like a cult. I am OK with whatever you want to believe but don't use it as a reason to hate. If there was no religion the world would be more peaceful.

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A.B.

answers from Little Rock on

I have a friend who is an atheist and he has a heart of gold. I am a Christian, and it has never come between us. we each have the right to our own opinions and beliefs and that's just the way it is. People tried to do the same thing to him and would firmly say, thank you, but no thank you. Just know that there are people out there that claim to be Christian and in the same sentence will talk about someone behind their back. If you know you are a good person, that's all that matters. Religion is not required to be a good person. Its the kind of life you live that makes the kind of person you are, not your religion or lack thereof. Don't let them get you down. I seem to be rambling and I am sorry, just want you to know that there are Christians out there who respect others beliefs when you tell us you're not interested, we say ok and move on. Hope this has helped.

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

Those who believe in their specific religion often believe that there is only one "right way" -- their way -- for you to live and be happy. And many religions have prostelytizing (sp?) as part of their religious beliefs (basically, converting others to "their way" is part of the doctrine). They often feel that they are "saving you" (according to the beliefs of their religious teachings).

I have come to strongly believe that there are many paths to the Truth. I became a Unitarian Universalist, which doesn't preach a particular faith, but instead respects all faiths and none (ie, atheists), and instead focuses on the 7 principles (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/6798.shtml). And I don't ever try to convert anyone (in fact I hardly ever bring it up unless some brings up topic and asks what my faith is). I merely tell them what my beliefs are and that I'm happy with my choice.

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S.S.

answers from Daytona Beach on

i don't think this is just for someone who is aetheist(sp). this is for anyone who is a different religion or one who doesn't have one at all. I'm a non-denominational christian. i don't believe in organized religion. i have all sorts of people trying to "push" their faith. but it's people who are concerned for your soul, i guess. i'm not going to go to a church because in my mind it is nothing but a social club when it's not supposed to be. i think that most people mean well and just want what they believe is the best, and for most people the best is their views.

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K.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Ah, yes, this is the question asked by so many people from all viewpoints, but at its root is a self-contraction, which is why there is no satisfying answer.

Your question is "why people can't just be okay with someone thinking differently than them?" referring to religious people thinking that a non-religious person ought to have religion. This question can be directed towards you as well, "why can't you be okay with someone thinking differently from you?" referring to a non-religious person thinking that one ought not to have to have religion.

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R.D.

answers from Richmond on

It's not like you're wearing an 'I'm an atheist' t shirt... like you said, it's no one's business but your own. I'm not religious but I'm spiritual... I respect other people's faith even if I don't accept it as my own.

To each their own.

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N.G.

answers from Dallas on

Hi M.!
I'm a new believer, saved on July 3 of this year. Before I was saved, I considered myself atheist, so I can understand and even empathize with your feelings. All I can say in defense of Christians (good christians, not judgmental ones) is that what God has done in my life is SO amazing that I am compelled to share it with other people. That never leads me to want to force Him on another person. No one can truly accept God into their lives unless they are willing, and I sure as heck wouldn't feel compelled to jump on board a spiritual journey with a bunch of quack-o's that won't leave me the heck alone! A true Christian would represent Christ, and Christ never forced a relationship with God onto another person.

Having said all of that- true tolerance is difficult to achieve. Someone is always getting their toes stepped on.

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J.S.

answers from Jacksonville on

I guess I can't ever remember a time that someone has come up to me and asked "What religion are you?" so I guess I wonder in what context you are being made to feel uncomfortable? The only people I ever discuss religion with are my closest friends and family, other than that it's pretty much a non issue. My best friends husband is an agnotic, his mother an atheist. We've spent a lot of time around each other, and I think the only conversation we had on it was when my best friend told me that her MIL was atheist. My comment was, "Oh really, that's interesting." end subject. It's only a big deal if you let it be.

Now I have been, on rare occasions, been asked what church I go to, well I don't. I have yet to find one that I am a good fit for an to be honest I haven't really looked. I am quite comfortable with my personal relationship with God. But, even then I have never been hounded to come to church or anything like that. Heck I even go Zumba at a church, and not one of the ladies has ever said anything about me not being a member there.

I think really it all depends on the person. I have heard some atheist preach pretty hard about the bible being a fairy tale too, so it's not just christians doing this. If people really do not respect your beliefs they shouldn't be your friends. If it's a stranger doing this to you, then you have every right to say, "What I believe or don't believe in is really none of your business." No need to be polite when people are attacking you.

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C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

When people here "ATHEIST" it sounds to many - dark and foreboding...and truly closed off to many Christians...and it scares many Christians who strongly believe in Heaven and Hell and want your soul to go to Heaven...

Agnostic sounds like you don't believe in God - but you don't NOT believe either..

I wouldn't push my religious views on you. You will find out when you die if your beliefs were right or wrong... :) but seriously - if people give you grief over it - ask them - WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION?! Last I looked - I was free to believe what I want to believe? Don't shove your religion down my throat. I don't want to be "saved" thank you very much!

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

I am a Christian. My faith has gotten me through some very hard times. I cannot imagine my life without my faith. I can't imagine that "this is all there is". I just can't and I think that is why others might try and share the good word with you. They don't want you to go through life thinking "this is it". That being said, I would certainly not force my faith on you or anyone. Faith is a personal decision and can only be done with a true heart. I tend to not discuss my religion, Lutheran by the way, because it is very personal and you don't know what others believe. I am very aware of that.

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C.W.

answers from Santa Barbara on

I agree, I think people should accept differences more. I don't know if I just come in contact with a more diverse population but people are different and that's totally fine.

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I would be really surprised if anyone (virtual stranger) at a hospital commented on your lack of religious affiliation...so I assume you're talking about family, friends, coworkers, etc....
I work with an atheist. He's entitled to his belief as I am to mine.
I don't try to "convert" him or "challenge" him. He's O. of the most intelligent people I know. He's a big boy and can choose his own beliefs.
Besides, politics and religion and sex are pretty much no-no topics at any office.
Now if it's your friends, and family they may be commenting out of genuine concern and love. How to stop it? Maybe just a very clear cut discussion.
And, there are lots of people out there (religion-wise) who simply can't accept ANY other point of view except their own. It's closed minded and it's everywhere! Of course the same could be said of political groups, the NRA members, pro-life zealots, etc.
Basically, I agree with you...if you're a nice person and we like each other, I really don't care if you worship Snoopy--or don't!

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H.F.

answers from Pocatello on

I agree, and it really bothers me when I hear people bashing religions or belief systems (such as atheism) other than their own. Sometimes people may misinterpret your differing views as an attack on their own, even if that is not the case. But I think that it is important for everyone to learn how to disagree with someone respectfully. Respect for others should be paramount. I have very strong religious beliefs myself, but I do not condemn anyone who does not share those beliefs. To each his/her own!

And I do not agree with Laeh G. that you should tell your friends that they should not "speak of" religion to you at all or you will no longer be friends. How is that teaching tolerance? Set a better example by saying "I will not disparage your beliefs and I ask that you allow me the same courtesy and not disparage mine."

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K.F.

answers from Salinas on

Some of these responses are actully funny in their narrow mindedness. I love how sure the believers are that the only way to get to heaven is to become Christian.
The reason she is calling out Christians is not to persecute you it's because Christians are really the only religion in this country trying to recruit non-believers, fight for public displays of their religion and go door to door bothering people about how their going to go to hell. When is the last time a Muslim, Jew or Scientologist tried to get you to join their church?
Why is it so hard to grasp the idea that what is right, good and true for you personally may not be the same for others. Can hard core Christians not open their minds enough to imagine the possibility that there are more paths to enlightenment then their own? Let's face it, they want EVERYONE to think like they do and believe the only way to live is exactly the way they do.
If you disagree with this crazy mindset please be very careful who you vote for because the last thing we need in this country is more people in positions of power who think there is only one really "right" religion.

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T.K.

answers from Shreveport on

Most people are happy with who they are and want others to share in it. Their religion is who they are. I am a believer, but I keep an open mind about others views. That is what I love about this country you have the right to your views and my can be different and we can be friends.

Good luck,
T.

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J.H.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I also believe the Christians are doing it out of kindness and service to God. No matter how many times you've heard the message, they feel they have the opportunity to show you the light! When trying to shut them down, try thanking them, instead of getting frustrated. It's like a parent that feels they know better. When the child gets mad, it just spurs them on! Good luck! And I do hope you change your views someday. :)

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

It goes both ways. An acquaintance of mine that is a UU takes so much pleasure in getting in a little jab about Christianity whenever she is with us. I on the other hand could care less what people believe. I think spiritual views are very personal.

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A.L.

answers from Charleston on

To each his own. If all people, all over the world could tolerate and accept this phrase in relation to religion/non religion, imagine how our world would be now.

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J.S.

answers from Austin on

I love people when they understand the difference between being spiritual or religious or being spiritual and religious. I find that all three are different. I'm spiritual and but interestingly enough most of my friends are spiritual and religious. I LOVE it and I love our great conversations.

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C.W.

answers from Chicago on

An atheist id AGAINST religions. Am Agnostic does not follow a religion but is not against religion

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K.E.

answers from Denver on

Celia W;

An Atheist does not believe in God. An agnostic believe or disbelieve, but is not sure what God is and doesn't follow any set religion. It has nothing to do with being "for" or "against" religion per se.

Atheist:
Noun: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Agnostic
Noun: A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I, too, am an atheist. I was raised Catholic and minored in Theology in college, so I do understand Christianity, but I don't find it to be a valid belief system.

I find it amusing that so many posters responded that Christians try to convert non-believers because they're called to do so, or they're coming from a loving place so non-believers shouldn't mind. Bottom line, it's intrusive and obnoxious to have people forever knocking on my door and trying to convert me. Could you imagine if atheists made a point of knocking on people's doors and trying to convince them that talking to their imaginary friend every day is a colossal waste of time? How offended they would be if I pushed my views on them! Because I know that this would be obnoxious and irritating, I don't do it, even though I would be coming from a loving place, trying to help them and show them that their views are wrong (in my opinion).

So, yeah. I am completely annoyed by people of any religion who attempt to convert me and/or flip out when they find out I'm atheist. For the longest time, I'd change the subject when people asked me my religious views. But then I realized, why? I believe what I believe, and if they ask, I'll answer. And if they press me any further and try to convert me, then I'll let them know exactly what I think of their views. I don't think they're coming from a loving place, I think they're being overbearing, and if the truth be told, I don't see how any sane person can believe what they believe.

That being said, people can have whatever views they want and it doesn't offend me at all - as long as they don't try to convert me. I know many people who are deeply religious, but they keep it to themselves and we get along just fine!

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