What Difference Does It Make What Religion My Family Is (Or Is Not)?

Updated on October 09, 2012
K.A. asks from San Diego, CA
44 answers

Recently I've had a couple of family members taking a bigger interest in what religion my family and I are (or are not). We also have a neighborhood kid that my kids are friends with that just can't stop asking what religion we are. He's asked both my kids and myself so many times over the last few years they've lived here.
Frankly I'm getting sick of being asked what religion we are (or are not)!
Here's my question. If it's someone you've known for years. You know they aren't out sacrificing babies or animals. You know they aren't doing anything destructive to themselves or others. But they never tell you what their religious beliefs are would this bother you? Would you keep asking, trying to get an answer? What would you do if you got an answer you didn't like or agree with, would you stop associating with them or try to convert or save them?
I have answered as best I can. We are not a particular religion. I am teaching my children about all religions. I have studied religion for most of my life. I do have things I agree with more than others from different religions. Some people I give a little more detail than to others. I believe that organized religion is a flawed Human Construct.
As a family we have picked the best Human made label that fits us, but even it is not perfect. It is one of those labels that has been given an undeserved connotation though.
How do I get these people to stop asking? Hearing a label isn't going to change who my family is or who I am. I'm still the very same person I was before I gave you a label.
It is just getting to be very annoying. It is starting to bother my kids as well. They want people, especially their friend, to stop asking.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I think I need to clarify. I did answer these people as best as I could. I have plainly stated that we are not Christian, meaning we do not believe in only one male God and we do not believe Jesus is the Saviour. That was not a good enough an answer and it keeps going on trying to get that tidy little label. But after that I could not give a label because none of them fit. I tried to further explain but honestly gave up. What I mean by Organized Religion being a flawed Human construct is the basic nature of all religions claiming to be The One True and Right One. How can they all be right and wrong at the same time? Even in Christianity you have Mormons, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists etc etc etc that can't even all agree. It's been interpreted and misinterpreted and used as a way to control far too often.
My husband and I along with our kids are happy with our religious choices. This is not why it is annoying. It is annoying becuase it is, as others have stated, none of their business in the end. I have given them an answer but it's never good enough. It is just so important that they get that label I don't have to give them. They have to know if I"m not Christian then what am I. The obvious flip answer is Pagan, but it's not a fit either. I also know that at least one family member would flip out and it would be a nightmare to deal with. The family members aren't local so thankfully I do not hae to deal with this in the same room. I am grateful for that! The neighbor kids go to a private Christian school so I really don't know where that would go.
I like the idea of making up my own label and going with it LOL
You can ask someone if they celebrate Christmas without knowing their religion. We celebrate it, but not as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Featured Answers



answers from Washington DC on

I would just say what my mother always said:

"I don't talk about religion or politics because it causes too many disagreements and arguments"

Be a broken record. They'll quit asking when they get tired of hearing it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If you know who you are and what you believe, these things should not "annoy" you. If you "are" annoyed, then there's probably some unanswered questions that you may need to address. Forget about the people who are asking....it's not there business....look within.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I agree with you 100%. I have told my kids to simply say that religion is not something they feel comfortable discussing and to leave it at that.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I guess my question, is why won't you just tell them? You feel comfortable and confident in what you've chosen for your life, right? Then why be secretive? THAT'S why people ask. It's interesting then. Perhaps, the undeserved connotation would lessen, if people who believe it were open enough to explain and clarify. Being secretive and guarded, is what makes something seem taboo. Personally, I've noticed when people are guarded, they really aren't all that convinced about their beliefs. Why live something, if you can't share it?

Or, you could just say..."That's personal, please stop asking." Honestly, it doesn't make a difference to most people when they KNOW. You won't tell them, so they are curious. People want to know what they don't. It's human nature. If you don't want to talk about it, say so, and say so firmly. If they have any respect for you, they will stop.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

The difference? Eternity. Heaven or hell. You don't understand why it is troubling to Christians when you say you don't believe in God? Esp. your relatives? It is troubling to me, as a Christian and I don't even know you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am the kind of person who is fascinated by religions and I do frequently ask others what their religion is. If they care to share, fine, that is wonderful fodder for a lively discussion or an opportunity for me to learn something. It is also tough for me to do small-talk with people I don't know. I like to jump right in to deep discussions. If the person doesn't care to share, then no big deal. But, I will always be curious because our religious beliefs are a huge part of who we are, and I am always interested to know people on a deeper level.

I am not an evangelizing type, although I have very firm religious beliefs of my own. But, I think your family might be, and are probably troubled to hear that you are not Christian, especially if you were raised as a Christian. If you have one good conversation with them about it, they might just leave you alone about it; or they'll be motivated to try to save you. :-)

In any case, try not to take it too personally and let it get to you, or to let your kids go through life annoyed when people ask them such a basic question. I have friends from every major religion I can think of, and I never evangelize them through words, although I might pray for them (not in their presence). I love to discuss with them, to understand them, and feel that my closest friendships are with people who are as open with me as I am with them. I'm an open book to those who care to know me. Hope this helps.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

With the kid, tell him that he will learn as he gets older not to ask people the same question over and over. Then when he says he doesn't understand, tell him that he will when he gets older. Repeat as necessary. Don't be "bullied" by a kid. But say all this nicely. He cannot MAKE you change your answer. Tell your kids to say to him "It's not polite to ask the same question over and over." When he says "But you aren't answering the question", your kids should say "Yes, we did. You need to stop asking the same question over and over."

With your family members, tell them that you don't make it a habit to talk about religion and politics with them. When they ask why, just say because differences in opinion of both subjects make for poor family relations. If they continue to push in the same conversation, just turn and look at them - STARE at them, cross your arms and say nothing. They will get uncomfortable with your staring and change the subject. (Unless they are nutso, and then you have the perfect excuse to just stare...)

Every other time you are together, repeat the very same words. Once they realize you have chosen the party line, they'll give up.

I hope you will really try to use this. I think it will help.

Good luck,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I am Wiccan and proud of my beliefs. I don't make excuses or listen to anyone else's beliefs. I have been accosted and yelled at and called a sinner and an abomination to God. I reply it's okay I don't believe in your God. When asked if I would read the Bible, I replied I already did and rejected the teachings. Then I ask them to read The Wiccan Bible.

But that is my way of handling the situation.

As far as an answer when someone asks say, I don't discuss my beliefs. I don't discuss religion or politics. I wholeheartedly believe in the First Amendment and Freedom of Religion and voting by secret ballot. Then change the subject. Tell your kids to tell other kids we don't talk about religion in our house.
My biggest issue is that someone may try to push their ideas and ideals on your children. If you have a strong belief in whatever you believe explain to your kids that if anyone tries to teach them religion, to simply go home or walk away. They do not have to listen.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

I grew up with parents who were raised Catholics, eschewed religion and became atheists, put Unitarian on our birth certificates, then sent us to Catholic School.

When people, including the nuns at school, asked me what religion I was I just said agnostic or Unitarian and braced myself for the lectures.Occasionally I said Druid just to shake them up. LOL

Really, it became easier to give everyone a pat answer rather than explain my family's convoluted religious beliefs.

People have a propensity to want to put everyone into a box. When one is outside the box it confuses others. You have to decide whether to come up with a pat answer that satisfies their curiosity enough to leave you alone, or realize that others will continue to be intrigued and continue to ask.

Mostly, I think, you need to not let it bother you and teach your kids to not it let bother them. I spent years responding to people who didn't get our out of the box thinking - it got kinda' fun after awhile the more creative I became with my answers. It also led to some to really good conversations :)

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answers from Chicago on

Why don't you just answer them? How about "I'm a believer". If I've known someone for years and don't know at least the bare minimum on their religion then I wouldn't consider them a friend.

This reminds me of a conversation with a very good friend today. Her and her husband invited me & my husband to a banquet dinner. I noticed the invited list was very small; there is 5 of us girls that hang out a lot. Only 2 of us friends were invited along with our husbands. The reason being was that it is a very religious banquet and the other 2 would not have enjoyed this type of gathering. In other words if family or friends want to know, why not just tell them, so they just know.

If you love to go to steak restaurants wouldn't you want to take your vegetarian friends feelings into consideration. It does make someone feel good when you can take their feelings into consideration on things they like, care about, believe in etc.

Also it's good to know someones belief system for the holidays. My mother in law is a Jehova's Witness, she doesn't celebrate Christmas or Birthdays. Being a family member, I should know these things.

I really think you are being ridiculous by not giving some type of answer, especially to family and friends.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

That floors me that people are so forward as to just ask you straight out like that without prompting what religion you follow. Religious faith and affiliation is such a personal thing and can very quickly become an "Us versus Them" mentality and situation very quickly.

I can forgive a young child asking because they have a real need to see similarities and differences in people. It's part of the learning process. At some point, yes, it becomes rude and parents should have taught them that asking straight out isn't appropriate and there are more subtle ways of finding out (ie. through thoughtful discussion or waiting for the other person to volunteer the information during relevant situations).

Adults ought to know better, but then again many adults take a difference in religious faith as a personal affront: You don't believe what I believe, therefore you're REJECTING MY FAITH AND THAT MEANS YOU'RE REJECTING ME SO YOU MUST HATE ME!!!!

Some people just want to know that you're going to be "saved" by their version of saving or that you're on their "side." They want a kinship and it's easier to understand someone that they assume has the same exact values.

I'll tell you, though... as a Catholic, you can still be "not Catholic enough" for some other Catholics. It's not enough for some people to be the same faith; you have to practice exactly the same way and tow the line exactly the same way they do or you're not enough.

Anyway, you don't actually owe an answer. You can return the question with, "Why do you need to know? That's a very personal question." Then you can answer if you choose based on why they want to know and give as much or as little detail as you choose.

"I'm sorry, I don't usually discuss religion with people I don't know very well. You know how it can be such a hot topic."

"I'm sorry, I try to avoid discussing religion, especially during election years."

"Oh, you're having a crisis of faith? Are you looking for alternative spiritual paths?"

"Well, we're very spiritual but maybe not in what you would call a mainstream religion. I would prefer not to go into it any further."

"I'm sorry, but I don't feel comfortable discussing that."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I could care less what religion people are, if I've known them for years and they are good people. The first time they asked, I would have responded with what religion I am and be done with it. What's the big deal or secret?
If it wasn't something they "approved" of then a bigger issue would have come to light and we would no longer be friends obviously. I'm not sure what you are trying to conceal, you are not very clear here....are you an athiest, then say that. Or..... directly ask..."why is it so important for you to know what religion I am"......."why do you keep asking me?" OR....state it out right.."can you please stop asking me what religion I am." Nip it in the bud. The more elusive or secretive you are, the more people will probe. I just don't get why this is such an issue for you. If you'd rather keep quiet and not get into it, be politically correct and pick a religion that will satisfy the masses asking, untrue as it may be, and be done with it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I am Lutheran. I don't look at that as a label. That is part of who I am. Do I push that on others? Nope. I ask because I'm genuinely curious and I might ask more questions if your beliefs are different than mine. Not because I'm trying to "recruit" you, it's because I'm interested. It's what makes you, you. That is how people get to know each other.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I find that people who are hung up on other people's religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are immature in their own beliefs. Everyone NOT believing the same thing makes these people feel insecure. They need validation via agreement. This makes sense when talking about children; adults should have matured beyond this but many don't. So...that's what I think motivates some people to ask, and ask more than once.

If you really want to shut those people down, perhaps you can pick a label that works for you and say it with confidence. "We are atheists" or "we are agnostic" or "we are UU" or "we don't believe in organized religion" or whatever. I get the sense that the people you are asking are interpreting your response as one that leaves a door open. So name your beliefs just like those who profess to be Christian or Jewish or whatever do and maybe that will prevent people from feeling like whatever you are saying is an invitation to further discussion.

FWIW, I don't care what other people believe. It's handy to know who celebrates Christmas, who celebrates Hanukkah, who celebrates both or neither, which colleagues are fasting during Ramadan etc. but that's just more about understanding people on a social level. I don't judge their beliefs or seek to convert them.

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answers from Chicago on

I just tell people we are atheists and humanists. They usually shut up then.

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answers from Dover on

Maybe a "Why do you want to know?" or "Does that make a difference?" may stop the questions. But maybe some have asked in an effort to not offend you or maybe they want to ask you to attend some event or even ask you to be Godparents or guardians to their children if you share their beliefts (because that is where your religion would be important to them).

Most people figure if you aren't Christian (in any form) then you must be something else...even if that something else is nothing else.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

If I asked a friend any question I would expect an answer. I think it is human nature to want to know the unknown. If someone asks, and your answer is evasive, or you just say nevermind or none of your business, suddenly it becomes a mystery that needs to be solved. If you answered Hindu or Catholic or Agnostic then curiosity would be satisfied and that would be that. That is my best guess as to why anyone would seem so interested and ask repeatedly about your religion.

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answers from Chicago on

What difference does it make?

It makes a lot of difference!

Religion, or choosing no religion is a part of who you are. Your core beliefs are who you are.

I think being the same religion as someone else gives you something in common that you can share. There's a great feeling in fellowship. I think it's even a nice feeling if you share the same non-beliefs.

I think asking someone what their religion is a legitimate question. It's just a way to see if you have something else in common.

If you're not the same religion, or have different beliefs, it doesn't mean you can't be friends! Sometimes it's even nice to learn about a different religion than yours.

If your religion is a private thing, you can just say "That's a private matter, I'd rather not say." If they keep asking, you can say "Why do you want to know?"

I don't think it's something to get all upset over. People will ask you things, probably because they CARE about you, or they are INTERESTED in you. Why would that be a bad thing?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

If the neighborhood kid keep asking you the same question for a few years, I'm wondering if he's from a fundamentalist, Christian church and is taking personal responsibility for the salvation of your soul. Just a thought. Some church really do teach that its members must save others and until you profess yourself a Christian he may believe he hasn't done his job.

It's annoying, but what can you do?

FYI, yes many religions profess to be the one, true religion and many of its members will believe that to be the case. However, I believe that the majority of people who do belong to a particular religion or church recognize that they have found a community that supports them and challenges them to grow in their faith but don't necessarily agree with everything and don't really believe that their church is better, just better for their family. Most people are much more open-minded. Finally, while people speak of the Judeo/Christian/Muslim God as "Father," we are really taught that God is neither male nor female. Yes, the Christians pray the Lord's Prayer that begins "Our Father ... " but it's just a way of making God more relatable.

You might just have to think about it for awhile and come up with a shocking answer. Kind of like in Pretty Woman when Vivean says things like, "I'm not trying to land him, I'm just using him for sex," or Kit says, "Fifty bucks, Grandpa. For seventy-five, the wife can watch." Ok, I just realized there are quite a few lines like those in that movie! Anyway, a line like that might shut him up!

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answers from Orlando on

So...what religion are you? JK!!! (Sorry, couldn't help it) Seriously though, what ARE you telling them? From what you have said, it seems, a "we are spiritual but not religious" would be a satisfying answer for almost anyone, and then they would leave you alone.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Can't you just say you attend a non-denominational church?

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have never once, in my life, asked someone what their religion is...and I can not envision myself ever doing so, to be honest.

It is NO ONE'S business. Plain and simple.

I would be more than annoyed and probably a LOT less patient and kind, if I and especially my kids, were being repeatedly challenged in this manor.

I am pretty sure a 'This is none of your business and do not ask me about this again, I do not need to justify my beliefs to you or anyone else' would be coming out of my mouth...and probably in a less than respectful and very stern voice.

~Honestly, if these people were 'friends' they probably wouldn't be for much longer and if they are 'family' they would be told right-quick-like to back off!

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answers from Columbus on

The mistake you've made is to answer in the first place. It peaks curiosity. My response is and always has been that religion is a private and personal matter that I prefer to keep to myself. Your answer, while honest, is unusual and thought provoking -- people to whom religion is important will feel the need to interpret, delve deeper, and try to engage you in unwanted debate. The best answer is no answer. If once or twice politely doesn't work, a more direct "this is a matter that is better left as my own business" should work.

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answers from Las Vegas on

To answer your question...pick a religion and tell them already, particularly their religion.

Actually I was curious myself until I reached your punch line. I was trying to guess at what it is. Perhaps it is just the human nature.

My boss interests me in that aspect. Let me start with our first Christmas break, I asked him if he celebrated. He is about 5'5' and has a very common Jewish name. He answered yes, of course I celebrate, placing the awkward feeling on me. I just told him I didn't know and didn't want to insult him if he didn't. Once I got to know him better, I learned that his kids go to Catholic school and we often talk about school as a subject because my daughter goes to a different Catholic school. I know that the Priest at our church married him 15 years ago and his dad stood up after the wedding and said he didn't understand a word the man said. The Priest is from Sri Lanka. I now know he is Syrian.

This year he helped one of the girls get her daughter into their school, but she had reservations since she is not religious. She was in desperate need of a school. I tried talking to her and then he went over and talked to her and came back and shared the conversation with me. He told her he gets it because he is not Catholic either, but it is a good concept and he feels his children have learned good values.

So now I know he is not Jewish and not Catholic, however is Syrian. My conclusion, he is of no denomination. I assume he must be Christian or he would have a hard time with allowing his kids to go to a Christian school and learn under the Catholic Religion.

So I must admit, I have been intrigued all along. At this point he has shared with me that he is not Catholic, which I often wondered about. Now that I have that answer, I really have no more interest.

I think it is just human nature to be curious or intrigued about others. A lot of people are interested to know my ethnicity. Strangers will strike up a conversation and ask. Apparently, I have a strong appearance of a particular race that I have no knowledge of having.

Maybe when the friend is old enough for you to explain things to without getting into trouble with his parents, you can share a little bit of your knowledge. Perhaps he is intrigued.

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answers from Honolulu on

Some people are just pushy, regardless of their religion or other personal beliefs.
When people keep asking, just say "That is personal and private."
If they keep asking just keep saying that same thing.
It is as rude to some people, as asking someone's age or ethnicity.
Just say repeatedly if you have to "That is personal and private..."
Because, it is.

No one has to go around "advertising" what religion they are or what their beliefs are. Some people are just pushy and NOSY and like to get on their soap-box. Or, they are taught to impose their beliefs on others.
And kids who do that... typically are parroting the adults in their life or their parents.

If they don't tell you THEIR religion or religious beliefs, then so what.
They are nosy.
Or start asking them nosy questions too... like "Do you dye your hair?" or "How old are you?" or "Are you a natural blonde?" or "Is that your real hair?" or, "What size Jeans do you wear since you had kids?"

Or, just tell them "Back off you are so rude and redundant and have no manners. By the way, what size jeans do you wear? "

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answers from Boston on

Honestly it makes no difference to me. As long as you are of a kind heart and soul, I do not judge nor care what religion you practice. I am a Christian, but do not ask people what religion they are, or if they say " I don't believe in God" scowl at them and thell them they are going to hell. That's ridiculous. Believe what you want, practice what you want. Just don't harm me or my family physically or mentally, and we will be all good.

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answers from San Francisco on

People like labels. They like to place things in neat little boxes. People will bother you until you label yourself so to save yourself the hassle, either pick a label that has already been invented, or give yourself a brand new one. Regardless, answering the question "What religion are you", with a history of your beliefs or non beliefs is likely to just fly over people's heads and they'll forget because their brains were unable to put you in a specific box.

From your description of yourself, I'd identify you as Agnostic. Just say that one little word "Agnostic" and they'll go away. If they don't want to hang out with you any more because they don't like your label, they can dig a hole and bury themselves in it.

I tell people I'm Pastafarian and when they ask what it is, I tell them to google it because it's difficult to explain. Then I make a wiggly noodle-like hand gesture over my heart and say rAmen before changing the subject.

They can sort it out for themselves. Not my problem.

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answers from San Francisco on

Just tell them you are a Johovah's Witness, that'll shut 'em up! Just kidding people!! Don't dog me. In my family I have Aunts & Uncles of many different religions - Mormon, Jahovah's Witness and Christian.

Me personally? My religion is no one's business but mine and my family's. I chose not to discuss it. It's not a popular choice and I don't care to discuss or defend my beliefs.

Can't you just tell them it's none of their business? You can be polite about it but just make it clear that you're not discussing it.

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answers from Richmond on

when we are out with our daughter near christmas time, and strangers approach asking our two year old what santa is bringing them, we tell them, we are jewish(..however, we are not) but we too dont believe what religion we practice or dont practice is a strangers personal business. and yes, we too have endured strangers asking prying or leading questions about our religious choices.its not their business..period. now, if i know you personally, and i know you are not going to try to drag me or my child to your favorite church or spend hours boring me to tears "testifying" to me, i will be happy to listen to your personal religious beliefs, as long as i have equal time and i talk first.
K. h.

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answers from Detroit on

People are confused because they dont understand it, because it sounds like you made up your own, which is fine....
I dont have a label either. I am Christian, but I am not Catholic or Baptist. And I am ok with that and proud of it.
I read and believe in the bible.
I was raised Catholic, but unfortunately that didnt do much for me. I am not judging Baptist in any way, but I feel like some of their beliefs and actions contradict the Bible, and choose not to be a part of that.
To be honest with you, there are bits and pieces of all of them, that I do not understand where their thoughts are coming from.
But again, that is ok with me, I just choose not to be a part of it and teach my children that way.
I havent really had this issue come up to be honest with you. It really is none of any ones business.
I find it weird that this is a reoccurring problem for you.

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answers from Dallas on

Maybe a good catch all phrase "We have a personal relationship with God" - no need to clarify further. And if they ask what religion, "we don't participate in organized religion; our spiritual life is a personal journey". It's the truth, and anything further is not their business.

I personally find the saving/converting annoying, and find that a person who walks the walk "speaks" much more loudly than the ones who talk the talk.

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answers from Austin on

This is an honest question that many people ask..right up there with what do you do for a living. I would not be offended by it. It's not meant to put you down. People just want to know you better, and a person's faith to some degree defines them, what they believe, etc. If you have no particular faith, just simply state that.
And for the record, Mormonism is not a sect of Christianity. Those are two very different religions with very different beliefs.

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answers from Minneapolis on

You might want to read "Raising Freethinkers" by Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas and Jan Devor. It's a parenting advice book for nonreligious parents in these types of situations because others have had the same frustrations you are having.

Also, I've found that the shortest answer is usually the best in situations like those. You may be trying to give more detail than the questioners want, or can handle, especially when they are children. Or, you may not be comfortable with your answer and the listener hears that and so keeps questioning. So, decide on a short answer for this question and state it with conviction.

I used to answer similar to you, that I wasn't a Christian, but over the years I've become comfortable stating the truth and that is that I am an atheist.

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answers from Williamsport on

Sounds to me like you live among VERY strange people to be honest. Our family has no certain religion and no one asks us about it. Ever. Most of the people in our small town are Christians. Many go to church. Still, none of them bother us or any of the other non-church goers. I believe in God and teach the kids about all religions, but we don't go to church (except once in a while or as guests). It's a non-issue. I sent my daughter to a Christian pre-K where most of the families also attended church. I was asked all the time to attend, or where I attend, and I would cheerfully say, "We don't attend a regular church" and that was that. No one bugged us. My family on my mom's side is extremely Fundamentalist Christian, and they feel we're "not saved" and pray for us all the time, but they don't question us or anything.

I'm just curious why everyone is in your business so much? Have you been performing odd rituals in your front yard? (just joking). Possibly something you are doing is making this an issue...or else these people are just exceptionally bored and nosy....not sure what's going on but the less you entertain this type of questioning the better. Many many many many people are not religious. Many have their own beliefs that don't fit into a label. It really shouldn't be such an issue-I would point that out next time to someone questioning you, like, "You know, it's so odd to me how many people here ask us that. We don't have a certain religion." and leave it at that.

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answers from Tulsa on

Christians are supposed to be recruiting new believers so maybe they are trying to save you. ???
It is weird to keep asking the same question. I would keep repeating "It is rude to ask the same question."

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answers from Erie on

Answer with a question, "Why do you want to know?" "What is it about religion that's so important to you that you must know mine?" And keep asking until they leave you alone. Or join a UU church and then you'll have an answer that suits everyone (I'm kinda joking with that one, but they do accept everyone and it's a good answer to get them to stop asking, if what they truly are looking for IS an answer, which is probably not the case, they probably want to convert you.)

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answers from Santa Barbara on


Recently the Dalai Llama said that religion is no longer adequate. If you google this, you can get an article that details why- and for me this hits the nail on the head. Further on in the article, it is mentioned that Dalai Lama likes to use a metaphor to describe the difference between ethics and religion.

"is like the difference between water and tea. Ethics without religious content is water, a critical requirement for health and survival. Ethics grounded in religion is tea, a nutritious and aromatic blend of water, tea leaves, spices, sugar and, in Tibet, a pinch of salt.
"But however the tea is prepared, the primary ingredient is always water," he says. "While we can live without tea, we can't live without water. Likewise, we are born free of religion, but we are not born free of the need for compassion."

Good luck with other peoples' intrusions. Just be yourself!
Only love prevails...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I found the best response is to say, Im very spiritual, but not dogmatic. Or something similar. Im also not a fan of organized religion, just want my thing, but to each their own. Honestly I never had people take much interest in what religion I am, Im surprised you have been asked so much. You can always say you dont like to discuss politics or religion as a rule, then change the subject.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I was asked in high school what I was.

I was confused. LOL I had no idea what I was being asked. I told my parents what my friend had asked me. I didn't see what difference it made.

I was raised Catholic, but went to Lutheran, don-denom Christian churches, as well as Mormon churches, even a Buddhist temple (gasp! LOL).

My dad told me that if anyone asked me that again, to respond , "I'm a Lion." I took at him confused, to which he replied, "Remember? They fed the Christians to the Lions?" OMG

In all seriousness. No matter WHAT you are, you will be judged and hanged by someone.

I find that the people who want to know so badly are the biggest hypocrites. In my line of work, I have had people ask my if I am a Christian and those people, I come to find out, are usually cheating on their spouses or cheating WITH someone who has a spouse, defrauding someone, etc.They have to TELL everyone that they are Christians. I find that true "Christians" are the ones who never have to say anything.

We took our kids to Saddleback church and some of our friends thought it was cool and yet other friends sent me warnings about the pastor. Really???? I'm spending an HOUR there. We are not drinking the Kool-Aid. Our neighbors are Mormon and we love them. I have friends who are Buddhist. We will be taking our kids to every church we can. Without understanding, we have nothing but judgement. Everyone thinks their religion is the right one. Makes me laugh.

Don't answer them. We have neighbors that ask us how much everything we have bought costs. We don't answer them. I tell people, "You are on a need to know basis and you don't need to know."



answers from Los Angeles on

I rarely ask, or do I get asked, about religion. If church is mentioned, we might ask what church they go to.
We have neighbors who moved in and mentioned how far they were going to have to drive to church. I asked, thinking maybe I could help them find the local church for their religion. They informed they were Christian but didn't belong to any organized denomination. And they were dedicated to their group of like-minded believers and wouldn't be changing. Okay, a little odd (to us), but whatever. Our daughters play together and we are extremely dedicated Christians. The little girl told my daughter they didn't celebrate Halloween or Christmas. Halloween I can understand? But Christmas? My daughter wants to know what kind of Christian doesn't celebrate Christmas? She called her the fake-Christian. She's 10, so I had to tell her that wasn't nice. yikes!
I can tell you, as a Christian, it makes me sad when friends and family members are not Christian. Not that I'm judging them. I accept them and love them. I don't even preach to them. But I do pray for them. Why? Because as Christians we were promised that all believers will be reunited in heaven someday. And, it makes me sad to think they may not be there with me. So, maybe this is why they ask. Hoping your answer will change. Or you will give them an opening to share the word of Christ. Because they love you.
As for the kid, get over it. He's a kid. Kids are curious. They want to understand. And if your kids are giving him vague answers, he's not understanding and it's making him more confused. And maybe he's going back and telling his family, and they're concerned and telling him to find out more.
I think you need to simply say "We don't believe in organized religion" and leave it at that. Or "we don't go to church".



answers from Los Angeles on

It is no one else's business what your family chooses, or does not choose. Why can't you say you do not have a religion, and that is it. This country is so liberal now and everyone is in mixed marriages. Many are raising their kids with no religion. Maybe just say, that you do not have a religion and that you focus yourselves on goodness, honesty, loyalty, caring, generosity, understanding, forgiveness, etc. basically all that religion is supposed to teach about anyway.



answers from San Francisco on

You tell them you aren't comfortable sharing that at this time. If they persist you say...Your not hearing me. We aren't comfortable talking about that--its personal. Please stop asking. If they keep going, you say----Ok, We have made it clear--we are not answering this and will stop hanging out until you respect our decision to not talk about this.

For your kids they can say-- Hey--what religion are you?

Your kid--- I'm not comfortable answering that.

Why not? Its an easy question

Your kid--I am not answering the question. Stop asking.

Come on! Answer us. we want to know!

NO. Stop asking. If you can't respect me enough to stop asking, I am not hangin out anymore.

Hope this helps but keep firm in that you are not comfortable answering. You don't have to say why or anything else.

Also, you could flip it on them and start badgering them with questions---

Why do you want to know so bad?
Why do you care what I believe/
What would you do if I told you?
What is the point??

Then say.....I am still not going to answer the question--but please respect my decision not to share.



answers from Baton Rouge on

It doesn't matter a rat's arse to me what religion a person practices or what spiritual label they put on themselves.
Just play nicely with others and don't try to convert me. That's when we're going to have issues.
Have you tried answering the question with a question?
"What religion are you?"
--"Why do you want to know?"
See where the conversation goes from there. If it turns into a conversion attempt, you can shut it down.



answers from Seattle on

I say we are non-practicing catholics. Really we are atheists and not religious at all... but when we visit family members in the south and their neighbors or friends ask...it appears less offensive. We both grew up catholic and never formally renounced, so I guess it's not even a lie.
I know what you're saying though... it is my experience as well that many people are much more accepting and less likely to try to proselytize you if you tell them that you have a different religion. Having no religion, whether you have your own spiritual beliefs or like me, none at all, appears to be both offending to them and makes you a target for various attempts to "save" you...

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