Responding to Christians

“I have handled what I felt was their ridiculous religiosity in many ways and some have panned out, while others brought me lasting condemnation.”

Question from Patricia:
Most of my family are born again christians, and have been for at least 34 years now. I would like a good response to my father and brother especially,when they answer their phone with Praise God! I have been listening to their ignorant rants for far too long! I would appreciate whatever help you could give. Thanks.

Answer by Andrea:
As a child brought up in a born-again Christian family, and now a proud born-again atheist (after all we’re all born atheist until the culture we’re born into gets their mitts on us), I just want to say, I feel your pain.
I have been maligned by many family members, including my (now) ex-husband, simply because I didn’t subscribe to their delusions.

I have handled what I felt was their ridiculous religiosity in many ways and some have panned out, while others brought me lasting condemnation.

You don’t say how old you are, but when I was in my early 20s, I declined their offers of a Bible as present, my aunts never forgave me for it.

Another aunt now knows that I will not pray to a god for my food at her dinner table (who would I pray to? I once asked her), but she and I are still good friends to this day and get along great provided we don’t talk religion.

When I told my dad I didn’t think there was a god he shook his finger in my face and told me in a quavering fire-and-brimstone voice that I could “rest assured” there was a god. We also never discuss religion anymore. I also don’t want him to spend his old age worrying that I’ll be frying in hell for eternity.
My mom and sister and other family members, in the mean time, are becoming increasingly unreligious, so at least there’s balance.

I could make this into a very long post but to spare you, I’ll just make a few points:

1) If you start trying to talk to people into not believing, you run the risk of turning out to be as obnoxious as born-again Christians and missionaries and anyone else who claims to be privy to “the truth.”
2) Also, maybe your dad and brother don’t have much else in their lives or even hate their lives, and the thought of a heaven is the one thing that keeps them from the depths of depression.
3) The way you approach it should depend on your knowledge of what the person can handle, and approach it with compassion and sensitivity. I have often explained to friends my reasons for my disbelief and at least three of them plunged back into their addictions with drugs and alcohol, so I do feel guilty about that, even though a majority of born-agains seem to be somewhat unstable anyway, so many of my friends say those friends who went back off the deep end would have likely ended up there regardless of what I said about their belief systems.
4) Always be courteous and polite and don’t let yourself be drawn into arguments. You are the more critical thinker, you are the bigger person.
5) There are up to 17% nonreligious in this country, and atheism is the fastest growing ideology in not only the US, but globally, so you’re in good company.

You are a true critical thinker, and that counts a lot in this world.

Answer by SmartLX:
If you are in the mood for confrontation and you’re just looking for straight comebacks, they’re endless, though they’re not all terribly good.

“Praise God!”
“Which one?”

“Praise God!”
“Oh, sorry Praise, must have a wrong number, I was trying to call my brother.”

“Praise God!”
“Why, does he still have low self-esteem after all this time?”

“Praise God!”
“Okay…He’s so loving and good that the whole thing with Jephthah burning his own daughter as a sacrifice was probably a BIG misunderstanding.” (Much is made of the fact that in the other story God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son. Jephthah wasn’t so lucky.)

2 thoughts on “Responding to Christians”

  1. Response from Patricia:

    Thanks Andrea your reply is so reasonable and logical. I have to say listening to someone that sees things the way I do is refreshing. I’m fifty by the way and have been dealing with my so called born again christian family since I was about fourteen. I was raised catholic before my brother discovered that we were doing it all wrong. It seems we were being taught by false profits. He really lost his mind, I remember sitting at the dinner table listening to his rant along with his friend that he had brought home ( he was a preacher). It’s a long story, I call it the beginning of the end to what was to be truthful never a normal family. I was a skeptic and questioned everything, That’s why I’m an atheist, and have been since I was twenty-one. Although I don’t like being labeled, it seems that the one that fits. I believe everyone should have the right to their own beliefs or dis-beliefs. I don’t know about you but I not here to judge anyone. I just wish that people that practice religion would keep it to themselves, and show the same respect I afford them. I’m speaking of my family mostly. My brother by the way became a preacher and up until about two years ago had a church here in Knoxville. He now lives somewhere in Texas that is when he’s not on the road doing tent revivals. My parents are so proud, but he preaches intolerance and hatred if you ask me. He follows this crazy end of times minister David Terrell. I’m sorry I can go on and on. Thanks again for your practical advice, I’ll try to use it the next time we have a family-get together. I can only hope my family wakes up, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  2. And from Andrea:

    Hi Pat,
    Thanks for your response.
    You being 50 shows an incredible amount of restraint, I thought you were far younger, and that’s not a bad thing either.
    Yes, it’s funny how the religious can be so hypocritical, but I discovered through a lot of research that Christians are indeed compassionate — when it comes to the in-group.
    In other words, if you don’t believe what they believe, you’re damned for all eternity — and they’ll have a good belly laugh about it in the process.
    To find more people that think in a more rational manner, try running a search on the internet for Knoxville and freethinkers or atheists.
    I can also connect you to some groups in your area. It’s good to have community. Especially in your (often narrow-minded) part of the world.
    Best to you Pat,
    PS I also went to Catholic school (before I got expelled), and was appalled at the hypocrisy. It solidified my atheism, so at least I can give thanks for that. 😉

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