Re: How to deal with religious friends?

Atheists, agnostics and people who don't believe in god

A space to discuss issues, thoughts and feelings relating to your atheism or agnosticism and your cancer experience, without worrying about upsetting members who are religious

How to deal with religious friends?

No. of entries: 17 | No.of favourites: 0 | Posted on 16 Jun 2013 07:02
  • Hello, I can see there aren't many people in this group but maybe someone will read this with some advice for me. 

    I am finding it increasingly hard to deal with my religious friends.  I'm not a religious person myself but I am prepared to have an open mind on the subject.  It all started off well.  A few friends said could they say prayers for me?  I said yes fine, I told them I'm not religious but that would be thoughtful of them.  My husband and I begun to be amused by the emails on a Sunday as prayers were being said for me in churches of varying denominations.  We decided that it is probably helping our friends more than it is helping me, but let them get on with it, it's their way of showing that they care. 

    Then prayer cards started arriving in the post.  There have been attempts to encourage me to discover God.  And now I have just had an email that annoyed me from a friend who informs me that it is entirely down to God if I am spared or not!  That has made me very cross.  I think that the skill of the team looking after me should be considered too! 

    How do I now try to get out of this enthusiastic praying without offending anyone?  It seems to be getting out of hand and I didn't realise your name and illness was actually read out in church and strangers would be praying for me too!! 

    Margaret

  • Hi Margaret, Some people can be so insensitive when they believe their God should be yours too. It's an obnoxious form of tunnel vision. The "friend" who emailed you has really overstepped the mark though & if it were down to me, that email would be returned with one question: "Would you have sent this if I had broken my leg?" People seem to think that a friend with cancer needs to make their peace with the Almighty asap. Damned cheek! Who are they to foist their beliefs on you when you are at your most vulnerable? I'd pointedly ignore all the cards, although it's probably too late to stop the zealous prayers in churches. You could ask that your name be omitted & replaced with something like "Our friend M.", or "Our friend known to God", but I suspect that now they have the religious bit between their teeth it 's probably too late. Can you quietly withdraw yourself from their circle for a while? If it weren't so offensive it would be funny! Love & hugs, Twirly xxx
  • Hi Margaret, I have the same issue with my Brother, who is a militant religious nut (that he found religion after mental illness set in I will draw no conclusions); I do not believe you can do this without some offence.

     

    I ended up having to be really assertive (including making him walk 3 miles home for breaking my car religious free zone.

     

    it is everybodys choice on their beliefs, just keep it to yourself!!!

     

    CRB

  • I am somewhere between atheist and agnostic, in that I don't believe anything, and especially not the definitions of God that are used in general religion, and yet I admit the possibility of something. And indeed having studied in an amateur way philosophy, the need for there to be inevitably 'more to life than meets the eye' is very apparent.

    The problem I have with deeply religious people is that they find it inconceivable that anyone can NOT have some sort of faith or belief. So they regard Atheism as either denial of religion, or as some sort of alternative faith in - say - science. What is so insulating to them, and upsetting, is the truth - that the average atheist spends approximately no time whatsoever considering matters religious at all, any more then they spend serious amounts of time wondering about their DNA make up. Or any other niche issue.

    This, they conclude for their particular perspective, is terrible, and represents a soul so lost that it doesn't even need to know there is a God.

    And so of course life changing stuff like cancer that dies cause people to think about Life, Death and the 'Eternal Verities' is siezed upon as a chance to say 'see, you need this stuff after all to face death with'.

    A friend of mine revealed she had 'prayed for me' when I got TC. Maybe it worked better than she knew. I attended her funeral on Thursday. Pancreatic cancer got her. And she went down as I recovered. :-(

    There is a way to harmonise the scientific positions and the religious one, and it lies in metaphysics. To put it simply, science logic and reason cannot account for why things are, and why they are the way that they are, in the final analysis. There is always a choice at some level as to what is 'more true' to you than anything else. The rational materialist says it is the world of his senses and the objects therein. And his science is the study of the relationship between them all. The Creationist says that the most real things is the Word of God, and the only true description of it is in the Bible.  So if you say that the palaeontological evidence is that dinosaurs roamed the earth 200,000 years ago his answer is that you are mistaken: the world was created a mere 5000 years ago, and God, or probably Satan, fixed it up to fool scientists and tempt them away from the Truth, by stuffing it full of apparently old dinosaur bones.

    This is true impasse: the only resolution is to understand that at some level we can choose what we take to be ultimately true, and we must choose what we take to be true, if the world is to be anything more than a chaotic formless and meaningless confusion of experience.

    At some level the religious person picks on one aspect, and makes it important: a central feature in their lives, and how they see the world. Others do not, and perhaps regard what they themselves can see feel and touch - the common sense approach - to be more reasonable.

    There is no way to tell, which is right. However in any given context, one may be more useful than the other.

    I myself, have moved beyond either view. I understand that in order to interact with the world, and actually be a human being one has to have some view, but I also understand that the view is also less than the whole, and limited in scope. So I have, over the years, collected a great grab bag of tools and views culled from science, philosophy, art, nature, religion, mythology and magic. And I use whichever one fits whatever I am trying to do, yea even unto praying to non-existent gods. Prayers make a difference. At the very least to the person who is praying. When you are praying you aren't out slitting someone's throat , drinking, or gambling your life savings on a horse race. AsS a minimum. Prayers, meditations and rituals change the person who is performing them. That's a tool.

    They may also do more. I keep an open mind.

    It pays perhaps to keep an open mind.

    Respect your religious friends, and yes understand that even if what they do, is perhaps more about relieving themselves of any sin they may have incurred, still in many cases, their wishes are kindly meant, and assure them that you have after a long period of reflection and study of metaphysics, come to the conclusions that whilst the religious viewpoint has great merit, and is espoused by many people who deserve utmost respect, you are of the opinion that it is but a single way to proceed, and in the end do not all ways lead to God, according to their tenets.?

    Once some Jehovah's witnesses knocked on the door. "Had I", they wanted to know, "heard the Word of God?" I assured them that yes, I had, and in fact was in constant communication with Him on a daily basis. " Oh, and how do you achieve that?" "I talk to the little birds, and they talk back to me. Are they not also God's creatures?"

    The rapidity with which they left, was almost miraculous....

    By which I realised that they were not really truly religious. Even if I were stark raving bonkers, they should at least have stopped and chatted.

    And of course many saints have communicated with the birds and animals. Francis of Assisi, is perhaps the mots famous.

    The impressions to give to the nice devout, is that you are 'on the right path, just its a different one' and to the pious hypocrites, that you are probably even less sincere and more overtly a raving religious lunatic than they profess to be.

    This way honour is satisfied, the good people like you more, and the bad ones leave you in peace.

    And really, that's what you want isn't it?

     

     

     

  • I am somewhere between atheist and agnostic, in that I don't believe anything, and especially not the definitions of God that are used in general religion, and yet I admit the possibility of something. And indeed having studied in an amateur way philosophy, the need for there to be inevitably 'more to life than meets the eye' is very apparent.

    The problem I have with deeply religious people is that they find it inconceivable that anyone can NOT have some sort of faith or belief. So they regard Atheism as either denial of religion, or as some sort of alternative faith in - say - science. What is so insulating to them, and upsetting, is the truth - that the average atheist spends approximately no time whatsoever considering matters religious at all, any more then they spend serious amounts of time wondering about their DNA make up. Or any other niche issue.

    This, they conclude for their particular perspective, is terrible, and represents a soul so lost that it doesn't even need to know there is a God.

    And so of course life changing stuff like cancer that dies cause people to think about Life, Death and the 'Eternal Verities' is siezed upon as a chance to say 'see, you need this stuff after all to face death with'.

    A friend of mine revealed she had 'prayed for me' when I got TC. Maybe it worked better than she knew. I attended her funeral on Thursday. Pancreatic cancer got her. And she went down as I recovered. :-(

    There is a way to harmonise the scientific positions and the religious one, and it lies in metaphysics. To put it simply, science logic and reason cannot account for why things are, and why they are the way that they are, in the final analysis. There is always a choice at some level as to what is 'more true' to you than anything else. The rational materialist says it is the world of his senses and the objects therein. And his science is the study of the relationship between them all. The Creationist says that the most real things is the Word of God, and the only true description of it is in the Bible.  So if you say that the palaeontological evidence is that dinosaurs roamed the earth 200,000 years ago his answer is that you are mistaken: the world was created a mere 5000 years ago, and God, or probably Satan, fixed it up to fool scientists and tempt them away from the Truth, by stuffing it full of apparently old dinosaur bones.

    This is true impasse: the only resolution is to understand that at some level we can choose what we take to be ultimately true, and we must choose what we take to be true, if the world is to be anything more than a chaotic formless and meaningless confusion of experience.

    At some level the religious person picks on one aspect, and makes it important: a central feature in their lives, and how they see the world. Others do not, and perhaps regard what they themselves can see feel and touch - the common sense approach - to be more reasonable.

    There is no way to tell, which is right. However in any given context, one may be more useful than the other.

    I myself, have moved beyond either view. I understand that in order to interact with the world, and actually be a human being one has to have some view, but I also understand that the view is also less than the whole, and limited in scope. So I have, over the years, collected a great grab bag of tools and views culled from science, philosophy, art, nature, religion, mythology and magic. And I use whichever one fits whatever I am trying to do, yea even unto praying to non-existent gods. Prayers make a difference. At the very least to the person who is praying. When you are praying you aren't out slitting someone's throat , drinking, or gambling your life savings on a horse race. AsS a minimum. Prayers, meditations and rituals change the person who is performing them. That's a tool.

    They may also do more. I keep an open mind.

    It pays perhaps to keep an open mind.

    Respect your religious friends, and yes understand that even if what they do, is perhaps more about relieving themselves of any sin they may have incurred, still in many cases, their wishes are kindly meant, and assure them that you have after a long period of reflection and study of metaphysics, come to the conclusions that whilst the religious viewpoint has great merit, and is espoused by many people who deserve utmost respect, you are of the opinion that it is but a single way to proceed, and in the end do not all ways lead to God, according to their tenets.?

    Once some Jehovah's witnesses knocked on the door. "Had I", they wanted to know, "heard the Word of God?" I assured them that yes, I had, and in fact was in constant communication with Him on a daily basis. " Oh, and how do you achieve that?" "I talk to the little birds, and they talk back to me. Are they not also God's creatures?"

    The rapidity with which they left, was almost miraculous....

    By which I realised that they were not really truly religious. Even if I were stark raving bonkers, they should at least have stopped and chatted.

    And of course many saints have communicated with the birds and animals. Francis of Assisi, is perhaps the mots famous.

    The impressions to give to the nice devout, is that you are 'on the right path, just its a different one' and to the pious hypocrites, that you are probably even less sincere and more overtly a raving religious lunatic than they profess to be.

    This way honour is satisfied, the good people like you more, and the bad ones leave you in peace.

    And really, that's what you want isn't it?

     

     

     

  • In terms of avoiding your name being read out in church, all you can do is ask them not to.  If it's the churches e-mailing to say that you've been prayed for/sending you cards/encouraging to discover God, a simple "don't contact me again, ever" e-mail will hopefully do the job.  If it's your friends - again, you can only ask them to stop and explain it's annoying/upsetting you, though you'll probably want to find a tactful way of doing this!

    I'm not bothered if people want to pray for me at home (I don't see any chance of it doing me any harm or good, so if it makes them feel better...) but I wouldn't be happy at the idea of having my name read out in public.  And some of the other contacts you mention would really hack me off.

    It's worth noting that religious people can be tactful (and atheists can be tactless, of course) so hopefully your friends' beliefs aren't a reason why they can't start to offer more useful support.  It's possible that your friends don't realise how you feel about what they're doing.  On the other hand, if people consistently behave badly, even after being asked not to - whether due to religious faith or some other reason - you may want to react appropriately.


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  • Hello Margaret.  Although I shouldn't really be posting in this group at all ( I am a Christian, but don't go pushing it as it's my personal thing ) but I feel that if you are becoming upset by people's prayers and such like then just politely ask them to stop.

    When I was diagnosed with cancer, my friends in Bahrain were all concerned and asked if they could pray for me over there .... so I had all denominations of the Christian faith, both Sunni and Shia Muslim, Hindi and Indian faiths etc all saying prayers for me in their relevant churches, mosques and temples. I just felt moved that so many people cared about me ....

    So just say no more prayers and cards thank you ....

    Joycee

     

  • Hello Margaret,

    That you ask this question at all shows what a caring and sensitive person you are in not wanting to offend your religious friends. Some people, whether religious or not just do not realise the daft and hurtful things they say. There is a section on here called "Dumb things people say"  and I think your email received would have fitted in there quite nicely! Sadly there have been no entries on there for over 12 months.

    Although I am not religious, I have many fiends that are and they have said to me that they will pray for me. I took this as being their way of saying that they cared about my outcome and thanked them.

    I;ve never received prayer cards, but I suppose that is just another way of saying I'm thinking of you.; if that is true then obviously not many people are thinking of me!

    It is annoying when people try to make you discover God, but I suppose if they fervently believe in God and live their lives by their religion, they are really only showing their concern for what they believe is your well-being. You just have to thank them and ask them to stop. If that offends them that is their problem not yours.

    Good luck, and all power to your MDT,

    Colin xxx


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