Does it offend you when other people's religion is "true?"

I really don’t understand this sort of thinking, except as insecurity or defensiveness. Inthis thread, a lot of people are getting worked up over a bumper sticker that says, essentially “I’m going to heaven,” with the unspoken corrolary of “you can, too, if you share my belief system.”

I’ve seen this attitude any number of times in many places: “How dare you claim that your holy book is sacred/that your religion is true/ that my religion is not,” and I truly do not grasp why this gets people upset, other than sheer insecurity. I’m NOT talking about people who are upset with obnoxious religious folk; I’m talking about people who regard it as inherently obnoxious to think that one’s religion is “true.”

Five minutes with a world almanac will tell me that most of the planet has different religious beliefs than I, and that there are several billion who can be safely said to think I am fundamentally wrong to the point of eternal damnation. I take it as a given that I’m going to run into them occasionally.

I’ve seen several “There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet” bumperstickers. I disagree, but I’ve no reason to begrudge them … they think so and want to tell me. No worries. I work very closely (two-man department) with a devout Muslim (white-guy convert) who, I’m fairly sure, thinks I’m hellbound. But he’s a fine guy and I actually wish he’s talk about his religion more. I had a Buddist student give me a brochure that basically said that I’d never have peace or happiness unless I followed Buddhist principles. I’ve had old-line Catholics tell me that, as a Protestant, I was not a true Christian. Heck, I’ve run into as many evangelical Vegans as the next guy.

Am I supposed to be offended by these people? Because given that they’re mostly all nice folk, none of these things upset or offended me in the least.

So, a poll which may end up in GD:

Does it offend you when people – otherwise completely cordial – say that their religion is true and correct (and that yours, by inference, may not be), and why?

If they are younger than say, thirty-five years old(my age) or so, then it saddens me, and I might (depending on the social situation) try to talk to them about considering changing their attitude.

If they’re older than that, then it also saddens me, but I’ll likely give them up as a lost cause.

Offends? IMHO, that’s a little strong for what is essentially ignorance. Many of you Dopers, I’m sure, would be less forgiving, and in a way I admire that. Maybe I’m just wimping out.

So all religion is ignorance?

Sorry, I can’t do the benign-condescension thing either; I mean, they could be right.

Not at all (or at least not necessarily). But the “we have a monopoly on the truth” part is, especially if that truth comes from some book somewhere whose very human and self-contradictory origins are denied.

At the risk of hijacking my own thread … that sounds to me an awful lot like “I have enough of a monopoly on truth to know they’re wrong.”

It’s sort of a hijack, but this phrase is sort of the central tenet of the faith, the Islamic version of “and God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” It’s sort of a personal testament of faith, not really a command to other people.

I agree with you in general, though. If you don’t believe in my religion, then, logically, anything I say about it should be irrelevant to you. If you don’t think God exists, why would you be offended if I told you you were going to hell?

People get worked up over this, I think, because the extremes of religious prosetlyzing are very bad. Truth be told, it doesn’t hurt me to have Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door, it doesn’t hurt anyone, and people who play mean pranks on them or scream obscenities at them are just assholes who deserve whatever they get. A civilized person will say “Thanks so much but we’re not interested” and close the door.

But I think people’s negative reactions are in part created by those who try to FORCE their religion upon others, or are rude and nasty about it - a group that is sadly far too large and influential. In a recent thread a person talked about how after a beloved relative died, a co-worker implied they were in hell because they weren’t a born-again Christian. Even if you don’t believe in hell that’s an insensitive thing to say at a time like that and it makes people feel defensive about the issue in general.

Fraid so. While it is not possible to prove god doesn’t exist, or that one religion is superior to another, it is possible to prove that a religious book has clear contradictions, even when you dismiss those explained away by apologists. Also,

Problem is, one causes the other. A holy book stating that only one group gets to go to heaven doesn’t promote a “live and let live” attitude, it promotes a “I don’t want people to go to hell, so I will preach about hell-fire to the kids I baby-sit” attitude.

Is what you say logical? Is my telling them they could be wrong equivalent to their telling me I must be wrong? You’re right in that I suspect that they are wrong, but my trust in empirical science is such that I’d want to see more evidence of the truth of their beliefs than just “book X says so (except for the contradictory or mistranslated parts I choose to ignore)”. How much my trust in empirical science can be equated with their belief in that book is debatable. But even if you were to equate them, my attitude of open-mindedness would still contrast with their closed-minded certainty.

Yes, they could be right. But, so could an atheist. If you will allow people to “say that their religion is true and correct (and that yours, by inference, may not be),” then you must also allow an atheist the same privilege.

Personally, I don’t care if people try to tell me that their religion is ‘true’. I am an agnostic, and don’t really care one way or the other about religion. I care about the truth, but I don’t think it will ever be found (or can even be found) with regard to superior beings or God regardless of the amount of reading books, and thinking about it we do. Different religions are just another social group that people belong to in the same way as they belong to any other club as far as I’m concerned. I will, of course, get irritated if they continually try to force me into their way of thinking - they need to realize that not everyone is going to feel the same way as them. Being harassed about anything isn’t very pleasurable and understandably upsets people.

People cling to their allegiances and perspective to the truth, and generally I respect that. The only time I might be described as offended – although frankly “annoyed” is more accurate – are when:

  1. Evangelism and zealousness is on my doorstep trying to convert me

  2. My beliefs so offend someone else I am seen as an enemy even when my actions and personal conduct are legal, circumspect and do not intrude on their rights at all.

A little. Evangelical religious folk only bother me about 1/2 as much as smug, condescending atheists, though; at least the religious nuts want to convert you to make you happier, so their hearts are in the right places if not their heads. Level-headed religious and non-religious people who aren’t convinced you’re living in ignorance are far better, in any case.

See this current thread:

for the testimony of a few fellow Dopers who are much happier now that they’ve “converted” from being religious to being agnostic or athiest.

It’s really not so much the “my religion is the truth” attitude that bugs me, because that leaves room for it to be one truth of many. It’s the “my religion is the ONE and ONLY truth, you HEATHEN! YOU are going to BURN in HELL if you don’t AGREE with ME and you’ll DESERVE it!” attitude that gets to me. Of course, right up there with that attitude is the one I encounter among fellow Wiccans and other Pagans, which is “Jeez LOUEEZE, those guys are STUPID and EVIL and they’re OPPRESSING me! And I’M RIGHT and they’re WRONG!” :rolleyes:

I’m generally bothered when people claim to know THE TRUTH and refuse to apply a little healthy skepticism to their beliefs and the motivations behind them. And this applies to everybody, not just religious people. It’s not so much about whether or not someone’s trying to change the way I think; I’m just bothered by arrogance.

FWIW, I have very little trouble with the “There is no God but [deity’s name] blah blah blah”, and I’m not particularly bothered by people trying to witness to me (as long as they go away when I ask), but “I’m going to heaven!” really sticks in my craw. I tend to see the former as a statement of belief and an attempt to help me, which is fine, while the latter says “I’m right! Hah!”

Well, if it’s said smarmily, sure; but what if its simply said with quiet confidence?

See, this is exactly the discussion I don’t want to have. By piutting it in caps you’re suggesting the guy is waving his finger in your face and being a jerk. Aggressive pricks bother everyone.

The question I’m asking is whether you are upset/angered/offended when a perfectly, nice, kind person – perhaps a grandmotherly librarian – says, in the normal course of conversation: “Well, as a devout Theorbalist, I of course believe that all who do not bow to the Sacred Yak shall be cast aside into the Outer Flames. Another Thin Mint?”

It makes for an awkward spot in the conversation, sure, and maybe a passing twing of annoyance; but I really don’t see why an educated, tolerant person should get worked up over that.

Well, my impression from your OP (I apologize if I misunderstood) was that the “I’m going to heaven” message was on a bumper sticker. It could be a knee jerk reaction to the medium, but I’ll say it anyway: bumper stickers do not lend themselves to an interpretation of quiet confidence. Not even the ones that talk about random acts of kindness blah blah blah yackity smackity, and I’m actually behind that outlook in a general sense.

I don’t know if “offend” is the right word for how this situation makes me feel. I suppose it does a little, but it also kinda pisses me off.

I’m reminded of a time about five or ten years ago when my brother and father were talking with a couple of missionaries from a particular sect that were trying to convert him. One of them made the slip of saying something to the effect of “I know this is true…” and then justified himself by saying he prayed about it or something. It really set my father off, and he told him so. I don’t see this all that often, but when I do, it really gets to me, just like it did to my father.

I don’t know if the word “agnostic” aptly describes me, but I don’t think anyone can be certain that God exists, let alone that the way one has chosen to worship Him is the one true faith. And by that, I mean “certain” in that one has sufficient justification to convince anyone of sound mind, the way a teacher can convince his or her students that 2 + 2 = 4…that’s something he or she can be “certain” of.

That aside, I think the only way one can really be sure of God’s existence, or of His preferred system of worship, is for God himself to convey it to him or her. Obviously, the idea of this happening such that others may partake of the enlightenment…well, that’s just not how it works, right?

Basically, if someone says “I believe…” [something about their personal theological convictions], it doesn’t really offend me. It’s when someone says “I know” (to someone who doesn’t believe the same thing, of course), thereby suggesting all others are wrong…that’s what bothers me.

It doesn’t bother me,difference is the spice of life. They have the right to belive what they wish,I am not swayed by their beliefs one way or the other. I wouldn’t take their medicine and wouldn’t insist they take mine.


Religious peoples’ certainty of admission to heaven never really angers or offends me, as while I appreciate that different religions can teach us some useful lessons on how to conduct ourselves (and some terribly unhelpful ones too…) it has always been the concept of the afterlife which seems the most implausible, deluded piece of nonsense going. A shady (eternal)life insurance policy where you pay your premiums regardless of the fact that only one of the providers (ie. deities) pays out on bodily demise.

I won’t get offended, as long as that pious lot keep their bickering down to an acceptable level.