I need to vent about my proselytizing FIL

My FIL is very religious. Catholic, but of a very evangelical nature. Our relationship is somewhat strained, but cordial, for a variety of reasons.

He invited me to a Zoom “discussion about life’s big questions.” He SWORE it wasn’t going to be proselytizing, but just a discussion and he wanted people of varying perspectives. I’m an atheist. I reluctantly agreed.

We are 45 minutes into a giant commercial for Jesus. I am the only one (of about 20) who isn’t already committed to the Jesus. And it’s the most ham-fisted crap. The logic seems to be “if you ever don’t know, the answer must be Jesus. Also, all these famous people are Christian, so it must be right.”

I texted him “I thought this wasn’t going to be proselytizing.”

His response was “this isn’t about religion, it’s about Jesus.”

What The Ever Loving Fuck. The things we do for our spouses. (she’s also atheist, but I think my in-laws are in denial about that)

The reason you are still on the call is? I would have been out of there at the first mention of Jesus

Change your background to a pentagram.

My wife loves her parents and doesn’t want to upset them. I am there (or was, as it’s now over) because I love my wife

I would have developed technical problems. When pressed on the subject I would say “it wasn’t about me yanking the cord out of the wall it was about technical problems”.

Some reading for your FIL:


Has she heard of boundaries?

Odd. Catholics tend to be relatively lukewarm about Jesus, at least compared to evangelicals. Mary and the Trinity are more interesting to your typical overbearing Catholic.

Your wife needs to see this, so she knows what you’re going through. It’s not possible to save a Zoom session, is there?

Wait, why are you on this Zoom call and not your wife? Is the assumption that she’s a good Catholic girl, and you’re the only one who needs saving?

Does she know/care what’s going on? Wouldn’t she at least peek over your shoulder to see what her family’s doing to you?


For the record @OldOlds, you were the adult in a very irritating situation. I know you came here to vent, and it’s a good option, because it can be hard to vent to one’s spouse about one’s in-laws without it sounding (at least in some ways) critical of them.

I sympathize, in that my wife’s parents and family are on the right wing side of the spectrum (not rabid, and not anti-vaxx at least, but in general Fox News absorbers), and there is always an underlying tension around family events. (although in general, it’s the other way around, since my wife is much further left than I am on the political spectrum).

So, get it alllllll out. And if something like this happens again, feel free to ‘accidently’ press the mute button/power on the speakers/etc if you do end up stuck in the situation again. And while you shouldn’t heap blame on the spousal unit, do feel free to mention what happened and see if you can scrounge a sympathetic head/neck/shoulder rub, it does wonders!

Please understand that my wife didn’t put me up to this. She wanted to tell him he was over the line, but ever the peace maker, I was being nice to him.

and yes, I think they assume she’s a good Catholic girl.

My suggestion if you get caught in this again is to turn your camera off, mute, turn your speakers way down and do something useful. Like solitaire. Or work. Or look at porn.

Odd how we hear all the time about us obnoxious atheists who just won’t stop bothering true believers.
I feel for you, but my FIL was an atheist.

And hit share screen by accident.

You being the only one not a committed Christian means your father-in-law and his pals set you up for an intervention. It also means he’s a liar and thus is not that concerned about religion other than how he can force others (specifically you) to adhere to a religion.

Yes, it’s possible to record a Zoom session. The app will announce to all attendess that the session is being recorded when you start recording.

There’s your problem right there. Next time, let her.

I don’t think any of this brand of Christian realize just how obnoxious this Christ-rolling approach is. They justify the lies based on some weird belief that the only reason people aren’t Christians is because they have somehow managed to avoid exposure to Jesus and his story (presumably because they’ve been in a coma, in a cave, on Mars), and that like the people in Chick tracts it will just take one Good Christian to mention Jesus and they will fall on their knees and convert on the spot.

And then presumably the Good Christian gets a free toaster or something.

The irony is that this approach will drive more people away from Christ than it attracts, as it shows Christians as being fundamentally dishonest as well as smug and bullying. Why would anyone want to join a religion that turns you into an annoying jerk?

I’m a Christian, and I agree wholeheartedly. Once you know the person is aware of the Christian message, the job of “preach the gospel” is done. The choice is yours. Any attempts to manipulate that choice is dishonest.

I will step in if I think something is misunderstood, whether that something is what the Bible says, what Christians tend to believe, or similar. And, yes, if someone is exploring an aspect of Christianity I have experience with, I’ll talk about that. But that’s all about giving information or “spreading the Word.”

It’s not like Jesus ever tried to trick or pressure anyone into following Him. I’m not sure where this idea came from that it’s the humans’ job to create “conviction” in someone.

Some people of any or no religions are jerks. Nonetheless, we have to live in peace with each other.

(Your line made me think of the old joke, “If a Marine Corps, vegetarian, cross-fit, fighter pilot walks into your office, which will he mention first?”

Part of the problem - in my humble opinion as an agnostic - is that a lot of these people are doing this for themselves. Oh, they claim they want to save others but they do it for self-validation purposes. Speaking as someone who has been - and continues to be - the target of a lot of such efforts, you can sense the “I’m doing this so that God will give me a cookie” motivation behind it.

Just last Sunday I was walking past a church having an outdoor service (because COVID, and nice weather) and someone tried to hand me a pamphlet with a picture of money on the front and asked “Would you like an [ X ]-pound note?” (I can’t remember how much he said it was). And I politely declined but the casual lie designed to hook me into a conversation about Jesus irked me (which is probably why I’m venting now). I mean, I get that it’s harmless and that he just wanted to get me to stop and talk but it was such a cheap and obvious trick that I ended up thinking the worse of him for it.

To be fair and balanced here, however, there have been other people I have encountered along the way who - again, in my humble opinion as an agnostic - really got what they were preaching. They didn’t berate or cajole or treat Christianity like a nifty club to join with punch and games and fun hats. In fact they would talk (from the pulpit in some cases) of their own personal struggles to reconcile the challenges of their faith with real life, making it clear that it wasn’t about belonging but rather about living the faith, and that doing so was hard. And I could see it in their works, and how they welcomed without condition everyone (including me) and tried to help others who needed it in whatever way they could.

I can’t find the article at the moment but I remember reading about a struggling church (I want to say Minnesota or maybe Michigan) that decided to “evangelize” by just circulating flyers offering to help people with whatever they needed - maybe a little DIY around the house, or helping an elderly person go shopping, or even just coming by for a chat with someone who was lonely. And they didn’t push their religion or their church at all, nor did they discriminate and only help Christians. They just helped because it was something they could do. And, at least at the time of the article, it was attracting more people to the church who also wanted to do good in the little ways they could.

My completely unsolicited advice to OldOlds’ FIL is to stop trying to win celestial brownie points and go evangelize through actions. Being the type of Christian people want to be like will work better in the longer run, even if it’s a lot more effort. And, who knows, he might get that cookie anyway.