Obviously inspired by this thread of mine, which began in this forum but got moved to GD. I’m starting this one in IMHO because I’m hoping to encourage a sharing of anecdotes and motivations, not start a debate–so if, um, certain mods would mind not moving it unnecessarily, I’d be grateful.
On to the basis of this thread: Atheists & agnostics, do you try to convert religious persons to your way of thinking? Feel free to expand on your answer, but don’t feel compelled to.
Answering my own question:
No, usually. Unless someone picks a fight.
Expanding on my answer:
As I mentioned in the other thread, faith in Jesus was a very important part not only of my family’s life but of my emotional makeup when I was young. Losing that faith was not pleasant; like Gatsby, I “had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.”
My reaction to this was twofold. On the one hand, I didn’t especially want anyone I knew and loved to feel the way I was feeling. My little sister, say, was and is my favorite human being; she still believes, and if that helps keep her warm at night in this cold world, more power to her. Add to that my distaste with the very notion of being a missionary, asking others to give up the beliefs that give them comfort; this often seems arrogant at best, and cruel at worst.
On the other hand, a fair number of Christian denominations place a strong emphasis on witnessing. I don’t necessarily mean Jehovah’s Witnesses or others who go unvited to others’ homes (those I simply shut the door on, unless I’m bored or they’re hot girls); I mean the likes of the Church of God in Christ, my parents denomination and the largest church here in Memphis. Even if I never spoke to another member of the Rhymer family again, as long as I live here I’m likely to have encounters with persons from that church who feel obliged to correct me.
For instance, I used to have a pair of coworkers, TC & DM. The year before last, killing time on the Friday before Independence Day, the three of us found ourselves discussing the presidential campaign, which led to a discussion of gay marriage. TC & DM were both strongly against it, as COGIC taught; I was for (as long as I don’t have to marry another guy, that is. ) During this conversation DM voiced a sentiment I’ve heard from many fundamentalist & evangelical Christians:
You don’t really believe what you’re saying, Skald.
To which TC added:
You were raised in the church; you know homosexuality isn’t right.
These types of statements always annoy me–the implication that I don’t know my own mind or beliefs, and the concommitant implication that there is only one way anyone could possibly look at things. So I lit into both of them. Being the only sort of man who could ever move Dusty Springfield (you know, being the son of a preacher man) I can quote chapter and verse of much of the Bible, so I started to point out all the myriad inconsistencies I perceive of the sacred writ, and in COGIC’s interpretation of same. (COGIC teaches Biblical literalism and inerrancy, so that’s fairly easy.) I was definitely trying to show these guys the flaws in their reasoning–which is to say, I was being a missionary.
So that’s my POV. What’s yours?