Would this make you feel safer (one for atheists especially)?

You’re in a strange city. You’ve never been there before. You don’t know the locale, or even if they speak English. How you got there is unimportant, maybe it’s an unexpected flight stop-off, maybe FBI space aliens dump you there after a brutal anal probing.

It’s late at night and you’re trying to find your bearings. The street you’re on is deserted, when you see a group of men walking down the street towards you.

I let you know that these men have just left a prayer meeting (and I’m very trustworthy). Does this information make you feel safer, more unsafe, or somewhere in between?

Separated the poll into ‘No deities for me’; atheist, agnostic, apatheist, anti-theist and “Believer”; any believer in any denomination of religious faith (and “other”, since you’re an awkward bunch). I’m particularly interesting in hearing from the former category on why or why not their feelings might change.

(Question taken from a Hitchens debate - you can guess how he answered)

It would make me feel safer, but then again, knowing just about any non-threatening info about strangers would do the same. If I knew they just left a movie they watched together, I’d feel more confident that they weren’t walking together for nefarious intentions.

Having worked with prisoners I am aware that religion is no bar to being very naughty boys.

It would make me feel considerably less safe. I’ve known a lot of fervent believers (all Christian, by the way) who were quite violent, yet who were confident that the Lord loved them and would forgive them.

The people who proclaim that theirs is a religion of peace always seem to be the ones who use violent means to convert others.

I’d sooner be with the FBI space aliens.

It wouldn’t change my feelings. They could be Quakers coming from a prayer meeting, or they could be some kind of extremists coming from their prayer meeting. Since it could go either way, it’s not really useful information.

I don’t usually worry about any group of men. Rogue individuals are much more trouble.

Non religious person here. I say it would make me feel safer though there are plenty of violent religious folks to be afraid of. The prayer meeting is more than likely to be their way of being involved with their community, which would make me feel statistically safer. I would feel even safer if I found out they were coming from a skeptic or free thought meeting.

I experienced something similar when I was younger, getting my car fixed on the cheap in rough parts of town. The place I went to had an evangelical themed poster on the wall. It kind of signaled to me that they were involved in their community, though again I would feel even safer with a Center for Inquiry bumper sticker.

Oh. And that previous answer implies that they don’t learn or care about my religious beliefs. Then I would probably be more afraid.

The info would not change how I felt. I would be just as nervous.

Also I would be upset as I paid extra for the NON-brutal anal probing, so I be wanting my money back.

Atheist. I would feel more secure knowing that they came from some kind of religious prayer meeting, for the same reason I’d feel equally reassured knowing they were atheists coming from whatever meetings we go to, or the neighborhood crossword puzzle club.

Generally, men who voluntarily attend meetings of any sort have had too much life sucked out of them to be any threat to anyone.

Probably safer. I would expect the presence of the others in the group would keep any potential wrongdoers in check. Who posted that joke I read here recently about inviting two Mormons fishing because if you invite one, he’ll drink all your beer?

Counter-proposal to the OP:

You are in a dark street in a dark city. An agitated-looking stranger is coming toward you with something weapon-like in his hand. Would you feel reassured if you knew this man believed that Jesus would redeem him for any sin he committed, no matter how depraved?

This. Religion is 90% about community and being community minded and having just come from a community meeting at which this group reinforced their belief that they were good people would cause them to behave idealistically and in a community way. Even if their religion is complete bollocks, and even if they are all secretly axe murderers when acting alone.

Unless their religion was highly unusual and revolved around group thrill killing or something but that is unusual.

Atheist. I’d feel marginally safer, and voltaire nailed it in one as to why. (Though Cosmic Relief’s theory in post #10 rings unsettlingly true.)

More to what I suspect you were asking, though, of any non-overtly-nefarious gathering they might be coming from, a prayer group is pretty well neutral with regard to how much safer I’d feel. It’s maybe a half-step above a movie, miles better than a gun-and-knife show, and four solid steps down from a Pokémon tournament. In that context, I’d have voted the middle option.

I am fairly agnostic and selected “No deities for me; the info would make me feel safer”. I would also feel safer if they were coming from a meeting of the local Free Thinkers Society or a class on Secular Humanism.

Sure I’d feel mildly safer. Same as if you’d said they’d attended just about any public event that wasn’t aggression or alcohol based.

I voted the same. It’s a tricky question though too because it could go many ways.

If I were gay, wait I am, ok, if I were walking past Pastor Worley’s church and they exited, I would definitely be more on guard.

Otherwise, I don’t see much a difference.

That said, I’ve wondered strange city streets late at night/early in the morning in places that I probably shouldn’t be if I had common sense. Up before the sun rise in the ghettoes around Jama Masjid in Delhi was an amazing and eye-opening experience. Getting lost down some small streets after the sun set in Istanbul to find a mosque filled with adherents. Walking around the streets next to the Vatican after midnight didn’t faze me much either. Frankly, I’m rather oblivious to danger and am surprised I haven’t been robbed now that I think about it.

I agree with those who are saying (a) yes, it would make me feel safer unless it was some kind of violent sect and (b) any kind of innocuous meeting would have the same effect.

Has no bearing on me at all. I’ve seen enough “religious” people that were violent thugs.

What’s with all this polls of late where (seemingly) religious people are desperate to get non-religious people to in some way validate their religion?

Atheist here. I may feel marginally safer, but if they approach wanting to talk I’m more likely to cross the street. I’m not in the market for what they are likely selling.