I’m writing our of anger and frustration lately, so I won’t be as nice or eloquent as usual. Throw me a frickin bone.
I have a fair number of unflattering opinions regarding Christians in general and some Christians in particular. However, I don’t say it to their faces. I won’t even say it here, both because I think it serves no purpose to offend someone and it’s nothing Christians haven’t heard before anyway. So why, whenever I am in conversation with a Christian about our respective beliefs, can they not hold their damn tongue?
“You might not believe this, but God does love you and you will bow to him one day.” What purpose could it possibly serve to say this to me, that is worth my offense and disgust? Do you honestly think I haven’t heard this a million times before?
Christians often excuse this kind of verbal vomit in themselves and others by saying, “they can’t help it, that’s just what they believe.” Honestly? When has this ever been accepted as an excuse for anyone else with an inconsiderate mouth? First of all, atheists usually don’t shoot off their mouths by telling Christians they’re delusional, etc. in everyday conversation, unless they happen to be someone who makes their living doing so, like Richard Dawkins. Second of all, when atheists do tell Christians what they really think of them, it’s because they are (according to the Christians) arrogant, immature, and sinister. It’s not because they can’t help but express what they really believe about the world.
I have never said anything to demean anyone’s personal faith. I would never consider saying anything along the lines of “I bet you won’t be a Christian in 5 years.” I would never even consider telling anyone that I wish they would become an atheist. I think individuals are entitled to their own beliefs and they’re entitled to base their beliefs based on whatever criteria they choose. Yet these things are said to me in 98% of all conversations that I have with Christians who know that I’m an atheist. Furthermore, I get no particular relish out of causing religious change in another person, being the one to show them the light. Many Christians derive satisfaction and pride from “leading someone to Christ”. (It is common practice, in the evangelical circles I’ve been a part of, for young Christians to pray that they will be able to lead someone to Christ. Not that the other person will become a Christian, mind you, but that they will be the one to bring about that change.) I know this has now become a tangent, but all I can think is, seriously? I remember hearing about friends who were depressed because they hadn’t personally led anyone to accept Christ lately. Seriously, get over yourself.
It’s one thing to occasionally say something like “I’ll pray for you,” which I don’t consider inherently offensive. Although I still have to wonder why you consider it so important for me to know you’re praying for me. Aren’t you supposed to pray in private where only God can hear you? You may think it’s encouraging to someone to know that they’re prayed for, but that’s true only if that actually means something to them. If you just want me to know that you care about me, tell me so, or say or do something that doesn’t sound like the humming of meaninglessness in my ear.
That reminds me of another possible reason for Christian-atheist verbal vomit. Christians want to be the one to plant the seed in the atheists’ mind, which the Holy Spirit will use to eventually bring them to Christ. I’m so tired of belaboring this topic that all I can say is, if this is why you feel the need to tell me that God loves me and that I’m wrong about him, please don’t bother. The Holy Spirit has plenty of God seeds in my memory bank to work with, it’s not like I need a refresher.
There’s surely much more I could say about this topic, but I’m tired of thinking about it. One final thought: Christians are somewhat required to share their faith, what with something Jesus said to that effect. Jesus also said don’t be surprised if the world hates you because of it. You can tell me that I’m going to hell, but for crying out loud don’t expect me to still be your friend.
I really have nothing against Christians, and I’m certainly not out to convert anyone to atheism. I am very willing to listen to anyone talk about their own personal faith and beliefs (really and truly, I am), as long as they extend me the same courtesy. Conversation goes both ways. If you’re not willing to listen and accept me, you can expect the conversation to end.