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Old 11-03-2015, 07:18 PM View Post #1 (Link) Should Christianity Be Forced Upon Others?
pendell (Offline)
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Recently, I have become aware of how Christianity tries endlessly to push itself onto non-Christians, like myself. I have been seeing a lot of ads talking about how accepting Jesus into your life will solve all of your problems and make your life so much better and whatnot. I have heard of many occurrences of people going door-to-door and trying to get people to convert to Christianity, and trying to scare Atheists into Christianity with the whole, "You're going to burn in hell" gag.

I think this is total bull. I haven't read the Bible, but I'm pretty sure Jesus never approached the Christians of long ago and told them to go and yell to people that they'll burn in the lake fire if they don't worship Him. It just really annoys me how naive the Christians can be that everyone will just willingly go along with them. Like all they have to do is say, "Hey, worship Jesus," and everyone will reply, "Okay, sure. See ya on Sunday."

I have had a recent experience like this at my school with a group called "I Am Second".

Spoiler:
At school, one day, some kids were talking about something that happened at the local church. I asked what they were talking about, and they acted all surprised when I said I didn't go to church. They asked why not, and I told them that I was an atheist. A girl instantly offered me her bible, and I almost laughed as I politely declined.

The next morning, the leader of the school bible group, I Am Second, approached me and asked me to join them for a bible reading, which would waste my entire morning. I declined, and he said that I could come down there anytime.

The very next morning, another I Am Second member approached me, offering me a pamphlet filled with bible verses. I declined, and she dropped it at my feet and ran off. As I passed the room they were reading in, I slid it under the door.

Then, the leader approached me again the next day, saying that I had better confess my sins. I told him I didn't know what he was talking about, and he showed me the pamphlet like a principal showing a child the crayon they used to draw on the school walls. I asked him what I was supposed to confess about that, and he said I had rejected the Lord.

Then I came up with something. I smiled at him, and patted him on the back like a buddy. "Ah, I see, where we came to a misunderstanding," I said.

"You see, there's a reason I don't ever come to church or bible readings." The kid looked at me suspiciously, and I showed my teeth in a big wide grin, but was sure to keep my eyes looking serious, to give a creepy effect. "I mean, what would a Satan worshiper like me be doing at church? I would only ever go to that if I wanted to renounce the Prince of Darkness as my eternal leader. An I would never do that. Besides, I've already spilled the blood of a lamb, so I wouldn't be very welcome."

I don't think he really believed me, but he left me alone from then on, so mission accomplished.
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Old 11-03-2015, 07:46 PM View Post #2 (Link)
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I think the first thing is that it's a heavy generalisation that christians are like this. Like all religions, there are extremists, pushy enthusiasts, respecting enthusiasts, people who like to keep it personal, etcetera. A lot of the big powerful countries in the western world were built on Christianity, so that means there are a lot of people who are willing to give their 2 cents (or 99 cents) on their religion, and it's the same for the rest of the world.

It doesn't just apply to Christianity either. I've been told before that if I don't accept Allah as the prime and single God, then I'll pay for it heavily later. I've been told that if I don't accept the buddhist understanding then I'll live a miserable life. I mean, the latter is widely seen as a relatively peaceful group of people, and the former is under a lot of media outrage but the majority of Muslims are wonderful, good and just people.

I think one of the issues is that Christianity, because it has built a lot of the western countries, hasn't been criminalised for its extremist acts. Heck, there are members of the KKK in government, and it's not seen as a terrorist movement, despite their history. This means that it's perfectly socially acceptable to cry out in the streets that the Devil will take your soul and you will burn in hell for your sins if you don't accept the grace of God. It's not seen as an attack. A lot of people see it as common sense.

Whether it should be forced? No, I don't think so. There are a plethora of ways you can share and encourage your religion without being aggressive about it. I've recently joined a church where their movement is quite the opposite-- encouraging young people to see the love of God, but they do it in a way that makes you want to listen.

I think there's a massive difference between telling someone that they'll burn for eternity without Christianity, and telling someone they'll have a life of love and faith with Christianity, and that applies all across the spectrum of religions.
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Old 11-03-2015, 08:11 PM View Post #3 (Link)
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Lizzie couldn't of said it bettee
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:08 AM View Post #4 (Link)
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Pretty much agreeing with Lizzie, and would just like to add: the only time I've ever truly felt pressured to believe in a certain system or belief was by atheists. I've been yelled at, lectured to, and patronized by atheists. I'm not even Christian. Or religious. Religion is literally one of the last things on my mind any time. When I tell atheists that, I usually get the "oh, so you're agnostic" bit, and that's really frustrating because no, I'm not agnostic, I'm nothing. To which I get "Oh, see, you're really an atheist after all." I cannot stress enough to these people: I don't identify with anything. Leave me alone.

Like Lizzie said, this is a generalization, and one I don't apply to all/most atheists. But The question "Should Christianity be forced onto others" really should just be "should any belief system be forced onto others?"
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:02 AM View Post #5 (Link)
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I think this is kind of an obvious question. But in some ways it's a complicated one. The Bible does call for Christians to spread the faith. I'm sure the very aggressive way so many people unfortunately go about it is not really in line with what the bible says, but I can't claim to be very well informed about that. So, on one hand, Christians are supposed to spread the word of bible. On the other hand, many of them are less than thoughtful about their communication.

Back to my first sentence--I think most people will agree that it's wrong to stuff your beliefs down other people's throats. That's why it seems obvious to me. At the same time, religion has kind of permeated the western way of life in ways we don't always see. Rather, in ways we take for granted. I think Christianity, more than any other religion, insofar as the west goes, is certainly shoved down our throats more than any other. I can't speak for every single country, but here in America, if you're running for office you basically can't get in if you aren't a Christian. New York is an exception, as are a few other places, since there's a high concentration of jewish people and other ethnicities. Bobby Jindal is also an example. So, while it's not an absolute, Christian faith is seen as a litmus test for office in a lot of places around the states.

Likewise, atheists tend not to be the ones murdering, torturing, brutalizing, raping, assaulting, and harassing members of the LGBTQ community. So, I get not everyone here fits into that spectrum, but that's rather actively affected my life in negative ways. It's actually quite painful to have to treat a lover like a stranger or "just a friend" in order to avoid dying, or worse, or hell, even the judgement of our families. It also sucks a lot that one of my gay friends got jumped and beaten when he was in high school and the police force refused to do anything about it because "oh, boys will be boys." Tell me that's not anti-gay bigotry. Oh, and one of my trans friends was stalked by a cop once and the guy actually said something along the lines of "God hates you", or like, "you're an affront to god." To be fair, though, anti-trans hate, more so than anti-gay hate, exists among atheists and agnostics, too.

Oh yeah, there's also the refusal to talk about LGBTQ issues in sex ed classrooms. There's also the issue of LGBTQ youth being kicked out of their religious households, often forcing them into sex work in order to make money and have places to stay at night (many of whom are LGBTQ people of color). These issues aren't discussed as much as they should be, if at all, in the mainstream media. It's unlikely that, in America, they'll ever be discussed in a religious context, in terms of how religious issues intersect with LGBTQ issues. It'll be especially difficult now that gay marriage has been ruled constitutional and Americans are going to be like, "Lol we solved the gay problems. All of them."

I've probably been limiting this discussion too much to LGBTQ issues, but I guess I have too much personal investment in them.

I can't help but feel like I've gone off track a little? Maybe even changed the context of the discussion. Sorry about that. I just think it's important to see how religion affects society--American society, at least--in ways we don't like to talk about, mainly because too many of us are blind to intersectionality. People treat LGBTQ people like shit and use their faith to excuse it. It goes far beyond Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on your door or people telling you you're going to burn in hell. None of that is fun, but it's so much worse than that, and it's not fair to frame it in a way that makes it sound like a first world problem. It's not.

Oh wow, I didn't even get into women's issues. For shame.
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Old 11-04-2015, 01:50 PM View Post #6 (Link)
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Originally Posted by Infinity_Man View Post
Pretty much agreeing with Lizzie, and would just like to add: the only time I've ever truly felt pressured to believe in a certain system or belief was by atheists. I've been yelled at, lectured to, and patronized by atheists. I'm not even Christian. Or religious. Religion is literally one of the last things on my mind any time. When I tell atheists that, I usually get the "oh, so you're agnostic" bit, and that's really frustrating because no, I'm not agnostic, I'm nothing. To which I get "Oh, see, you're really an atheist after all." I cannot stress enough to these people: I don't identify with anything. Leave me alone.
I just use the term atheist as a synonym for nothing. I don't really care either way. What do the atheists believe? Evolution. Okay, sure. Cool. Good for you. Since religion is silly to me, how about I call myself that, since most people see it as a rejection of religion, and that's the point I want to get across? And the name sounds really cool.

I think there should be a religion just for people who don't care about religion. Well, no, not a religion... I don't know what you'd call it. For now, I think I'll switch from calling myself "atheist" to "anti-religionist". At least I know now that there are other people out there like me!
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Old 11-04-2015, 02:04 PM View Post #7 (Link)
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Originally Posted by pendell View Post
What do the atheists believe? Evolution. Okay, sure. Cool. Good for you.
Sorry to sealion a little in this discussion, but evolution isn't a belief - it's a scientific theory like the theory of gravity that gives structure to all biological sciences. Evolution is not something that relies on faith. The difference between a non-religious person or an atheist, or between an atheist and a religious person, is not an understanding of evolution. I feel like it's a lot bigger and a lot different than that.

Plus, there are religious evolutionary biologists. I'm not one of them, but I have friends who are - we talk biology, not religion, we get our experiments done, and everyone is OK. Plenty of people manage to hold science and religion as separate realms of knowledge in their heads. I wish more people could do that, at least here in the US.

/end biologist rant

P.S. Dabs:
Originally Posted by Dabs
Oh wow, I didn't even get into women's issues. For shame.
I'm really glad you shared your experiences and still found a moment to mention this at the end - gracious and appreciated. And I'm not going to go into women's issues now to avoid a hulk-out at my desk.
  
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:58 PM View Post #8 (Link)
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Originally Posted by pendell View Post

I think there should be a religion just for people who don't care about religion. Well, no, not a religion... I don't know what you'd call it. For now, I think I'll switch from calling myself "atheist" to "anti-religionist". At least I know now that there are other people out there like me!
Semantics:

anti-religionist means actively against religion. Similar to the distinction between atheism ("there is no god") and anti-theism (active opposition to theism, whether that be theistic religions or gods themselves). What IM described is closer to areligion, which is a word I just made up to mean that. Similarly, if you are "apolitical," you don't have an opinion on politics; if you are anti-political, your opinion is that all politics are bad.

I agree with Lizzie and IM. I have experienced pressure from Christians, but primarily when I left the church; they want me to come back because they firmly believe that (a) I will burn in hell forever, and they like me too much to want that, and (b) that if they see sin and don't warn the sinner, the sinner's blood is on their hands (Ezekial 33:7-9ish).
Even though their letters are annoying and misguided, they're doing it because they don't want me or themselves to die, so how angry can I be?
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:07 PM View Post #9 (Link)
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Originally Posted by Isis View Post
Sorry to sealion a little in this discussion, but evolution isn't a belief - it's a scientific theory like the theory of gravity that gives structure to all biological sciences. Evolution is not something that relies on faith. The difference between a non-religious person or an atheist, or between an atheist and a religious person, is not an understanding of evolution. I feel like it's a lot bigger and a lot different than that.
I know that, but I also don't know what else separates atheists from religious people. What makes atheism different from anti-religion?
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Old 11-04-2015, 06:28 PM View Post #10 (Link)
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Originally Posted by pendell View Post
I know that, but I also don't know what else separates atheists from religious people. What makes atheism different from anti-religion?
You're mixing your terms! You can be theistic and anti-religion (believing in a higher power but being against organized religion). It's also possible to be atheistic and religious: following a religion's rituals without believing in the religion's deities. One refers to belief in a higher power, and the other refers to a method of worship.

This is important though: Anti-religious and nonreligious are not the same. IM described people who tried to make him into an atheist. Those people are anti-religion: they are against religion. Being against something = having an opinion about it. IM, though, is nonreligious (I used areligious in my other post even though it's not necessarily a word)-- non- and a- imply that he's not invested in religion one way or the other.
Someone who's anti-religion has an opinion, a negative one, and is likely to share that with you; someone who's nonreligious just doesn't have an opinion. (Or just isn't that invested in the whole deal.)

Theists and atheists are separated by exactly one thing: belief in a higher power. Evolution is an entirely different ballpark; you can be theistic and accept it, you can be atheistic and not accept it. Humans never really needed a reason to ignore facts.

There's a lot more to be said about religion in society but I'mma keep to semantics for now. Less emotional.

EDIT: More reply to your initial post, though... Jesus did tell his followers to proselyte. I can't say that he meant "scream hellfire at everyone," but he was very clear that a Christian's duty is to share the gospel. And in those verses that I mentioned from Ezekiel, you'll find that a Christian who doesn't warn sinners can be damned to hell for that alone. Both of those invoke self-interest, but there's also the altruistic concern that a good Christian feels about sinners, because they do believe that you'll burn in hell forever, and they want better for you.
You may not believe these things (I don't, personally), but I understand why someone who does would act on their beliefs.

Does that mean I like being proselyted at? Hell nah. But I can ignore them, ask them to stop, move on.

Christianity should NOT be shoved down our throats in the form of political policies and laws, or social restrictions/constructs-- see Dabs' post for the LGBT aspect here. See also: Planned Parenthood shutdowns (just the words are making me rage-hulk, dayum) and the political necessity of kowtowing to Christians. Those things are bad and inappropriate. But an individual or a church trying to share their beliefs-- that's normal. That's kind of their purpose.
  
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