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I think my relationship with my religious neighbor may be coming to an end.

I let her know pretty early on I was an atheist because she asked me about church and god. I told her I didn't believe in gods. We didn't really discuss it much, I think she was shocked, and things carried on. We became friendly and in our sort of forced seclusion, due to the pandemic, we've spent time together, dinners, movies and such. I've helped her kids dealing with the IRS and dog sat her little dog when she was out of town. We don't talk every day but a few times a week and when we bake goodies, we usually share with each other. Nothing terribly special but also something I would miss if it goes south.
She's had a bit of hard time dealing with knowing an atheist. She likes to interject her god into the conversation with lots of “thank god, praise Jesus, amen” and the like. A few times, when I’ve been unwell or depressed, she’s said, “I’ll pray for you”. She doesn’t go to church but she claims this great religious belief. Lately, she’s been even more assertive about her god beliefs, even challenging, in the way she says things, almost like she’s daring me to dispute her. When we are in each other’s company I never mention atheism (unless she asks) but she brings in her god in some way almost every time. It’s been getting on my nerves a bit.

Today when we were talking about the new J&J vaccine coming out that has 0 allergic reactions she proclaimed loudly, “Thank God!” I replied, “Or in my case, “Thank science!” This set her off like a rocket. “Buhbuhbuh… Why DON'T you believe in God? I’ve been meaning to ask you that for some time. So, why don’t you believe in God?” Her voice was raised and it was a definite challenge to my opinion. In fact. she had asked me that the year before last and I told her. She tried to argue the point, of course, but I shut her down with “we will have to agree to disagree and let it go” and I walked away before she could reply. She likes to get her words in but cuts you off or talks over you before you can reply so... I did the same.

I explained again that I saw no evidence of gods and I wouldn’t believe anything without evidence. She said, “Oh pooh, there’s tons of evidence. There has been evidence all through history.” I knew where she was going and interjected, “The bible is not evidence, it’s written by man, not a god.” Her: “It’s written by men ordained from god.” Me: “There no evidence of that.” Then I quickly changed the subject to her new great grandbaby. She was mad so I wished her well and made my good-byes.

The next 15 minutes or so I could hear slamming things in her apt. Which is why I feel this relationship is on borrowed time. If I can’t be brought to heel, I think she’ll stop talking to me altogether. I won’t be brought to heel. Better, smarter people than her have tried.

The next time she brings up god I’m going to flat out say, “If you can’t come to terms with my non-belief and accept and respect me, who thinks differently than you, then we have a problem. I don't force my atheism on you but you are not showing me the same respect.”

The fact that atheist people get along with religious people all the time without demanding they convert but religious people have a hard time accepting that some people are not believers, is a fact of life. It will be sad if she can’t come to terms with it but in the end, I won’t be bullied by anyone. I won't be silenced as they wish either. They want to force their opinions freely without anyone offering different opinions... I won't accept that anymore. IMO, that's why they are such bullies now. Too much silence, giving them entitlement.

If you've had a similar experience please feel free to share.

Leelu 7 Feb 27
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21 comments

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21

At work one of my coworkers came out as a Mormon he also gleefully started selling his religious pitch.
I replied, “The worst boss I ever had was a Mormon elder, pushing his mythology and hiring like six of his eighteen kids. Drove the company right into bankruptcy.
When I heard he had 18 kids I asked him when he was going to have that little talk with his wife. What talk? The talk where you explain to her that it’s a vagina not a clown car.”
Needless to say, he doesn’t talk with me much now.
It’s the little things. :hearts:

I'm sorry but when you said her vagina is not a clown car I busted out laughing... 😅🤣😅

❤

@19dacar52 Nope definitely NOT a "clown car," more like a Sprout ( Baby) Chute instead.
Reminds me of a Catholic family in the neighbourhood when I was a child, they 19 kids, almost an Aussie Rules Football team of their own.
The Gauci's was their name.

I have joked about a slip 'n' slide, but clown car works too.

11

Relationship-wise that's a bit of a tough situation but of course I don't see it as your fault. You can't change your perceptions of the universe.

Your last paragraph is significant. It's a shame if her biases prevent her from seeing other viewpoints, but unless she magically(tm) comes up with some real evidence, you can't let the situation coerce you into an invalid position just for her emotions.

RichCC Level 7 Feb 27, 2021

Exactly!

7

Yes, I am with you there. They think they have some kind of right to impose their beliefs on us but get mad when we don't agree. I think you are handling this beautifully. Good on you. You will not be alone, we are here for you.

Thanks, I appreciate that. ❤
I think we've all been down this road before but somehow I always think the next person will behave better. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

6

"Relationship with religious neighbour coming to an end" you say.
May one say most humbly and sincerely that " You are being smiled upon by Lady Luck so fret you not for your are most fortunate."

Oh I get that but I do like to be friendly with my neighbors if possible and since the pandemic I've been self isolating and so has she mostly. We've had each other for company and not much anyone else. However, that being said, I'm okay with her beliefs (as silly as they are to me) but I require all believers to keep that to themselves. If she won't comply we will only be friendly acquaintances, not friends.

@Leelu Perhaps it is a boundary issue, she doesn't view it as such, you do.

6

Wow, you are brave! I live in a very rural Bible thumping area, and my neighbors here will never know of my disbelief!

I live in small town Oklahoma so yeah, no belief is a problem here but I'm 63 and retired, I don't care anymore. Now I don't have to worry about being fired for my non-belief it makes no difference to me.

@Leelu Im 60 and a farmer, I raise livestock and have to do business with these Bible Thumpers where I live. When I retire, I will move closer to my lifelong non believer friends and at that point, I won't care who knows. For now, since I live alone, I am safer not revealing myself.

@misstuffy Sound prudent.

@NoMagicCookie Agreed, nearly every lawn her sports a Trump flag or sign, some two. A few brave souls have Biden Signs up, but not many. Seems as if those of us who are Democrats have found one another. I just joined the party this year. Forty years ago, I belonged to the Republicans, but as I got older and wiser, I saw they really no longer espoused beliefs or tolerances that encompassed others who were not like them. This was especially true if you were not a white evangelical Christian. I definitely am not that!

6

I long ago established a high standard for anybody to enter my inner circle in a social capacity. If anybody in a social context asserts their dishonest faith (belief without evidence asserted as demonstrable truth) has superior merit to my not accepting their baseless assertions as factual, I will defend my fact over fiction position and make it very clear from the onset I do not tolerate faith based fallacious assertions of superiority.

5

That is why I actively oppose all those who try to ram their particular god or gods down other people's throats: they need to be given a dose of their own medicine.

Which is what I have started doing.

4

Weak people with weak minds need imaginary friends to bolster their courage and address the challenges life throws at all of us. When they see someone have the strength and common sense to discard such childish emotional security blankets they usually do not feel inspired to throw away their delusional belief but cling to them all the more, while hating you for pointing out the obvious weakness of their belief system.

Excellent point.

4

It’s sad that your friendship is coming to an end. But surely better to be authentic about who you are, as being dishonest seems to have been the only way she would have accepted you.
At the end of the day you can feel a bit better about the fact that her beliefs didn’t stop you being friends, it was the other way around.
If you get the chance it would be really interesting to ask her:

‘what would it take for you to accept me, (as a friend), without a belief in gods.’

It might make her look at what her expectations of you are/ were? If she answers, you can see how far off the mark it was for you?
What would it take for you to reconsider your religion might be a follow up if you know it’s all over? Alien contact? Other old books with new information (unless she’s Mormon, in which case that goes without saying 😉). You could even ask her view of Christians vs that of atheists and what they’re based on. A learning curve about her beliefs and expectations for both of you.

However things pan out, wishing you all the best, the end of friendships are never easy 🙂

3

Sounds exhausting. Leelu, your post explained your situation and thought process very well. I could imagine myself in your same situation. Fortunately I am not at the moment, though I did once start an exclusive relationship with someone for a few months who turned out to be more devout than I realized. Also turned into a Trump supporter. It was early in 2016. Yeah, I ended that one.

I am an agnostic atheist. I am certainly atheist, but I find whenever a religious person wants to argue against disbelief, their definition for what constitutes god power running the cosmos gets very vague and slippery indeed. Then when they talk about their personal religious experience, they speak with absolute certainty about what God with a capital "G" is, that "he" is gendered, runs creation like a feudal state, has an oddly specific rulebook for humans(beware shellfish, pork, and blended fabrics!), and they even think they can talk to "him" and receive direct messages, allowing them to know God's intent and moods.

I find it impossible to actually be heard by one of these brainwashed people if I argue for atheism. But some of them are a smidge open to arguments against gnosticism, against people being able to concretely define what God is. I point out there are literally thousands of Christian denominations, none of them going back actually to Jesus' life and therefore none with his historic stamp of approval. I point out the early church took a few hundred years trying to codify exactly which texts belonged in the Bible. Then it revised its decision multiple times over the centuries, and different branches diverged, unable to agree. Rejected books were called heresy, while other Christians held, and still hold, them up as the "infallible Word of the Almighty." Ethiopian, Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches' Bibles all contain differing numbers of books in them. I point out that the Bible itself warns that humans are incapable of understanding the mind of God, and yet countless Christians remain Hell-bent (pun intended) on doing just that, in violation of their own scriptures. I point out that Jesus said to witness by example, NOT by preaching loudly at people. I argue on various similar points, using scripture against dogmatism and arrogant certainty and FOR using common sense to be decent people who live by humility and care for our fellow humans and let the ruling force in the universe (that I call physics) sort out the rest.

We can only hope to sew doubt, not actually overturn belief of someone whose entire identity and sense of self-worth has been pinned to this alternative-facts paradigm.

I think for many just stating you're atheist sews doubt and fear about the doubt. It challenges their perception that all people are believers and they can't handle having that refuted.

3

This hasn't been an issue for me very often, but when needed, I simply say "Sorry. I'm not superstitious".

Yes and I don't hold with magical thinking.

3

As you have already wrote, you were too early by telling her you're an Atheist. But she also was too early by asking you questions about your views. Her questions were too itrusive and sounded like privacy invasion. I live in Italy and my neighbors are basically strangers. We don't talk that much to each other and if we di, we talk about neutral topics. I have never talked to them about the sensitive ones and never will I.

It's quite common in the bible belt areas to be nosey and intrusive especially about religion. It's what evangelical s do. I never had that experience until I moved here.

@Leelu True. There is an attitude that you are either with them or against them that seems to be a common belief. On the non-believer side of the fence the more common viewpoint seems to be that what one chooses to believe is their business only. I never lost friendships above the Mason-Dixon over this, only in the South.

@Leelu I feel you. Busybodies are everywhere, but they seem to be concentrated more in particular areas of the world... 😂
PS: to be precise I live in Northern Italy, which is thought to be more similar to Northern USA. 😉

@Unicorn85, @Leelu Aint that the truth! I actually grew up steeped in the Pentecostal brand of this evangelical crap. So I can speak the language with a bit less effort than some. I try to boil it down to the principle that religion is what people make of it. If they are inherently kind, respectful, thoughtful people, then it will show, and it may be possible to be friends while being a "non-believer." If they are uptight, judgmental, and controlling, then forget it.

3

Not much help but I feel the frustration, stay safe. 😉

Thanks

3

I find it interesting how YOUR non belief in her god angers her. My next door neighbour is a retired minister from a quite fundy church. He does not push it, I just get invites to mens stuff at the church. I do not push my disbelief, we get along well which is good.

3

My favorite and most often used reply is, "[sigh] It's just all make believe."

2

I have family like that ( one brother is clergy )
and I time and time again defend the principles of mutual respect ; ie you are entitled to your beliefs / but are not entitled to REMOVE my right to my beliefs. That is a deal breaker , because if we are constantly held to different standards than we internalize the premise that we are defective( not worthy ).
I defend my personal boundaries vigorously,
for myself and others , to be unique & WHO THEY WANT TO BE !!
THANKS

2

I like what girlwithsmiles has written. Strip away the religion and look at a friendship as people,as neighbours, just us humans if you will. See if that is possible.
My local area is conservative small town/rural. A higher level of religiosity than you would find in urban areas. I do not get asked very often, but I just answer, I don't do church, or I don't go to church. I belong to a bunch of volunteer organizations and I have visibility in the community As a result. It would do me no good and a bunch of harm to be vocally strong with my disbelief.
Now if pressed, then I would become a bit more direct.

2

Sad, very.
"I don't force my atheism on you but you are not showing me the same respect.” - if your neighbour cannot enjoy & share the tasks that you do without her proselytising disrespect then sadly tell her to not sully your ears again.

I had a similar situation in that two xmesses ago I sent an acquaintance of 30+ years standing an unsolicited dvd of highlights of best plays in a football code that he despises (AFL) and never received a thank you because he has an incredibly mean streak when it comes to making phone calls or buying postage stamps. In 30 years I can only recall him maaking 2 calls to me all the others were on my account. After not speaking to him for over a year I relented & called but had to leave a message. Surprisingly he rang back a few days later & we talked for an hour before being "accidentally" cut off. I rang back & we talked for another 2 hours he seemed to need it but whether he will take my advice I don't know. If he had when it was given 10 years ago he would have saved himself $5000+ in phone costs! You can only lead the horse to water you cannot force it to drink.

1

I was Christian once. It would depend on what type church or teaching doctrine she was accustom to, but you might scare her with biblical scripture. Then again if you don't know much about it to explain, it probably wouldn't phase her much anyways.

Ask her if she has her credentials of the mark of the beast-666 identification for taxation and government control in accordance with biblical dictates. Most likely she wouldn't know or understand biblical text that explains Jesus character is Angelic lord of host Lucifer the devil leading the Masonic lodge secret religion racist devil worshippers since their freedom from England July 4th, 1776.

It will not allow anyone to make a purchase or sell anything unless the person has the mark with the beast’s name or the number of its name. Revelations 13:17

Word Level 8 Feb 27, 2021
0

For one reason or another, I've never been in your position, though I've had many imaginary conversations in my head with religious people trying to convert me. Even the local Jehovah's Witnesses seem to recognize I'm a lost cause before we get much beyond hello. If your relationship with your neighbor survives this bump, perhaps you can ask her about some of the knottier passages in her good book, such as the one I re-imagined for this lengthy post: "I sometimes wonder what people who call themselves Christians or Jews think of stories of genocide ..."

The much shorter version: At the beginning of the book of Joshua, God (through Joshua) commands the Israelites to sack the city of Jericho and kill (almost) all the inhabitants, young and old, because, well...it's not really obvious why. How would your neighbor feel about being asked to take part in genocide? Could she herself kill a child if God told her to?

Sorry--should have read more before responding. I see that True Believers are much more common in your neck of the woods than in mine, and I can understand if you're not as curious about how their minds work as I am. I can also certainly understand not wanting to alienate a neighbor. I feel like it would be helpful to know where her anger stems from. Is she just frustrated that you can't see something that's obvious to her, could she be genuinely concerned for the fate of your soul (as she sees it), or is it something else? How do you think she'd react if you asked her? Would she feel differently if you were, say, a Hindu?

@Behind-the-dog Yeah, I don't want to know because it always opens the door for "convincing" the heathen and I'm not interested. It's been 3 days and no word. I even txt her Sat night and no reply. Not going to fret about it though.

0

Ya think?

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