Since moving to this small rural community a few years ago, I have been occasionally vexxed ( at least 3 times that I recall ) by (recruitment IHMO) letters sent to me by well meaning christian sheeple. One was from a minister. I had no problem being curt with him. The second that I recall was from a very senor lady, who was no doubt put up to doing it by clergy. The third was apparently a child in a similar situation.
I didn't respond to the latter two because my usual terse responses didn't seem to be appropriate to me. I decided to craft a generic response letter that I could use should (almost certainly will) this occur again.
I've attached it below and I would love some input and suggested improvements to consider.
I can tell you put a lot of care and concern into your letter to me. I appreciate that.
However, I do not share your beliefs. Further, I think believing in something, anything, with out supporting evidence is foolish.
Unfortunately, religion, not just yours, but each and every religion so far, has offered only unsupported speculation. If you take the time to think critically and demand evidence before you believe in anything, you will avoid a lot of foolish waste this world has to offer.
I see little need in life to make up stories that sound pretty and comforting, but are none the less false. As Carl Sagan said, "....Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides."
Carl Sagan and I are not the only ones to think this way. Here are some thoughts from notable figures from the past few thousand years:
"Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing." - Hypatia of Alexandria (370 - 415 AD)
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."
"Where there is evidence, no one speaks of faith. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the Earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence" ~ Bertrand Russell
Upon closing, I want to leave you with this thought (that I've stolen from somewhere); May you have days when your coffee tastes like magic, your playlist makes you dance, strangers and children make you smile and the night sky touches your soul. May you fall in love with being alive again.
Do well, and be well.
And thanks anyway.
Your Atheist friend and neighbor.
It's very nice of you to reply at all.
Every few months, I get unsolicited invitations to join a number of local churches.
I think about responding, but that usually lasts for about as long as it takes me to return from the mail kiosk.
Every "invitation" goes into the trash, where they belong.
I live in a rural area and in fact, am a farmer myself raising livestock. Now that they know you are an Atheist, they will either step up their efforts to convert you, or ostracize you. I applaud your bravery. I myself am not that brave and will remain in the religious closet until I can get myself moved out of this area.
your letter is nice enough in and of itself. I'm not sure if you want to talk them down, or convince them they are mistaken, or discuss the matter, but it extends plenty of opportunities for them to take issue and debate matters. if you simply wish them to stop thier correspondence you might just explain you don't believe and have no interest in subscribing to the follies they have unless your interested in debate. don't be critical, just let them be content. let sleeping dogs lie. it isn't important they get it, just that you don't want it.
I am and have a long time member of FFRF. Every month they put out a very informative and humorous newsletter, 'Freethought Today.' Once I received a flyer from a local 7th Day Adventist group and I took a copy of my newsletter and a note thanking them for their information and I am returning something in kind. I knew where the meeting hall was located and left the items there. Never heard from them again. Sometimes a little reverse information might get some to think twice.
Serving Jury Duty , I took my lunch at the Greyhound Bus station. Always an interesting people watching experience. I was invaded by a proponent of Sun Yun Moon of the infamous Moonies who own the Washington Journal (beware as a source). I knew more than she did about them I she departed enlightened. I am now receiving a "newspaper" called the Epic Times which is ultra right anti PRC focused. I use it for the cat litter and have thanked them online for providing with such. The paper is so slanted it knocked my house off of its foundation. I like quoting the bible back at them. Then announce my atheism. Love the shock on their faces. And we part in peace.
Great letter, especially for the child who is the only one you may have a hope of reaching.
I like the fact that you have included lots of quotes, since religion is in many ways basically the same thing as the fallacy of "proof by authority", religious people are predisposed to look for authority.
If there was an addition to make then after your, "religion so far, has offered only unsupported speculation" I would add. "Because, if it was supported, then it would cease to be religion, but become science or philosophy, since religion is the name we give to the unsupported." But that would probably be too long winded, so I just include it for your amusement.
I admire your efforts, but I fear my own response would be (and has been) more curt. Something along the lines of:-
"Thank you for your letter.
"While I appreciate your efforts, I am an atheist. This renders your letter a waste of your time and effort in the writing, a waste of mine in the reading, a waste of the paper it was written on, and a waste of the ink it was written with.
"Your time and effort are yours to waste as you choose, but mine are not. I would therefore be grateful if you would not trouble yourself to write again.
"Thanking you in advance for your lack of further communication,
i doubt it will do much good one way or the other but who knows maybe it will. and as you write below it will be good for the theists to see an atheist behaving reasonably on these matters.
it's minor stuff but you have two grammar/style issues. normally i would not bother but you did ask for feedback and even minor stuff may bear on the reader's processing of your points. also words have meaning and relate to the process of arriving at reasoned points of view, and do this increases the usefulness of getting our word usage correct in a piece that extols the use of reason.
"with out" supporting evidence should become "without"
also someone please correct me if i'm wrong but i think
"but are none the less" should be "but are nonetheless"
i also live somewhat rurally. i'm not retired. they do try to convert me sometimes but give up pretty quickly. sorry for the darkness of my humor here but recently i received sone sort of religious mail about good friday. "my favorite theist nonsense holiday" i thought , but did not respond to them.
sorry for my own typos but im on a phone got this one.