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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.

Here goes:

==========================================================

Dear Believer,

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."
Thomas Jefferson

"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.

Normanbites 7 Mar 28
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29 comments

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6

If it were me, I'd find it hard not to include quotes by Mark Twain.

However, I think your note makes your position clear without creating offense, which is probably beign a much better neighbor and shows a bit more tolerance than I would myself.

Limiting the number of excellent quotes was extremely challenging, there were so many.

6

Just don't answer--what is the point?

It just seems better than doing nothing ... after all silence is often interpreted as "consent" or agreement.

@Normanbites your words fall on deaf ears and in reality, you are a name on a mailing list. They will shrug and pray and for you--why expend the energy?

@Gwendolyn2018 There are many forms of self pleasuring and I don't believe in sin ... so ...

Besides, I complain about religion .... somehow I think that makes me obligated to spend at least an equal amount of energy doing something about it.

@Normanbites I like to bait scammers on the phone because I can hear the agitation that it causes them: do you ever get a reply from the churches?

If it pleasures you, no harm done, but don't fool yourself that you are "doing something about it."

@Gwendolyn2018 It is for personal satisfaction, I sense symmetry in an equal amount of effort spent complaining and attempting a correction, even if both are futile.

5

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 agree, which is why I'm thinking maybe I can scratch that short term itch with a form letter. It just seems better than doing nothing ... after all silence is often interpreted as "consent" or agreement.

5

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.

Good points. The fact that I am considering this at all is largely due to now being retired and don't have to have a job to live. Otherwise, yeah, it could be bad.

@Normanbites I am turning 61 here in a couple of months and I cannot wait to retire and move. I plan to move closer to DM. I hear there are a bunch of likeminded individuals that meet up for a brunch Sunday Mornings in town. Up there, no one really cares I am an Atheist, down here, its a huge risk, I dated a Christian for awhile. He turned out to be a fundamentalist man is the boss type, wanting my farm put in his name, wanted me to get baptized in his crazy church, I could not kick him hard enough or fast enough to that curb. He wanted me to lie to his Church elders etc, Thankfully I never revealed my Atheism to any of these people as they are all up in your business. As a farmer, who has to hire help and needs to buy and sell locally, I would be royally screwed if they knew the truth.

@misstuffy I would have loved to have been a "candidate partner" for a lady with your mindset. Sadly, my partner picker has always been broken and I never seemed to make good choices in that regard with devastating results.

I do understand the caution you need to exercise to protect your livelihood and I would not advise any differently.

It does seem you make good choices for yourself. Please keep doing that! Good Luck!

@Normanbites Know the feeling
Friend, know it only too well.

@Normanbites Thank you, I try!

4

Great letter, especially for entertaining people like us. I think most believers wouldn't make it past the second paragraph where you call them foolish 😉.

Good point and I have thought about that. I haven't yet found a way to soften that blow without dulling the point of the letter. Ideas are welcome.

4

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 think part of my motive is to leave evidence that "nice" people can not believe as well. .... you know .... not all atheists are baby eaters ..... even though they do taste amazing deep fried with a bit of mustard sauce.

@Normanbites I wish you well in that endeavor, but it's a long shot.

@hankster Very! Fortunately the investment is small.

4

I would consider putting in a line about "if you want to donate to the church of the FSM, I am happy to take donations in the provided envelope" or something like that.

I'm not up for managing donations .... but I could find a way to insert a "learn more here" link that they will probably never use.

I have a few in mind already.

I haven't been approached by Xtians in parking lots for a long time (I think that stores might now consider this "soliciting" and no longer allow it), but I used to say to those who hit me up, "I will be happy to donate to your church if you will donate to mine." They usually just walked away, but one wanted to take me up on it and asked my which church I attended. I said something to the effect of "The Gwendolyn Wanderer Church of Paganism." He said, "Oh, no, I can't do that!" and I said, "And that's why I won't donate to yours."

I also complained about churches which Walmart allowed to solicit. I told the manager that I resented being asked--and even harangued-- for money and would go to another store if I saw these churches soliciting again. They were not even asking for money to feed poor starving children, just support for the church. The ironic thing is that a woman overheard my conversation with the manager and stopped me later to tell me that she agreed. She was an Xtian, but said she gave at her church and didn't feel obligated to give to a church she didn't attend.

The haranguing stopped.

4

Nice letter and they most likely will ignore it but now they know where you stand.

Yes and as I have found from the 50 + decades of dealing with these Psalm Pedlars and their ilk, a PLAIN straight out " No, I am NOT Interested" is to them as water is to a ducks back.

@Triphid True, but part of the objective is to feel that I've kindly and firmly explained why I'm not interested. But I'm sure you will state as have many others, they will never read it.

But there is such a thing as "futile hope" and possibly a christian fence sitter might happen across the note.

@Normanbites My attitude has altered over the years from one of a "Let the Fools worship the nothing in the Universe that they want to believe in, to one of, TRy shoving it down my throat and I WILL return the favour Threefold at least.

@Triphid I understand. I have stopped ignoring the "subtle symbology" and have started displaying my own including an "Atheist A" pendant, an IXNAY fish emblem on my car with an occasional response of "Namaste" to the inevitable "Bless you's" that crop up ..... yes I know "Namaste" can have religious connotation, but the almighty FSM has not provided a different handy response yet.

@Normanbites Well, over here I have managed to teach a number of people, from their early years through to adulthood, to react/say when a person sneezes, Gesund Heit instead of religious garbage such as " Bless you," etc, etc, and it seems to have caught on quite well.
Perhaps between us and any others who care to join in and try we can "create" a NEW non-religious type of greeting specific to we, the Atheists and Agnostics, etc.

3

While your proposed letter is thoughtful, it is likely to be thought of by them as an invitation to debate nonsense in the hope of converting you. Unless you enjoy talking with them, I would not send it.

When I no longer find it enjoyable or at least entertaining, I do know how to be curt and abrupt, so I'm not really worried.

3

Beautiful letter

bobwjr Level 10 Mar 28, 2022
3

Lovely and kind letter. The only change I would make is remove the word soul and use being. “and the night sky touched your being.” 😉

Hmmm well I did steal it, but I can't remember from where. .... I'm not opposed to the idea of a "soul" so long as it is a concept inside a living body .... but I will consider this.

3

I would limit it to the first second and last paragraphs because you're not going to change anyone's mind.

3

Long but well written.

That is a risk, it's pretty well known their attention span is short, which is probably part of why they buy into silly crap.

3

Sounds good. I'd prefer to write, I'm sorry I don't speak brainwashed.

2

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.

1

Wonderful. Well articulated. Even one believer understand this logic and let go of social conditioning built over years, it will be great

1

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.

1

Awesome Response! Thanks for sharing…

1

I am not trying to be critical however your letter may make you feel good, but probably has no affect on the person(s) it was sent to.

What's wrong with making myself feel good?

@Normanbites Why do you ask?

@Alienbeing Because I don't see an error on that basis?

@Normanbites I didn't say or imply there was an error.

1

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.

Ooooo I like it! Thanks! Your brilliant idea has just been stolen.

1

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,

"John Chew"

Ha!! Pretty close to the note I sent the clergyman. However, I feel some sympathy for those duped or manipulated by clergy .... though you could argue it is their own fault for not thinking things through .... of course I've NEVER been in such a situation (it's a miracle I still have all my fingers and toes.)

1

Love it. You did ever so well, your mother would be proud of you, that is if she is not a believer, anyway she should be proud of you if she is too.

Mom had a lot of shortcomings. But I think the person she wanted to be would have approved as well. Thanks!

<Yes, I recognize this could be sarcasm. But given the choice I would prefer to think I encountered a friendly person.>

1

pretty good!

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.

kmaz Level 7 Mar 29, 2022

I know the words can be shoved together to make a word that is recognized as a word in it's own right, but since the meaning is the same either way, I just don't bother to pay attention .... sorry! Thanks though. I have many other quirks that are indeed errors or just out right (see I could have used outright) clumsy .... I was hoping you were going to catch some of those.

I also love "good friday" or as I like to call it, "Savior on a stick day". 😀

@Normanbites

I wouldn't have thought someone had a more hard-hitting name than I do for Good Friday, but yours is in the running.

1

"Thank you for your kind letter.

May I return the compliment with a suggestion that we meet to discuss why I am not a believer?

Yours, etc"

Well, since it is a response to a letter (so far), they do know where to find me already.

1

They look at me and whisper to each other...... I smile.......

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