Creating Safe Places to Leave Religion

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Full disclosure, I’m writing this as I’m listening to a sermon about how Christians need to target sinners and those without belief for salvation.

The world still isn’t safe for people who don’t have religious beliefs.
There are places where people can be executed for not believing in deities, as one example. Extreme conditions aside, there are still many ways in other countries where people who don’t have faith get singled out for mistrust. In many evangelical churches, non-belief is either an enemy or something that needs to be fought against.

Outside of my blog here, I’m quietly non-religious. Even when asked, I’m more likely to say that I’m non-religious rather than my actual non-belief in deities. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it; it’s that I want to avoid awkward confrontations. Saying I’m non-religious is dangerous enough without having to also explain why I don’t believe in invisible things.

At times I realize how slanted this state of affairs is against people and ideas that don’t embrace religion (Christianity in particular where I’m from). On the other side of things, I’m constantly bombarded with messages asking me if I’m saved, what church I go to, or trying to make me feel guilty for being a dirty heathen sinner. The people who promote that message don’t always worry about the effect it has on others. In fact, the goal is to be persuasive in returning people to faith. As a result, I live in an environment where many Christians are socially allowed to bully people into a church, but defending against that is not acceptable.

I want to change that, but it raises ethical questions.
I’m still struggling to deal with people who seek to push their faith in a place that is dedicated to the exploration of healthy living without faith. If I dealt with them exactly as they deal with me, by rights I should simply delete their comments and move on. These people are not looking for conversation or even to represent their faith; they’re trying to mark my blog as territory they can violate.

Policing comments like this is a difficult task. It entails me having to look at a comment and determine the true motive of someone writing something. Dealing with the petty “Jesus loves you” comments are one thing, but sometimes people do mistakenly think a conversation ought to begin with passive-aggressive shaming. The latter group needs to work through that to figure out why it’s not a good thing. The former group is just looking to pick a fight.

The other problem this raises is that I don’t want to prevent people who doubt their faith from feeling comfortable here. Engaging non-religious people can be a difficult task when you’re raised to distrust them. For a lot of people who would otherwise leave an unhealthy faith, they might not be able to because all they do is pick fights with non-religious communities. Silencing them would prevent them from getting the help they need.

I’m probably asking too much of people.
Conversations are the best when they’re disciplined, but too many people don’t know what that entails. There’s a reason why there are arbitrary cutoffs in court proceedings and appeals; people would raise objections and arguments into perpetuity if you let them. Such is the nature of the human animal. We will sometimes just try to use brute force if it gets us what we want.

I’m struggling to maintain an ideal here. I want people to arrive by consent, read of their own free will, and make decisions on their own merits. However, there are people out there who will want to spoil that. It’s important because disparaging non-religious people and doubt is unhealthy.

Until I get a better handle on things, I will tread slowly and painfully.

14 thoughts on “Creating Safe Places to Leave Religion

  1. We tend to treat the belief in current religions differently than we treat any other sets of beliefs. Even old fallen religious beliefs do not get the same treatment that current ones do. I was watching a few YouTube videos responding to flat earthers, and there was no respect for the belief given. Respect for that belief was not even expected by the watchers. But with a current religion which is just as silly to me as a plate shaped planet gets respect and a space made for it. I don’t agree with the idea of that. IF it is brought into the public space, religion should be treated as any other belief and takes its lumps. Be well. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Scottie.

      For me, I think respect is earned, and it’s courtesy which most people look for. Even then, I’m still wondering how I can be assertive about leaving religion while being courteous to others.

      Nobody would bat an eye if someone gets run out of an AA meeting for trying to sell beer to the people in it. That’s what preaching on this blog is doing. I’m getting fatigued from the people who think that leaving Christianity is just an excuse to force themselves on others. I don’t care where else they do it; I just don’t want it done here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have a suggestion. WordPress allows a top banner. I do not do much with the theme on my page, I just wanted a clear open large space to place my thoughts. You could use the top banner to state your blogs position and then if someone tries to violate it, can them. It is your blog and on it you get to be a benevolent ruler. I think you handle people on your blog far better than I do. You maintain calm and civility. You give people the chance to simply tell you something about your self you know far batter than a random stranger. Be well Hugs

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  2. You wrote, … they’re trying to mark my blog as territory they can violate.

    I’ve noticed this works both ways.

    As a rule, I don’t follow blogs written by (claim-to-be) Christians. However, there is one in particular that I recently started following (the owner seems to be more “genuine”) — and the “violation” you speak of is very evident … from the other side. As you wrote, “people [will] raise objections and arguments into perpetuity if you let them.”

    Certainly blogs are for discussion. And if one is to be successful at all (in regards to visitor input), it needs to be open to dissenting opinions. But as you indicated, on the topic of religion, it’s far more productive when both sides know and honor certain limits.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Something else that’s been kind of gnawing at me is the fact that there are some people who just don’t think rules apply to them. It’s like they feel like they can go anywhere and do anything, and woe to those who get in their way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a mixed bag, isn’t it?
    I am always curious to see what people think about this stuff – especially the “believers”, since most of them hold an attitude rather than a belief in the first place.
    But some are just dicks, and as you pointed out, dickishness crosses all boundaries.
    If you find a good way of dealing with it, please share.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’re on to something about the attitude, Keith. Maybe that’s what’s getting my goat, and I can’t find a way to curb just the attitude and not everything else that comes with it. I really don’t mind if someone comes along and proclaims a belief about invisible genies granting wishes. I do mind when they shit on everyone who disagrees.

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  4. My blog attracts a lot of Evangelicals. I give every Evangelical commenter one opportunity to say whatever it is they think God is “leading” them to say. Further comments depend on the content of their first comment. Many Evangelical commenters don’t get a second chance to comment. If they are respectful and polite, I generally allow them to comment. In my experience, rare is the Evangelical zealot who can be a decent, thoughtful commenter from start to finish.

    You might find this post helpful:

    https://brucegerencser.net/dear-evangelical/

    I try to stay focused on why I blog and who it is I am trying to reach/help. My target audience is doubting Christians and people who have left Evangelical Christianity. I don’t debate or argue with committed Evangelicals/Catholics. Of course, I have on occasion failed to live up to this standard. 😀

    By the way, I take the same approach with hardcore atheists. I refuse to let anyone turn my blog into a bloody battleground. I want people to feel safe when commenting on my blog. A sizable number of my readers still believe in some sort of deity. I don’t evangelize. If I can get people to move away from Evangelicalism, I’m fine with that.

    Every writer has to determine how best to deal with zealots. Some atheist bloggers love arguing with Evangelicals. I don’t. Ten years in, I’m tired. I choose, to quote the Bible, not cast my pearls before swine. 😀

    Bruce

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Bruce!

      The link does help. I’ve been reading it and some of the other posts you linked to in it. From your posts I’ve been reading over the past few months, it seems like you get a lot of people who just explode.

      For whatever reason, I’m getting mostly people who are in the passive-aggressive “Jesus loves you and we’re waiting for you” camp. One of the reasons I’m getting turned around on this is that I don’t just want to feed into the pre-made persecution complex they set up. While I can’t always resist, I feel like I’m just feeding their monsters.

      At any rate, thanks for stopping by! I do like what you write over on your blog, even though I don’t always get the chance to stop by and say so.

      SB

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  5. Your blog, your space, you make the rules for what kind of conversation you are wanting to promote. If some proselytizer starts whining about not being allowed use your blog as a private pulpit, he can go get his own blog.

    One of my favorite bloggers, Captain Cassidy, has posted her commenting rules on a separate page, as you have, and she doesn’t hesitate to use the banhammer when someone is not following them. (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/the-roe/).

    Liked by 3 people

    • Cassidy’s always awesome. And she’s fearless when she breaks out the banhammer.

      That actually might be my problem here; I might just be overthinking everything. It’s tough getting over the fear that I’m turning someone away that might need help but doesn’t know how to ask for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well Sirius, these issues are complicated and damn if I ever found a good solution when I was a blogger. Hell, I still can’t find a good solution to this problem in real life!

    Just having a blog like this is a wonderful tool. You get to show your conscious, well thought out dissent to the prevailing religion. This is important so people can be aware they have an *option* to choose what they believe. Of course the religious will say every christian can opt out, but we live in a land where christians are an overwhelming majority, so that’s not exactly realistic.

    Should we indulge them in “conversation?” I suppose so, but I don’t anymore. My tactic now is to firmly say some version of “I don’t agree/I don’t believe that/keep your religion to yourself,” and not explain further. I have mixed feelings about this tactic…it’s possible I could be shutting down some people who have real doubts about what they worship. Still, I’m at least giving a sign of open dissent, and religious people need to see they can’t cow everyone. Then they’ll call me a black goat, and I’ll just give a wink and make a kissy face at them. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Christians do not generally comment on my blog. Well, only few people do anyway. But a lot of Theists have found my blog and clicked that they “liked” one or another post of mine. Perhaps it is a way to mark my blog (as you say), or an attempt to draw me in to read theirs and be “saved”. I would wellcome their comments to my posts just like I wellcome any comments. Maybe it is because I am not a deconvert, but a third generation atheist, that this is not a delicate matter to myself. On the contrary, I find myself often (on other forums) having perhaps insulted the feelings of Theists by my forthright demands, that they would offer evidence for their beliefs in the supernatural, or my criticism of anything they offer as “evidence”.

    Of course, I live in a rather secular society here in Finland, but there are invisible and unspoken barriers set on the path of a non-believer even in such a society where religiosity is considered more a private matter, than open field of evangelism. I might get to be defined as a troublemaker in any situation from hobby groups to working life, if I did not silently accept the blatant nonsense and moralism openly expressed by the religious. Religion is not a topic I bring up, but if I respond to it when it is brought up by a religious zealot, I know that I tend to make even the most liberal minded Theists uneasy by what I say in response. I hate it, that for example in many situations a racist may open up her/his dirty mouth in many an occasion and put his expression of vile views down simply as part of his/her freedom of speech, when I know, I am better off by keeping silent about my views on religion even when somebody is trying to showe theirs down my throat. As I grow older, I have become more aware of the negative effects I may suffer from expressing my views, while at the same time I have grown to care less about them. Does that make sense?

    An atheist friend of mine studied in the US years ago, and she said, that she quickly learned to lie, that she was a Lutheran, just to keep off all the people who would proselytize her, if she made the mistake to tell anyone she was an atheist or even a non-believer.

    The harm done by religions is often something the Theists are totally blind to. Especially if it is their own religion. They really DO seem to think, that they would do you a service by saving you from the wrath of their god by turning you into the club of worshippers. It seems there is nothing wrong in their view in this scenario, though it bothers me, how could anyone have such a low view about their god. Many a liberal Christian I know has asked me why do I oppose something like religions, since they are quite harmless, even if they were not true. An atheist friend of mine has a perfect response to this. She says, that to prove religions are harmless, they could start by paying for her therapist, that she has to take because of the anxiety her religious upbirnging has caused her.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. many evangelistic commenters don’t drive a second chance to comment.
    I am always singular to find out what people call back about this material – especially the “believers”, since most of them clutch an mental attitude rather than a notion in the initiative office.

    Like

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