How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
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16-04-2017, 08:35 AM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
If this meeting took place in her house then I would say that smiling and nodding politely is the best way to go.

Be thankful for you friend who is helping you.

Seems to me that you were raised with manners and you used them.

Can you and your friend meet at your house, or a library, or somewhere else?

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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16-04-2017, 09:12 AM
How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(15-04-2017 11:55 PM)ScarletStormBreaker Wrote:  Today I got together with my friend so she could help me work on my senior presentation, since she's a year older and already graduated high school. It was nice to spend some time with her, as we had not really been able to do that before. I have a somewhat difficult time leaving home due to my health issues, but lately I've been trying to branch out more to try and boost my endurance. I've known for quite some time that her family is religious, as I go to school with her younger brother, but the topic has never seriously come up. I would ask her how church was as a way to start small talk, and that'd be about it. She knows I'm an atheist and we have a mutual respect for each other so things go fine.

The "issue" I guess really starts when I met her mother today. She began to talk about how even though I have my health issues, I am made in the image of God, and how she would pray for my sick grandfather(along with the rest of my family) who I plan to visit over the summer before I start college. I thought to myself at the time that she probably hasn't been around people who have beliefs different from her own, and that this way just her way of being nice towards me. She was a very kind women, and could empathize with a lot of what I have gone through, I have no ill will towards her or my friends for being Christians. I stood there and politely nodded to what she said, occasionally responding with "Yes ma'am" or "I understand ma'am." The whole situation just made me uncomfortable.

I could see on my friend's face that she was uncomfortable by this too, because she understands my beliefs(or lack thereof) and I am thankful she didn't out me as an atheist to her mother, as I don't know how she will react. I still want to be able to friends with her children, and they all are just such nice people. I just don't know what to do if I continue to see her, should I eventually tell her or should I just sit quietly and nod my way through the whole conversation like I did today? I don't want to risk losing friends or make it sound as if I'm attacking anyone, and I know religious people, especially the very devout ones have a lot of misconceptions about atheists. I don't want my friend's mother to mistake me for one of those people, but I also don't want to have to pretend I'm something I'm not or to continue to be put in situations like this where I am uncomfortable.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

Sorry this is so long-winded.


I'm in situations like this all the time. I just agree with them and they usually stop talking about it quickly.

If you disagree with them they just keep babbling on about it.
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16-04-2017, 02:13 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(15-04-2017 11:55 PM)ScarletStormBreaker Wrote:  ...The "issue" I guess really starts when I met her mother today. She began to talk about how even though I have my health issues, I am made in the image of God, and how she would pray for my sick grandfather (along with the rest of my family) who I plan to visit over the summer before I start college.

I guess I have a somewhat different opinion to those proposed so far. I'd simply tell the mother—in a respectful and non-confrontational way of course—that you thank her for her concern and prayers, but that you're an atheist. You could possibly do this on your next visit to her house—if the mother brings up the topic of religion or prayers again.

My belief (ouch!) is that if you're uncomfortable with her overt religiosity, then you have just as much right to openly express your atheism. Personally, I've never had any problems telling people—even practising Christians—that I'm an atheist. I've been doing that for decades, and never encountered any opposition or rejection or aggression.

I'm also not quite sure why so many atheists, in an enlightened 21st century, seem so fearful of proclaiming their lack of religiosity. If the occasion arise in the natural ebb and flow of conversation, I'll let people know—in the pub, at a BBQ, or in the shops etc. Why hide it? If people vehemently disagree with your viewpoint, or disown you, then its their problem, and not yours.

I'm also surprised that so many atheist folks in the US (apparently) let the religious right hound them and talk down to them, and show so much hatred towards them solely for their lack of—usually—Christian religion.

So... tell the mother, and if she doesn't like it, well then tough titty for her. Dodgy

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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16-04-2017, 02:25 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(16-04-2017 02:13 PM)SYZ Wrote:  
(15-04-2017 11:55 PM)ScarletStormBreaker Wrote:  ...The "issue" I guess really starts when I met her mother today. She began to talk about how even though I have my health issues, I am made in the image of God, and how she would pray for my sick grandfather (along with the rest of my family) who I plan to visit over the summer before I start college.

I guess I have a somewhat different opinion to those proposed so far. I'd simply tell the mother—in a respectful and non-confrontational way of course—that you thank her for her concern and prayers, but that you're an atheist. You could possibly do this on your next visit to her house—if the mother brings up the topic of religion or prayers again.

My belief (ouch!) is that if you're uncomfortable with her overt religiosity, then you have just as much right to openly express your atheism. Personally, I've never had any problems telling people—even practising Christians—that I'm an atheist. I've been doing that for decades, and never encountered any opposition or rejection or aggression.

I'm also not quite sure why so many atheists, in an enlightened 21st century, seem so fearful of proclaiming their lack of religiosity. If the occasion arise in the natural ebb and flow of conversation, I'll let people know—in the pub, at a BBQ, or in the shops etc. Why hide it? If people vehemently disagree with your viewpoint, or disown you, then its their problem, and not yours.

I'm also surprised that so many atheist folks in the US (apparently) let the religious right hound them and talk down to them, and show so much hatred towards them solely for their lack of—usually—Christian religion.

So... tell the mother, and if she doesn't like it, well then tough titty for her. Dodgy

The OP is still in high school and stands to be barred from seeing a friend who is helping her if she does that.

Things must be very different here than where you are.

Here, as kids, we generally know better than to tell a grown woman off, especially in her own home. As a guest you should at least show some respect for the fact that you are someone else's house.

Perhaps respect for your elders isn't a thing everywhere.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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16-04-2017, 02:56 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(16-04-2017 02:13 PM)SYZ Wrote:  I'm also not quite sure why so many atheists, in an enlightened 21st century, seem so fearful of proclaiming their lack of religiosity. If the occasion arise in the natural ebb and flow of conversation, I'll let people know—in the pub, at a BBQ, or in the shops etc. Why hide it? If people vehemently disagree with your viewpoint, or disown you, then its their problem, and not yours.
Except that they have ways of MAKING it your problem.

I live in a very egalitarian, liberal enclave in the Northeast, and make no effort to either conceal or reveal my (un)beliefs. It's nice to have that option, but even here, I don't flaunt it because we are surrounded by hyperconservatives, some of whom commute to work in businesses here, and I don't want anyone spitting in my food when they prepare it ;-)

Beyond that I go completely dark with my clients. My main one is a conservative Catholic, and her #2 is a Bible Belt fundamentalist. They assure me I'm integral to their company and my eight year gig will continue indefinitely, and PLEASE don't retire anytime soon, etc. Still, if I were known as an atheist there's no telling how it would color their view / trust of me and it's lucrative and enjoyable enough work that I don't see any reason to risk finding out. Pick your battles. In this case they know I have integrity, and I would rather they project from that, the assumption that I'm a believer, rather than instantly think I'm a master deceiver, since I can't be unbelieving AND moral, right? So I use my "deceiver" chops to drop a few subtle deflections, like, when the fundie bloviates about what a "man of god" he is or how he holds his teens captive -- er, home schools them -- I make the sort of "deniably approving" noises I know from experience as a former fundie that he expects to hear. Let him think I'm a lesser "man of god" too. It's no skin off my back.

Some might consider this craven, I simply regard it as pragmatic. It's pretty much the same as not flaunting liberal politics in front of a politically conservative client, or not flaunting pot smoking in front of a law-and-order conservative ... or in other ways not waving red flags in front of bulls. I'd rather take their money, particularly since the kind of business they are running has nothing to do with ideology and provides a really useful / needed service to people of all (ir)religions, politics, whatever.
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16-04-2017, 03:07 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(16-04-2017 02:25 PM)Anjele Wrote:  
(16-04-2017 02:13 PM)SYZ Wrote:  I guess I have a somewhat different opinion to those proposed so far. I'd simply tell the mother—in a respectful and non-confrontational way of course—that you thank her for her concern and prayers, but that you're an atheist. You could possibly do this on your next visit to her house—if the mother brings up the topic of religion or prayers again.

My belief (ouch!) is that if you're uncomfortable with her overt religiosity, then you have just as much right to openly express your atheism. Personally, I've never had any problems telling people—even practising Christians—that I'm an atheist. I've been doing that for decades, and never encountered any opposition or rejection or aggression.

I'm also not quite sure why so many atheists, in an enlightened 21st century, seem so fearful of proclaiming their lack of religiosity. If the occasion arise in the natural ebb and flow of conversation, I'll let people know—in the pub, at a BBQ, or in the shops etc. Why hide it? If people vehemently disagree with your viewpoint, or disown you, then its their problem, and not yours.

I'm also surprised that so many atheist folks in the US (apparently) let the religious right hound them and talk down to them, and show so much hatred towards them solely for their lack of—usually—Christian religion.

So... tell the mother, and if she doesn't like it, well then tough titty for her. Dodgy

The OP is still in high school and stands to be barred from seeing a friend who is helping her if she does that.

Things must be very different here than where you are.

Here, as kids, we generally know better than to tell a grown woman off, especially in her own home. As a guest you should at least show some respect for the fact that you are someone else's house.

Perhaps respect for your elders isn't a thing everywhere.

I never give respect to people just cause they are old. Everyone must earn it... Then again this has caused me endless amounts of trouble when I was a kid....

I had an aunt "You should show me more respect!" me: "Why?" her: "CAUSE I"M YOUR AUNT, NOW DO WHAT I SAY!" me: " That's not a reason!"

Then again around here between a kid and an adult "respect" translates to mindless willing obedient slavery. It's assumed the adult knows everything the child knows nothing, the child has no rights and is not a person. I hated that growing up. I'll admit I was never like other kids growing up, my brothers, the few friends I had never really talked or sounded like kids at all... The adults around us couldn't handle the idea that we were people, with will, thoughts and were deserving of respect too. Besides, obedience will get you beat or raped and so will defiance. For me the end result was the same regardless of any action I took, so I was free to do whatever the fuck I wanted, I was gonna get brutally punished anyway so why not live my own way then?

Edit^ (This right here is the biggest reason I HATE baptists (the people) and Calvinists (the people)

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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16-04-2017, 03:13 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
Besides these "kids" are 18 fucking years old. They are adults now, there is no way a parent should be so domineering over their adult children... It's abuse as far as I'm concerned. Won't stop the religious mother from abusing her daughter, but... its still fucking abuse. (even if they were 17 or even 16 destroying their friendship cause one of them is an Atheist is wrong I say)

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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16-04-2017, 03:25 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(16-04-2017 02:25 PM)Anjele Wrote:  The OP is still in high school and stands to be barred from seeing a friend who is helping her if she does that.

Ahhh... understood. I didn't realise that, but I guess the "Yes ma'am" or "I understand ma'am" phraseology should've told me so. Can I ask who's potentially going to do the "barring" in this scenario? Sounds like blackmail to me.

Quote:Things must be very different here than where you are.

Australia... yep, no high school senior would be afraid to talk to an adult in the manner I suggested providing it was respectful. Young adults here are considered to have viable, worthwhile opinions regarding society, politics, religion, world affairs etc. And adults here generally don't demand respect or agreement with their personal views to the extent of stifling younger people's viewpoints or lifestyle. I can only assume that it's much more repressive in the US.

Quote:Here, as kids, we generally know better than to tell a grown woman off, especially in her own home. As a guest you should at least show some respect for the fact that you are someone else's house.

What or who exactly tells a young adult what to do, or not do, in the US, and particularly a non-parent? And why are young people supposed to suppress (or lie about) their personal opinions in somebody else's home FFS? Is it really that oppressive that as a young adult, I can be an atheist in my own home, but I have to pretend to be a theist in someone else's home? Seriously?

Quote:Perhaps respect for your elders isn't a thing everywhere.

It's not just a matter of "respect" (which BTW is earned). It's a matter of repressing or denying another intelligent, articulate human being their right to hold an opposing opinion, and freely state that opinion without fear of negative consequences. Personally, I think it's totally out of order that the OP's friend's mother is such a sanctimonious, self-centred bully.

—And just how much is a casual friendship worth anyway? Denial of one's self? Consider

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16-04-2017, 03:38 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(16-04-2017 03:25 PM)SYZ Wrote:  
(16-04-2017 02:25 PM)Anjele Wrote:  The OP is still in high school and stands to be barred from seeing a friend who is helping her if she does that.

Ahhh... understood. I didn't realise that, but I guess the "Yes ma'am" or "I understand ma'am" phraseology should've told me so. Can I ask who's potentially going to do the "barring" in this scenario? Sounds like blackmail to me.

Quote:Things must be very different here than where you are.

Australia... yep, no high school senior would be afraid to talk to an adult in the manner I suggested providing it was respectful. Young adults here are considered to have viable, worthwhile opinions regarding society, politics, religion, world affairs etc. And adults here generally don't demand respect or agreement with their personal views to the extent of stifling younger people's viewpoints or lifestyle. I can only assume that it's much more repressive in the US.

Quote:Here, as kids, we generally know better than to tell a grown woman off, especially in her own home. As a guest you should at least show some respect for the fact that you are someone else's house.

What or who exactly tells a young adult what to do, or not do, in the US, and particularly a non-parent? And why are young people supposed to suppress (or lie about) their personal opinions in somebody else's home FFS? Is it really that oppressive that as a young adult, I can be an atheist in my own home, but I have to pretend to be a theist in someone else's home? Seriously?

Quote:Perhaps respect for your elders isn't a thing everywhere.

It's not just a matter of "respect" (which BTW is earned). It's a matter of repressing or denying another intelligent, articulate human being their right to hold an opposing opinion, and freely state that opinion without fear of negative consequences. Personally, I think it's totally out of order that the OP's friend's mother is such a sanctimonious, self-centred bully.

—And just how much is a casual friendship worth anyway? Denial of one's self? Consider

The OP does say that it was her first time to this home due to her own health issues. Uncharted territory, as it were.

I am not going to further derail this thread.

I think she handled herself well considering the situation. Your mileage may vary.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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16-04-2017, 03:39 PM
RE: How to deal with my friend's really religious mother?
(16-04-2017 03:25 PM)SYZ Wrote:  
(16-04-2017 02:25 PM)Anjele Wrote:  The OP is still in high school and stands to be barred from seeing a friend who is helping her if she does that.

Ahhh... understood. I didn't realise that, but I guess the "Yes ma'am" or "I understand ma'am" phraseology should've told me so. Can I ask who's potentially going to do the "barring" in this scenario? Sounds like blackmail to me.

Quote:Things must be very different here than where you are.

Australia... yep, no high school senior would be afraid to talk to an adult in the manner I suggested providing it was respectful. Young adults here are considered to have viable, worthwhile opinions regarding society, politics, religion, world affairs etc. And adults here generally don't demand respect or agreement with their personal views to the extent of stifling younger people's viewpoints or lifestyle. I can only assume that it's much more repressive in the US.

Quote:Here, as kids, we generally know better than to tell a grown woman off, especially in her own home. As a guest you should at least show some respect for the fact that you are someone else's house.

What or who exactly tells a young adult what to do, or not do, in the US, and particularly a non-parent? And why are young people supposed to suppress (or lie about) their personal opinions in somebody else's home FFS? Is it really that oppressive that as a young adult, I can be an atheist in my own home, but I have to pretend to be a theist in someone else's home? Seriously?

Quote:Perhaps respect for your elders isn't a thing everywhere.

It's not just a matter of "respect" (which BTW is earned). It's a matter of repressing or denying another intelligent, articulate human being their right to hold an opposing opinion, and freely state that opinion without fear of negative consequences. Personally, I think it's totally out of order that the OP's friend's mother is such a sanctimonious, self-centred bully.

—And just how much is a casual friendship worth anyway? Denial of one's self? Consider

I think her friend is worth a whole hell of a lot, in this country people that cool are rare as fuck. However, I don't think She should deny herself, and I don't think her friend should ask that of her (and I don't think her friend WOULD ask that of her). Personally I think the best solution is to avoid the mom as much as possible while maintaining the friendship, and maybe working with the friend to distract the mother when she starts talking out her ass.

No idea if that would work but worth a try I think.

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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