How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
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17-12-2013, 11:10 AM
How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
Hello, I'm new on the forums and I was wondering if anyone around here could maybe give me some advice on how to deal with people who keep bringing the concept of God and religion up and try to get into arguments with me about my worldviews. I come from an extremely religious family, and unfortunately, since I've admitted to not believing in a God or any kind of supernatural force such as miracles, my family members keep on trying to talk to me about God. This has been going on for months and now I've been getting very defensive and sometimes get into arguments with them.

Sometimes I feel hatred towards religion because I feel it gets in the way of human connection. People thrust their ego into their religion and when you choose not to accept it, they become hostile, and judgmental towards you for being too 'ignorant' to see how they're so very right because they ''feel'' God in them, or whatever.

Anyways, the purpose of this thread is for you all to share with the forums on how you deal with people who bring up religion and try to instigate arguments with you on whether God exists. Do you get defensive? Do you ignore it? Do you get offended? Please share with me, because I will be reading every comment and maybe it can help me deal with my family relationships. I miss those days where me and my cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings could bond and focus on a movie, play balderdash, soccer, and go eat out whenever we're bored. Nowadays, I'm getting these cold stares and disapproving looks, as if I'd just had plastic surgery. So anyways, please share how you deal with this. Did your family ''exile'' you? Do you distance yourself from them because they can't let it go and you just can't get along anymore? Or do you try to cope with each others differences and ignore it. Thank you for reading, please help!

Everyday is judgement day. Use your judgement, use reason.
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17-12-2013, 11:21 AM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
(17-12-2013 11:10 AM)Freethought Wrote:  Hello, I'm new on the forums and I was wondering if anyone around here could maybe give me some advice on how to deal with people who keep bringing the concept of God and religion up and try to get into arguments with me about my worldviews. I come from an extremely religious family, and unfortunately, since I've admitted to not believing in a God or any kind of supernatural force such as miracles, my family members keep on trying to talk to me about God. This has been going on for months and now I've been getting very defensive and sometimes get into arguments with them.

Sometimes I feel hatred towards religion because I feel it gets in the way of human connection. People thrust their ego into their religion and when you choose not to accept it, they become hostile, and judgmental towards you for being too 'ignorant' to see how they're so very right because they ''feel'' God in them, or whatever.

Anyways, the purpose of this thread is for you all to share with the forums on how you deal with people who bring up religion and try to instigate arguments with you on whether God exists. Do you get defensive? Do you ignore it? Do you get offended? Please share with me, because I will be reading every comment and maybe it can help me deal with my family relationships. I miss those days where me and my cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings could bond and focus on a movie, play balderdash, soccer, and go eat out whenever we're bored. Nowadays, I'm getting these cold stares and disapproving looks, as if I'd just had plastic surgery. So anyways, please share how you deal with this. Did your family ''exile'' you? Do you distance yourself from them because they can't let it go and you just can't get along anymore? Or do you try to cope with each others differences and ignore it. Thank you for reading, please help!

I grew up the son of a southern baptist preacher, then my parents divorced 32 years ago, both remarried. My mother became a pentecostal minister, and my father converted to mormonism. They are incapable of putting a sentence together that doesnt involve their god, church or faith. I understand this. It is their life, the delusion is all they can see. They understand I dont believe. Their belief exacerbates me, and my lack of faith saddens them. Whenever they tell me a story of the latest miracle they witnessed or how sister bethel was cured by prayer etc, I just smile and say that's nice and change the subject. I defend by non engagement and side stepping the issue with a smile. Because it is my family and I love them. They dont push hard anymore.

I suggest you just try to change the subject, smile your way through it, if it gets to the point of actual contention and argument, then you may need to say, "look, I love and respect you, and your beliefs, and as your son/daughter I ask you love me in return enough to respect mine".

bets of luck
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17-12-2013, 11:51 PM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
Fortunately there was very little backlash when I left. You do have to tell them that you're still the same person and would like to be with them and play some games. It is a contest of egos, god is usually an extension of that. Would they still tell you you're doing something wrong if they didn't "have god on their side?" No, at least not with the same sense of authority. It's an ego boost its even in the bible that their supposed to spread the message to the great dismay of those who would rather not hear it. You got to find a way to deflate the ego, just tell them honestly that you want to be a family again and do all those fun silly things. Come to a mutual understanding. Something is really missing when people take themselves so seriously all the time.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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18-12-2013, 06:40 AM (This post was last modified: 18-12-2013 06:43 AM by Free Thought.)
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
(17-12-2013 11:10 AM)Freethought Wrote:  Hello, I'm new on the forums and I was wondering if anyone around here could maybe give me some advice on how to deal with people who keep bringing the concept of God and religion up and try to get into arguments with me about my worldviews. I come from an extremely religious family, and unfortunately, since I've admitted to not believing in a God or any kind of supernatural force such as miracles, my family members keep on trying to talk to me about God. This has been going on for months and now I've been getting very defensive and sometimes get into arguments with them.

Sometimes I feel hatred towards religion because I feel it gets in the way of human connection. People thrust their ego into their religion and when you choose not to accept it, they become hostile, and judgmental towards you for being too 'ignorant' to see how they're so very right because they ''feel'' God in them, or whatever.

Anyways, the purpose of this thread is for you all to share with the forums on how you deal with people who bring up religion and try to instigate arguments with you on whether God exists. Do you get defensive? Do you ignore it? Do you get offended? Please share with me, because I will be reading every comment and maybe it can help me deal with my family relationships. I miss those days where me and my cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings could bond and focus on a movie, play balderdash, soccer, and go eat out whenever we're bored. Nowadays, I'm getting these cold stares and disapproving looks, as if I'd just had plastic surgery. So anyways, please share how you deal with this. Did your family ''exile'' you? Do you distance yourself from them because they can't let it go and you just can't get along anymore? Or do you try to cope with each others differences and ignore it. Thank you for reading, please help!

I was luck enough to never have been indoctrinated, my parents tended to try and keep religion, even their own beliefs, away from my siblings and my self.

That doesn't mean I don't get into the rare argument with them or my siblings themselves on matters theological or otherwise in response to my 'unique' personality traits within the family. In such instances, I usually argue back (I don't like to lose regardless of the cost), though I tend to be on the defensive in arguments regardless of where or what I am arguing (I require time to think through my opponents statements, so I'm not that great of a debater).

Depending on how your family treats you, I figure you have a few options:
1) Argue back. If you are not being treated with threats or out-right hostility this might be a good stance; show them that all would be better off dropping the subject entirely, backing down only encourages their behaviour and if faced with strong opposition they might back down. However this comes with significant risks: People generally don't like to be engaged in argumentation and they might find your renewed and staunch opposition as threatening and the situation might become bad very quickly depending on the kind of people your family are. it might also renew their efforts and force you to push back. If you do argue, do it as calmly as possible; don't get heated, people respond to blustering in two ways: they are either cowed into submission or they sense the weakness inherent in blusterers and pounce. Try to be genial in your discussions, smile to put them at ease.

2) Be staunch and plain tell them to drop it, you can achieve this in a myriad of ways, couple examples: "I don't want this, please stop." "You are only pushing me further from faith." "I don't need the stress from your pestering me." "I am the same as I always was, can't you just let us get along like normal?"

3) Stonewall them; just plain ignore them or dodge their nuisance pestering, they should give up eventually. Big problem with stonewalling though is that it is a very well known relationship breaker; often the final step in cases like divorces or similar parting between close people and it is likely the same with family and friends so be careful when you do use it.

In any case you have to remember they are probably genuinely concerned about you, however misguided they may be, so try to be empathetic with them; far as I'm concerned, nothing wrong with playing with the empathetic systems in their brains if it gets everybody relative peace, man.

The people closely associated with the namesake of female canines are suffering from a nondescript form of lunacy.
"Anti-environmentalism is like standing in front of a forest and going 'quick kill them they're coming right for us!'" - Jake Farr-Wharton, The Imaginary Friend Show.
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18-12-2013, 07:29 AM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
It seems like their constant barrage is wearing you down. That sucks.

You can rarely win in that environment where most of them are staunch believers. I'd ignore their conversation when it is going on around you but not directed at you. If they try to direct it more directly at you, I'd just grin at them, shake your head slightly and act as if the question never happened. If they try to do it in a large audience, perhaps state strongly "How about we talk about other things ok? Let's try to enjoy our company instead of being hostile". Say that just once and then revert back to the smile response. Hopefully they'll get bored of trying to bait you.
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18-12-2013, 11:24 AM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
(17-12-2013 11:10 AM)Freethought Wrote:  Hello, I'm new on the forums and I was wondering if anyone around here could maybe give me some advice on how to deal with people who keep bringing the concept of God and religion up and try to get into arguments with me about my worldviews.

Free Thought (holy crap is that confusing that you guys have the same name) said pretty much everything I would have. Figure out if you want to discuss this with them or not. If not, politely ask them to stop, and be rather insistent if they don't listen.

If you want to discuss things with them, hold them to what they say and demand evidence. Don't give into them, and make them either bust out the lamest of escape hatch arguments, agree to disagree, or stop talking to you all together. If you bring up enough hard questions or refute all of their "best" arguments repeatedly, they might stop trying.


(17-12-2013 11:10 AM)Freethought Wrote:  Anyways, the purpose of this thread is for you all to share with the forums on how you deal with people who bring up religion and try to instigate arguments with you on whether God exists. Do you get defensive? Do you ignore it? Do you get offended? Please share with me, because I will be reading every comment and maybe it can help me deal with my family relationships. I miss those days where me and my cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings could bond and focus on a movie, play balderdash, soccer, and go eat out whenever we're bored. Nowadays, I'm getting these cold stares and disapproving looks, as if I'd just had plastic surgery. So anyways, please share how you deal with this. Did your family ''exile'' you? Do you distance yourself from them because they can't let it go and you just can't get along anymore? Or do you try to cope with each others differences and ignore it. Thank you for reading, please help!

My family and I don't discuss it much. I never really ask them about it, and they never ask me about it. All in all, things still go normally. Depending on how they approached me, I might get defensive, but luckily, that hasn't come up, yet.
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18-12-2013, 11:50 AM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
Yup. Two teenage Free(T/t)houghts. That's not going to get confusing, is it? Dodgy

Might have to go with FT snr and Ft jnr.

Ft jnr,
Why not just embrace this as an opportunity to hone your debating skills before you escape into the wider world.
Who knows, you could be the next YouTube anti-Quran phenomenon?

Go for it.

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18-12-2013, 11:53 AM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
Thank you all for the (Freethoughtful!) comments so far. Just the other day actually, my aunt was giving me a ride home from my Chiropractor appointment. We started talking casually, so I asked her about what she does in her spare time, (she's a prominent banker). So she said she's really into those TV shows were they catch criminals. I was listening to what she was saying, and then abruptly she digressed and started talking about miracles, I have no clue on how people go from talking about TV shows to miracles, but when you're super religious I guess you always find a way to connect things to stuff in your religion, confirmation bias I guess? Anyway, I took some advice from all of you experienced folks and casually said, "that's nice" while smiling. All of a sudden she then asks me.. "Do you believe in God now"? I was stunned at the question and sort of offended she'd ask me that as if I'd ''made'' my mind up based on some rhetoric she'd just said and stuff I've heard 1000 times from 1000 different religions. As if my position wasn't strong enough, you know? Well, instead of getting defensive and saying the things I would've said prior to this sentence to her out loud, I instead ignored it and tried my best to change the subject.

It's sometimes irritating how the people in my family always go from one thing to another thing to another thing, and then you eventually get into some babbling about some far-fetched weird ''connection'' about things supporting their religion... Talk about insecurity! My cousin who's now 29 and a Deist gave me some advice and said I should just go to the religious gatherings since I'm still young, (I'm only 16), and until I'm older then start being more affirmative in my beliefs of no belief. I don't know about this... I don't want to be a hypocrite to myself and be something I'm not.. I've been having doubts since the age of 9 and they were always suppressed and I was scared of saying what I really thought because it'd hurt my family. Since I've been declining their invitations for me to join them in their religious ceremonies, they treat me as some sort of wounded puppy, a poor rebellious teen going through a ''phase''. In the future, I'll try my best to act accordingly to when they bring up religion. Sometimes I try to leave the area if my family is discussing with themselves about how beautiful religion is etc, because they know I'm there and they want to indirectly say things to me while avoiding confrontation. Other times, I outright ignore their questions such as, how many animals did Noah bring on the arch. I find it sometimes rude to ignore such a direct question, but I think I'll find it the better option rather than to make the situation more awkward by ''playing into their bait'' as someone above wrote. Thank you all for the current advice so far, and if anybody else has some more delicious input, please share.

PS: What are the chances that another user has the name 'Free Thought'! I feel like a usurper!

Everyday is judgement day. Use your judgement, use reason.
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18-12-2013, 12:05 PM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
(18-12-2013 11:53 AM)Freethought Wrote:  Thank you all for the (Freethoughtful!) comments so far. Just the other day actually, my aunt was giving me a ride home from my Chiropractor appointment. We started talking casually, so I asked her about what she does in her spare time, (she's a prominent banker). So she said she's really into those TV shows were they catch criminals. I was listening to what she was saying, and then abruptly she digressed and started talking about miracles, I have no clue on how people go from talking about TV shows to miracles, but when you're super religious I guess you always find a way to connect things to stuff in your religion, confirmation bias I guess? Anyway, I took some advice from all of you experienced folks and casually said, "that's nice" while smiling. All of a sudden she then asks me.. "Do you believe in God now"? I was stunned at the question and sort of offended she'd ask me that as if I'd ''made'' my mind up based on some rhetoric she'd just said and stuff I've heard 1000 times from 1000 different religions. As if my position wasn't strong enough, you know? Well, instead of getting defensive and saying the things I would've said prior to this sentence to her out loud, I instead ignored it and tried my best to change the subject.

It's sometimes irritating how the people in my family always go from one thing to another thing to another thing, and then you eventually get into some babbling about some far-fetched weird ''connection'' about things supporting their religion... Talk about insecurity! My cousin who's now 29 and a Deist gave me some advice and said I should just go to the religious gatherings since I'm still young, (I'm only 16), and until I'm older then start being more affirmative in my beliefs of no belief. I don't know about this... I don't want to be a hypocrite to myself and be something I'm not.. I've been having doubts since the age of 9 and they were always suppressed and I was scared of saying what I really thought because it'd hurt my family. Since I've been declining their invitations for me to join them in their religious ceremonies, they treat me as some sort of wounded puppy, a poor rebellious teen going through a ''phase''. In the future, I'll try my best to act accordingly to when they bring up religion. Sometimes I try to leave the area if my family is discussing with themselves about how beautiful religion is etc, because they know I'm there and they want to indirectly say things to me while avoiding confrontation. Other times, I outright ignore their questions such as, how many animals did Noah bring on the arch. I find it sometimes rude to ignore such a direct question, but I think I'll find it the better option rather than to make the situation more awkward by ''playing into their bait'' as someone above wrote. Thank you all for the current advice so far, and if anybody else has some more delicious input, please share.

PS: What are the chances that another user has the name 'Free Thought'! I feel like a usurper!

Only a year younger than I am, huh?
The coincidences just keep piling up.

Either way, keep at it and down let them wear you down, man. Best of luck to you.

The people closely associated with the namesake of female canines are suffering from a nondescript form of lunacy.
"Anti-environmentalism is like standing in front of a forest and going 'quick kill them they're coming right for us!'" - Jake Farr-Wharton, The Imaginary Friend Show.
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18-12-2013, 10:03 PM
RE: How to deal with proselytizing family Theists?
When it comes to conflict, even debate, it really pays off to follow some basic rules.

1. Always choose the place and time of each conflict. Don't allow someone to draw you into a pitched battle when you would rather go home and read a book. You have literally no obligation to have any conversation with anyone. You don't even have to listen to them. Don't allow your ego to get in the way, and make you easy to provoke. Retreat isn't giving up, or admitting you are wrong. Retreating is a tactical maneuver, allowing you to regroup and either vanish, or launch a counter attack.

2. Do not engage in wasteful conflict. Go into any debate with a tactical goal by which to measure your success. If you know in advance that the person you are talking to will remain unconvinced regardless of any persuasion, do not engage them at all. Avoid what is strong, attack only what is weak. It may be the case, that ultimate victory for you will be to avoid conflict altogether.

3. Understand your family as much as you can. Empathize with them, and try to see yourself from their perspective. Even when they are wrong, seeing things from their point of view will allow you to know exactly how to respond to them. If you know them, as well as yourself, you will never be caught off guard by their behavior. You don't have to condone what they do and say, just understand it.

4. Focus on the portions of your relationships that you love the most. Cultivate these, while abandoning subjects and behaviors that cause you trouble. Indirectly manipulate conversation and even events if you have too. Only engage in a conflict as a last resort. If you get pinned to the wall and are unable to avoid answering, I recommend stating as clearly as you can, "This subject is off limits. We will not talk about it. ". Use firm declarative language that will help your family see you as an adult who is setting clear boundaries.

This is how I manage my own family. I like to view it as a conflict, like a campaign of war. Silly? Maybe. It works for me though. Hope that helps.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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