Religious family members
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13-03-2012, 01:45 AM
Religious family members
Hi guys! New poster here, but longtime follower of TTA. I'm having an issue with one of my Christian family members that I'm considerably close to, and I wanted to get your opinions/advice.

So here's the deal... a few years ago, my cousin struggled with depression and was cutting herself consistently. She and I talked about it for awhile, because I was someone she knew would offer advice, support, and confidentiality. A few days ago, she posted a testimony on FB about how Jesus pulled her out of depression, yadda yadda. I posted a response telling her that I remember the talks we had and how proud of her I was for finding the determination to conquer such an obstacle, and that I loved her. Her response was simply: Cousin, all glory goes to God, I couldn't have done it without him. No I love you back, no thanks for helping her through, no credit given to herself.

I found this irritating. Not just the thanks to God within itself, I see that all the time from that part of my family. The problem I have is that she has known for years that I'm an atheist, yet still chose to say just that to me, in spite of my beliefs and the support I gave her. Worse, now the rest of the family is piling on, echoing the empty sentiments of how no one is to thank except God, he is the only way, blah blah. I'm disappointed that she thinks so little of herself as to think she essentially didn't do anything, but that I can't do much about.

So now I'm stuggling with whether or not to say something in my defense. I don't want to say anything in the current thread, because I really am proud of her and don't want to sabotage it. I am also not so proud as to demand a thank you or love sentiment. I guess I just want to make her and others see that such a self-righteous attitude (or the opposite, I guess) does offend people, sometimes those close to them.

What do you guys think? I could private message her, so it's kept between the two of us, but like I said, I kind of want everyone to see that beliefs and sentiments should not be given a pass simply because they are religious in nature. But I do have a habit of making too big a deal out of things, so I'm not discounting that possibility. Smile

Thanks in advance everyone! I look forward to becoming more active here!
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13-03-2012, 07:16 AM
RE: Religious family members
Sorry, didn't think this went through the first time. Mods, you can delete.
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13-03-2012, 07:30 AM
RE: Religious family members
Well, there are a few things you have to ask yourself.

1) Am I really that offended?
2) Is it worth the potential trouble it could cause?
3) Do I honestly care about her religious beliefs or how she attributes her success?
4) Just because she pushed her religious beliefs on me, is it necessary that I push my irreligious beliefs on her?
5) All in all, is it worth it?

Weigh the pros and cons, and then make a decision.

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13-03-2012, 07:48 AM (This post was last modified: 13-03-2012 07:59 AM by devilsadvoc8.)
RE: Religious family members
This is tough. You care about your cousin but I hesitate to say it but they don't very much appreciate your effort or your feelings. You helped out another human being becuase they were in need for no other reason other than they needed help.

Perhaps they righted the ship solely through "jesus" and thus they feel no need to thank you. However, if someone dismisses your help and would rather give thanks to a mythical figure instead of the person right here on earth who spent the time and energy to help them, that is quite telling. This is one of the biggest issues I have with modern christianity. They ignore and dismiss those people most likely to be effective in helping them in favor of a zombie. Personally, I'd be quite upset at this. It is up to you as to how to best handle this but I'd suggest that you call the person and state something akin to this:

What you've done has hurt me. I feel that you have slighted me and have chosen to dismiss my time and effort to help you out, selflessly. While we may have different religious views, I think you are wrong to not appreciate the one thing we do agree on, the support of family and your fellow human being can be powerful support systems.

I wouldn't challenge their religious views especially since they feel so strongly in crediting it with their recovery. If they continue to 'praise jesus' then unfortunately you are now talking to a drone who has lost the ability for higher levels of rational thought. A public fight on fb just isn't the right thing to do IMO as the drones would simply see this as another atheist attacking their views and your message would be lost. You were once very close to the person, deal with them in a personal manner.
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13-03-2012, 07:55 AM
RE: Religious family members
I blame all the good stuff in life on Gwyneth Paltrow, and nobody with any sense tries to talk me out of it. Big Grin

I see no error in an abstract perception of Jesus; merely the anthropomorphism of Love. It is the fabrication of concrete idolatry that causes problems. "Jesus saves" ain't a problem, "Jesus saves you;" now that's problematic. In the tao of life, we all use identifiers to mark our way; one thing Jesus got right is planks before motes. It is good to clarify whether or not the conflict lies in the self before negotiating another's peace. Wink

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13-03-2012, 08:48 AM
RE: Religious family members
Devilsad, I'm definitely with you in that if we do talk it's going to be privately. You made a hell of a point about Christians piling on and just calling it an atheist attack; that's just kerosene on the fire.

Kings, those are definitely the factors that have me waffling. I know it very likely won't change anything, and I'm quite peeved, but hell, that happens every day; not so sure this one is worth the inevitable sacrificial brain cells. I'm sure the response would be along the lines of "God helped me through other people, yadda yadda," so really in the end she might end up looking compassionate while I just look like a petty Cheerio-pisser. Smile

Again, thanks a lot everyone, I'm definitely thinking clearer about this now!
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13-03-2012, 09:20 AM
RE: Religious family members
The repercussions of pointing our her obvious ignorance would be rather damaging. Though it seems she is ungrateful for what you have done. People often forget how difficult is to communicate with, well, people. To help a person though emotional trouble takes a serious amount of patience and understanding.

I really cannot tell you either way. It is you cousin, so no matter what I do, it does not effect me. You can tell her that, and she can hate you for it (whether or not she thinks you are right is questionable). You don't tell her that, she lives a life of delusion for the rest of her days.

It is a very difficult scenario, and I must agree.

All I can do is pray for you. ;D

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13-03-2012, 02:46 PM
RE: Religious family members
Personally I'd just back away from it and let her be. But that isn't necessarily the right choice. I would also add that if you offered your help to her selflessly then you wouldn't contact her to make sure you're thanked.

You seem to go back and forth in your OP about making sure she recognizes your efforts and making sure she recognizes her own efforts in getting better, so if you contact her- be consistent about the message you send. If you call her up saying that you want to make sure she recognizes her own efforts but then let slip that you also want to be thanked you will look very selfish and probably ruin whatever message you're trying to send (or confirm it, depending on what you really want out of this).

There's nothing wrong with helping someone recognize the human efforts involved in someone's recovery from any condition. But when you are the one that offered the help it might come across as fishing for a compliment no matter how you bring it to her. And if that's the message she gets then she's going to completely miss the point of you bringing it to her attention in the first place.

You could think of it this way- a doctor speaks to a patient after a surgery he performed on the patient. The doctor says, "You're going to be fine, ma'am, the surgery was a success and the wounds are healing over quite well." The patient responds by saying, "Oh thank God, I was so worried!". Does the doctor reply with, "Ah, *ahem*, yes- don't forget, I did the surgery, not God." How would that come across? Maybe the doctor would say, "Well you had a bright positive attitude throughout this whole ordeal yourself, so I was confident you would come out OK." Just be careful what you say and how you come across.

In any case, you may have already made as much of a point as you can without grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her.

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13-03-2012, 11:45 PM
RE: Religious family members
I think you should take the religion out of it. Imagine the same scenario except instead of thanking God she thanked her mom or a friend or a support group. If they didn't receive any thanks from her how would you react in that circumstance.

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14-03-2012, 03:27 AM
RE: Religious family members
Again guys, thanks for the great input. As I said, I'm not demanding a thank you from her; one, because I'm not the only one who helped her through that time, and two, I don't help people for the recognition. I was just irritated because she straight up said "nothing you or anyone else did for me mattered; it was God." /facepalm

Kineo, I think you hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. I think that by congratulating her without mentioning religion in either sense, I said all I needed to-- that I think she's a determined human being who should be proud of herself, and if she or others don't care to think that way, that's fine. I think the risk factor outweighs the reward if I were to say anything more.
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