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Excuse Me Sir, Do You Have a Moment to Talk About Jesus Christ?

Last posted Jul 24, 2013 at 02:01AM EDT. Added Jul 22, 2013 at 02:12PM EDT
23 posts from 15 users

tl;dr version: Why do you think most people don’t like to talk about religion?

Brucker-length version: I was recently visiting a friend of mine, and he pointed out to me that a lot of the things he was into were things he had picked up from me: TV shows, bands, authors, and probably other stuff. Yet, it occurred to me that I had never managed to impress upon him any interest in religion, and he usually seemed to feel uncomfortable talking about it, remaining pretty much an agnostic.

I love to talk about religion, and as (more or less) a “fundie” Christian, it is of course my wish that all of my friends would come to share my world-view, but I certainly don’t realistically expect that will happen, and am not disappointed when rare talks about religion don’t result in a conversion experience. It’s not even about attempting conversion for me either; I enjoy talking about and studying religions other than my own just as much. Yet it seems uncommon for people to want to discuss religious topics, and difficult in many mixed crowds to have a mutually respectful discussion on the topic. What is it that makes religion such a touchy subject?

Jul 22, 2013 at 02:12PM EDT
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For me, at least, people seem to have a tough time talking about religion because of past experiences or issues. Many people see Christianity, or perhaps another religion, as it is portrayed in the media, and therefore see any religious follower as something negative. These extremists or false speakers turn off many with their outrageous ideas; i.e. “God hates fags!” These types of things clash with the beliefs and ideals of others, which results in a huge verbal war.

It probably doesn’t help that there’s a lot of corruption within religion, whether it’s the Catholic Priest situation or the Westboro Baptist Church. Sure, humans by themselves are corrupted in their own right, but when people of a supposed higher rank act just as bad as the non-believers, people start to lose trust and hope for religion as a whole.

I’ve been able to converse with my friends about religion in some minor ways, but none of it has been too important. I’m one of very few Christians within my group of friends, with everyone else either being Agnostic or extremely Atheist. I just guess that everyone has a topic they never want to talk about. It just so happens that religion is a very common topic among those.

Jul 22, 2013 at 09:53PM EDT
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I personally don’t like talking about religion because I became an atheist about 8 months ago, and my parents sort of dislike it.
But it’s not like I stopped believing because I wanted to miss church, wanted to feel different or anything like that. It was a book that I read over 2 years ago that got me thinking. I slowly started realizing that everything I once believed in with was just an illusion. And that book was about philosophy, and the characters were all christians.
I shared this with my older brother, and now he’s an atheist too.

But don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate any religion unless it affects someone. I befriended a mormon after being an atheist faster than I befriended a catholic when I was one.
And sometimes, atheists can be better persons than religious people. I’ve seen many people drinking like crazy, getting people pregnant, aborting (I don’t disagree with it), dating multiple chicks and some other stuff. Not as far as killing, tho. But anyways, every religion has that kind of people.

Well, to put it simply I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t affect me.

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:37PM EDT
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I have known many people from many different religions, and just as an observation I find that Christians/Catholics are far more defensive than any other religious people. (At least of the ones I know)

Admittedly, Christians have been under a lot of heat recently, and with how diverse my home community it’s understandable why many of them shy away from these sorts of discussions.

The conveyance of their ideals via storytelling, though was largely instrumental in getting people involved in the first place and has worked for quite a few other religions, is hurting the image of the christian religion. Not the stories themselves, but the people who genuinely believe and preach that said stories are 100% fact.

I am certain many of the followers see this or are starting to see or seeing this happen and people breaking away from the community and are understandably getting worried or filled with self doubt. That’s when people become defensive and then aggressive.

That’s my take anyways.

Last edited Jul 22, 2013 at 10:41PM EDT
Jul 22, 2013 at 10:38PM EDT
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The problem is the people, not the religion. One thing I don’t understand is the tension between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. They are all essentially worshiping the same God, since they are all Abrahamic religions. It’s especially weird, since a lot of the people in the Bible and Qur’an are Jewish (Abraham, Moses, Noah, etc.) Even Jesus was Jewish, an he is the most important in Christianity. People take religion too literally.

I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian with many Agnostic beliefs; one being that, if Heaven exists (I personally think it does), you will go there if you are a good person, regardless of your religion. Even if that religion "breaks the rules of Christianity (most of them do.) Even Atheists, Scientologists, and to a certain extent, Satanists. Maybe even Pastafarians. I also believe that all of the Gods and Goddesses of all the religions actually exist, and you will see the one that you worshiped when you die.

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:38PM EDT
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@Bionic

One thing I don’t understand is the tension between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. They are all essentially worshiping the same God, since they are all Abrahamic religions.

Unfortunately most people don’t question their own beliefs often enough to consider something so deep.

They see it as a matter of “My label against yours”

The significant cultural divide between the abrahamic religions keeps them all as far apart as possible no matter how similar the actual philosophies may be


Why do you think most people don’t like to talk about religion?

It’s too sensitive. Most people agree that it’s better to let people have the liberty to believe what they want and not allow respective beliefs to come in between people no matter how controversial they may be. When religion is discussed, it permits opportunity for otherwise good relationships to be compromised.

We all know that when it comes to discussing religion, you really cannot go anywhere with it. The most people can do is express where they themselves stand, but nobody is willing to accept what other people think. And that’s because (In my honest opinion) deep down inside of us; we all know that none of us really know anything for certain, nor can anything be known. Knowing that circumstance: forcing the topic creates an uncomfortable atmosphere, every single time. Either we don’t want to hear our beliefs being challenged or we don’t see the point in hearing anyone elses equally questionable take

It’s a fruitless and depressing topic and so it’s better to avoid it as far as most are concerned

Last edited Jul 22, 2013 at 11:05PM EDT
Jul 22, 2013 at 10:57PM EDT
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I think that people get uncomfortable about religion because it’s so important.

To most devout Christians, salvation is a hugely important thing. And there are steps one must take. It kind of makes you feel sad when a friend doesn’t want anything to do with that, like they’re missing out. It’s really hard to tell someone that they are missing out on something if they think it’s all a big hoax.

For an atheist, fact-checking is a hugely important thing. You have to have evidence for decisions. It kind of makes you feel sad when a friend accepts something without any hard evidence, like their position is indefensible. It’s really hard to tell someone that their position is indefensible if they hold those beliefs close to their heart.

In the end, religion, one way or the other is VERY PERSONAL. For those whose beliefs (one way or the other) are very strong, it can be a real soft spot-- a real touchy subject.

When handled with tact, it can be done, but it’s sometimes hard for friends to really say what they feel, if it offends someone.

tl;dr It’s hard to discuss religion openly without hurting someone’s feelings.

Please forgive the pony.

Last edited Jul 22, 2013 at 11:21PM EDT
Jul 22, 2013 at 11:01PM EDT
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I personally don’t mind talking about religion, but steer away from it because I know for some it’s a complete ‘no go zone’. I think the reason people are uneasy talking about religion (specifically, ones different from their own, or a lack of religion), is because they make up the fundamentals of peoples lives (unlike more trite topics, like “What’s your favorite flavor?”, if one person says chocolate and the other vanilla, it’s not polarized since their icy treats don’t dictate how they live, unlike religious teachings and philosophies.)

The other part is ambiguity of religious texts. Since the persons who wrote them are long since gone, no one knows precisely in what context they always apply (for example, in the Judeo-christian faith, you have the old and new testament which contradict each other at certain parts, some people see it one way, some the other.) So, if you have one person whose interpretation is one way, and some one else who interprets it differently, you often get conflict as to who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’.

I myself don’t see any evidence to validate the claim of any deity, therefore take the stance as an atheist. However, I certainly disagree when people say religion should ‘die’. Although [ideally] I would like everyone to be an atheist until they have facts to back themselves up, I understand they can belief what they want (so long as it doesn’t interfere with other peoples beliefs). The only thing that really grits me is creationists. Who insist it is a viable scientific theory ._. They make me die inside. I’m sorry.

Last edited Jul 22, 2013 at 11:18PM EDT
Jul 22, 2013 at 11:14PM EDT
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On the inverse of the above, there’s the fear of offending someone.

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:34PM EDT
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I’m agnostic (raised Catholic), leaning towards atheist, but I do sometimes enjoy talking about religion in general because I like looking at things from different points of view. I feel however these discussions usually turn heated or sour because a lot of religions lean themselves to creating an us vs. them mentality. I believe this is due to the fact that the core idea behind many religions is that whatever they are preaching is the truth, and everything else is wrong. There isn’t much room for compromise with this, so it turns into “either you’re with us or them”, which makes people uncomfortable. Being backed into a corner and forced to decide what you believe can result in people trying to avoid topics of religion all together. While I don’t really care what religion you believe in, I do hate how almost all religious debates on the internet go from being about religion in general to atheism vs Christianity.

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:39PM EDT
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Digoxin wrote:

I personally don’t like talking about religion because I became an atheist about 8 months ago, and my parents sort of dislike it.

I’m fascinated by this statement because while people converting to a religion tend to have a specific “conversion experience”, I’ve never heard of a similar thing for one becoming atheistic, but you sound like it was more or less a specific moment. As many have pointed out, religion (or lack thereof) is a very personal thing, so I won’t press but…care to share more about that? At least what was the book?

Bionic Kraken wrote:

One thing I don’t understand is the tension between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. They are all essentially worshiping the same God, since they are all Abrahamic religions.

I don’t get it either, and it probably sets me apart from most Christians, but it may highlight one of the things that I’ve noticed making religion a hot-button topic: it tends to be easier to discuss religion with someone with whom you share no common ground than someone with very similar views. You know, a lot of the Muslim world is antagonistic towards Israel today, but during the Crusades, the Jews and the Muslims were on the same side. (“How dare you call yourself a Christian and hold an identical moral position to me, and yet not believe that the story of Noah is literal historic fact?!”)

Blue Screen (of Death) wrote:

It’s a fruitless and depressing topic and so it’s better to avoid it as far as most are concerned

Wow, when did you get so cynical? You’re probably right by and large, though. When I discuss religion with people, I’m very interested in having an open mind and hearing their views without criticizing, but I’m probably more an exception than the rule.

Serious Business wrote:

Please forgive the pony.

That’s the most offensive thing I’ve seen all day…

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:57PM EDT
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Cale wrote:

On the inverse of the above, there’s the fear of offending someone.

What is this ‘fear of offending’? I do not understand this concept. Why should I care what other people think
And what is all this rubbish about not wanting to hurt other peoples feelings? What nonsense.

Jul 23, 2013 at 12:18AM EDT
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Kyntak wrote:

…in the Judeo-christian faith, you have the old and new testament which contradict each other at certain parts…

The only thing that really grits me is creationists. Who insist it is a viable scientific theory ._. They make me die inside. I’m sorry.

And of course it would be Kyntak that I always seem to be butting heads with that gives me real insight by pushing two of my hot-button topics, the former being a stance I disagree with (but won’t derail the topic by arguing over it) the latter one I wholeheartedly agree with. I consider myself a creationist but don’t for a second think it has anything to do with science; dress up creationism in a lab coat and call it “Intelligent Design” and it’s just insulting to the real scientific community.

But people feel so strongly about these things, I suppose it’s inevitable that such problems arise. One starts out wanting to discuss religion, and walks away with everyone offended because everyone knows that they’re right, and how dare you suggest that I’m anything less than 100% correct in my views on invisible sky beings?! While I sometimes disapprove of what I see as atheists’ lack of imagination, I can’t really fault them for thinking that I and my fellow theists are nuts, in the end.

As for atheism being a sort of default, however, I think agnosticism makes more sense. Choosing to disbelieve anything you can’t see would, brought to its logical conclusion, severely limit one’s ability to have a broad view of the world. For instance, while evolution and atomic theory are well-established scientifically, both involve things one cannot see with one’s own eyes.

Jul 23, 2013 at 12:19AM EDT
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I’m an atheist living in Utah… you can see where this is going.
I don’t talk about it with atheist friends because it turns into a circlejerk.
I don’t talk about it with Mormons because many of them are brainwashed and will attempt to convert you on sight. The Mormons who are alright I don’t talk to about it because I’ll say something stupid and they’ll hate me.
I’d just be happy if everyone followed this:

I don’t try to make them atheist, I don’t talk about it in normal conversation, and I don’t live my life around it.

Jul 23, 2013 at 12:42AM EDT
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Brucker wrote:

Kyntak wrote:

…in the Judeo-christian faith, you have the old and new testament which contradict each other at certain parts…

The only thing that really grits me is creationists. Who insist it is a viable scientific theory ._. They make me die inside. I’m sorry.

And of course it would be Kyntak that I always seem to be butting heads with that gives me real insight by pushing two of my hot-button topics, the former being a stance I disagree with (but won’t derail the topic by arguing over it) the latter one I wholeheartedly agree with. I consider myself a creationist but don’t for a second think it has anything to do with science; dress up creationism in a lab coat and call it “Intelligent Design” and it’s just insulting to the real scientific community.

But people feel so strongly about these things, I suppose it’s inevitable that such problems arise. One starts out wanting to discuss religion, and walks away with everyone offended because everyone knows that they’re right, and how dare you suggest that I’m anything less than 100% correct in my views on invisible sky beings?! While I sometimes disapprove of what I see as atheists’ lack of imagination, I can’t really fault them for thinking that I and my fellow theists are nuts, in the end.

As for atheism being a sort of default, however, I think agnosticism makes more sense. Choosing to disbelieve anything you can’t see would, brought to its logical conclusion, severely limit one’s ability to have a broad view of the world. For instance, while evolution and atomic theory are well-established scientifically, both involve things one cannot see with one’s own eyes.

Hurray! :D We can be a team. I’ll be the apathetic socially inept scientist, and you’ll be the ruff em up cop, and we’ll solve crime, like Bones and Booth, despite our religious differences (inb4 submitted to a ship thread)

I call myself an atheist, but by that I mean I see no evidence to believe in any deity (which some consider agnostic? idk). Should I ever be proven wrong with tangible evidence (not the silliness I often hear from converters, circular logic and such), I’d be more than willing to reassess my outlook. I don’t not think there isn’t possibility of deities, just that I have yet to see anything to convince me otherwise.

As for creationism, I suppose I should explain I mean the kind that think dinosaurs were ridden by Adam and Eve, etc. Like the creationism museum in the state I’m in… that was funded by taxpayers… Must. Not. Cringe. Anyways, there seems to be a new generation who believe [the judeo-christian] God created the universe, but also believe in evolution (a construct they believe was also implemented by god as well.) Which, I have no qualm against, as evolution only posits how we came to be, not from where/who. Though obviously they’re wrong--it was aliens who did it all. Duh

Last edited Jul 23, 2013 at 12:56AM EDT
Jul 23, 2013 at 12:54AM EDT
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I’m agreeing with above posters in that people don’t talk about religion because it governs their lives and most people don’t cope well with their beliefs crumbling beneath them.
Take my step-mother for example. Without her belief in the Catholic faith, she would be nothing. She would be a mother to 9 kids (not even including anyone from my side of the family) whom she is rather hard pressed to support. She surrounds herself with people who are like her and basically secludes herself when around those who would have different beliefs. One time I got really mad and asked her why I need to go to mass every Sunday, and she told me it was because I live in her house. She couldn’t even give me a reason other than the fact that my father married a witch (if anyone could tell me where to find a fridge magnet that reads, “I used to not believe in evil step-mothers, but then I got one!” I would like to know).
Even though I hate her for having to put up this facade of being a good Catholic around her, when I step back to examine it, I rather pity her for not having amounted to more than just a Catholic.

Jul 23, 2013 at 03:02AM EDT

So I’m playing Borderlands 2 right now and I run into a character in the game that quotes this line:

“Once I am human, I will talk to you about things that are of little or no importance. I will avoid religion and politics because if you disagree, you may no longer like me”

-Mal, the robot in Borderlands 2 that wants to be human

…and then I’m thinking: You know what? Perhaps it does sort of come down to that. We avoid the topic of religion because we just don’t want to risk not being appreciated.

We only want to be loved. Yes, no?


@Brucker

Wow, when did you get so cynical?

Probably from reading a few too many of those religion arguments that tend spawn on Youtube comments. 100% of which devolve into a bitter stalemate

Though to be fair, those are by no means a contemporary example of religious discussion. They usually involve one smartass making a snide remark about the existence of God (even on completely unrelated subjects) followed by everyone else verbally beating the crap out of him. Not exactly a case where people hash out their existences in a logical and open manner.

But it’s not just that. I’m also left with a very bad experience with religion discussions that’s made me permanently weary of them. One time I got myself stuck into a Youtube-style religion debate myself when I was younger. Back when I was still in high school and totally in on the whole creationism thing, one guy on a gaming forum I posted on, made a thread. In this thread he demanded a reason why he should believe in God (NOTE: Nobody on the forum ever told him to believe in God. This dude was just being a dick). I took the troll bait. Regard that I was a major dumbass in high school.

My first response to this guy did not delve into creationism or challenge any other beliefs/scientific theories. I simply answered the question: “people believe in God for X spiritual reasons blah blah blah”. I believe I did the right thing there.

But this dude was as much a jackass as I was stupid. He responded to that with a host of insults and blatant attacks on Christianity: “Gods not real! Here’s proof! [quotes his biology text book]”. At that point, being stupid, I began bringing out the creationist rhetoric “6000 years old, man and dinosaurs co-existed. Kent Hovind said so. etc”

You can guess where this went.

10 pages later and after being completely destroyed by a different guy who had a major in biology, that discussion reached a stalemate and I quit the thread with a statement that basically read “You all suck”. I never felt so bitter and sick in my life.

The experience was so bad that whenever I see atheists attacking creationists while claiming the intellectual high ground, I just want to slap them. And that’s coming from someone who stopped believing in creationism years ago.

When religion discussions go wrong, they can really hurt.

Jul 23, 2013 at 08:40AM EDT
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@Erin the Pegasister

UTAH. I feel your pain.

I’m a Mormon, and even I think the attitude is obnoxious.

Last edited Jul 23, 2013 at 10:33AM EDT
Jul 23, 2013 at 10:33AM EDT
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Kyntak wrote:

Hurray! :D We can be a team. I’ll be the apathetic socially inept scientist, and you’ll be the ruff em up cop, and we’ll solve crime, like Bones and Booth, despite our religious differences (inb4 submitted to a ship thread)

It’s oddly sad that I should wake up to this; I’m sure my day can only go downhill from reading this awesome post.

…evolution only posits how we came to be, not from where/who.

Actually, something from this conversation sparked a thought in me last night before bed. It’s hard to say for sure, but I think I understand Dawkins better than I did before. Something I’ve said many times about atheism is that it fails to answer some deep philosophical questions that most people would really like answers for. I realized that Dawkins may have given possible answers through biology in a way I didn’t consider previously, and maybe that’s part of why he’s so deeply set in his atheism.

Captain Badass wrote:

I’m agreeing with above posters in that people don’t talk about religion because it governs their lives and most people don’t cope well with their beliefs crumbling beneath them.

I get where you’re coming from with this, and your example is a good one, but I have a hard time not believing that the search for truth may be more important than hurting people’s feelings. (But then, who knows what “truth” is, right?)

Blue Screen (of Death) wrote:

When religion discussions go wrong, they can really hurt.

Sounds like a really bad experience. I guess it depends on context and the attitudes of the people involved, though. I remember back in my early days as a Christian having discussions online about religion (although often in religious discussion forums) and being shown that I was very wrong about numerous things. For me, it was a learning experience, and probably indirectly led to my eventual blogging on many of the topics I had interest in, including the blog on the topic I hinted at with Kyntak above. Anyway, I was glad to be proven wrong, so long as it was honest debate, but obviously that’s not going to always be the case.

Jul 23, 2013 at 12:53PM EDT
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it’s difficult to talk about religion when each individual person can have their own understanding of a belief, even when under the same ‘banner’ as others

some christians go to church on sunday, some don’t find it as important
some follow the rules of the vatican, some follow their own family’s understanding of their faith
i’m sure we can all agree that westboro baptist church does not represent the entirety of christianity

but that’s the thing, religion is made in a way that each individual can interpret the message in a different way according to their own moral compass. the problems arise when people of a different belief (religious or non-religious) hate you for believing in something different, while people in your own faith hate you because you are holding different values within the same faith (for example, tolerating or in-tolerating LGBT)

Jul 23, 2013 at 01:25PM EDT
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I think this one follows the everyone wants to be heard, but no one is listening/cares rule.

Jul 23, 2013 at 03:41PM EDT
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I don’t normally talk about religion because there are a lot of people who don’t like to, and I especially don’t talk about religion on the internet. Everyone knows how bad that can get.

Jul 23, 2013 at 04:30PM EDT
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Silver Universe wrote:

some christians go to church on sunday, some don’t find it as important
some follow the rules of the vatican, some follow their own family’s understanding of their faith
i’m sure we can all agree that westboro baptist church does not represent the entirety of christianity

Three facts about religion:
1. Jews don’t recognize the deity of Jesus.
2. Protestants don’t recognize the authority of the Pope.
3. Two Baptists don’t recognize each other at the liquor store.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway…

@thread:

Maybe I’m just odd in that I tend to enjoy discussion on religion even when it’s not completely civil (so long as it’s not YouTube comments-level abysmal).

Back in 2008, I was at a Bible study at my church, and I was sitting with a group of guys who were talking about sports. I thought, “Dang but I’m bored… I know!” Then I blurted out (remember Romney was running in ’08 as well), “So what do you guys think about the prospect of a Mormon President?” Fast forward five minutes and everyone was shouting and talking over each other while I leaned back with a smile on my face thinking, “Ah, this is more like it…”

Does that make me a bad person?

Jul 24, 2013 at 02:01AM EDT
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Skeletor-sm

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