Losing Friends to Religion
August 5, 2017 at 6:53 pm #3999
I lost a friendship to religion, and it was one of the most disturbing things that I’ve experienced regarding religious belief. Also, I don’t think that there is anything that I can do to fix this, so this might be more of a story than anything else. But I am interested in hearing from others, not only with regard to stories, but also if anyone has had anything resembling luck when it comes to fixing a relationship of any kind that was broken by religious belief on the part of the other person.
We were friends in college, and spent a lot of time hanging out. We were both musicians, and were very creative together. During this time, religion never came up. We had solid chemistry. The memories that I have with this person are among some of my best and most fond memories.
Fast forward 30+ years, and we’re on Facebook. Of course, some of my posts and updates alluded to the idea that I’m an Atheist. I’ve always been one, even though I’ve not always used the label. I’ve NEVER been a believer. Ever. And I figured that I had kept it quiet for long enough, and decided to step out of that closet, so to speak.
My friend gets very, very upset by this. Specifically, it was when I was pointing out some disturbing passages in the bible, and asking how this equates to morality, and why my non-belief in this makes me a bad person. He started getting angry, asking me WHERE I found this in the bible. At one point, he even asked, “Did you find this in The Dark Bible?” I have no idea what that means.
This interaction, and others like it, are why I no longer debate the bible with Christians. They don’t understand their own book, and fewer than 7% of Christians have bothered to read it [source: Pew]. One special Christian in particular actually said, “I don’t need to READ it, because I BELIEVE it.” Ponderous!
This resulted in him sending me an email that would print out to about 13-14 pages, wherein he got VERY religious and offended. It became clear to me that he became very religious later in life because he became fearful of death. If he was religious at all before this, then he kept it very well hidden.
I really didn’t know what to say in response to his email, because I knew there was nothing I could say to change his mind. There was nothing that would get him to accept me after knowing that I didn’t believe. I wasn’t even trying to de-convert him or anything like that. I was just up for discussion. I was trying to understand, and in the process, I got crapped on and dumped.
I since learned that Facebook is NOT the place for anything resembling a meaningful or intelligent discussion, and I have not used the site in over 3 years. I left the site shortly after that, for more than a few reasons. During that time, I sat on his email for at least 3 years, thinking about it every so often, and wondering if there was anything that I could do to mend our friendship.
Eventually, I decided to send him an email, with an apology. I apologized to him if my non-belief upset him, as well as my question about his beliefs. I said that I wasn’t trying to harm anyone, and was just wanting to try to understand. I said that if he could not forgive me, that I would understand, even though I do know that his beliefs encourage forgiveness. I left it at that.
He wrote back and said that he accepted my apology. We shared a few photos and stories about what had been happening lately, so I thought everything was fine.
But then he emailed me with a photo of this guitarist, who is morbidly obese, and said, “This guy looks just like you! haha!”
I had to struggle to see the resemblance. But then I started wondering WHY he would send this? What was his motive? To laugh at my weight struggles? To put me down? I decided to write back with a short paragraph about how my doctor has me on medication for pre-diabetes, her plan to help me lose weight, etc.
I never heard back.
I think that he will never get over the fact that I don’t believe in his god, or any gods. I think that all of this is beyond repair, in this specific case. His religious beliefs and his fear of death are more powerful than living life and us being friends. Quite frankly, it breaks my heart.
This is not to say that ALL religious people are like this. In college, I dated a preacher’s daughter who told me that I’d go to hell if I didn’t start going to church. She forced the issue hard, and was very judgmental. Well, she wrote five years ago and apologized for being so harsh. I accepted her apology, and we became friends.
But this other one? I think it might be a lost cause.
Have you ever had an experience, where a friend became religious as they got older, and then they decided to abandon the friendship? Was there any recover? Was it a lost cause? I’m curious to know your story, and how it turned out. Mine did not end so well, and to say that I’m destroyed by it would be an understatement.August 5, 2017 at 8:06 pm #4000
The Christian plan is appealing to those who need and crave forgiveness (and they even get to scapegoat their way into heaven.) It’s not their fault… Satan is to blame, and hey all ya gotta do is profess you believe !!!
I stopped discussing belief with my social contacts, fellow musicians, etc. I limit that type of conversation even if they bring it up. Just leads to hurt feelings and is pointless.August 5, 2017 at 8:59 pm #4001
I agree, Robert. Lesson learned, the hard way.August 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm #4012
Friendships change for a variety of reasons, changing to religion or atheism sometimes does it, changes in life style, interests, etc also does it.
It’s not a catastrophe, it’s just part of human nature. Humans are dynamic creatures, constantly changing.August 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm #4035
If he’s sending rude comments and pics that make you feel bad….regardless of his worldview – he’s not as solid a friend as you thought to begin with and likely a toxic person you need to give the boot regardless……don’t you think?August 6, 2017 at 7:49 pm #4036
Religious or not – an asshole is an asshole, lol (sorry) and if he’s not respectful of you – he’s not a true friend….August 6, 2017 at 9:13 pm #4039
@Belle Rose Certainly, he’s not the friend that he once was. As @notsimple says, and it’s true, life is dynamic. I’m not the same person I was back then, either, and I definitely was not an asshole to him.
We went our own ways in the mid-80s, and then started getting in touch in the mid-90s. I’ll save the story, but things didn’t go all that well then, either. I attributed it to his father dying, the panic attacks that started after, and his prescription for Prozac. Religion didn’t come up then, either.
That friendship-gone-wrong probably would have died on the vine right then and there, were it not for the advent of social networking. We somehow re-connected then, as I did with everyone I could remember from my past. As it turned out, NONE of them were truly my friends, and finding that out is a long story.
I haven’t used social networking for three years. I’m glad that I left.
I’ll let that one go, just as I did all of the others. It has been time to move forward for a while now.August 9, 2017 at 9:10 pm #4088
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
My friend gets very, very upset by this. Specifically, it was when I was pointing out some disturbing passages in the bible, and asking how this equates to morality, and why my non-belief in this makes me a bad person. He started getting angry, asking me WHERE I found this in the bible…..
I have had similar experiences. I find the faux-piety and “holier than thou” attitude of many Christians to be very vulgar. On more than one occasion, when discussing “How can atheists be moral without (their) God”, I have asked how can certain Bible passages to deemed to be moral. Usually they have no idea what I am talking about (except for the Jehovah Witnesses).
Me: Do you really think that what your God allowed the she bears to do to the young children is moral?
Theist: Ah, err…….with a clueless look on his face.
Me: I call it the tale of Baldilocks and the 2 bears.
Theist: There is no need to be offensive. There is no such story in the Bible.
Me: Story? Oh I thought you said earlier it was all true? That is why I find it offensive. I find what your God is reported to have done – though you claim it to be an accurate historical account – to be immoral, at least by my atheist standards. Do you not think that your God sending two she bears to maul 42 children to death for calling an old man “Baldy” was not a little over the top? What good moral lesson is being taught here?
Theist: Are you making this up? I never heard of it.
Me: It is from 2Kings2 23-24 in the New Testament.
Theist: I will look it up later.
Me: Actually, it is in the Old Testament.
Theist: I KNEW THAT!!
Me: You can borrow my NIV or KJV now if you wish?
Theist: Your what??August 10, 2017 at 12:09 am #4089
That interaction sounds WAY too familiar, and that’s really how it goes. It’s almost predictable. There’s the response that, “The Old Testament doesn’t count,” or there’s the excuse that it’s just allegory, or anything like that.
I’ve had lots of time to think about it since starting this thread, and I feel like I’ve been able to let go of this old friend, as well as some others with whom I’ve had similar interactions. Certainly, I can think about the old days once in a great while. But I think that, given the circumstances and how we’ve both changed, it’s just not healthy to hang on to it.August 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm #4180
That’s the thing though, Dang. Some people we used to have things in common with, have lead a life that shaped their perspectives until you no longer have whatever you used to have in common. I’m always happy to let people slide away when we no longer talk much. Some awesome friends have enriched my life and continue to do so. Others were fabulous for a short time, then we drifted apart.July 15, 2019 at 8:38 pm #27073
Something like this happened to me recently. My all time best friend stopped talking to me after converting to hardcore catholicism (hardcore meaning she now believes Earth is 6k years old and evolution is a scam invented by scientists against the word of the Lord). We became best friends in primary school when we were both 7 years old. We are in our 40’s now. We were always present in our lives, even after moving to other countries (we were living abroad, each one in different country for the last 15 years). We were skyping frequently, we were speaking for more than an hour everytime, laughing, crying like best friends do. In some sense we were closer than ever because of our experience of living abroad. We were living in different countries so we both longed for our family and friends. I genuinely thought this would last forever, that we will get old and still be friends. She visited me with her husband and child who is almost the same age as mine, they were getting along great! We spent one week together, talking, cooking together, everything was great. I was really sad when she was gone. I started a new work and moved to another city.
Then I noticed that for some time she stopped initiating contact. It was always me asking her how she was doing, always me asking to Skype her etc. But once talking with her there was no problem at all. It lasted for maybe two years. Our conversations started to be less frequent and it was always me initiating them. There one day, she asked if she can Skype me. I was so happy. There were things I wanted to tell her, nice things, so I said of course. She called me and out of nowhere started to shout at me. She said that my life is garbage that she cannot understand how can I get up in the morning and not commit suicide. She said that she read the Bible and now she is a believer and she is concerned for my soul. She said that if I do not convert I will burn in hell. She started attacking my work (I am a scientist) saying that all scientists are liars that invent ways to speak against God, that universities are filled with scum. It was not only what she said but also the language she used, angry and vulgar at times. She was very aggressive.
We “spoke” for a long time, most of which she was attacking me by any means possible. She even went so low as to use some things from my past only she knew about (concerning my feelings towards somebody we both knew) to use it against me. It felt like the most profound betrayal. When we finished I felt really bad. I couldn’t understand a thing. There was no conflict between us, no argument, nothing. For a week I couldn’t think of anything else. Finally, I decided to write her an email because I felt it was absolutely unfair. I didn’t do anything wrong yet I felt terrible. It was a really long email in which I said what I felt and that I still wanted her in my life. That I respect her beliefs and I accept her how she is but she must accept me for who I am as well, especially that nothing changed from my side, I have been an atheist my whole life. She responded with a very short message turning everything around and saying that she is offended by my atheism that I am unable to see the Truth etc. However, she also said that she wanted me to be a part of her life. That was the last time we spoke “from the heart”. We Skyped once again (again it was me initiating the call), it was a very short and awkward conversation with no meaning at all. Then nothing.
Meanwhile, I moved to another country, much closer to her. It was a great change language-wise. I texted her about me moving. She responded: great. I send her a message for her birthday and asked how she was doing. She responded with “thumbs up” emoticon. She never asked how am I feeling in the new country, how am I settling in. How my child is feeling in the new environment, language etc. People who I barely know were asking me that, my best friend did not. I feel very bad about all this. I feel betrayed and deeply hurt. I really don’t think it will get any better. The most problematic thing for me is that I don’t know why it happened.
July 15, 2019 at 9:05 pm #27074
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Reg the Fronkey Farmer. Reason: Just some paragraphing
It most likely happened because she was terrified that you’d talk her out of her new comfort – sort of like an ex-smoker who gets all up in the faces of people who still smoke.
(Also, please could you use some paragraph breaks next time? It’s a bit tough to read a huge block of text with no breaks!)July 15, 2019 at 9:26 pm #27075
Thank you Strega,
I will use paragraph breaks next time, I promise! Also, english is not my mother tongue so sorry for all the errors.
What should I do then? I really miss her but it seems that she doesn’t want to deal with me. Should I just let a lifetime-long friendship to go away?July 15, 2019 at 10:52 pm #27077
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
I have known people who got involved in cults while in college or in even later when in their mid-thirties. All were some form of Young Earth Evangelical Christians. I have been dealing with such Christians for years and I have help a few recover from their “extreme god delusion”.
I never argue with them (as I do online). When they tell me Jesus loves me or that Jesus will burn me in Hell for all eternity (a very long time indeed) I still don’t “offend” them. I just ask them to explain it to me. Then I will keep asking questions in the hope that they will eventually see the immaturity behind what they are claiming.
I will ask them to write down their top 5 beliefs and to give a short explanation of why they hold those beliefs to be true, without ever saying “because the Bible say so”. I will ask them to meet me in a week so we can discuss them together.
This is a subtle move on my behalf because they must now spend a week thinking about what they believe and why they believe it. They will think “I will come up with very convincing answers so this atheist will be converted”. Most times they leave all excited with the challenge. This is my version of the Socratic Method and some will reason themselves out of their faith before the end of the 7 days. This is because they are compelled to think critically not just about what they believe but also WHY they believe it. They are forced to “listen” to what they are writing for me and to revise it to make it better. They cannot answer the questions with another question as they often do in a verbal debate. They are forced to think about the quality and logic of their answer, knowing that I will be reading it.
At first many new cult members will be aggressive towards their old friends and family because they have been conditioned not to trust everyone who does not hold the same faith as they do. They are told they are special and that they are “saved” and that they should beware of those that would lead them astray. After all Satan rules this world……….
Most theists, no matter what faith or cult they belong to are unable to defend their beliefs coherently. So they will dodge all questions and start talking about how bad Evolutionists are, or scientists or atheists or even believers of other faiths. When they are unable to dodge anymore they will claim that we atheists are offending them. That is why some countries have blasphemy laws as they are unable to defend their beliefs and so won’t allow anyone to challenge them. This is where the made up crime of Islamophobia comes from. My reply to that is “You have rights but your beliefs do not”.
Not all of them get “cured”. They never seem to enjoy anything other than the stupefying repetition of their daily lives, talking to an imaginary friend to keep them secure in the lie that they are going to become immortals. What a shame.
It is always tough when we lose an old friend. But I think that is part of life. People change over time and we move in different circles. Personally I find it difficult to have a solid friendship with a theist. I mean we would have completely different world views and I do not care who is offended by me not believing what they believe. Offence is taken, not given. I would rather be honest and let people know that I have no time for faith. I never give belief in gods any respect just in case people think I might have any time for it or give it any credence. All my friends and all my siblings are atheists so I suppose I am lucky.
I am not sure if anything I have written helps but when it comes to friends I have a saying “You will know your true friends when you need them and you will be surprised by who steps up and who disappoints”.July 15, 2019 at 11:42 pm #27078
Not so much friends who converted, but a couple of Christians with whom I was friends.
One, simply lost contact over the years. The other, I upset: I admit, I was friends with this girl mainly because I badly wanted to explore her person. Yes, shallow, I know. What can I say, I was very young and very horny—
Anyway, she dragged me along to a Pentecostal revival. It was amazing; people around me speaking and singing in tongues. Then there was a mantra “Jeeeeeeeuuuuuussss” which went on for some time. Then the main act appeared on stage. He had the infirm and the sick come to the stage. He then pushed them with the heel of his plan, on the forehead, and they fell down. This was called “being slain in the spirit”—all the time I was thinking “These poor people are as spiritual as my cat”
Then we left; she, almost floating, asked breathlessly “What did you think of THAT?” My fault, didn’t think before answering “I think that was the most remarkable example of mass hypnosis I’ve ever seen”. She never spoke to me again.
The 18 year old daughter of a good friend, a dyed in the wool atheist, became a happy clapper..He was very embarrassed.
We began talking. I mentioned there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus. Her response was that there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than for —Julius Caesar. I politely changed the subject.
Eight years later, she remains a happy clapper, albeit somewhat subdued. I quite like her now.
I’m rather intolerant of anyone who hast the arrogance to preach at me, with the agenda of converting me to their set of personal superstitions. I’m seldom rude, I usually ask them to please go away, and close the door. This almost always occurs in less than a minute of opening the door. If at a party, I walk away. In one extreme case, I simply went home. I never try to destroy the faith of a believer. I expect them to show the same courtesy to me.
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