Losing Friends to Religion

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    Dang Martin

    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.



    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.




    Dang Martin

    I agree, Robert. Lesson learned, the hard way.



    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.



    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?



    Religious or not – an asshole is an asshole, lol (sorry) and if he’s not respectful of you – he’s not a true friend….


    Dang Martin

    @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.


    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??


    Dang Martin

    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.

    It’s frustrating.

    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.



    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.

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