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Topic: Hi! Do you ever "fake it?"

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Subject: Hi! Do you ever "fake it?"
Date Posted: 2/8/2011 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2011
Posts: 2
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Hi everyone, I am new to this site entirely!  I was pleased to find this forum though, as there aren't many places where I feel comfortable being myself (who is an atheist.) 

I am 28 years old, have been an atheist since sometime in middle school and live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt in the South Eastern US.

I am not a former Christian, not someone who thinks only stupid people follow religion and I am not a person that just tries to rebel against everything.  I am an atheist because I think that people turn to religion to enforce morals or rules, to help cope with death and sometimes just to gain power, control and money.  I am not interested in learning or trying to accept religion, I like being an Atheist and quite frankly I just don't believe in any religion.  To me, God is like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

Anyway, do any other Atheists ever "fake" religion?  My supervisor at work is very religious and so are a good many of my co-workers, so sometimes if they say something about prayer or religion, I just kind of go along with it and don't start an argument.  I don't lie and tell people that I am Christian or that I go to church, or anything like that, but I also don't tell them that I don't and I'm not.  I just don't think work is the place to go into that kind of information.  Now any one I am close with or see outside of work is different, I am more than happy to have a little debate or just share my thoughts if they are interested.

Sometimes it just really gets to me that soooooooo many Christians just assume that everyone is Christian (at least here where I live) and that making casual statements about God or prayer or church are no big deal, but I just think its easier for me if I just don't say anything because I HATE to get bombarded with people trying to change my mind or asking me questions like "Well then how do you explain ___?" 

Date Posted: 2/8/2011 2:29 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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Hi Sara, Welcome to PBS!

I hear you, I do the same thing. I'm agnostic but I was raised Christian.  Whenever I'm around a lot of Christians or people who just assume I'm Christian I usually just let them finish whatever they have to say and then change the subject.  I certainly won't lie and I will tell them what I think if they ask point-blank, but I don't invite arguement or preachiness.  I hate when people get preachy ... It's like, if you tell them you are not a Christian, or if you try to start a debate, they suddenly see it as a sign from god to try and convert you, which is just awkward and irritating.

I recently read The Blind Side and there were 2 psychologists in the book who called themselves "Krogerites", becuase they went to the grocery store on Sunday mornings instead of going to church. I'm just waiting to use that one in a conversation.

Date Posted: 2/8/2011 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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OH, Melva, I love that about the Krogerites . . . . .hahahahahahaha!  You explained quite nicely how to behave when surrounded by 'Christian' people.  In my life,  I've been "letting it roll like water off a duck's back" for some decades.   And like you, I only speak out when asked point blank.    Frequently, this leads to genuine confusion on the part of the person who asked!

When I read Sara's post, it made me remember a time (long years ago) when I caught a ride home from a teachers' conference with a genuine evangelical woman colleague.  It was a two-hour plus trip, and Joann tried to open up a conversation about 'religion'.    I of course demurred.  But she apparently really wanted to talk about her 'faith'.   I had to gently but firmly tell her (while smiling at her) that I really did not want to talk about that.   I don't know what would have happened in that car in the next two hours if she had stubbornly insisted on such a discourse.

I once heard an African-American point out the similarity between "white privilege" and "Christian privilege".    It's the unthinking assumption that one is of course in the "overwhelming MAJORITY ("correct opinion" camp)...........if the thought should ever occur to such folks that not everyone is like them, I suppose they would pass off any "dissenters" as few and far between, and undeserving of respect.   Sara, may I suggest you "google" the term "Christian privilege".....I think you'll find the explanation and examples interesting.



Last Edited on: 12/5/11 7:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 6
Date Posted: 2/8/2011 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2009
Posts: 12
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I also live in the South East and in the time I have lived here I converted to and then deconverted from Chritianity. Like you, I usually don't enguage people about religion, I would rather just not talk about it because many people take it as a personal affront if you do not share their beliefs. (I find the same true of politics as well).

I go out of my way to diffuse attempts to get me to talk about religion and God while I'm at work. Usually I am pretty successful and people don't push too hard on the subject, other times I might just deflect their inquiry by changing the subject. I don't mind talking one on one about my lack of belief, but whenever there are more than one other person about, it's best to avoid the topic in order not to end up under a giant dogpile of hostility.

All of this is made slightly amusing by the fact that my boss is a pretty committed fundamentalist. Once when I was doing some work at a woman's home who knows my employer she asked me where I went to church and I told her I didn't attend anywhere. She said she was suprised that they let someone work there who didn't attend church.  I just kinda shrugged and kept on with what I was doing.

 

Date Posted: 2/9/2011 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2006
Posts: 1,443
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I just try to avoid the subject of religion because it is easier than dealing with the hurt looks I will eventually get if pushed because that usually sets me off to show the fallacies in any religious argument.  Its must easier not pissing off the people around you.  Luckily the place I work at could care less about religion (I have been here for 11 years and have no clue what, if any, religion the owners are).

 

kevin

Date Posted: 2/10/2011 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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Bonnie - I searched on Christina privledge and there is a surprising amount of literature on the subject! I've been reading through various blogs and articles - fascinating stuff!

However, I cannot claim to be affect by Christian priviledge too much because I live in the most secular city in one of the most secular states in the country. I'm pretty lucky in that regard, though even in Colorado you can see Christian privledge at work! Especially in other parts of the state.

Date Posted: 2/12/2011 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I live in New England, and currently work a job that is super accepting of whatever beliefs/lifestyle one does or does not embrace.  But my last job, customer service, involved a lot of me helping people and getting the "You didn't cut my power off, you must be a wonderful, godly person.  God bless." and me not being able to tell them that god had jack shit to do with it.

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2011
Posts: 2
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"I hear you, I do the same thing. I'm agnostic but I was raised Christian.  Whenever I'm around a lot of Christians or people who just assume I'm Christian I usually just let them finish whatever they have to say and then change the subject.  I certainly won't lie and I will tell them what I think if they ask point-blank, but I don't invite argument or preachiness.  I hate when people get preachy ... It's like, if you tell them you are not a Christian, or if you try to start a debate, they suddenly see it as a sign from god to try and convert you, which is just awkward and irritating."

YES!  This is exactly what I was talking about!  Glad to know it's not just me.

I am actually an assistant manager at a fairly large retail store (not WalMart LOL) and so I don't share my religion (or lack there of, really) with my supervisor, or with my employees because either way I don't want it to effect my working relationships.  And I don't want a daily barrage of people trying to convert me.

It's unfortunate though, that so many of use have to be made to feel awkward or uncomfortable (at least it makes me feel a little annoyed and uneasy) because we have to endure listening to some things.

We have a group of employees who all like to take their morning breaks together in the break room and have what most of us jokingly refer to as "the morning sermon."  There are about 5 people in this group and sometimes more join in if they are close by and they talk very loudly and obnoxiously about all things Christianity.  They all preach to each other and get really excited and try to get everyone in the room involved.  Ugh, it is so annoying, it even annoys some employees that are Christian themselves.  I can't say much about it though, because they do have a right to do it and no one is forced to stay and listen and certainly no one would stop me from sitting in the break room yelling about Atheism and making fun of Jesus.

Date Posted: 2/15/2011 9:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2011
Posts: 7
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I just say "I was raised Catholic" and then let it go. Because it's true!

(Of course, that's not enough for some people ... "But are you SAVED?")

Date Posted: 2/17/2011 2:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2006
Posts: 11,063
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I try to avoid religious conversations as much as possible I live in KS and I get the feeling I could be burned at the stake if I  flat out tell people I have tried religion Southern Baptist as a child and I was a mormon briefly don;t ask. But I just couldnt believe and now Im comfortable in the fact that Im an atheist but I just stay mum or smile and shake my head alot like I.m agreeing as I see no value to express my true feelings to believers. This is the only place I have ever felt safe confessing to the fact I don't believe in God it's very liberating and nice to know Im not alone in my choice.

Date Posted: 3/5/2011 2:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2011
Posts: 420
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I abandoned Christianity when I realized that I was being lied to.  The Exodus fascinated me when I was young.  I asked a lot of priests and pastors lots of questions and received lots of different answers to the same questions.  So many different versions, even within the same denominations. But every Christian source played down the size of the Hebrew host that crossed the Red Sea, and careful reading of the Exodus text always indicated to me that there must have been a great many more of them than was being admitted. Since then, other lies have vindicated my decision to reject Christianity. The most infuriating one is when they use Nazi Germany as an example of what happens when atheists have leadership roles in national governments (Adolph Hitler was a Catholic).  Since that particular lie has been spread, I find it impossible to even think about faking a religious attitude. Nearly every discussion with Christians becomes an argument when they start repeating some of the lies spread by their pastors or priests, many of whom, I am certain, are only repeating what they have heard from yet other pastors or priests.  No longer (as I did for many years) do I try to avoid confronting them when they start spouting nonsense, but I don't go looking for a confrontation, either.  I am starting to think that the only religious people capable of intelligent discourse are Wiccans, Buddhists and most Jews.

Date Posted: 4/12/2011 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
Posts: 6,435
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I was raised Jewish and was a practicing Jew into adulthood--I probably stopped believing in god before I started my job 12 years ago, but I was "faking it" to myself, kwim?  Anyway, I have "come out" as an athiest to co-workers, but I don't get into a lot of discussions about it.  I wasn't part of a majority religion to begin with and I work in a pretty open-minded place.  I've actually had more Jews trying to get me back.  There's a whole lotta guilt around leaving Judaism (which is part of why I think it took me so long to accept where my rational brain had gone already). 

The stuff about assuming people are Christian is something I dealt with my entire life anyway as a Jew.  Once in Arkansas when I was visiting my grandfather I had a Southern Baptist minister literally follow me out the assisted living facility and all the way to my car because I flat out told him I was Jewish and he was nearly frothing at the mouth at having a real live Jew to convert.  I had someone pretend to befriend me in college just to try to get me to go to a Christian bible study.  So it is something I'm already used to and I actually find I deal with it less in my life now than I used to. 

My mom was raised Southern Baptist (granddaughter of a minister) and converted when she married my dad.  She was always a questioner and a free thinker, and she taught me a lot about what fundamentalist christianity was about.  It gives me a bit of a different perspective.

Date Posted: 4/14/2011 10:12 AM ET
Member Since: 4/12/2011
Posts: 7
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I go to a public high school, but because I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt I usually keep quiet about religion at school and at work. Even though it's not legal, our teachers talk about the Christian god in the classroom quite often. Our science teachers even tell us they dread teaching about evolution and like to go over all its "flaws" and "falsehoods".

I got into a debate with a few girls on my track team about what the Bible said about homosexuality not too long ago, though. One of the girls tried to completely derail be by asking, "Do you believe the Bible is the one true work of God?" She became really serious and started repeating herself.. Everyone stopped and looked at me. I hesitated before mumbling something like, "Um, yeah, that's not the point..."

I'm not the most well-liked person in my school right now. I came out as a lesbian last year and am still catching heat for it. I'm content to stay in the closet about my atheism until I attend university. To tell the truth, I wouldn't feel safe if I were honest about my religious befiefs at school. There are too many people I believe would be quick to label themselves as crusaders and try to convert me or key my car. I've read about similar experiences from atheist students in the midwest.

Date Posted: 5/13/2011 10:17 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2008
Posts: 41
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I'd love to be free to speak my own mind, and I've started now taking some baby steps with that by saying "I look at that differently".  I hope to convey no disrespect but just the idea that not everybody sees the world as they do.  I started doing that when it became clear that my granddaughter thought me as just being quirky in bucking the rest of society.  There are more of us quirks out there than people realize because we do keep quiet and as a result we remain the only minority who can not run for president.  Catholics, Jews, women and blacks can all be acceptable candidates now but no secular humanists need apply

When I taught abnormal psychology I came across a study where people were asked which person they felt most uncomfortable around.  Cancer patients, homosexuals and criminals were all contenders for the greatest distancing, but atheists won hands down.  And part of this is because we are a great unknown. I think we need to speak up more but not in a shrill or hurtful way, just to bring up our profile.  People need to know that someone can be a decent, moral human being without being religious.  Think of Ann Colter's book that rail against liberals and remember that one of the biggest names she calls them are "ungodly".  In the 50s, the label "Atheistic  always preceded the word "communist".   Once I was driving with a handyman and swerved to avoid hitting a cat.  In a later conversation it happened to come out that I was an atheist and he protested "but you can't be an atheist, you worried about hitting that cat".  We have a lot of work to do, my fellow secularists.     

Date Posted: 6/12/2011 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2010
Posts: 19
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I tell people I'm "non-religious" and it's funny how many people tell me they are the same.  Then we start talking and I find they go to church, or follow the religion they were brought up with on holidays, and everyone in their family thinks they are believers.  So, what does that say?  Is it that there are really many more athiests out there than are willing to admit it?  Or is it that most people who do believe in god just don't get overly involved in their religions?  I don't know!

But, I don't get into any religious discussions at work.  I certainly don't like people trying to 'save' me.  I can be a very good person without needing the carrot of heaven or the stick of hell!

 

Date Posted: 6/13/2011 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2011
Posts: 420
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It's also funny how defensive some of those same "non-religious" people get when they think their religion is being attacked, and sometimes it makes a huge difference who else is present.  I have seen people who rarely go to church suddenly convert to most devout when certain relatives come to visit. Hilarious.

Date Posted: 6/14/2011 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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I wonder often if it is a question of "protective coloration" that so many Americans just take on the "label" of whatever religion (or denomination) their parents and relatives and friends use to describe themselves religiously?

Like animals (birds, reptiles, insects, fish, whatever) in the wild who are the natural prey of their natural predators, to blend in with the surrounding natural setting (whether desert, jungle, sea depths, coral reefs, or whatever) sometimes saves theirvery lives . . .

In humankind, such 'camouflage' could save a person from a lot of haranguing by the earnest, devout missionary types, don't you think?

Didn't your parents and/or  grandparents try to impress upon you NOT to start a fight?   And,,if you find yourself dragged into one, to do your best to finish it? 

Ay, there's the rub------finishing a 'hot' discussion with a religious zealot. . . . . .how can one ever do that?



Last Edited on: 12/5/11 7:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/16/2011 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2006
Posts: 1,443
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Our society does make it difficut for athiests due to the generalized feeling that "something must be wrong with you".  Its almost like we are sick and nobody wants to catch it :)

 

Logic doesnt work on zealots so its not possible to "win" an argument with them.

 

Kevin

Subject: Religious Discussions at Work
Date Posted: 6/18/2011 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/29/2006
Posts: 7
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For those of you who are struggling with over-enthusiastic co-workers who want to argue/discuss/convert you to their religion, you have an option:  your company's Human Resources (personnel) office. I'm retired, but after 40+ years in the business world, believe me, I've been there!

 

At the job from which I retired, I had one co-worker . . . very nice person **except** he was an aggressive Jehovah's Witness (is that a redundancy?). And while he didn't quite go so far as to proselytize at work, he was constantly trying to involve me in "discussions" -- "Don't you think..." "Isn't it true..." I finally had to tell him to back off, saying "Bob, I became comfortable with my own spirituality a long time ago, and I really don't need someone else telling me I'm wrong. I like you, I enjoy working with you, but I really don't want to discuss this with you any more, and I'm sure HR would support me on this."  End of harassment.

Date Posted: 12/4/2011 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
Posts: 473
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Even as an agnostic, I too "fake it." Empathy all around. This whole thread reminds me of this Jon Stewart quote...

I have to say, as someone who is not a Christian, it’s hard for me to believe Christians are a persecuted people in America. God willing, maybe one of you one day will even rise up and get to be president of this country — or maybe forty-four in a row. But that’s my point, is they’ve taken this idea of no establishment as persecution, because they feel entitled, not to equal status, but to greater status.

Not that all Christians proselytise; nor is Christianity the only religion that proselytises. I dig this quote, becuase the entitlement is captured so well.

 



Last Edited on: 12/4/11 9:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/5/2011 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Here's a quotation from Charles Taylor, in Dissent magazine, on the decline of movies and movie criticism: " In many ways, the Web has been a disaster for democracy....The rigorous division of websites into narrow interests, the attempts of Amazon and Netflix to steer your next purchase based on what you've already bought, the ability of Web users to never encounter anything outside of their established political or cultural preferences.....all represent the triumph of cultural segregation that is the negation of democracy.  It's the reassurance of never having to face anyone different from ourselves."

How about that, folks? 

Date Posted: 12/5/2011 10:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
Posts: 473
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I agree with that quote. And also admit that I'm guilty of it since I enjoy reading the other like-minded folks in this forum. devil

Date Posted: 12/14/2011 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2011
Posts: 286
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I love that John Stewart quote.  heart

 

I think individual beliefs/non-beliefs are highly personal and it's extremely rude to question/evangelize others in this context no matter what the motivation.  If someone asked me if I were saved' I'd say, "From what?  You?  Yes."   Smile and walk away.  devil 

Date Posted: 12/15/2011 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 852
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brightstar,

Great quote from John Stewart, totally agree.

You also gave me a great come-back when somebody tries to 'save' me, I will try that one next time.

I also never discuss my religous (or political) beliefs, it is bad enought being a foreigner, there is no need to add extra fuel to the xenophobia.

Peace.....Angie

Date Posted: 12/28/2011 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 8,592
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As a resident of the New York City metro area it's easy for me to avoid the sort of people described in the OP. Most of my contact with such individuals is here on the PBS forums, actually. So it would be real easy for me to say Stand up for your rights blah blah blah, and I'm not going to do that. Anyway, religion or the lack of it is [or should be!] a private matter. Since you live and work in a part of the country where being open about your beliefs could put you in jeopardy of social ostracism and unemployment, I would say as others have, that non-committally declining to participate in such conversations is probably your best bet. And it is certainly not "faking it."

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