Can an atheist be friends with an evangelical (fairly fundamental) Christian?

I have a friend, we've known each other almost 15 years.  I was only a Christian for four years - I made a really rushed commitment, a couple of years down the road, started reading things (the BIble) properly and having big questions and luckily, even though there was lots of pressure not to leave, I "saw the light" and left the Church (it was hard not to once I started thinking for myself!). 

 

I only have one Christian friend now. She is a very genuine person and I have kept her friendship for 15 years.  But recently, I've been wondering if we are just friends because we have known each other so long.  I find myself constantly having to bite my tounge, otherwise we would end up having full blown arguments.  I find it frightening that, in her world, the Bible pervades any kind of other reason.  I find it upsetting (and insulting) that I know she still thinks of me as a lost soul and is still praying for me (but then don't I think the same of her?).  I find it upsetting that her children are being brainwashed to pray to the invisible God too.  I know it is done with sincere motives but that doesn't change the fact I find it upsetting.  My question to you all, is I think my friendship might be done, sad as it is.  I probably need to have a chat with her but am scared it will all come out wrong and will turn into a slanging match.  I don't think a phone conversation or writing a letter is the right way to deal with it either.  I'm wondering if anyone else has ever been through this and am looking for a bit of moral support I guess :)

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I write letters as that way I can take the time to make sure I say everything I want to say. I'm not good at face to face, or on the phone, as I ''freeze up'', forget most of what I need to say, & I do have something of a temper when something pisses me off. Letters are much easier on my nerves.
We also tend to out-grow some friendships, & what's the point of having to bite your tongue more often than not? The subject of religion/belief does not come up with the friends we have now & it's kept that way, so most of the time we don't know what the other believes, or doesn't.
There happens to be plenty of other topics to talk about besides that nonsense. When speaking with anyone, I never bring up the subject as it is not in my nature to since I seldom think of it when with people, but will flat out admit atheism should THEY bring it up. Then there's no more said because I'll just say the subject is off limits to avoid conflict & refuse any more comment.
Yeah you can..I have a fundy friend..She says stupid fundy shit and I correct her on it.
We get along really well,in spite of her delusions.
One of my very good friends is a born again whose father was "saved by Jesus." We just don't don't talk about it. I know where he stands, he knows where I stand. There's a barren wasteland between us on that issue, but there are enough bridges elsewhere to keep the friendship alive.
Interesting and mixed views, thanks guys. We're meeting up again next Thursday so you may get some more comments on here! Its really hard for it not to come into the conversation though, I mean I only have to ask her what she has been doing the last week and its like "Oh I was at Bible study on Monday and then prayer meeting on Tuesday", I kind of don't want to lose this friendship but like we can't go to the cinema in case she sees anything that is too offensive and we have to leave...so even when I get a DVD out, I have to be really careful what I choose. She doesn't know any modern music i.e has no idea who the Red Hot Chilli's are. Only really listens to Christian stuff. And for example, if something happens in the news, its very natural for her response to be "well you know what I think, if everyone believed in Jesus we wouldn't be in this mess". So you might ask what bonds us at all? Well, we both like being really silly! The other day we just wasted a couple of hours making play dough animals with her kids and getting them to guess what they were supposed to be and it was hilarious! She has a very fun side but its nigh on impossible to keep the religion out of it.

Thanks for your comments and any more brainwaves are always welcome and I'll let you know how it goes next Thurs!!
It just depends on if you can respect each other's right to believe or not. I have a friend who is a hard core Catholic. It defines her, but we managed to stay friends.

I find it's best to avoid the topic of religion or politics with those that are to the other extreme. I am to the left of Karl Marx, just a bit, so these right-wingers and I have little in common. The discussions I try to have is how can someone who believe that all people are the "children of God" just rot becuase they do not have money. I cannot reconcile the holy roller, arch-conservative viewpoint. They say one thing about their faith and beliefs and then do not want to pay any taxes to help those less fortuate.

I am not sensative by nature but it is hard for the religious conservatives to articulate any explanaintion that makes any sense to me... When I pick apart their view of the world they usually get pissed-off and say something insulting and rude.
I have lots of evangelical friends. They know where I stand and I try not to be a jerk about it, and they generally return the favor. We focus on things we have in common, not "where the morals come from" but what our morals are IE integrity, courage, unconditional love, strength and perseverance etc. We also share lots of common ground in art appreciation, music (general) and can appreciate the rules of debate.

I find the strongest way to reach out to anyone is to try to find common ground, become a trusted friend, and look out for them whenever you have the opportunity. Spouting off negativity is tempting and I often do it, but its definitely the least effective means of teaching them anything.
I too have struggled with this. You wrote in your first post that you're wondering if perhaps the only reason why you two are friends is because of your long history. Maybe you should ask yourself, (if you haven't already) "What is more morally wrong? To remain as her friend, because (perhaps) I don't want to end our long relationship, but I would thus have to continue to be upset by her, or to end it, because (perhaps) I would rather have a friend who has more in common with me?" Although it seems that you are leaning towards ending it, at the same time you have been friends for a long time. What I meant by the first option being immoral, is that perhaps it would be wrong, because her actions upset you sometimes. So thus, are you being good to yourself by putting up with her? Which leads me to my next question, which is, do you have any secular friends? If not, then perhaps you should try to find some, if so, then perhaps you should try compartmentalizing. I don't recommend it, but the reason why I mention it is because it seems that you might want to keep your friendship with her, purely for emotional reasons, based on your second post. If I had managed to sustain a friendship for 15 years, my first impulse would be to try to keep it, but like someone else said, it is true that sometimes one grows out of friendships. I don't know. I find friendship to be a complicated thing. I don't know if this will help, but there's my offering up of a plate of confusion.
Thanks Rorshach for your reply, I'm still none the wiser either :-) And yes I have mostly secular friends, one of my best friends is Hindu but pretty much everyone in my immediate circle is atheist or agnostic. My friend came over tonight. It was a hard conversation for me to have but I basically said to her: "I wonder if we are just friends because we have always been, we disagree on practically everything these days, our friendship circles don't cross at all any more". I told her I constantly feel that I have watch what I say to avoid argument and that I see our friendship deteriorating.......and she told me that she doesn't feel any of this!

In her eyes, we have a good friendship with plenty of debate (trust me, I bite my tongue). I'm a bit lost as to where to go from here. I have no desire to call her to meet again because I know we will meet either at her house or mine and I will spend the evening trying to think of conversation topics that won't involve any kind of moral or religious viewpoint, although everything comes back to that with her. I guess I just wait for her to call me and we meet up again.....??? It seemed too callous for me to say "well even if you don't think there's a problem, I really think there is and I think its time we moved on and don't meet anymore".
I think before you look at ending the friendship, because you seem to value the parts that you enjoy (which if you didn't you wouldn't be here asking), you should ask her if she understands and respects your beliefs. If she respects your viewpoints, then you shouldn't have to bite your tongue. Though I will be honest I have a fundy friend but one thing that never comes up between us is religion and politics. Like I'll ask him how is week is going or whatever and he will tell me he went to his church meeting and it was good. I go yep, that's nice buddy. Because truthfully it is, it is who he is. If he needs "god" and church to feel complete and live a full life, more power to him. And as his friend if that is what he needs and is getting it, then I'm abso-freakin-lutely happy for him. Though he knows my beliefs and respects them. You do not have to agree on anything to be friends, except for you two being friends. Maybe you should approach her with the idea that you don't wish to discuss certain things with her, and limit your activities to things you both like. Now if the fact that she prays for you, goes to church, and brings her children up in that environment disgusts you, then maybe it is time for you to move on. Because if someone is your friend you should be respectful of them, and want them to be happy no matter what that it is that makes them happy. Sometimes as atheists as much as religion doesn't make any sense or offer any fulfillment to our lives, have to accept that some people need that very thing to feel fulfilled. As long as she is not trying to force feed you her religion, then maybe you should just let it roll. Like when I go to Chris' house Saturday morning sometimes but very rarely he will go Mike you thought about accepting Jesus lately? I reply "Chris get your damn clubs and lets hit the course". Alrighty Mike.

So I guess it's up to you ultimately how close you can stand to be around the religious. Like I can do the religious thing pretty comfortably and just let it roll. Hell I'll even attend a few church services a year, most of the time though they have food or something lol.
"Hell I'll even attend a few church services a year, most of the time though they have food or something lol." - love this :)
Hi Becky,

People often compartmentalize their religion. I know this for a fact because I'm married to a devout Catholic. She's a very prayerful person who centers her life around God.

Yet, I'm an atheist.

Our children get opposing views of God, religion and the supernatural. I have to admit, the oldest son is decidedly religious but the younger ones could go either way. It matters to both my wife and I how the kids mature in (un)belief. However, the main thing is that they are our children . . . not what their religious beliefs may be.

The kids attend Catholic school and are brainwashed, on a daily basis, by the study material they read. Even in math and science books, they are bombarded with religious propaganda.

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that 2 of the 3 kids (boys) will end up religious enough to attend church as adults. The youngest one is very capricious and curious. He's very independent for his age, so I hope he'll see the light of reason. But in a country (Philippines) that is at least 80% Catholic, I recognize that there's a lot of social and cultural pressure to conform.

The bottom line is that faith may come first to true believers but it doesn't have to be a dividing line between people as long as we can respect our differences.
I find it upsetting that her children are being brainwashed to pray to the invisible God too.

upset over what could be learned instead of wished for? yeah but do they have computers? internet and access to gadgets made by the evolved man/woman through centuries of...
where there's science there's hope.
guess it's the faith-welfare vs. secular welfare vs. corporate welfare... debacle?
Interesting question, the friend thing... beer? movie, food, pot, ... love? greater good of life in general?
Slow down? Don't rapture too fast?

Cut your losses in life before you're too old n' broke?

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