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Would You ''convert,'' If Your Life Depended Upon It?


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http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/19/world/meast/christians-flee-mosul-iraq/

 

I don't spend much time watching or reading about world news, but lately, I have. Watching the news this morning while sipping a cup of coffee in my comfortable home, I wept as I realized the magnitude of what is happening in the middle east. Christians are being slaughtered, literally, for having their beliefs. I think to myself, if someone stormed into my house by force, and put a gun to my head, or knife to my throat -- would I convert to Islam to save my own life?

 

As a former Christian, I've lived in a country that represents freedom of religion. While I'm not religious anymore, I can't imagine not permitting others to practice their beliefs in private. As long as those beliefs don't try to impact society's lives, I have no qualms about religion. But, the truth is, religion affects our entire world, as we see these traumatic events unfolding on the news. I'm spoiled. I cry when I watch the news, but then go back into the business of living my own comfortable life, doing whatever Americans do. Born in America, guess it's just the luck of the draw where one 'ends up' geographically. I could easily have been born in the middle east, faced with the same horrible situation as so many there are today.

 

I suddenly feel guilt and shame while watching these news stories because of my civil freedoms, and I can't help but wonder, would I convert? Would I pretend that I'm not an atheist, as to save my own life?

 

My heart goes out to the Christians who are faced with these dire options. What might I do? What would YOU do if you were faced with having to convert to a particular religion (or at least say you were going to), if your own life depended upon it?

 

(I didn't know where to post this, but thought this section might be better suited than the news section, as I'm hopeful of a more serious discussion with you all, relating to this crisis.) I don't wish to make this discussion about politics, etc...but rather stick to the question in the title.

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What would it accomplish not to convert? When I was a Christian who believed in eternal rewards and punishments I would have refused to convert.  I am now happy to pretend to convert if faced with a life or death situation.

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What would it accomplish not to convert? When I was a Christian who believed in eternal rewards and punishments I would have refused to convert.  I am now happy to pretend to convert if faced with a life or death situation.

It's funny you say this, because I thought that very same thing. I no longer take any of it seriously, but apparently others do, and if my life was on the line, I could agree to conversion if it meant saving my own life. Thx for your thoughts to it, True.
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Would I pretend that I'm not an atheist, as to save my own life?

 

Atheism is not a deeply held religious belief or cultural/family tradition. People deny their true feelings as atheists every day just so their wife or mother won't yell at them or be disappointed. I'm sure most atheists would lie about it to save their life.

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Would I pretend that I'm not an atheist, as to save my own life?

 

Atheism is not a deeply held religious belief or cultural/family tradition. People deny their true feelings as atheists every day just so their wife or mother won't yell at them or be disappointed. I'm sure most atheists would lie about it to save their life.

 

^ This.  Also, most atheists I know of are more knowledgeable about religions than believers.  I could certainly play along to save my life.  I do it right now to save my income, my family relationships, and my social standing.

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Would I pretend that I'm not an atheist, as to save my own life?

Atheism is not a deeply held religious belief or cultural/family tradition. People deny their true feelings as atheists every day just so their wife or mother won't yell at them or be disappointed. I'm sure most atheists would lie about it to save their life.

 

True, but to accept a belief that I don't believe, to preserve my life, shows me that beliefs are both valuable and not valuable depending on the given situation. IOW, people are dying for beliefs (only), not for a god that they believe actually exists (thus ''beliefs'') and it all seems uber ludicrous that I spent so many years believing that Christianty would be worth dying for. Life itself is more valuable than my belief system, as I see it, so if faced with a choice, I'd choose living than dying for my beliefs.

 

I'm not sure if this makes sense, as to how I mean it to come out. lol

 

 

 

 

Would I pretend that I'm not an atheist, as to save my own life?

Atheism is not a deeply held religious belief or cultural/family tradition. People deny their true feelings as atheists every day just so their wife or mother won't yell at them or be disappointed. I'm sure most atheists would lie about it to save their life.

 

^ This.  Also, most atheists I know of are more knowledgeable about religions than believers.  I could certainly play along to save my life.  I do it right now to save my income, my family relationships, and my social standing.

 

That's a fantastic point. If I'd do it for ''lesser'' reasons, doing it to preserve my own life would seem more than valid.

Thank you for sharing, Lucynia.

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Since I'm not yet 'out' as a non-Christian, I wouldn't even have to pretend-convert to Christianity. I would just continue on but playing a role, and quite skillfully at that. But is Christianity ever likely to be a religion forced upon people, as it was in past centuries?

 

Would I fake-convert to any other religion? Being a man, it would be less harsh for me than for a woman having to fake-convert to a fundamentalist religion. I think I would play along until I could figure a way to get myself transported to somewhere else. That's especially if I had family with me that I would want to protect and relocate; or if I were separated from family and I wanted to eventually get back to them.

 

I feel bad for the families and children. This issue isn't ultimately about religion or which religion, or religion versus nonreligion. Ultimately, it's about human rights and humanity.

 

Most of the people who are forced to convert or die are people who are deeply devoted and loyal to their faith. Most of them would probably consider it a sin to pretend convert -- and in their thinking that is a greater risk and bears worse consequences than death. Those of us who were very devoted in our Christian faith probably felt the same, but hoped we would never have to face such a situation, and were/are grateful for, as you aptly put it, "the luck of the draw" that we were born into a relatively free society.

Great ponts, human. I think that you're right, most who would die for what they believe, obviously think that to pretend to believe in another faith would be blasphemy. It's a rather absurd option given to Christians, I think. For while people could force me to say something out loud for everyone to see, no one can police my thoughts. That's the irony here. Hold a gun to my head, and I'll blurt out whatever you wish, but my thoughts can never be held captive. And that's where a god resides, anyways--in one's own subjective ideas of him/it. Thanks for your thoughts to this issue.
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I'm just amazed at how lucky I am to be born in the USA at this point in time. I often tell my husband if I'd lived in any other time, I'd have been burned at the stake by now. And I've been a "true believer" for most of my life!

 

I wish there was more I could do for those who aren't as lucky. To make a choice between life and honesty isn't something I'd wish on anyone. I think that's one of the true dangers of religion, and my biggest regret for not being out. By playing along I get included in people's view of the church, instead of being an honest, kind, caring person living a great life without a religious framework.

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I don't think I can answer the question as asked because there is not enough information. What religion? What are the tenets of the religion? For example, are there any penalties for leaving the religion later, penalties like death for apostasy? I would have to factor all of that in before I could make a decision.

 

The act of publicly accepting a religion despite not really believing in it does not bother me in the slightest and so does not factor in. Hell, I don't even consider myself an atheist. I am probably closest to being an agnostic who does not reject the possibility of deism (a hands off creator).

 

I will tell you what does really bother me. It is some murderous thugs essentially telling me that if I do not mouth the words they want me to say that they will kill me. Presumably, once I mouth those words, I am subject to their religious authority. If their religion has a death penalty for renouncing their religion, then I become their slave.

 

If I become their slave by accepting their religion, then your question becomes something different altogether. The question now is would I submit myself to a lifetime of religious enslavement under the authority of known thugs and murderers if it would convince them to spare my life? My answer is HELL NO!!

 

By submitting, I will have lost my life anyway because my life now belongs to murderous thugs with a ruthless religion that kills those who oppose it, men, women, and children. I will not be property and would rather die than to submit.

 

Edited to add: actually, I would rather kill the thugs than to submit to enslavement. But if die I must, then so be it.

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I would probably convert to whatever religion they were pushing. It's a shame, because I'm sure the people that convert are viewed as cowards or collaborators. But the people that don't convert are simply dead.

 

The shocking thing about the Islamic State is that most of those zealouts grew-up in Western Europe. What excuse do they have for behaving this way in the modern world?

 

I'm sure I would behave just as badly as the Islamist extremists if I grew-up in their circumstances. I've read interviews with those people, and they seem very decent and idealistic, but there they are purging minority religions. It's a shame that the world works this way.

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You can not force someone to believe, but you can force someone to lie.  I don't put a lot of weight in making a vow to a deity I do not believe exists, so I can see myself "converting" under a penalty of death and go through the motions. However, I'll be having an eye out for an escape.

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I would have no problem converting to save my life, but it would be fake.

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I don't think I can answer the question as asked because there is not enough information. What religion? What are the tenets of the religion? For example, are there any penalties for leaving the religion later, penalties like death for apostasy? I would have to factor all of that in before I could make a decision.

The act of publicly accepting a religion despite not really believing in it does not bother me in the slightest and so does not factor in. Hell, I don't even consider myself an atheist. I am probably closest to being an agnostic who does not reject the possibility of deism (a hands off creator).

I will tell you what does really bother me. It is some murderous thugs essentially telling me that if I do not mouth the words they want me to say that they will kill me. Presumably, once I mouth those words, I am subject to their religious authority. If their religion has a death penalty for renouncing their religion, then I become their slave.

If I become their slave by accepting their religion, then your question becomes something different altogether. The question now is would I submit myself to a lifetime of religious enslavement under the authority of known thugs and murderers if it would convince them to spare my life? My answer is HELL NO!!

By submitting, I will have lost my life anyway because my life now belongs to murderous thugs with a ruthless religion that kills those who oppose it, men, women, and children. I will not be property and would rather die than to submit.

Edited to add: actually, I would rather kill the thugs than to submit to enslavement. But if die I must, then so be it.

What you say here is most likely how it would play out. So physically, if I "convert," I'd keep my life but the price would be so high that it wouldn't really feel like I'd be living.

 

Your post is really moving to me. It's a horrible lot in life that anyone would have to deal with. :(

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I'd most likely pretend to believe, too, if it meant life or death.  For me, though, the more compelling question would be "Why wouldn't those christians in the Middle East want to convert, when it has become obvious that their god isn't going to save them?"  I mean, if what you're doing isn't working out for you, it's time to try something new.

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Yes, I would be an enthusiastic convert. Of course it would be pretense, but an awful lot of human life is that anyway.

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I would definitely put up the false pretenses of believing as they do because I have kids. If I didn't have kids, go ahead and blow my brains out. 

 

Although, if you think about it...if the country/world is to the point that you are literally having a gun held to your head to express a lie of belief in a false god...then I'm pretty sure the worst parts of the bible would be coming to fruition like in Leviticus and whatever other parts of the bible have that slavery and nasty drivel shit (what are they?) 

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So the consensus actually seems to be "I would not convert; I'd just make it look like I had".  A view I share.

 

What interests me is that so many actually phrase that as "I would convert..."

 

To what extent do we see conversion as an act of social conformity rather than a genuine change of belief?  Hmm...  Maybe a subject for another thread...

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So the consensus actually seems to be "I would not convert; I'd just make it look like I had".  A view I share.

 

What interests me is that so many actually phrase that as "I would convert..."

 

To what extent do we see conversion as an act of social conformity rather than a genuine change of belief?  Hmm...  Maybe a subject for another thread...

That does water down the phrase "convert" doesn't it.  To bend toward society versus having a genuine revelation of a truth.  To change the external, to wear a new mask forced upon your face.  Perhaps the hope is if you ware the mask long enough you will have a genuine revelation that their truth is the Truth and you will internalize it. Brainwashing.

 

Perhaps that is why they will be satisfied with your initial "conversion" but that is only the first stage of the conversion process.

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So the consensus actually seems to be "I would not convert; I'd just make it look like I had".  A view I share.

 

What interests me is that so many actually phrase that as "I would convert..."

 

To what extent do we see conversion as an act of social conformity rather than a genuine change of belief?  Hmm...  Maybe a subject for another thread...

That does water down the phrase "convert" doesn't it.  To bend toward society versus having a genuine revelation of a truth.  To change the external, to wear a new mask forced upon your face.  Perhaps the hope is if you ware the mask long enough you will have a genuine revelation that their truth is the Truth and you will internalize it. Brainwashing.

 

Perhaps that is why they will be satisfied with your initial "conversion" but that is only the first stage of the conversion process.

 

Yes, that's so true. I think that what would await after verbalizing my 'conversion' would be horrifying. More horrifying that perhaps just accepting the fate of death, as the alternative. By sheer luck, I live in the USA, and am not faced with this, and hopefully never will be.
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it would be so honorable to be killed for not embracing somebody else's theology or philosophy.

 

I mean, Id just die some boring way like cancer or heart attack or stroke. but to die courageously standing up for what is right n for what you believe, is edifying and inspiring to those who witnessed it. People will write about it and tell their children and their children's children. we only get one chance to die. Id feel privileged if it were for a noble cause as long and there wasn't much suffering involved.

I can relate to what you said. Sometimes I wish I could die a heroic death instead of gradually.

 

On the other hand, the real heroism is to put the needs of other people ahead of yourself. Like I have a few people and animals that depend on me staying alive.

 

Of course the heroic deaths can be very inspiring too.

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it would be so honorable to be killed for not embracing somebody else's theology or philosophy.

 

I mean, Id just die some boring way like cancer or heart attack or stroke. but to die courageously standing up for what is right n for what you believe, is edifying and inspiring to those who witnessed it. People will write about it and tell their children and their children's children. we only get one chance to die. Id feel privileged if it were for a noble cause as long and there wasn't much suffering involved.

It would be nice to think we would seek out an honorable death, but there is a difference between when you have the luxury of thinking about the choice versus when you are in the moment and scared out of your mind.  Who knows what you have been through or the circumstances you find yourself in when the moment comes to chose or die.  Maybe you have a family and children who depend on you. Maybe they are holding a loved one hostage. 

 

What you are saying is a lovely thought, maybe you would be able to go through with it.  

 

Regardless, I think we can all agree we should be thankful we live in a land of (relative) sanity and never have to make such an ugly choice.

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I'm pretty darn sure that I'm not too afraid to die if it's quick.  I've Od'd to the point where I stopped breathing and had family not been there to call 911 to get the paramedics to put me on oxygen, I would be dead, and there wasn't anything scary about it and I continued to put my life in danger because I simply just didn't give a shit.   I've also gone for dangerous swims where the risk of death was there and walked in bear country without bear spray where I've seen multiple bears.

 

When volunteering at a ghetto in buffalo New York people told me it was really dangerous for me as a white guy to go walking through the ghetto and I just didn't give a shit and even walked the streets at night.  People would get shot there every now and then so it could have happened. 

 

I don't have anyone dependent on me. 

A painless execution for a noble cause would be something I'd have little fear of.  The only fear that would creep in would be fear of hell.

It is good that you don't worry about risks as long as you don't take unnecessary risks out of disrespect for the value of your own life and health (IMO). Keep some bear spray for your next hike. smile.png

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Convert as in making a show of conversion?  Maybe, depends on the circumstances.

Convert as in believing it's all true?  Most likely not.

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What outward sign would the terrorists demand to show my "conversion" is the question for me. If all they want is the hear me say "Allah Akbar, my life belongs to him," or something like that, then I would definitely "convert" to save my own life. It would not be genuine, of course, but that's not what they asked for. No one can know what you really think and believe but you. Now, if they demanded I kill someone (or some equally abominable act) to demonstrates devotion to Allah, or whatever god, then no, I would refuse. Another scenario is that they coerce me in private to say that I have converted in public. Say I had become an outspoken atheist spokesperson. I'm not sure I could pretend to convert knowing how it might influence those who listen to what I say. It all would depend on the nature of what they were actually demanding that I do.

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