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megasamurai

Bad atheists ruining good atheists' lives

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I don't know what to do with the issue of bad atheists ruining the lives of the good ones. My mother dated an atheist who demeaned her and savagely verbally abused her for her faith and because of that, she views all atheists as evil. My brother is receiving online verbal abuse too and having the same prejudices. It's just upsetting that these people have made it where I'm the pariah of the family. It was the filthy atheists who've showed me love and I know they aren't all bad, but the bad ones make mom and bro and many relatives think that's the case. What's there to do? How can I show that there are exceptions? It's sucks when I can't find a job and have to move back in with my family who really has a personal grudge against non believers. 

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Unfortunately those ideas are taught and reinforced on a regular basis. There is not likely anything that will help them see the majority of atheists are just normal people like them. You can say "there are over a billion atheists in the world and in any group that large you will find all variations of humanity. Smart and stupid, rich and poor, hateful and loving. No two members of the group will be the same" but in many cases you would just be spitting into the wind. 

Probably best to keep your head down and work towards getting your own place asap. 

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being bad or good or abusive or whatever has no bearings on one’s belief. 

 

there are bad christians atheists muslims buddhists hindus and such

 

aboluyely nothing to do with one’s leanings

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One thing I'm wondering about is the stereotype that atheists are all aggressive proselytizers. I do see hypocrisy on Christians who criticize atheists for forcing it on them yet "witnessing" persistently is okay, even though it seems to be the same thing in reverse. I personally believe that proselytizing for Christianity or atheism is pointless because people's beliefs are so firmly ingrained. It only works in very specific situations, like when a person is extremely emotionally vulnerable or in an extremely uneducated third world country. I can't be the only atheist who doesn't try to force it on family or friends knowing it's pointless and would cause more harm than good.

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3 hours ago, megasamurai said:

I don't know what to do with the issue of bad atheists ruining the lives of the good ones. My mother dated an atheist who demeaned her and savagely verbally abused her for her faith and because of that, she views all atheists as evil. My brother is receiving online verbal abuse too and having the same prejudices. It's just upsetting that these people have made it where I'm the pariah of the family. It was the filthy atheists who've showed me love and I know they aren't all bad, but the bad ones make mom and bro and many relatives think that's the case. What's there to do? How can I show that there are exceptions? It's sucks when I can't find a job and have to move back in with my family who really has a personal grudge against non believers. 

Well they're just making generalizations. It's not beliefs that make character, although sometimes beliefs can result in atrocious behaviour and even good people can do nasty things for awhile when they're indoctrinated enough. But what they've done is fall for the stereotypes and lies perpetuated by the 'faithful'. Tell them that. There are shitty atheists and shitty Christians (and people of any other belief), and wonderful atheists and wonderful people of any other belief.

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Well, I think it's easy to be prejudiced when an atheist boyfriend was abusive. Traumatic experiences with a group often leads to that. The problem is that there are a significant number of nasty atheists who give good ones a bad name. TBN often interviews former atheists who were criminals or whatever before becoming Christian and these programs perpetuate the stereotype. The internet forum Sufficient Velocity apparently has overly aggressive atheists who call Christians idiots and persistently dog Christians into rejecting a faith in god. It's hard to convince them when real life experiences show them the bad side. It seems the nicer atheists don't make a big deal out of it or are secretly hiding it. There probably are some kind are caring "outspoken" atheists, but the line between sharing why you doubt and bullying is often blurred by the bullies.   

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13 hours ago, megasamurai said:

One thing I'm wondering about is the stereotype that atheists are all aggressive proselytizers. I do see hypocrisy on Christians who criticize atheists for forcing it on them yet "witnessing" persistently is okay, even though it seems to be the same thing in reverse. I personally believe that proselytizing for Christianity or atheism is pointless because people's beliefs are so firmly ingrained. It only works in very specific situations, like when a person is extremely emotionally vulnerable or in an extremely uneducated third world country. I can't be the only atheist who doesn't try to force it on family or friends knowing it's pointless and would cause more harm than good.

 

I try very hard not to discuss it with my wife, but she makes it difficult. The other day she asked me if I knew about "the 100 prophecies" (meaning a particular list of prophecies that were supposedly fulfilled by Jesus). I really want to suggest that she read Isaiah 7 and 8 and tell me whether that seems to be about a future messiah. (It isn't! The "sign" of a child being born that Isaiah speaks to Ahaz of is fulfilled right there in the context!) As much as I would love for her to be deconverted, she becomes distraught when she finds reason to doubt, so I generally refuse to engage.

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49 minutes ago, Lerk said:

As much as I would love for her to be deconverted, she becomes distraught when she finds reason to doubt, so I generally refuse to engage.

 

That is why I ponder if proselytizing is more often good or bad. Christianity made me miserable and knowing that there isn't a reason to scrutinize every minor thing I do was a relief. For others, the possibility that somebody views Christianity as giving a purpose in life. That guy on Sufficient Velocity devastated my brother and made him fall into a deep depression. Granted, I think a good portion of atheist proselytizing is well intentioned yet misguided. It's probably best only done when you know that religion has affected a person's happiness.

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Let us not forget there are some seriously shitty Christians out there too. Wife beaters, child abusers, believers with serious narcissist personality disorders & OCD issues. In other words, every group has some bad apples. :(

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3 hours ago, Geezer said:

Let us not forget there are some seriously shitty Christians out there too. Wife beaters, child abusers, believers with serious narcissist personality disorders & OCD issues. In other words, every group has some bad apples. :(

 

Christianity is all about authority, so it’s definitely going to lead to some of that.

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9 hours ago, megasamurai said:

It's probably best only done when you know that religion has affected a person's happiness.

Totally. I would not want to deconvert someone who is happy and fulfilled in the church and make them miserable outside of it. I would only gently engage them in conversations that go where they want them to go, if they are showing signs of unhappiness or questioning. But if they point to my beliefs and start ridiculing them, playing nice is over and imo they asked for it.

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On 1/18/2019 at 12:34 AM, megasamurai said:

One thing I'm wondering about is the stereotype that atheists are all aggressive proselytizers. I do see hypocrisy on Christians who criticize atheists for forcing it on them yet "witnessing" persistently is okay, even though it seems to be the same thing in reverse. 

Wow. I think that might be some projection on the part of the Christians :P Most people are just trying to get on with their lives unless they're threatened and guilted at their church to proselytize their beliefs! 

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3 hours ago, DestinyTurtle said:

 Most people are just trying to get on with their lives unless they're threatened and guilted at their church to proselytize their beliefs! 

 

I felt like I had a gun to my head when "witnessing." Inaction could be sinful and lead you on the road to hell as well as action. That's why I ponder if some Christians who aggressively preach the gospel  really want to or if they believe they will go to hell if they don't like I did. Another thing about aggressive Christian evangelism, it seems that college kids seem to be extremely aggressive at proselytizing and they cool off in their aggressiveness after graduation, sometimes going from person to person and harassing everyone. I did also have a very assertive atheist roommate who tried to demean and belittle my Christian and capitalist friends for not being communists who supported the hacker group Anonymous like he did. People like him aren't all that common, but it seems like he checked off every negative stereotype of atheists and reinforced the idea that we're all like that. Despite my beliefs, I sided with my Catholic friend, partially because she I was attracted to her, and partially because I think if you want to say that people can be good without religious belief, you should be a shining example rather than be full of hate. Being on this board for years, I've seen varying views on whether or not proselytizing to Christians is any good or not. I'm curious about other's thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks.

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12 minutes ago, megasamurai said:

 

I felt like I had a gun to my head when "witnessing." Inaction could be sinful and lead you on the road to hell as well as action.

I feel you. Man, was it a constant roller-coaster of fear back in the day.

 

12 minutes ago, megasamurai said:

I did also have a very assertive atheist roommate who tried to demean and belittle my Christian and capitalist friends for not being communists who supported the hacker group Anonymous like he did. People like him aren't all that common, but it seems like he checked off every negative stereotype of atheists and reinforced the idea that we're all like that.

a-holes come in all types. If people are looking to reinforce their prejudice, they'll always find a poster child like this example atheist in this case. Still, I see it as a problem with the Xians who are unfairly overgeneralizing rather than a problem with this particular college student who clearly has some issues to work out (and honestly, who aren't going working through some issues in college?) I wouldn't worry about him.

 

12 minutes ago, megasamurai said:

Being on this board for years, I've seen varying views on whether or not proselytizing to Christians is any good or not. I'm curious about other's thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks.

I'm not big on proselytizing either. There's a saying in Japan "Like a sutra to horse's ears" referring to wasting time trying to impart wisdom in the wrong places. 

 

On the other hand, it does feel nice to occasionally see a vocal atheist openly defend the truth and reasoning behind his/her beliefs. It may not persuade anyone who isn't already otherwise persuaded, but it does help me feel less alone. My feelings are complex.

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It seems like college is a place where people are immature and learning about the world. That's probably why there seems to be so many college kids with really radical positions. It was culture shock going back for a second master's degree and seeing how over the top strange generation Z college students' beliefs are compared to gen Ys when I thought my gen was overzealous about political stuff in college.

 

When it comes to proselytizing, I have been tempted because I'm not bothered by those who believe in supernatural things, but the idea that those who believe in the wrong supernatural thing deserve a terrible fate. My mom believes that hell isn't about judgement, but because people who disbelieve want to go to hell (her version being an agonizing separation from god, similar to what Bill Wiese described in 23 Minutes in Hell). I did lose my temper a few years ago about her support of a god doing this to people, even if they allegedly choose it and the fact that she thinks that her hell is better than literal fire. After the intense verbal lashing she gave me, I learned to accept that you can't even make it halfway and convince somebody to believe in a god who doesn't send people to any version of hell.

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Major update: mom just talked shit about how awful people Hindus and Muslims are. Should I feel good or bad that I'm not the only  piece of shit in her eyes? My self esteem has never been this low. When family thinks you're garbage, what is there to do? 

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1 hour ago, megasamurai said:

Major update: mom just talked shit about how awful people Hindus and Muslims are. Should I feel good or bad that I'm not the only  piece of shit in her eyes? My self esteem has never been this low. When family thinks you're garbage, what is there to do? 

Realize that what they say says a whole lot more about them then it does about you. Because people think you're garbage, does not mean that you are. Your character is not determined by your beliefs. Write it somewhere where you can see it and repeat it daily. Mantras actually work. Your character is not determined by your beliefs. Your self esteem does not need to depend on what other people think of you, but what you think of you. And if you need to work on what you think of you, and this is the case for a lot of us leaving religion, seek a good secular therapist.

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16 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

Realize that what they say says a whole lot more about them then it does about you. Because people think you're garbage, does not mean that you are. Your character is not determined by your beliefs. Write it somewhere where you can see it and repeat it daily. Mantras actually work. Your character is not determined by your beliefs. Your self esteem does not need to depend on what other people think of you, but what you think of you. And if you need to work on what you think of you, and this is the case for a lot of us leaving religion, seek a good secular therapist.

 

Life can be just tough when you live in a place with heavy anti-atheist sentiment. I'm realizing just how bad it is. All my family knows of them seems to be the ones in the God's Not Dead movies (which they believe is based on a true story) and whatever TBN and Pat Robertson says. Pat Robertson callers seem to also report on atheists who reinforce negative stereotypes:

 

I'm wondering where in Oklahoma I can go that's safe-ish. I don't think everyone here hates atheists, at least I hope, but it seems pretty strong.

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13 minutes ago, megasamurai said:

 

Life can be just tough when you live in a place with heavy anti-atheist sentiment. I'm realizing just how bad it is. All my family knows of them seems to be the ones in the God's Not Dead movies (which they believe is based on a true story) and whatever TBN and Pat Robertson says. Pat Robertson callers seem to also report on atheists who reinforce negative stereotypes:

 

I'm wondering where in Oklahoma I can go that's safe-ish. I don't think everyone here hates atheists, at least I hope, but it seems pretty strong.

Planning a future in a better environment is probably your best option. 

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Getting hired somewhere else is probably best for me. Applying to jobs far away. 

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16 minutes ago, megasamurai said:

Getting hired somewhere else is probably best for me. Applying to jobs far away. 

I actually did this. It's rough for millenials because of the 08 crash and other difficulties pertaining to the modern job market - but I actually made it happen despite everything. Financial independence and living in your own apartment far away is golden. 

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I’m a recovering addict. When I attend 12 step meetings, I become frustrated with the ease with which god gets thrown around. Of course, they’ll tell you that it’s “not a religious program, it’s a spiritual program.” Which is plainly fiction, because god is capitalized, as is him, because everyone knows that god is male.

 

When I disclose my atheism, I get several reactions. Some will try really hard to change my mind. Some will look at me with pity, and some will become downright hostile. Some will have the “live and let live” type of attitude, and those are the folks I chose to fellowship with.

 

I live for the day when religion isn’t so ubiquitous, but I’m sure I’ll never see that day. Still, I will not be afraid of letting my thoughts known.

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