An American Addiction Centers Resource

New to the Forums?Join or

How not to offend atheists

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Friend' started by rainbowguard, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. rainbowguard

    rainbowguard Senior Contributor

    As a person who is raised in a religious denomination that discourages the consumption of alcohol, I am quite grateful that I do not have any problem with alcohol addiction. Therefore, I can see that religion can be used as a method to prevent alcohol addiction.

    However, I do not think that I feel comfortable with sharing some inspirations that work in my family to my nonreligious friends, even if they ask for help or advice. I know that it is easy to offend atheists and nonreligious people despite of our original intention. As a religious person, what do you think the best way to give advice to nonbelievers who ask for one, without offending them?
  2. kjonesm1

    kjonesm1 Community Champion

    I don't really care if my religious or political beliefs offend anyone. Every body, religious or non religious is offended by something and we all have different personalities. If someone asks me I tell them how I feel. I'm not very religious, but aren't believers supposed to share the word?
    Zyni likes this.
  3. Zyni

    Zyni Community Champion

    I have to agree with Kjones. I'm not worried about my beliefs offending people. First of all, some people just look for reasons to be offended, so they will definitely find something. I don't try to "shove it down their throat" or anything, but I do say what I think and feel.

    Anyone I'm friends with knows my beliefs anyway. They are free to take it or leave it with my advice, but I'm not one to tiptoe around.

    Not every atheist will be offended either. They know that other people are religious.

    I think there are ways to speak gently and say what you need to say, without making people uncomfortable.

    "Prayer works for me. I talk to God. While prayer might not be for you, maybe speaking with someone else would be helpful."
    Rainman likes this.
  4. jeremy2

    jeremy2 Community Champion

    We should be proud of our religion and profess our faith to all and sundry. There is no need to contradict your beliefs when advising anyone. You should offer your advise based on the teachings of your faith and talk to that person in such a manner to avoid making his beliefs inferior.
    MrsJones likes this.
  5. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    If an atheist knows you are religious and they seek your advice then telling them about believing in a "Higher Power" won't be of much use to them. Best thing to do is try to guide that person in the ways of a 12 step program which they'd be more willing to embrace. Take a look at the site linked to below:
    "We turn to our fellow men and women, particularly those who have struggled with the same problem."

    If they will be willing to seek advice from others who've beat their addictions then there is a possibility that they too, believing they can do what the others have done, can overcome their addiction.
    rainbowguard likes this.
  6. rabst

    rabst Active Contributor

    I'm a believer, but this shows why I hate religion ... there are totally-reasonable reasons behind Flying Spaghetti Monster's commandment against drunkeness, & FSM gave us the ability to SEE these reasons FOR A REASON. But religionists too-often STOP their 'reasoning' at "Because FSM said so," throwing FSM's gift away like grandma's too-small sweater! :mad:
  7. rainbowguard

    rainbowguard Senior Contributor

    Great, thank you Rainman. This is actually a very good idea of secularizing religious thoughts so that nonbelievers can benefit from it. As much as I love my religion and God, I understand that some people can have different perspective and it is not a bad idea to avoid offending them. Because of my personal relationships with some of them, I want not only to not offend them, but also to give them answers that are actually useful for them.
    Rainman likes this.
  8. rabst

    rabst Active Contributor

    This reminds me of something an old buddy told me when he was trying to start a church on the "Mars Hill"-model. ("Mars Hill" is a famous 'preaching-series' named after the Ancient Greek 'Mars Hill,' where the apostle Paul famously convinced a council-of-judges to switch from their polytheism to Christian monotheism.) My buddy told us that Paul mentioned one of the altars to one of the judges' gods---an altar that said 'TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.'

    Man is so prideful today, he believes that 'anything he can't know' must not exist. And we can't 'know God' (if we hold that to mean 'integrate him into our logical knowledge of the entire universe,' because some of our "knowledge" makes God seem like a liar).
  9. goldenmaine

    goldenmaine Active Contributor

    You can use science and some reasoning when trying to convince these people to reduce or stop their alcohol consumption or addiction. They can be told that alcohol has negative effects on the body that may affect some functions in specific organs like the liver. You can also tell them that drinking has no positive effects in life. There is no point in drinking in excess because it leads to nothing and it is also costly to spend all that money with alcohol.
  10. Coltodor

    Coltodor Member

    You can focus on just the facts without trying to preach to them. A Atheist is going to think you trying to convert them if you try to be too religious around them. That not going to be a effective toward what you seeking to achieve.
  11. purplepapaya

    purplepapaya Member

    I think it is wonderful that you are so open-minded and also concerned about not offending your non-religious friends. I think you are on the right track right there. However, as a non-religious person myself, and knowing quite a few non-religious folks, I would not be offended if I asked for advice from a religious person and received an answer such as "Believing in a higher power has helped me." There are people who are easily offended in the religious and non-religious community, and that's just who they are. I am not offended if believing in a higher power has helped many people, but if you do have secular advice to offer, I would recommend sticking to secular advice because in this situation you are trying to help your friend, and not trying to preach. Just give advice that you sincerely believe will benefit that person, and I think you will retain a very low risk for offense, unless they are just "that guy" :p
  12. JohnBrock

    JohnBrock Active Contributor

    Belief in anything will help you overcome struggles, atheists are perhaps (don't judge me on this, I'm just basing it on assumptions) less inclined to believe in much, and by extension more cynical towards their real life situation, if one believes in religious sentiments, the notion that someone is looking out for you, will help.

    To not offend atheists, just appear objective - tell them that you are religious and have faith, and that this faith helped you cope with the hardships of withdrawal. Perhaps infer possibilities for them to find the same kind of meaning in life that you have through your faith, because that meaning will often lead you away from abuse.
  13. rabst

    rabst Active Contributor

    What gets me about that is that people don't stop there; they most-often put it as 'I put in an order on the prayer-line, & Gawd responded to the work-order and answered my prayers,' perpetuating the LIE that 'God doesn't know what you need before you ask.'
  14. lostinskn

    lostinskn Member

    It's probably helpful to back up your advice with facts. People, non-religious or religious, are more apt to listen to that. Plus, it pretty hard to argue against fact. I know my denomination has a large focus on living a healthy lifestyle which includes staying away from alcohol and not smoking (among many others) and studies have been done that show that people in our denomination live longer. You can only talk to people who are willing to listen, so sometimes no matter how you present the information, it won't be received unless the person is truly open to it.
  15. Fern

    Fern Active Contributor

    I don't ever want to feel like someone is trying to convert me. I find it frustrating and completely not helpful. It is also not helpful for people to say, "you're addicted because you're not a follower of X religion," which does happen.

    On the other hand, I'm never offended by people who talk about what helps them personally. If your religion helps you, you should be able to discuss it. Just remember that it's about what helps you. It might help someone else or it might give them inspiration to seek out something that will help them in a similar way (i.e. following wicca or another religion that's different than yours). I think the key to not offending others is not thinking that their experiences are always the same as yours. (I find it helpful to brush my dog; others who hate dogs might not find that helpful.)
  16. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    It will be easy or difficult depends on a person. It is because there could be open minded an close minded atheist. Also there are open minded and close minded religious people as well.
  17. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    I think this is a good way of putting it. Even though I used to be an atheist (although not so much any more), there have been hard times in my life when I have been tempted to go to church and speak to a vicar, simply because they are honest, good-spirited people with good intentions who will help out if they can.
  18. lgdg090596

    lgdg090596 Senior Contributor

    As long as you don't tell them to convert, I don't think they'll be offended. Just talk without mentioning spiritual stuff.
  19. JoshPosh

    JoshPosh Community Champion

    I'm an atheist, and I hate it when people tell me that I should look towards god for help. I don't believe in him so why should I? It's like me the Muslim tell you to drop Jesus and ask Allah for help. Does that offend you. Just don't bring up any religious references, you should be OK.
  20. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    I used to be an atheist myself for quite a long time but am not any longer. I was never an atheist who would ridicule the beliefs of religious people though. At the end of the day, atheism is also just a belief system. I think atheists need to wake up and realize that. Everything in existence must have come from somewhere.
    Zyni likes this.