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How not to offend atheists

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

  1. Matthodge1

    Matthodge1 Community Champion

    To be completely honest, it is going to be hard to not step on toes whenever speaking to anyone who does not believe what you believe. You just have to be able to back up what you say.
    Zyni likes this.
  2. JessiFox

    JessiFox Active Contributor

    I'm actually on the other end of the spectrum, I'm not religious by any means and interestingly enough I've noticed just the opposite...that it's quite easy to offend religious people and not so much Atheists, Agnostics and Spiritual folks. Funny how that works, isn't it?

    Honestly I think the key is to 1) consider your audience and 2) keep the heart of your message in mind. For instance, where your religious friends might be comforted to hear that you're praying for them, your non-religious friends may prefer to hear that you're thinking of them and wish them well. You can still keep the heart of your message and your good intentions at the forefront of whatever you want to say, regardless of who you're speaking to.
  3. sonia11

    sonia11 Senior Contributor

    Everyone gets offended when a belief system they don't ascribe to gets pushed on them. It's not that I think you're trying to do that, I'm sure you mean well. But you wouldn't give someone directions in Japanese when they don't speak Japanese and expect them to understand and be grateful, so you can't expect someone who is not religious to listen to your religious-based advice.

    Maybe try giving your advice, but remove the religious component. You can tell someone to be nice to other people without mentioning Jesus, you know.
    JessiFox likes this.
  4. JessiFox

    JessiFox Active Contributor

    That's an interesting way to put it and a very good point. It's only polite to consider people's beliefs, cultural needs, etc. And honor them to the extent possible. People deserve to feel respected on a basic level.
  5. Adrianna

    Adrianna Community Champion

    Its kind of funny to think that one would offend a non-believer. What do they care anyway? They don't believe. Lol its like what JoshPosh said in another post. "the imaginary man in the sky." I mean, an atheist. Why would they get offended? I think its more like they get annoyed because they don't want to hear something they don't agree with. Which is a whole other issue. Accepting what other people believe is part of having a shared reality with that person. Prayers only go so far and do only so much. They certainly aren't the answer for everything. But for some it is the only way. I mean prayer can be the same as mediation. Its just a repetitive pattern of words with an intention. A mantra or mediation would be a good alternative to suggest to an atheist to use. Either will calm the person and their heart, because of focus. Take their mind off of whatever it is they need to. It works in the same way prayer does. Everything is interrelated in so many ways. Discovering all the avenues and offering for that person to choose is the best way. Let them pick instead of making it one suggestion. I mean you can pray, meditate, do yoga, exercise, walk, or do a hobby. Whatever you can think of that occupies the mind in a focused way.
    Taking offense to God or prayer is not necessarily offending someone. A believer knows that the reaction is evil, negativity, or the lower forces attempting to keep that person away from God and the light. Science will say it is the reactive part of the mind. The atheist will say it is just plain bull. Atheists are sort of sad people because they have nothing but their own skepticism and belief in their attitude against what other people seem to believe that makes them happy.
    Whatever you want to believe. Believe in yourself and what you choose as the means. The man is not necessarily in the sky. Nor is he even necessarily a man, but one that is everywhere.
  6. Tsky45

    Tsky45 Community Champion

    There's really no way to get around a offense on either end. You may present a religious perspective and he may reject and criticize it, or he may give a atheist point of view and you may do the same. One way to give an opinion without out mentioning God is to present advice based on the word of God with out mentioning God, but this presents a problem. If you use God's word without mentioning him, it will be as if you took credit for his wisdom and no one wants to feel guilty about that. As a Christian myself I have found it very difficult to express my beliefs to a atheist without some form of debate.
  7. Mims

    Mims Active Contributor

    You can offer advice or program options to atheists; having an open mind helps accomplish this. While prayer, dedicated bible studies, and other religious methods serve their purpose, atheists and agnostics may not be comfortable with them. In fact, something I find at fault with the 12-step program is that it is not designed to accommodate atheists.

    Religious followers use God as their guide to recovery, which is not something an atheist will likely do. Instead, help your friend use the community, support groups (friends), or hobbies as their guide. In lieu of placing their only means of recovery in God's hand, they can turn to more secular, tangible connections.