Had a clash over religion last night - advice would be appreciated


#1

I was invited to dinner at a friend's yesterday evening. It was a small group, just 4 of us: my friend - the host, and another couple. My friend S. is quite a character: has a big mouth, not exactly sensitive and often makes offensive comments, especially when it comes to religion. I've known her for about 9 years and have learned to deal with her and never took her too seriously. The religion issue has been addressed and we can have a civil conversation one on one. But when in company of more people she doesn't hold back and has the ability to get others to say rude things and behave in a similar manner. So yesterday she started discussing religious groups and tax exemption and the other two were more than happy to express their contempt for brainless people who believe such rubbish. At that point I heard myself say: "I have to say I'm very offended by these comments and I find them extremely prejudiced and ignorant". It was followed by dead silence. I never ever say things like this, am too shy and timid for that but I just had enough. S. wanted me to explain why exactly i felt offended so I gave them a little explanation about the bigotry of the modern liberal and their selective tolerance towards people they approve of in the first place. They didn't say anything to that and it was very awkward and the conversation was a bit difficult for a bit. I just wanted to go home after that scene but decided that would have made me look silly and childish. My friend was genuinely sorry afterwards and told me she'd like to talk about it because she didn't want to offend me. I'm not going to end this friendship but boundaries have to be made and it is my fault I didn't do that sooner.

However,
I am so fed up with rabid atheists and secularists and their prejudice and hatred of people who have other beliefs. I simply can't take it anymore and evenings such as this are very rare in my life now. I try very hard to have Christians as my main social circle because that is where I feel comfortable these days.

I was just wondering how you deal with similar situations (if you get into them) because I have lost all patience with people who have no respect for my beliefs. I am absolutely disgusted by such behaviour.

Any advice on handling prejudiced comments would be most welcome. I am sure there is a better way to show people that their attitudes are disrespectful than saying that I'm offended. I'm sure I could have handled it better but I couldn't think clearly. I'm still amazed that i spoke up and told them off.


#2

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:1, topic:242057"]
I was invited to dinner at a friend's yesterday evening. It was a small group, just 4 of us: my friend - the host, and another couple. My friend S. is quite a character: has a big mouth, not exactly sensitive and often makes offensive comments, especially when it comes to religion. I've known her for about 9 years and have learned to deal with her and never took her too seriously. The religion issue has been addressed and we can have a civil conversation one on one. But when in company of more people she doesn't hold back and has the ability to get others to say rude things and behave in a similar manner. So yesterday she started discussing religious groups and tax exemption and the other two were more than happy to express their contempt for brainless people who believe such rubbish. At that point I heard myself say: "I have to say I'm very offended by these comments and I find them extremely prejudiced and ignorant". It was followed by dead silence. I never ever say things like this, am too shy and timid for that but I just had enough. S. wanted me to explain why exactly i felt offended so I gave them a little explanation about the bigotry of the modern liberal and their selective tolerance towards people they approve of in the first place. They didn't say anything to that and it was very awkward and the conversation was a bit difficult for a bit. I just wanted to go home after that scene but decided that would have made me look silly and childish. My friend was genuinely sorry afterwards and told me she'd like to talk about it because she didn't want to offend me. I'm not going to end this friendship but boundaries have to be made and it is my fault I didn't do that sooner.

However,
I am so fed up with rabid atheists and secularists and their prejudice and hatred of people who have other beliefs. I simply can't take it anymore and evenings such as this are very rare in my life now. I try very hard to have Christians as my main social circle because that is where I feel comfortable these days.

I was just wondering how you deal with similar situations (if you get into them) because I have lost all patience with people who have no respect for my beliefs. I am absolutely disgusted by such behaviour.

Any advice on handling prejudiced comments would be most welcome. I am sure there is a better way to show people that their attitudes are disrespectful than saying that I'm offended. I'm sure I could have handled it better but I couldn't think clearly. I'm still amazed that i spoke up and told them off.

[/quote]

Well, what you did sounded okay, although I would have considered the impulse behind your opening statement about being offended before speaking it, and hopefully I would have been able to discern that it was my pride which was offended more than anything else. My beliefs and My feelings only go so far, whereas defending Christ would have been another thing.

A better idea would have been to gently turn the tables on their chagrin, by asking if Catholic hospitals which often offer free healthcare to indigent people ought to close, or if their schools ought to stop excelling at education, or if their extensive charities to the poor and the homeless ought to just be dropped into the laps of the more liberal and enlightened taxpayers.

Or should the headquarters and meeting places of secular fundraisers for causes which they might support, such as the pro-abortion March of Dimes or Ted Turner's Crusade for Innocent and Helpless Whales, likewise should be taxed.

Other than that, even having spoken out might bring them to apply logic to their thoughts and words next time they chime in about how better they are than these lowly superstitious people.


#3

At a dinner gathering, nothing like wading into religion and/or politics to ruin the evening! Your big-mouth friend should have been gently silenced by your hosts, they allowed her to insult their other guest(s) and that is rude behavior. Dinner conversation should remain pleasant so as not to cause indigestion! :)

You did just fine in drawing boundaries and at least your friend apologized. But it is hard to educate people when we are in a stew...And if we never socialize with others, how can we spread the Good News?

I think it's part of evangelization to be able to defend the faith as well as the religious freedoms that our Constitution protects. Education is critical, and staying calm amidst people who really aren't thinking clearly also helps.


#4

I think the OP did a great job of getting others to think.

All too often, we tend to hang out with people who agree with us, and so we become very narrow in our understanding. This is true for liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and Protestants, blacks and whites, etc. We hang with our own peeps, and hear only what we already believe, and get to a point where we don’t even know that there are other viewpoints out there.

So when we do finally stumble into a group that is different from us, we are utterly taken aback that our ideas are not universal. Someone challenges us, and our shell is broken, and we have to respond. Sometimes we just sputter and spurt, and that makes us look foolish. Ideally, we listen to the opposing viewpoint, and then go home and do some research to find out if there is merit to a viewpoint that disagrees with our viewpoint, or if the other viewpoint is distorted.

It sounds to me like the group of non-religious people in the OP were such people, so cocooned in their own little world that they had no idea that there is another point of view. When the OP spoke up and challenged them, they had to actually think for themselves instead of just hearing the same old same old. Hopefully these people will go home, do some research, and come to a place where they have a more accurate and full outlook about religion.


#5

Your friend was out of line. If she knew you are are serious about your faith, when the conversation wandered into that territory in an insulting way, it would have been her job as the host to steer it back into more neutral ground out of respect for you. That's what I would do for my guest, whether I agreed with their beliefs or not.

Yay you for sticking up for yourself. That awkward silence was the other three feeling like jerks for being so insulting. Again, it's your friend S's fault.. not only were you feeling badly, but the other two were probably feeling badly too. Oh well - next time hopefully they will think before speaking.

And finally, I agree that it's easier to have close friends who share our faith.


#6

I completely agree. The situation was insulting to me because a)they were insulting Christ and b) because they had no manners, no basic sense of respect for people of different beliefs. Christians are fair game - it is not even considered prejudice to say things about us in an insulting way. But never in a million years would you hear such crowd say insulting things about another religious group. I do hope that the point I made about selective ‘tolerance’ will make them think about that.

Personally, I disagree with all sorts of people and I admit there are groups that I don’t value very much. But I wouldn’t bring them up at a dinner party and bash them for the sake of bashing even if I was surrounded by people who agreed with me. I just see no point in that. But my closeminded, primitive religion has taught me that - to actually have respect for people, and not be merely PC.


#7

Welcome to the club!

That’s how I got started … one big mouth too many … it takes a while [years] but "eventually’ you learn responses that are design NOT to win arguments [because you NEVER win an argument] … but to persuade people to think.

And, with God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance, you will learn more stuff and they will start to think.

Pray a lot. Every few minutes. For the rest of your life.


#8

It seems to me that you handled the situation just fine. Now that you’ve broken the ice so-to-speak, you’ll refine your approach.

Congratulations!!!:thumbsup:


#9

I wish I could help you, I find myself in these situations more than I care to admit. I have a good friend who is an atheist and militant feminist. She loves to argue with me and tends to bait me to get me into a debate with her. I try to go after what I know she values and turn the table on things. For example, when she chastised me for going off of oral contraceptives when I learned they were against our faith, I said "well, FAM (I chose to use the secular Fertility Awareness Method title, rather than NFP) is a very economical choice for women who don't have health insurance and can't afford the doctor's appointments or the prescription. All you need is a thermometer and the charting papers, which can be printed off in one visit to the library. All the information on how to to chart is available online and in books, and the classes at the parish level are often free." I used the logic of fitting it into something she already believes in-- practical, useful solutions for low-income women-- and that makes it hard for her to argue with. Afterall, Planned Parenthood charges for birth control, it's not a non-profit. The root of her disdain for NFP came from her disdain for the Catholic Church, regardless of the practicality of the method itself. When divorced from the religious teaching, she had no leg to stand on : )


#10

Thanks for the input everybody. I realise it is crucial to ask the right questions when people start being silly and to make them think. Like the militant feminist friend - great way of discussing the birth control issue in language she understands.

I think what happened last night was a situation I was in so many times before and it was very uncomfortable. I normally feel intimidated and don't speak up when I am the despised minority. The other 2 guests did not know I was a practicing Christian and assumed that I was an atheist like them, which is very arrogant. I was actually about to ask the guy a question and turn the conversation a bit, but my friend S. just wouldn't shut up about her evil uncle - bishop of X who was very active in the pro-life cause. (He died a few years ago and she said she was glad when he died. Issues, huh?) There was no space for me to say something intelligent so I had to interrupt and do the offended and hurt speech. That made a stop to it allright.


#11

I am so fed up with rabid atheists and secularists and their prejudice and hatred of people who have other beliefs.

oh, dont be fed up! it reads as if you handled this very well.

from today's Mass readings is this timely gem:

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.


#12

I IMMEDIATELY thought of this forum when I read the Scripture before Mass!!! I am not gentle and I need to keep this in mind.

:thumbsup:


#13

So yesterday she started discussing religious groups and tax exemption and the other two were more than happy to express their contempt for brainless people who believe such rubbish.”

You were within your rights, because your friend knowingly provoked you, but there is a middle ground between silence and abrupt counter-attack.

It is sufficient to correct their ignorance: “There are many tax exempt groups that don’t do as much for the poor and in keeping people out of trouble as the religious groups do. You may not believe in it, but it saves the taxpayer a lot of money, in the long run.”

If they want to keep discussing it, you might just say, “As it turns out, I’m religious, so maybe this is a subject we’d best put in the realm of politics, and stay out of.” Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Or better yet: So, how about those [insert the name of your home baseball team]?


#14

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