My grandpa asked me to not discuss religion with him, his wife, or my uncle, saying that we have plenty to talk about that is not related to religion, and that we are lucky to be so close. I feel like pointing out that he is being closeminded, and suggesting that we can still have good relationship while discussing religion. I’ll at least tell him I’m disappointed in his request. How would you recommend I respond to him?
[list]If your grandfather’s wife agrees with him that she does not wish to discuss religion with you and if your uncle is a minor under his parents’ authority, your grandfather has the right to ask you not to speak with them about religion. I recommend giving your grandfather the benefit of the doubt about his wife’s wishes because few men these days would presume to limit their wives’ conversation without their consent. If your uncle is an adult, he is free to discuss whatever he wishes with you. If not, then you should respect his parents’ wishes.
[list]Telling your grandfather that you believe him to be “closeminded” – even if you were right that he is being “closeminded” and that’s a debatable question – is going to be considered by him to be disrespectful and will only further strain your relationship. Respect for one’s elders includes not directly telling them we believe them to be “closeminded” or that we are disappointed in them. Besides, given the close relationship you report, it is likely that your grandfather already knows you’re disappointed. Declaring it would accomplish nothing and may make matters worse.
[list]This doesn’t mean that you cannot continue to evangelize your grandfather, his wife, and your uncle. It does mean that you will simply have to become more creative and take to heart the axiom popularly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Evangelize always; when necessary, use words.” For more information, please see the recommendations listed below.