How Christians See Us July 20, 2008

How Christians See Us

Do you ever introduce a religious person to your atheist friends with a disclaimer: “Just fyi, she’s Christian”?

Apparently, Christians do something like that when it comes to us.

From the list of Stuff Christians Like: #355. Warning friends that your new friend is a non-Christian.

Why must they be warned?

Because something crazy might happen:

1. Non Christians are loose cannons.

Sometimes people disclaim the arrival of a non Christian just in case they do something wild, like swear. But by disclaiming them it automatically creates a weird tension of us vs. them in the context of a dinner party. And honestly, have you ever not disclaimed someone and then had to go back later and say, “I’m so sorry about my friend Hucklebuck. Honestly, I had no idea he was just going to start punching people in the face. And I didn’t even know he carried a gun. I’ll help you pick out a new cat tomorrow. I should have warned you he’s a non-Christian.”

Or they want to prevent their Christian friend from doing something embarrassing in front of non-Christian company:

… You’ll all be eating dinner and then one of your friends will say, “Can you please pass the salt and did I tell you about the angel that spoke to me last night and helped me find a parking space at the mall today? My savior has a first name, it’s J-E-S-U-S!!”…

Or perhaps they can prepare their Christian friend to go into “Witness Mode”:

… Suddenly instead of acting normal and how they would every other moment of the day, they’ll start using all their fancy seminary words. They’ll start asking awkwardly intimate questions like “are you happy on the inside?” They’ll spend the whole night stuffing tracts into your non-Christian friend’s purse like squirrels before winter…

To the writer’s credit, he isn’t advocating these things, just reflecting on what happens:

[To fix this] I think the first thing is… changing the way we look at non-Christians. Retiring the label and seeing people as, well people. I would love to be the faith that doesn’t label or stereotype. Not in a lose your values, anything goes kind of way, but in an honest, “we’re people trying to love other people” kind of way.

(via Stuff Christians Like)

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jen

    One of the comments from that page:

    Personally i think sometimes the waring is good it takes a little of the shock off when they say things like “you should have seen the two girls I “slept with” last week one was a fire breathing mermaid the other a tatoo artist, or my boss is a @#%#^&* #@#%^(beetle bailey swear words). especially if it’s the minister his homeschooled wife who went to a super conservative bible college and and the 69 year old elder and his wife


    Now, perhaps I am unique in that I don’t introduce myself to people as, “Hello, my name is Jen, and my boss is a **&^&%, and also my sex life is…” I also like that atheists get to sleep with mermaids (?) and tattoo artists- you know tattooed people are gross, just gross. While I don’t think swearing is the worst thing ever- they are just words- I still think I know how to conduct myself with new people.

    My friends are free to warn others that I am not a Christian, but I don’t think I am going to breathe fire on them just because they are.

  • One of my friends introduced me to her sister by saying, “This is Laurie. She’s an atheist.” Her sister thought for a while and then said, “I’m OK with that.” I just thought it was odd. I wouldn’t introduce her as, “This is Mary. She’s Catholic.”

  • Atheist Okie

    Weird. Most of my family knows I am an atheist, although they are religious. But I don’t get the whole, “This is my son, and he’s an atheist.”

    I get the, “This is my buddy, and he’s a cop.” Its almost like they have to introduce me in that manner just to make sure the person I get introduced to doesn’t pull out a bag of weed or something. But in my case that might be true.

  • cipher

    They’ll never convince me they “love” others until they get rid of the doctrine of salvific exclusivism. I can pretty much work around everything else.

  • Christians don’t swear… wait, what? I feel this characterization is offensive to Christians.

    Personally, I get a little annoyed when people introduce me as an atheist or anything like that. If I thought it was relevant, I’d say it myself! Quite rarely is it relevant.

  • Pseudonym

    You do know that Stuff Christians Like is satire, right?

    FWIW, my experience with my Christian friends is the exact opposite. They tend to tell me if they know that someone they’re about to introduce to me is religious (not in their presence, of course), and what religion they are, and tend not to mention anything if they’re not.

    I think the reason is that if everyone present in a conversation is religious, then that’s a possible topic of conversation. If not, then talking religion would be rude.

  • My brother has occasionally introduced me that way but the one time it stands out he was introducing me to some friends who had a christian rock band (actually they weren’t that bad, talented musicians but their lyrics of course weren’t). Very interesting evening, since they couldn’t understand why as an atheist I played in a band that practiced in a church. I had to explain that the church rented the space out to the band and that we played jazz and swing not religious music, he still didn’t seem to understand.

    I’ve noticed that some christians seem to think we’ll burst into flames or something if we enter a church, my best friend’s mom was actually concerned about me being a bridesmaid because the wedding was in a church. I don’t know if she thought I’d make a scene or something even though this was my best friend’s wedding and I care about her too much to ruin a day she felt was very special. As it was her mother-in-law freaked out about my tattoo because it’s on my shoulder and the dress was strapless, in her mind it wasn’t proper to have a tattoo visible in a church even though the pastor didn’t care.

  • Mriana

    Personally, I think it’s silly. I don’t go around introducing people as this or that unless it comes up in conversation or for some reason is contributes to the conversation- like someone is talking about a stereotype or something that isn’t accurate or what have you.

  • Randall

    “This is my token Christian friend, S.”

    But she understood it was a joke.

  • the site is not really satire.

    it’s a christian guy reflecting on some of the sillier aspects of christianity, and usually he wraps it all in with a message about being better christians.

    he’s poking fun a little bit, but i don’t think that’s his main objective.

    it’s a nice site and i read it regularly because some of it i could really relate to back in the day.

    and i think a lot of christians warn their friends to avoid making potentially embarassing mistakes. they don’t usually do it to prepare each other to witness, but to prepare each other to make the non-believer feel comfortable.

    it seems silly but i think if i had a group of atheist friends and a religious one was coming over, i might warn them so that we could have a pleasant time without saying something overly offensive.

  • I once accidentally “outed” a friend who’d come along for a job interview where I work. “This is Sarah, she’s gay”. It wasn’t till later that she told me that it was better to get people to accept her for who she is before letting them know that isn’t into men. Obvious really but this social grace malarkey is usually beyond me and Sarah is very forgiving of my little foibles.

    I suppose the convention for atheism would be exactly the same. “This is Bob, he’s a Jesus Freak, just ignore him” It’s not polite is it?

    Still, live and learn, eh?

  • philosophia

    “This is Bob, he’s a Jesus Freak, just ignore him”

    There’s a wicked part of me that totally wants to introduce someone like that now.

  • “Do you ever introduce a religious person to your atheist friends with a disclaimer: “Just fyi, she’s Christian”?”


    When hanging out with my circle of atheist friends it was pretty normal to make clear to others if someone happened to be a Christian or whatever, because there are things that we are comfortable saying around each other, but wouldn’t say around others.

  • David D.G.

    If anything, I usually will do just the opposite, warning the person being introduced of any sensitivities the other people have (and in advance, not during the introduction). For example, my last girlfriend had a rather “blue” vocabulary, and while I normally made no criticisms of this, I asked her to not curse when she met members of my family; she had no objection.

    If someone has a habit of making either religious or anti-religious comments a lot, and you’re introducing this person to a friend or relative who belongs in the opposite camp, it makes sense to let the “new” person know what sort of audience he’s going to be facing; if he still persists in making unprovoked critical comments calculated to go down badly, then he’s only demonstrating his own poor social judgment.

    ~David D.G.

  • That is frickin hilarious…that’s all.

    Love the blog, loved your book. -F

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