9

As of recent, I have become less and less involved and active in my religious community; especially my church. There's many reasons for it, but the main ones are:

  1. Negative stigma given when doing something the church disapproves.
  2. Less of a presence of younger individuals.
  3. My own philosophical conclusions that differ (often greatly).

I still maintain a few of the friendships with those still in this community; I haven't blocked them out from my life or anything.

This often gives me problems though. These members I attempt to maintain friendships with like to attempt to bring me back when I don't want to. I haven't flat out told them the conclusions I've formed, because I know it's going to cause them to argue and maybe even be ashamed of me. I don't want to start an argument and have to defend my own beliefs when I know nobody's opinion is going to change.

One particular situation that's been continuing for too long is my friend's mom nagging me to go to church. She'll say things like:

Yea, speaking of church Anilla, you should come this week.

or

So why weren't you at church last week Anilla?

I understand the probable reasoning for this; she worries about me and wants me to stay in the community and grow to be a good person. The way she goes about it though is far too aggressive for me though and I really don't like mustering an excuse each time.

How can I tell her to stop bothering me about not going to church while maintaining respect and not starting a religious debate?

7

The best way to react to this depends on who the person is in your life. If these sorts of comments come from someone who is close enough to you that you would tell her you were in love, tell her your career plans, your hopes and dreams, then you need to respond to the subtext, which is "are you still a churchgoer? I think you should be!" Responses to that are not a single sentence, they are a careful, slow conversation. If your friend's mother is almost a second mother to you, then setting aside some time to tell her of this development in your life is appropriate.

Of course, there are plenty of other people who are not that close. For them, respond positively and happily (you like the way you're living your life) to precisely what was said. Smile while you answer.

speaking of church Anilla, you should come this week.

I appreciate that, it's lovely to know I'm always welcome.

or

why weren't you at church last week Anilla?

I made other plans last week.

Or

We missed you at church the last month or so

I missed seeing you too. I'm glad we are both here today, it's very nice to see you again.

What these answers have in common:

  • they are positive and pleasant
  • they do not contain any lies
  • they don't discuss why you didn't and will not attend
  • they don't confirm whether you will or will not attend in the future
  • they contain nothing that can be argued with
  • they contain nothing that would upset someone if repeated as gossip

There is nothing wrong with a little practice in the mirror to establish some of these responses for yourself, that you can use whenever necessary.

2

This one can be a little difficult to navigate. I come from a religious background, so I can relate to your friends' concerns when it comes to wanting "Salvation" for someone else. The best thing you can do here is:
Tell them the truth of what you believe.
They say honesty is the best policy, and I think that would be especially true in this case. By doing this, you should know a few things,

  1. Your friends will be hurt, there is no way around this. Their beliefs no longer coincide with your own.
  2. They will still attempt to convince you of their belief (especially if they are ardently religious. I.E. They'll say that they'll pray for you, etc.)
  3. They may start to distance themselves from you. (Honestly, this shouldn't happen, but it does).

However, by telling the truth, they'll begin to understand that your belief differs from their own, and if they are truly friends of yours, they will respect that.

Also, make sure you tell them that you don't want to debate with them about it, that will help as well.

2

I think an effective way to release yourself from attending religion without requiring an excuse is to anticipate their arguments to your decision and give them some compromise.

I don't think I will be attending church anymore. There's been a lot of good things I've learned from church but there's some things I don't entirely agree with and I want to have the freedom to choose between the two. There may be a time I come back to the church but for now I really want to find my own way.

Here you are not saying anything bad about the church or those who follow its teaching you're stating that you have your own thoughts that you want to follow as well. You don't have to go into detail how your thoughts differ from the church, you can just say that they're your private beliefs and that should help reduce their insistence that you attend church.

  • It sounds to me like the other person would likely ask about what those things that the OP doesn't agree with are. And now the OP either answers truthfully, in which case we have a debate that they wanted to avoid, or they do not answer truthfully, in which case this response might be perceived as weak (or worse, an excuse). – YiFan Mar 11 '19 at 22:36
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    @YiFan as I mention there's another option, which I recommend, to insist that the difference is their private belief, simply repeating that its a private belief is enough if they continue to ask – BKlassen Mar 11 '19 at 22:41

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