The Uninspired Manifesto

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sharing Your Beliefs

From Friendly Atheist/We Might Be Windfalls.
My job (a law clerk for a legal services organization that serves migrant farmworkers) is constantly inviting me to make comparisons with my missionary service. Like my time as a missionary, I work with Latinos, mostly Mexicans, in the U.S., who live off of field work. Like missionaries, I visit my clients in their homes. Like missionaries, I have to gain my clients' trust. Heck, I even drive a 1999 Sentra like when I was a missionary.

As I met with a client family in a trailer park in a small town in western Minnesota, I couldn't help but be brought back to my mission service. Especially when my client asked me: ¿Cómo aprendiste el español? I explained to him that I was a missionary for my church a few years ago in Arizona. His face glowed with recognition and he said that he had had visits from Mormon elders at his home in Texas. At that point, I would have responded with a follow up question: how did you like it? Or, why did you stop meeting with them? Or, did you ever go to church? Or, would you like me to have the elders here visit you?

I would have. But I stopped myself. I hesitated. It didn't feel right. Somehow, it had the feel of an abuse of authority, or an impermissible blending of church and state, or a violation of the legal services non-solicitation policy, or some other verboten thing. Even though it wasn't strictly any of those things, it felt like something of that nature.

He goes on to ask some deep questions, but I want to address proselytizing. As an atheist, I get asked to explain my 'beliefs' a lot, and I'll try to, to the best of my ability, or tell the person to 'fuck off', depending on the situation. Still, I make it a point to never bring it up unless they ask me specifically. This is for a couple reasons. For one, I hate getting into arguments; they're pointless, and it usually ends in a string of profanitys directed towards Jesus. Secondly, it always leads to stupid questions I've already answered so many fuckin times, it make me want to stab the next guy who brings it up.

It's good to see someone from, of all places, the Mormon religion at lest try to be reasonable about this type of things. I've seen so many situation, and been in a few myself, where overtly religious people will take any opportunity to preach in the name of their god. If you want to preach and proselytize about whatever the hell you want, at least have the common courtesy to wait until someone asks. Otherwise, assume they're like me, and don't give a shit, and leave them the fuck alone.
posted by Nick at 9:34 PM

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