Person 1 – “Sorry, my beliefs say we can’t be friends.”
Person 2 – “We’ve been friends for years. What changed?”
Person 1 – “I just can’t. Sorry. If you join our religion, we can still be friends!”
Person 2 – “Is this some type of sick joke?”
Conversation brings up some memories? Maybe something you heard passing by some people talking among themselves? Something you read online? I have even been through a similar conversation with people during adolescence, and young adult moments.
I never really understood the whole debate of “joining a religion/belief to stay friends,” then it dawned on me. The people who basically put you on the spot, claiming they aren’t your friends unless you join a denomination to stay friends, aren’t the friends you need in your life, regardless of how long you’ve known each other. Actual, real friends respect your decisions, and still actively communicate like nothing happened; not pick and choose because of someone else’s propaganda.
If you’re the friend with the beliefs, really think for a minute; is it really worth throwing away years of rapport, friendship, and memories because someone else said so? Was there moments where your friendship was strained and/or put to the test that required you to make uncomfortable, life-changing decisions? Do your new group of “friends” know you like the previous person/group did? Are your former friend(s) getting in constant trouble, and you were a part of something you didn’t want to be? It’s one thing to need a change of pace, and/or a change of company due to negative energy and behavior; however just because someone else said so based off little to no actual reason is unfair to you, and the friend(s) in question.
If you’re the friend who was let go, what happened? Did you do/say something that pushed them away? If so, did you apologize? Did you take their feelings into consideration? Did they join a congregation that seems controlling, and you felt they were brainwashed? Was their family part of this influence? If you respected all boundaries, and they still left you alone, then they aren’t the friend you need, especially in your adult life.
This is one of the biggest reasons why people hate/fear any form of religion, because of someone else’s interpretations where control is the actual, driving force.
“You can/t eat X and Y”
“If you’re X and/or Y, you aren’t a good person”
“Do not watch X because it will consume you”
“If X and Y people aren’t a part of this congregation, they are evil people”
“X, Y, and Z music will warp your mind”
“Video games were made to control you”
I mention this topic today because of an actual religious joke I read online, and there was an actual truth behind the message. Too many people are told how to live, yet follow religion anyways out of fear and misinterpretation(s). It’s fine for someone in charge of your congregation to tell you how to live, but you complain because the other part of society tells you how to live? I say again – a pastor/preacher/higher person of power tells you how to live, and that’s fine; but someone else makes legit suggestions and they’re the wrong ones? If people actually took the time to read their respective teachings (regardless of faith), the “bad” people were punished because they were told to do something (or change their stance), and out of spite they did the opposite; and lived believing they were the ones in the right. I’ll provide an example (I’m going to use the Christian Faith since it’s one I’m mostly familiar with):
Person A is into same-sex relationships. They keep to themselves, and only tell select people out of fear of being judged and ridiculed. It’s one of those moments where you don’t know unless they say something, and they don’t judge anyone or have any negative energy at all.
Person B isn’t as welcoming. Yet, B automatically judges A just because The Bible says it’s wrong. A doesn’t really even display obvious signs, and even respects B on their religious stance; yet B automatically puts A into a negative category, and even makes a big scene.
This is one moment where Person B is in the wrong because A never forced anything negative, and according to The Bible, Person A didn’t really do anything wrong outside informing people their preferences. Will they be punished or judged? As long as they keep to themselves, and don’t force anything, no they won’t. To both people, this is one of those moments where Jesus would still love A because they are a child of God; yet the pastor (and B) would judge just because they can.
Person A is into same-sex relationships, and does everything possible to force others to respect their decision; and even made advances towards everyone around them, including forcing people to make life changing decisions.
Person B asks the right questions, and decides they aren’t the company to be around, and leaves them alone. No judging, no false testimonies, no negative behavior whatsoever.
Notice the difference? Person A would be in trouble because they are not only forcing everyone to accept them, but also trying to force change in those they know/talk to. This is where religion would instruct Person A to change, otherwise bad things will happen.
I’ve talked to both sides (the religious and non religious), and the majority of the non religious are actually less judgemental since they had upbringing where everyone is respected. So what if they have tattoos, piercings, and/or listen to music outside your comfort zone; what did they do wrong? Nothing? Then why judge/ridicule based off of nothing? Even Atheists can be debated to believe in something; because they believe something isn’t there, so in theory isn’t that still a belief in itself? You believe in not believing? The Agnostic believe in a higher power, just not what man created (which to many makes sense), and as long as you do right, and follow what’s right, you’re in the clear.
Keep in mind – I’m in no way, shape, or form making fun of anyone’s religion, beliefs, or telling someone their person in charge are wrong. I’m explaining a big scenario that occurs more often then it should; because someone said so, not because it’s time for you (or the other person) to walk away and find better company. There’s nothing wrong with believing, and there’s nothing wrong with religion in general (yes including the Atheists); because ALL religion follow the same entity under a different channel at the end of the day. And yes, it is possible to follow religion (for the right reasons) and still be yourself at the end of the day, despite what someone else says – I’m living proof.