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The atheists in that situation should also recognize that the christians just want to be respected for their beliefs. And you do have that right. What nobody has a right to do is condemn the other; atheists have no right to tell christians or believers that they are all doing wrong by doing what they feel is right; just like believers have no right to tell atheists that they're doing it wrong either. We don't know for sure, and it's insulting to either side to insinuate that you're so much better than they are simply because you have it all figured out. Nobody has it figured out. Nobody'll figure it out until they die.

In discussions like this too many people take one side or another side; it's perfectly alright to have your own beliefs and your own side to participate in, I for one have never been a particularly receptive person to going to church and organized religion, but that's because I believe if I want to have a relationship with God I don't need a priest to go as proxy. Any God I could respect is not too pretentious to have a discussion with his follower; most especially if he is as loving as the gospel insists.

Some undecided people are content to stay undecided; words, sadly, especially in this topic, have a very limited scope of effect, and until these people are either turned on to religion or turned off, trying to convince is probably going to be more an annoyance than anything else. But many believers I have noticed have confused convincing with education; if someone's undecided, perhaps it would be a better idea to instead of trying to get them to believe it, present them with what you know. Like things about how the gospel is full of things people already believe are morally right; things like how you should treat everyone equally. Jesus washed the feet of servants and spoke to the Magdalens not because he was A Great Guy but more because he was proving a point; he was going to heaven and he could still be nice to everyone around him, whether they were as holy as the Torah said or not. Stuff like that. I found myself becoming more religious the more I studied it, not necessarily because I felt myself being "bit by the religion bug" or because I wanted to be 'saved', verily, I felt that I was a good enough person morally and that I was worth being called a good person, simply because I do what is right and I am kind to people. I just choose not to put a name to why I am kind; they say God is Love, well maybe Love is God, and when we say we love someone we are simply saying that God is within them. They say Jesus is peace, if I feel an inner peace, that could very well be Jesus inside me. I simply choose not to follow the dogma and rather to follow the morality. Some would call me atheist. I know better.

IMHO praying for nonbelievers is a personal thing for you to do, the power of the human mind to wish and conjure into being what it wants or needs has been much researched, and it works to explain why prayer works for all faiths as opposed to one; no matter what religion you belong to, it has been found prayer is beneficial. Others don't need to know about your prayer, others don't need to criticize your prayer, because it is YOUR prayer. Just like I'm certain you wouldn't want others criticizing your sex life, and just like you wouldn't do that to others, criticizing something almost equally as personal is, to me, a morally wrong thing. It is to say their wishes are wrong wishes or bad wishes. It's to take things out of context. I find it distressing.

You are right, you shouldn't be condemned for saying things aloud, just like you shouldn't condemn others. You sound like the ideal christian, truly bilateral in their beliefs and principles.

I agree with you wholly FAD, exactly why I said, hello, we're all adults here, why can't we have an adult discussion?

I think perhaps you got misinterpreted on the brainwashing thing because you said, quotably, that you would not give your children a choice. That is a phrase that is easily misinterpreted to mean that you'd subscribe to the Hutterite mode of beliefs, and turn away those who turned away God. Try to take it perhaps that that person was more pointing out a mis-wording instead of attacking your character? I'm not sure. I know my mother is devoutly Catholic, and she raised me to be devoutly Catholic, but I did not particularly appreciate a rather anal retentive priest we had (who, even though I was an altar server, treated me very badly and turned me off to the church in particular and dogma in general) and as a result tended more to want to study on my own and less to want to believe everything I heard on my own. Some would say I have turned away God or gone away from God but I don't feel that way; the sad thing about these beliefs and faiths is that they are so personal that once someone tries to give anybody's a good wrench, it tends to set a few things out of joint, starting with their noses.

I think as far as your children go you seem to me to be the kind of reasonable christian who, if they saw their child believed that it made more sense for your God to be composed of many different parts, perhaps representing many different traits, (as the Greeks did, what with their pantheons of gods and goddesses who each had their own traits and stories in life, and were as human as we were, or perhaps, we as godly as they were,) that you could see they are still seeing the same God you do, simply composed of different parts. Or perhaps if they saw it making more sense that there was not one God alone but perhaps he had a partner, a common belief in modernized wikah, the concept of the Lord and Lady.

If I have children, I will raise them to know the world is sacred and holy in its own way; it doesn't necessarily have to mean that I would rather they be religious, but religion certainly does make it a lot easier to explain to children why we should be nicer to everyone and everything. The underlying messages in a lot of the Gospel (and I say gospel becuase the Torah or old testament contradicts many, many things said by Jesus,) is just that. Respect. As far as I am concerned, if my children do not necessarily say their rosary every night (which is an excellent way to fall asleep, by the way) and rather just see the world as holy and to be taken care of, and see others as holy and to be respected and compassionate towards, I could let the lack of name-dropping slide. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, in many, many ways, and personally, anybody who is kind in their face and greedy to get to heaven in their heart is not, in my mind, a believer.

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