Sunday, June 12, 2011

To convert or not to convert?

When I was a Christian, I did Christian things. Converting souls for Jesus was my duty. I did it well. My old bible has a mark for each person I brought to Christ. There were 33. I regret every one of them.

I became an atheist at 18 after spending most of my youth as a Christian. As an atheist, I do not try to convert others. In my mind, atheism offers nothing to convert to. A conversion causes one to renounce faith. I don’t try to convert others. I’ve always felt that what another person believes is their own business.

When it comes to my family I hold the same values. I have two atheist sons and a long suffering lapsed Catholic wife. My oldest son recently told me how he never remembers talking to me about atheism in the house when he was a child. He’s right. I never did. I tried to teach him how to think instead. My oldest son came to atheism through existentialism, which he discovered on his own without knowledge of the subject. My youngest son is following the same path, although we enjoy many long talks on the subject of faith. My wife and I keep a happy truce. What she believes is her business. She gives me the same respect.

People, other atheists mostly, want to know my position on converting the faithful to atheism. I was even asked if I would participate in some atheist witnessing at a local pier. Honestly – I will never try to convert others as a calculated activity. My experience as a Christian scarred me for life. I hurt people by alienating them from family and friends. I will never knowingly do that again. However, I defend my lack of faith, my atheism if you will, rigorously against all comers. If believers brings their game, then I play to win (and I don’t keep score).

Atheism is a movement and not a movement at the same time. I can accept that others get out in public and try to convert religious people to our banner. Just like I can accept that others choose to work in different ways. I live what I preach. I try to be a good person and do good things. I lead by example. Sometimes my examples get through to the believers. In fact, it is often what starts our conversations. I am curios though. How do my atheist friends approach this subject?

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