Untwisting my Knickers

My spouse is good friends with a neighbor lady and my kids are friends with her kids. Recently her husband left his job and accepted a position as pastor at a local church. In what I considered to be an act of thoughtfulness, she asked my spouse if his working for the church would affect our family's friendship. I chose to view his career change to be a desire to help others manifesting through his belief system. Live and let live.

This morning my spouse tells me that the neighbor and her husband extended a personal invitation to an “outreach” at their church. When my spouse asks, the neighbor admits that there will be a sermon at this “outreach”. There may have been more to the story than that but I admit that I was too mad to catch the rest of it.

An “outreach” with a sermon?!? What the fork happened to thoughtfulness? They know my history with Christianity. They know my opinions of churches. They know that I choose not to attend even the programs that lack sermons. How did they think it would be anything other than offensive to me?

Intellectually I realize that insensitive zealots plague all causes, not just the Christian religion, but this is precisely the kind of self-righteous behavior that pisses me off. I am very familiar with Christianity; I spent the first twenty years of my life in the Christian church. Frankly I fail to see how anyone could be raised in the U.S. and not be familiar with Christianity. My choice about Christianity is an informed choice. But even if I was not informed, it is my choice to make.

If they did not know my position on Christianity, it would be a different thing. We all like to share what we like with others. But the fact that they know, and have known for years, my position on Christianity makes this another episode of “I'm smarter than you”. Actually, no, they are not smarter than me. I have absolutely no doubt that God is not limited to their branch of Christianity. I would stake my eternal soul on it. And I have.

This is the kind of in-your-face proselytizing that makes Christianity offensive. I have never, ever had a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish friend try to force their religion on me. Not all of my Christians friends try to, but it is only Christians that do it. I do not know their justifications but it certainly comes across as “you are too stupid to make your own choices so we'll make them for you”. If Christianity was so great, would I not be bugging them to find out more? Perhaps the reason that Christians have to shanghai new recruits is because their behavior is off-putting.

As you can tell, this has really pissed me off. I do not want to cause a rift in my wife's friendship or the kids'. But I am having a hard time getting past this.

Am I overreacting or do I have a right to expect people to keep their religion to themselves?

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