So I haven’t posted in a while and since I’m kind of circling around the drain until I finally get around to reviewing About Time, a film I sincerely hope I don’t make a pun out of, and some other stuff I’ve seen recently, but for now I hope that this’ll do as I’d like to share something that happened to me last week.
If you have read my About Page, you’ll know that I’m an Atheist, and no before you ask, I’m not an “Angry Atheist”, I don’t seek out religious people to bash their beliefs and I don’t go around purposefully trying to offend anyone I can. That’s just being a douche bag, and in all fairness, anyone, religious or not, can be a douche bag.
But anyway, I’m an Atheist and I am part of my University’s Secular and Atheist Society and last week was Activities’ Week. It’s when all the freshers, and perhaps not-so-freshers, tip up and look at all the societies the University has and signs up, usually after a good spiel by those on each table.
Now our stall, which was pretty damn good I might add, was in the Faith section of the fair and, while we’re not a faith society, it’s not bad that we’re in that section for three reasons. 1: It makes sense that a society, although no religious, but about not believing in religion, is put in a section about religion. 2: We get on well with the other faith societies and we have to interact with them if we want debates, joint-events, and so on. 3: It’s makes people laugh that a non-faith society is stuck between the Jewish Society and the Hindu Society.
So back to the story. Our stall is doing quite well and loads of people are signing up, and we have some interesting people turn up for a chat, from both a religious and non-religious standpoint. And then this guy walks up to me and introduces himself. He was very congenial and, for the sake of anonymity, I’ll just refer to this guy as Steve.
So Steve knows about our society and knows me through one of my friends who is a Christian. With a vague sense that I should know this person, but don’t quite remember, I make polite conversation with him. He’s a Christian, so we chat about the fair, the Christian Union’s Stall and the Secular and Atheist Stall.
All’s fine and then Steve says; ‘You know I’m a Christian right?’
I say ‘Yeah, I know’
‘Is it alright if I ask you something then?
Hesitant, but not wanting to be rude, I say ‘Sure, go for it.
‘Ok, is it alright if I pray for you?’
And thus the bombshell was dropped.
I was dumbfounded. Now I’m not saying that he was rude about asking. He wasn’t he was polite and I guess in his mind, this was a perfectly ordinary thing to ask. But I was astonished. I don’t know why he thought I, a man in a bright orange shirt with “Atheist Society” written on it, with two other guys behind me in the same attire, and with a huge banner that said “Secular and Atheist Society” would think “You know what? Sure, I believe that you putting your hands together and asking your omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God for my safety and whatnot. It’s better to be safe than sorry!”
Just no. Now I know him praying for me won’t hurt me, but it seems so wrong for him to ask. I have shown by saying that I am an Atheist that I do not believe that prayer of any kind will work. I don’t mind people talking to God on their own time, but please don’t bring me into it when I have no affection for it. It would be like him coming up to me and saying; “I know you for the Fox Hunting Ban, but is it alright is I sign you up to the Repeal the Fox Ban Petition?”
I have no qualms with people having religious beliefs. That’s your business. But please don’t make me part of it. That’s just wrong. I told him I would fell uncomfortable with being prayed for, and in all fairness he was pretty cool about it. He said that was fine and then after a little bit, moved off to another stall.
I guess I may be more annoyed about this than others, and I know loads of people will think; “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t affect you! God, I hate these Atheists moaning all the time about religious people!” Well, sure you may feel that way, but I’m just against religion when it’s used in a manner that I would feel intrudes upon my liberties and that of society in general.
That’s why I think Faith Schools that are funded by the Government are wrong, why the Church and State should be separated, why there shouldn’t be 26 Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords, and why I think that people should not pray for me. It infringes on my liberty to say; “No, I don’t want to be part of this in anyway” and for people to pray for me when I’ve specifically stated the contrary is wrong.
Well that’s all I’m going to say on the matter, but if you have any views, or have had any weird encounters with religious, or indeed non-religious people, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading and don’t worry, I won’t be praying to a divinity for this article to be read, and for those who read it to be safe.