• Don’t Pray For Me

    don't prayLike many atheists, I often have Christians who threaten to physically assault me. I even get Christians who threaten send me to “meet God.” But they love me. They really love me. In fact, after all the threats, they are sure to let me know that they are praying for me. But what does that really mean anyway?

    It seems to me, that when a Christian claims that are praying for me, they are telling me that they are asking God to save me. They are saying that even though I deserve to be tortured for all eternity, they would like God to spare me out of grace.

    I think the important part here is that they actually think I deserve to be tortured. They believe that I deserve to be tortured not just for five minutes or an hour, but for all eternity (which I understand is sort of a long time). So at best, when they are saying that they are praying for me, it is really a backhanded compliment at best. They are saying that I am a wretched person who deserves to be tortured!!!

    In fairness, they believe everyone deserves to be tortured, but that they deserve it slightly less because they have been forgiven by God — forgiven for the ultimate crime… being human.

    And yet, many Christians have the audacity to claim that atheists are the big meanies because we criticize their religious beliefs as being ridiculous and call them out on their hateful actions and attitudes.

    I don’t need their prayers. If they believe that I truly deserve to be tortured, then so be it. It isn’t like they are going to change God’s mind with their prayers anyway. For one thing, he doesn’t exist so he doesn’t have a mind. But even if he did (and he doesn’t), then they still couldn’t change God’s mind with their prayers. Doesn’t God have a perfect plan? Well? Is it perfect or isn’t it? If it is perfect, then any change in that perfect plan would mess up the whole damn thing. Plus, if I really deserve to be tortured… and no one does, then fuck it.

    The reality is that the very fact that a Christian is praying for me is good reason not to be a Christian. If they are praying for God to save me from being eternally tortured, then God is the meanie because no one deserves to be tortured – not for five minutes and certainly not for all eternity.

    Don’t pray for me, Christian. Think about the type of God you choose to worship. Do you really want to worship a deity that has set up a system that allows for the infinite torture of billions of people for finite transgressions of being human for 0-110 years? Yeah, the system that God has set up according to Christianity allows for children and babies to be tortured for all eternity! Think about it.

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    Category: AtheismfeaturedHellMorality

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

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    4 comments

    1. Hi from an Aussie atheist – as 1 of 5 girls raised in a Catholic family my sisters and I have all turned away from religion primarily because being strong woman, with opinions (gasp) church teachings about, guilt and morality and sex and guilt and a woman’s place and guilt and more guilt, was not how we wanted to live or raise children. (Yep I’m getting to my point regarding prayer) – I have been married for 23 years and my husband in now in the final stages of a terminal illness – I thought of myself as a tolerant atheist, by all means believe in your God, just leave me in peace. Then cancer entered our lives – surgeons and medical science have saved my husbands life on numerous occasions and kept him with us well past what could be expected – also him being pig-headed and stubborn is a major factor. Sitting in a hospital and hearing a bone weary surgeon tell me that he is going to live only to hear other family in the background chorusing thank god, our prayers have been answered bought me to boiling point, seriously to say that in front of the team that have just done all the work?? Then I had another do-gooder tell me that they were comfortable with my husband dying because of their faith – when I exploded they offered fake sympathy and suggested I needed medication. Now as we come to the end of this journey the thing that is most daunting is knowing that I am going to have a stream of niff nuffs telling me he’s in a better place and that they are praying for me! Do you think I will be able to make the inevitable announcement but tack on a request for no Christian sentiments?? While I don’t want to turn this time of our lives into some sort of a farce neither do I want to be spending the time gritting my teeth in an effort not to explode. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

      1. Sorry to hear about your situation. It is always hard when a loved one is so ill and you know they don’t have much time left. The good news is that you don’t have to waste what little time he has left on ridiculous religious rituals.

        As for what happens after he dies, I think the time to tackle that is now. I don’t know how functional he is at the moment, but if he is still fairly functional this might be a good time for him to reach out to family and friends. He can say goodbye to loved ones with dignity and express the view that you both are superstition-free. Coming from him at the end of his life will deter the onslaught of fake sympathies. Plus, expressing this with a loving goodbye helps to soften the criticism. If he is not able to express those issues at this time, then now is the time for you to be proactive and communicate this.

        You can express the view that he has lived a great life and has been fortunate enough to have them in it. That here is nothing for anyone to pray for since this is the natural way of things. I’m a geek, so Yoda’s speech to Luke in Return of the Jedi comes to mind.

        In any case, it is important to note that often times religious believers tell you that they will pray for you in situation like this because they don’t know what else to say. They want to express some sentiment of comfort to you and that is the only thing they can think to say. So one thought is to provide them with something more more constructive. Perhaps you can ask people to donate a small amount toward research into this particular illness. For example, you could say that your husband has lived a great life and has lived longer than he was expected in large part to the hard work and dedication of his medical team and the research that medical professionals have done into this illness. Please consider channeling your sympathies into small donations to further this research in your husband’s name.

        Then instead of telling you that they are praying for him and you, they can tell you that they have donated in his honor and that they can help you after he is gone in some actual way.

        These are just some thoughts and please let me know how things go. Thank you for sharing this story with me. I think I might write a separate post about this issue.

    2. Many thanks for your thoughts – the old boy is still functioning well at the moment and we have just hosted a marquee at the local race day and advised one and all to get along and catch up with him there as he will not want people faffing around him at the very end stages. I suppose it was similar to him holding his own wake and he had a blast, people wrote down their favourite memory of a time spent with him which resulted in some funny stories – I think that we will go with your suggestion of channelling their good intentions into positive action by donating to research. His illness was compounded by a stroke (he is mid 40’s) which has left him severely limited and the cancer on top of that was particularly cruel but through it all he has just got on with it and we have got a lot further by chasing whatever science had to offer than spending time on our knees. Thanks for your input – I’m not a “geek” so I did have to look up the Yoda reference and found it spot on!

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