Author Topic: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer. (Minor Update - Post 51)  (Read 38719 times)

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magiccat26

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I have a deliema and bean dipping is not working.

I live in a small town (approx 3,000) in the heart of the bible belt.  I was raised by parents who were very open minded about religion and allowed me to choose my own path, just as they had done.  After exploring various religions, I know that organized religion of any denomination is not for me.  I'm very comfortable with my decision and have no interest or intention of changing my mind.

Now, I am also a GS leader for my daugter's Brownie troop (3rd grade).  This year, my co-leader asked me to allow a new girl to join us.  She is the youngest daughter of the pastor in our town's largest church (probably 500 people attend service at this church).  She is a sweet child and a wonderful addition to my troop.

The problem is that my co-leader, who also attends this church, has recruited the pastor's wife to try and strong arm me into joining the Wednesday women's worship group, Sunday services, etc.  Her reasoning is that I have done so much for their child that they want to return the favor to our family by bringing us into their church family. 

A nice thought, if I had any interest, but I don't.  This specific denomination is one that I truly do not agree with philosophically.  If I had to choose a religion, I would never select this one...there are other denominations that I find are more in line with my own beliefs.

I have tried bean-dipping to no avail.  If I change the subject, she finds a way to bring it up again, while always adding "No pressure!  But we just really would love to see you more and worship with you!"

I do not want to lie, because I will get caught if I claim to attend a different church.  (Everyone seems to know someone who attends every church within a 100 mile radius).  I'm afraid to offer explanations because I cannot see them understanding that I am quite content as a "heathen".  ;). Telling them other plans is not working because she then invites me to be next event (Currently its Easter and an Easter carnival when the children get to study the crusification through craft stations.). I've even tried just saying, "Thank you for the invite, but I'm just not interested." this only causes her to give me a 15 minute disertation on why I would love it and should give it a try.

I'm hoping the wise people here have some ideas on what else I can do.  I don't want to offend and I don't want my actions or words to result in their daughter leaving our troop...because she really is a sweet girl.

Thank you!
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 09:59:03 AM by magiccat26 »
“If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.” — Catherine Aird

Jones

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 10:51:05 AM »
I have two tactics that you could use, the first things that occurred to me (can't say I've been in your situation before, so I don't know how well they will work):

"Sorry, I looked into that religion and I have to disagree with some of the philosophies. I don't want to hurt our friendship by getting into a religious discussion with you about them, but I just don't see how I can tuck that difference into the back of my mind and attend this church. Please don't pursue this because it will only end in hurt feelings for us both."

"Thank you for inviting me, but really, I am not interested at all. NO, really, not at ALL. Please don't make me repeat myself."

Best of luck to you on this situation! I'm interested to see what other people have to say.

HorseFreak

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 10:56:20 AM »
I don't have much to add, but I'd love to hear the replies to this one! I also live in the bible belt and having moved from New England it's quite the shock. I am not religious in any way, shape or form, but haven't had a huge amount of trouble with this topic yet. My problem is people wanting to set me up with men I KNOW are very religious and I don't see that working from either end. Religion can make things very awkward, huh?

I have had to use some variation of, "Please, I don't want to talk about religion." It stopped them flat when paired with a smile and a firm tone of voice. I won't talk about why I DON'T believe what you do, if you don't talk about why your religion is the One Perfect Faith. It's a two-way street and I prefer to avoid it all together.

O'Dell

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 10:59:34 AM »

"Thank you for inviting me, but really, I am not interested at all. NO, really, not at ALL. Please don't make me repeat myself."


I'd go with something like this as a way to soften my technique when someone won't take no for an answer: Silence. No subject change for them to ignore. No excuses or reasoning for them to argue with. I'll walk away if I can, but keep up the silence for a bit if I can't.

Although in this woman's case I'd be tempted to at least once tell her "I don't think 'no pressure' means what you think it means." :P
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

Reason

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2012, 11:40:16 AM »
Counter invite them to worship the purple elephant three headed dragon god with you in the woods in a private ceremony at 3:00am?

Actually, you can try being honest and saying something like "Lately, every time we speak I feel like the conversations always end with you proselytizing at me and it's really making me uncomfortable. Could we talk about something else?"

Shoo

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 11:43:31 AM »
"Look, I like you and I enjoy having your daughter in my troop. But I'm starting to feel really uncomfortable with the way you are pushing your religion on me.  When I say I am not interested, I really mean it.  So I need you to stop talking to me about it.  Thanks!"

MrTango

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2012, 01:26:49 PM »
The next time she says "No Pressure," reply with something along the lines of "'No Pressure'?  Every time you bring it up, you say 'no pressure' when you are, in fact, pressuring me to join your church.  I will not be joining your church now or at any time in the future.  Please do not mention it again."

magiccat26

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2012, 01:52:41 PM »
Counter invite them to worship the purple elephant three headed dragon god with you in the woods in a private ceremony at 3:00am?

Don't tempt me.  My DH was laughing one night when she had come to our home for a cookie meeting and was staring wide eyed at my decor.  Just to explain, my DH and I own a lot of high quality fantasy art prints.  These prints are beautifully framed and on every wall of our "public rooms".  The subject matter is mostly dragons, elves, and other mystical creatures.  While tasteful, some of the elven maidens are rather scantily clad.  ;). There is not a cross, angel (unless you count winged elves), or piece of scripture in sight.  My bookshelves are overflowing with fantasy and urban supernatural stories.  I imagine it was quite a shock for her because my DH and I seem so "normal". :)

My Co-Leader is a friend and neighbor...I know it really disturbs her that DH and I are so casual about religion.  She has been trying for 4 years to get me to church because she honestly believes that our souls are in jeopardy. I think it frustrates her because most people like her and listen to her and end up doing what she wants (she can be very persuasive)....but she has failed to "save" me.  So now she has recruited reinforcements.

It's frustrating for me because I'm very happy where we live.  I love the town and the people...I just wish they would respect my wishes one this one topic.  I've tried to explain to my coleader my own philosophy, but she honestly believes that there is only one path and everyone else, regardless of how "good" they are, will be sent to a very hot place if they fail to worship this specific way.

As I said, her heart is in the right place.  She's trying to make sure she "sees me in the afterlife.". I really do fear that she and the pastor's wife are not going to give up.  I really don't want to deal with this for the rest of our lives.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 01:54:43 PM by magiccat26 »
“If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.” — Catherine Aird

NyaChan

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2012, 01:57:09 PM »
"Look, I like you and I enjoy having your daughter in my troop. But I'm starting to feel really uncomfortable with the way you are pushing your religion on me.  When I say I am not interested, I really mean it.  So I need you to stop talking to me about it.  Thanks!"

I like this.  I might also suggest going to their church to meet with the pastor and explaining to him what is happening and how it is affecting you.  This is a bit beyond just a social interaction in my opinion.  It is an attempt to proselytize and is inappropriate in the context within which they know you.  The fact that this woman was "recruited" to help bring you in is too much. 

gramma dishes

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2012, 02:07:03 PM »
The next time she says "No Pressure," reply with something along the lines of "'No Pressure'?  Every time you bring it up, you say 'no pressure' when you are, in fact, pressuring me to join your church.  I will not be joining your church now or at any time in the future.  Please do not mention it again."

I like this.  Short, simple, and right to the point.  No room for misinterpretation. 

If even that doesn't work, then I'd start walking away every time she brings it up, or pointedly move on to another person in the room (if one is available).  If she persists even after this, I'd say very firmly, "You know, we've discussed this before.  I've told you how I feel.  So please just stop it!"

People like this really do believe it is their mission in life to 'save' everyone else.  It's pretty hard to beat that down because their feelings about it are really all consuming.

lowspark

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2012, 02:14:23 PM »
...I just wish they would respect my wishes one this one topic. 

^ This, exactly.

I would just say something like,
Thank you for inviting me but I'm not interested in attending any events at your church. Please respect my wishes on this by not asking me anymore.

buvezdevin

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2012, 02:15:18 PM »
Would something along this line be workable:

"We aren't members of any congregation, and we prefer socializing outside religious organizations.  I enjoy sharing girl scout activities with you, but I would rather not be lobbied any further to participate in or try out your church activities."

Regardless of whether you say anything else to her, the next time she couches a further invite to church in a "no pressure" statement, I would point out that repeating invitations which are repeatedly declined is a cumulative pressure, whether she intends it or not.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
Mark Twain

Drawberry

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2012, 03:18:44 PM »
I enjoy the choice of home decor!


Similar situations have risen over the years, as I am quite happy and content to be Atheist.

BG Stuff:
My father's side of the family is Catholic, very strongly. My Boyfriends family, on his mother's side, are extremely religious to a point where I've gotten uncomfortable with some prejudice remarks that have been made, along with not so subtle hints about disliking other races. Boyfriend, who is Christian but not
a strong practicer, has told his mother I am not religious but I don't know if she realizes I don't believe in God at all. I am not entirely sure if the rest of his family (on his mothers side, I know almost no one from his fathers as they don't show up often) is aware of my lack of faith or to what extent, but I have a feeling they would not be too happy if they knew it wasn't just me 'not being particularly religious' but flat out not believing in a God.

We have discussed before that should/when we get married (which at this point in our relationship we both feel like is simply a given and he's proudly said he knows how he will purpose when the time is right, so discussing this topic was not unusual) if he would like to be married in a church with a pastor. Boyfriend said that he would like it just as much if we did something non-demoniacal where we could be married without the involvement of a church and by a Justice of the Peace. Part of me wonders how his mother and her family would feel about this, they have said before they wanted him to be baptized numerous times and put a high importance on this(  he would not have a problem doing so and I would be more then happy to attend this event). It's just I know that his mother and her family put a high value on their religion, and have displayed a lack of understanding for other faiths (and races associated with them) which concerns me at times how they would feel about him having a non-Christian wedding.  We have also discussed that should a child ever happen, what faith we would feel comfortable raising them under as he and I are both clearly completely different in our believes. Boyfriend stated that he would like to wait for the child to be old enough to pick their own faith and discuss with them the different beliefs that are out there, he doesn't want to raise strictly Christian children and would see nothing wrong with them being another faith or none at all. I do know his sister (with a small child) is of the same faith and is raising her daughter to be so as well, so I know that it would be what his mother would want of him. To raise a Christian child that is. I am aware these things are far into the future and are the sort of things you work with when they come up, but I cannot help but feel some trepidation on what may happen down the road.

Boyfriends mother tends to be very heavily into believing that when something is wrong with the world, it is the direct cause of the Christian Devil. That those who are in charge of the world are hands of Satan and that a lack of God in our culture (we live in the United States, where Christianity is the number one religion) is to blame for our problems. She will often go on long rants to me about such topics, to which I often stay politely silent and interject with a different topic when things become uncomfortable.

As a disclaimer to this I want everyone to know Boyfriends family is WONDERFUL to me. They are kind and welcoming and have offered an incredible amount of support to me during a difficult time. Boyfriends mother, though she may or may not know the extent of my religious belief, has been kind enough to respect and acknowledge that we don't believe the same thing. Things may occasionally feel uncomfortable, and I sometimes worry how that side of the family would feel if they knew just how different our views are, but his family has truly been good to me and I will never be able to repay them for it.

Our different beliefs do not in any way make their kindness any less heartwarming and incredibly helpful.
/BG/


Over the years I have gotten very used to (and perhaps even good at) working my way around awkward religious situations. While it may feel like pulling out a single armpit hair at a time, I have found the best method for dealing with those who are pushy is to be honest and up front about your own beliefs. Lying about attending Church, even if you where %100 sure no one would catch the lie, is wrong. Not just because it's a lie, but because it's suggesting you are too ashamed of your own belief's to be confident and honest about who you are. This may lead people to believe you do not truly believe in your faith, or lack of, and may encourage them to try and convert you under the false impression you just don't know what you really want yet.

It may feel awkward and even frightening to tell someone you know (or believe) will not approve of this, but it will be far better then to lie or hide it from them. Be confident with who you are, and bring that confidence into how you handle situations like these.

"I am honored you would like to worship with me, but I follow X and worship to X Y and Z." /topic change/

"I understand that you are concerned, but I have made the right choice for myself and this is what I believe and hold dear. I have always respected you and your family for your beliefs and that's all I ask for myself and my beliefs."

If it becomes continually pushy, or already is, you may have to push back a little as well;
"Jane Doe it really does hurt that you can't respect me for my beliefs. Please do not bring this up with me again" and end the conversation, or bring up a new topic.

You have to simply say flat out "This is not up for discussion".

Similarly to you, I had someone once come to me out of genuine 'good concern' for me. They where NOT mean or angry with me, but truly concerned and I thoughtfully explained why I believe what I do and why I believe both of us deserved respect. She still believed in her concern, but no longer made an issue out of it and let it be.

I have had people who will angrily (why they did so angrily is beyond me..) tell me they will pray for my soul, some to heaven and some to hell. I have had a cousin at the tender age of 7 tell me I wont get into heaven and that I "don't believe anything I can't see with my own eyes" as if I was a horrible person (from the mouth of babes?). I have had people send me incredibly hurtful and horrible things through forums, threatening me with death and an eternity in hell. The reactions I have gotten have ranged from misplaced pity to outright rage. I have had people tell me I am not a true American, that I have no morals, or that I don't deserve rights.

I have had to say approximations of "This is not up for discussion" many times, more times then I care to admit. But when someone becomes belligerent or disrespectful I have no desire or reason to try and hold a polite discussion. It will only fuel the fire and make them angrier, so I find it wise to end the topic where it is and not drag it into the ground to fester.

"This is not up for discussion", used either firmly or casually with a shake of the head and a topic change can do wonders.




Brisvegasgal

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2012, 07:04:35 PM »
Would a simple No Thanks work? I haven't experienced this kind of pressure - and it's important to note that this is pressure - but when dealing with my very catholic in-laws (I am agnostic) no thanks has worked for me. Of course it's easier to say this to family than it is to 'friends'.

AngelicGamer

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Re: When the "God Squad" won't take no for an answer.
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2012, 07:44:34 PM »
OP, I have a question.  I hope I don't seem too nosy and feel free not to answer/tell me to go jump in a lake.

How is the promise done?  Is there a heavy hand towards co-leader's deity of choice?  Your co-leader might see that you're okay with how things are done in the meetings and think that you're open to having a more personal relationship with her deity of choice.

I do think that, when it comes up, a good "no thank you" would be enough.  It would have to be said several times, which is a bit sad.  If all else fails, you could turn it back on her with how would her deity view her for pressuring a friend?  Or, if you feel it might help, going to their pastor, explaining what is happening, and ask for how to deal with it.  Don't name names, but just say that you know they are members of his church.  I would do that if I really couldn't stand it anymore as it might be seen as more of a nuclear option than a friendly one.




"Life's tough, huh?  And then you die." ~ Buck, the Magnificent Seven.