Why is it that it's only OK for Christians to convert people, and not atheists?

July 10, 2010 12:09pm CST
I am an atheist and I made an educated choice to be one. I believe in science and logic and rational thinking. I believe in evolution and in free will. I also believe that other people have the right to be religious. However, never once have I felt that everyone should think the same way as me. To me, that's a supremely arrogant way to be. But I've noticed that evangelical Christians rarely have the same qualms and are only too happy to tell me that I'm going to a hell that I don't believe in. These people are on websites, in shopping malls, out on the pavements, and they even come to my front door. Yet, if I were to visit them and suggest that there is no God, that the earth is millions of years old and was created by a vast explosion, that we are, essentially, particularly intelligent monkeys and that religion is little more than a kind of comfort blanket, I would be reviled. Is this fair? Is it right to try and convert others, or should everyone be allowed to believe what they believe, as long as they do so peacefully?
3 people like this
12 responses
@marguicha (105886)
• Chile
13 Jul 10
I´m afraid that the same people who use the word "God" to convert you are the ones that have been sending inocent people to wars by brainwashing them about "real" and "false" Gods. Man has a need to believe in something. Even you believe in rational thinking. But for centuries and milleniums some people have wanted power and it is easier to grab it if they turn their greedyness into a religios war. There are people here who have answered that muslims are bad, according to God. How do they know, I wonder? Do they speak directly to God? Others are telling you that you will go to hell. Nice words to come from Christians who love you. I remember years ago, when my country was in the hands of a dictator. Only the people who were for him could talk. The others did not have the right to remain silent; they had the NEED to remain silent. Or else. I don´t think beliefs should get mixed up with what I call "clubs". Different churches want to grow and conquer. They use all sorts of weapons: conversion, wars, hathred, you name it. And unfortunatly all is in the name of God. If God was old greek Zeus, he would have already sent lighting to stop this nonsense. Happy posting. I liked your post. Keep on.
@kquiming (2999)
• Philippines
10 Jul 10
Hello Joker. I'm a Christian Catholic. And I believe it is the Church's duty to convert THOSE WHO WANT TO BE CONVERTED. I, and other Catholics as well, believe that it is not our right to FORCE anyone to believe in what we believe in. And I think God wants us to respect other people as we want to be respected too. I know the feeling. I used to live in a Muslim country where some of my acquaintances would rudely tell me how my beliefs are wrong and that I should convert to their religion because it's the "true" religion (in their opinion). So I understand how you feel. But anyway, I don't think it's wrong to share our faith to other people who are willing to listen. I think you're wrong - some atheists DO convert others into being an atheists probably in ways we don't see. Take my friend for an example -- he used to be a God believer, until he met someone who's an atheist, and somehow he was influenced into that person's thinking, and now he's an atheist too - be he doesn't go publicly shout about it, so not everyone knows about his "conversion". Anyway I think it's still up to the person being converted whether he'll allow people to convert him or not. We can all just share our opinions and (hopefully) influence other people - the line ends there. Love and peace should be the most important things. It makes our God proud too.
10 Jul 10
Thanks for your answer, and for having such a well-balanced attitude. Re: your friend who became an atheist - is there not a possibility that he wasn't converted; that he simply changed his mind after finding out new information?
@kquiming (2999)
• Philippines
10 Jul 10
if what you mean by "conversion" is that by officially changing his religion to "atheist", i don't think that's allowed here in our country, because it is our tradition here to be baptized in the Catholic Church (but baptismal is not the same as conversion in a sense that, when the child is grown up, it is still up to him whether to live as a catholic even though he has baptismal certificate from the church)...and the religion should appear in legal documents. Anyway, whether my friend was "converted" or just "simply changed his mind", the main point is, he doesn't believe in God anymore. And he's been holding on to that belief for 4 years now. Maybe if he meets a Buddhist partner (in case he breaks up with his current one, lol) he'll become a Buddhist too. LoL.. just a thought I thought.
• Philippines
11 Jul 10
Those Christians are doing their mission to convert people from unbelief. If they are doing that to you because they love you and they don't want you to be in trouble of going to hell, because is the reality of unbelief. There is a real God who made the heaven and earth; Who give punishment to sinners. While we are still on earth we must repent and make a new spirit of believing God. They are just doing their job and it's up to you to believe. Anyway, God is powerful, in His time He will convert your heart. They have a purpose why they come your way.
11 Jul 10
But I neither want nor encourage their love. And it's kind of patronising to tell me that God will convert my heart: he really won't. Also, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to hell because it's an invented concept. I'll either be going into the ground or up in a puff of smoke. My point is this: you (and many other Christians) feel you have the right to tell me that I'm going to hell and that God is love. However, I bet you'd be pretty annoyed if I told you that your belief in God is ridiculous; that God is a creation of mankind because many humans are deeply insecure and cannot cope with unanswered questions and the concept of chance; that the bible is riddled with flaws, inaccuracies and stupidity; that anyone who truly believes that the world and everything in it was created in 6 days must have a bizarre concept of time; that Christianity cannot explain what happened to the dinosaurs and that no-one has ever definitively proved the existence of a God. I could keep going, but I won't. I never foist those opinions on Christians because those are my beliefs and I don't think it's right to proselytise. So, shouldn't Christians show me the same respect? After all, doesn't the bible suggest that you should treat others as you wish you to be treated? Therefore, if Christians don't want me to try and convert them to atheism, they shouldn't try to convert me to Christianity. Thanks for contributing.
1 person likes this
@dragon54u (31635)
• United States
10 Jul 10
I do not think it is right to actively try to convert others. You set an example and if a person is attracted to your philosophy and beliefs, feel free to expound. Don't go around bothering people, trying to foist your beliefs on them. I am a Christian, you are an atheist but I would never try to convert you. God gives us free will, I believe, and whatever we believe, we choose to. If your child only loved you because you threatened him you wouldn't like that, right? Then why do religious people threaten others with a mythical hell if they don't "believe"? There are some crazy people out there, to be sure. I think it stems from insecurity--any strays from the herd are dangerous and if you think you're the top dog you want everyone under your thumb (converted by you). I think it would be more acceptable to God to be an atheist than like someone like that.
10 Jul 10
Your answer makes a lot of sense. The best way to get on with everyone, I think, is live and let live. If someone wants your opinion, or to hear information about your chosen religion (or lack thereof), then give it to them. Otherwise, live and let live.
@anklesmash (1416)
5 Jul 11
First let me say i am a christian however i wouldnt try and force my beliefs on someone else.Evangelical christians genuinely beleive that converting you would benefit you by saving you from going to hell,while you being an atheist you have less urgency to convert people from religioncy as you see it as being merely misguided and illogical.The reason a lot of christians hate atheists converting people as they see it as you condemning people to burn in hell while you see christians converting people as merely sharing their delusions.
@Flight84 (3050)
• United States
4 Jul 11
Hello Joker25, I agree with you completely! It isn't fair, and we atheists must have incredible patience for not lashing out over this. I suppose we can enjoy our quiet bit of arrogance at knowing we seem substantially saner not pounding down people's doors or shouting on street corners.
@Aussies2007 (5339)
• Australia
11 Sep 10
Well, it is actually the catholic church which has told its followers that Jesus wanted every follower to preach his words. And since all those followers have been brainwash by the church, they are only doing what they have been conditionned to do. It is really not worth to worry about those zombies who cannot think for themselve. For my part, I pity them. But I am happy to report that Australia is breaking ground. Last week an atheist woman was elected Prime Minister of Australia. And she is proud of being an atheist.
• Canada
20 Aug 10
The Christians don't have a right to convert anybody-but they think they are doing a good deed. Imagine Christian parents trying to raise their children in their beliefs. A missionary from another religion knocks on their door and has a 'talk' with their children, leaving their promotional pamphlet. How would the Christian parents like that? This is what Jewish people have to endure all the time. The Christians are mainly after converting Jews. Much more than they're after the Atheists or anybody else. So no, it is not okay for the Christians to go around converting people.
• India
26 Jul 10
I am a Christian and I made an educated choice to be one. I believe in science and logic and rational thinking. I believe in evolution, and also that the earth is million of years old; and in free will. But I don't agree that we essentially, particularly intelligent monkey because such belief undermines human right which is a very important component in political discourse. So the issue here is which belief provides more cogent philosophical ground for political discourse and interplay. In fact, even non-theist like political thinker Amartya Sen would argue for human right. You have your right to believe anything about religious belief. But that need not be true. For example, there are many people who might be far better off socially and economically if they give up religion. For them religious belief is not a kind of comfort blanket.
• Philippines
11 Jul 10
hello joker, I am a Roman catholic, but i believed not every one is for such religion, some others are more of a christian if they are converted into other religions. but at my end i don't exactly believed everything that is in the bible, science has more proof when it comes to creation of the universe but i still have GOD to believe that the creation of BIG BANG was his doing also. yup i believe in monkeys too otherwise, we wouldn't have to see homosapien bones.
@dsrp82 (678)
• Brazil
10 Jul 10
If I dont know the person, I really dont care if she/he believes in God or not. But if I care about the person, I would totally try to open her/his eyes, and try to show (show, not convince) that there is a God.
@wahsher (175)
• India
10 Jul 10
Well, although I am not Christian, I want here to express what I think. In this world everybody is born in certain religions. There are many religions and all religions have their particular way to think about the god. After the technological revolution that science has made humans are trying to fit every thing withing the boundaries of science. The number of people who has bound themselves within the "limited" boundaries of science are increasing day by day. I will not say that this thing is not good. I would only say that my religion has taught us that there is divine ultimate truth which can not be bound within the science. Science can never find it. It is far away than human brains. It controls us. It is within us. It is everywhere, in everybody. The GOD. I strongly believe that no one has a right to convert anyone's religious believes. Eventually we all and science too are leading towards that truth.