You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Stranger: I actually used to be haha
You: You did !
You: How was that?
You: What are you now?
Stranger: I’m a gnostic-atheist.
Stranger: It was pretty fascinating and the church despite popular belief has really good morals and teachings. It’s not what everyone says it is.
You: Hm, well I think that’s to be expected. Any minority group, though I’m not absolving the LDS from wrongdoing, is going to have persistent and probably
You: exaggerated rumours about them.
You: I myself had two great Mormon friends.
Stranger: Oh mormans are really good people.
You: One is now off being a missionary in France. FRANCE! It’s like sending a fish into a Japanese home.
Stranger: Hahaha that’s very unfortunate. Everyone wanted me to go on a mission.
You: How did you break with the Church?
Stranger: Well my mother forced me to go to church when I was twelve and eventually I started having my doubts about god and I did some research and decided that the religion wasn’t what I believed in.
Stranger: It did teach me a lot about morality and the way organized religion should be ran.
Stranger: I stopped going to church and told my mom I didn’t want to go and that I had a choice. It wasn’t until just recently I discussed my modern beliefs. She was very disappointed.
You: Has your relationship with your community and other people been strained? I imagine you must have had Mormon friends.
Stranger: The community as in the church? Well they all still love and care about me. They aren’t pushy about me rejoining and they haven’t shunned me or anything haha. They’re all really nice. My morman friends act like nothing’s changed.
You: I am glad to hear that. It is common to hear people in your situation being ostracised after leaving a religion.
You: I myself underwent extreme scrutiny, but I was not part of a Church community or any formal organisation.
Stranger: Yeah it happens but not so much with LDS. I think the LDS church is the least hypocritical of the Christian community.
Stranger: What happened?
You: You called your mom “very disappointed”. Mine was “hysterically depressed”. Unlike your experience it seems, there was a noticeable shift, at least immediately after I revealed my disbelief.
You: My “church” was my family — almost every one of them is solidly (at least in appearances) religious. I routinely sour family dinners and gatherings because of debates that arise between me and basically everyone else I’m related to.
You: My immediate family has actually relaxed tremendously since I told them about 6 years (I’m 20 now). They hardly go to church and do not push their beliefs on me, and I am actually very respected and trusted.
Stranger: Oh.. I see. I’m sorry. That must be awful.. I try to stay away from religious arguments with my family and extended family. Fortunately I’m hyper persecuted by them.
You: My extended family is most of the problem — I suppose not knowing me as well is part of the problem.
You: You’re persecuted by your family?
Stranger: whoops! haha I meant “not persecuted”.
You: Hahaha, I thought so.
You: I wouldn’t say I’m persecuted exactly, but I am apparently expected not to voice disagreements.
You: Keep in mind my disagreements are not vocal until it becomes very alarming to hear.
You: They frequently mix racism, sexism, homophobia, with theological rants.
You: So the feminist, sociologist, and of course atheist in me, comes alive.
Stranger: I personally wouldn’t be able to tolerate that.
You: It is difficult — they do not treat me to the same standard of debate I treat them. I was told to “shut the fuck up” as a counter argument on Christmas, because I took issue with my uncle taking issue with our friend’s visit (he was black, and my uncle implied he would steal something).
You: Yeah, it’s almost comical.
Stranger: It seems like such horrible things such as racism, sexism, and homophobia come from churches that belief god loves everyone and that they should love them also. The hypocrisy is unbearable.
You: More often than not it feels like every time they visit, my family brings with them a nuisance of ideas that must be swatted down. Sort of like a horse, desperately trying to swat the things with its tail. Of course, I’m the tail.
You: Yes, “everyone” basically means “everyone in our context”.
Stranger: It’s sad the majority of Christians are like that. Especially responding with “shut the fuck up” that’s immature and pathetic. The majority of them can’t think for themselves and they’ve created these prejudices that aren’t justifiable.
You: The mixing of these prejudices with religious justification is extremely toxic, and admittedly, draining to debate. Not because any of their arguments are compelling, but because they are passionately explained (read: shouted).
You: Yes, though to be fair the person that told me that is actually a “Muslim”. Quotations because the only thing “Muslim” about him is the fact that he doesn’t let his children eat pork. I have received similar treatment from my Christian family members, however.
Stranger: The mormans aren’t like that though. That’s why I wasn’t faced with much controversy whenever I left. I think that Christians should be more like mormans.
You: On that note, it is almost hilarious to see a “debate” between my “Muslim” uncle and the rest of my Christian family.
Stranger: hahaha so it’s not just you getting yelled at :)
You: It is not really an exchange of ideas, as much as it is statements of belief. “I believe in Allah and Mohammad is his final prophet.” “You’re wrong, I believe that Jesus is God’s son and our saviour”. “You’re wrong, Mohammed said he was only a prophet”…etc.
You: That is the level of debate…on a good day.
You: And I suppose, though I frequently join in as a third party.
You: Of course, I do not condone any of them.
You: I do it in part to let my younger cousins know, or at least become aware, that dissent is possible and these ideas that they are held to believe can be questioned and scrutinised.
Stranger: It’s pointless to have an academic argument with people like that. They won’t listen to any points you make and they are stuck with that belie.
You: I also take issue with people saying stupid things unchallenged — related to the my younger family, again.
You: I try to set an example, if that makes sense.
Stranger: That’s very good of you to set an example. I think some people are afraid to express their minds. Especially when it comes to religion.
You: Yes. I wish I had an atheist to look up to when I was younger.
You: It felt like I was a pioneer, basically.
You: Because everyone I knew, and had ever known, at least publicly, was Christian or believed in a deity of some sort.
Stranger: I know the feeling… of being alone and leaving the dogma.
Stranger: I know exactly what you mean. Everyone believed in god.
You: Yes. The internet has helped in that. And of course higher education, where irreligious people are more common, too.
You: They have helped the feeling of “loneliness” in that regard. Obviously atheists are as diverse as theists when it comes to their viewpoints, but it helps to speak with other people with at least that anchor in their perspective. Not because it re-enforces the idea, I mean, but because it helps develop your viewpoints and addresses the stigma that I think I internalised early on.
You: And thankfully have shed now.
You: Logic and rationality are the explanation for atheism, but we are people that have feelings of course, and it helps to destigmatise yourself through a community. It aids in rationality. Because the stigma sometimes makes you (or at least made me) do irrational things.
Stranger: It’s especially not easy to take away the idea that you always have someone to pray to, that you’ll have life beyond this life and stay in a dark grave dead and dark with nothingness for eternity. It’s hard to accept that that might be the truth. It’s much easier to have a deity to fall back on. Ignorance is bliss.
You: Stigma of being an atheist, I mean.
Stranger: I agree with the stigmas.
Stranger: It has helped a lot. Some people though say I’m too rational and I lack faith and etc.
Stranger: I live in Norman, Oklahoma haha
You: Yes. It’s transformative, and that is why I also took pity on my mother when she said she suffered. While I dismissed her concerns, because there is no compelling reason to believe in an afterlife, I understand that form her point of view, she has lost me to hell. And that is a powerful image to have ingrained.
You: I live in California!
You: I don’t know much about Oklahoma’s culture, are people generally open?
Stranger: Lets just say it’s 100% right wing conservative people. Everyone is generally Christian and there’s a church on every street.
Stranger: There isn’t a single county in Oklahoma that voted a majority democrat.
Stranger: My mother has pity for me. She thinks I have a sad existence to just die and have nothingness. She believes I don’t have a purpose in life and has sympathy for me.
You: That’s a rotten lot, though I have the same environment here, believe it or not. At least in my hometown. I believe it is one of the most solidly Republican districts in the whole country. Thankfully I spend most of the year away in San Diego. At least socially more liberal. Fiscally…dominated by people with a lot of money.
You: My mother thought the same, not so sure now.
You: She still has a belief like that, though — she is “surprised” to hear that I sound like a “Christian”. I think she may rationalise
You: that Jesus is speaking through me or something.
You: Or that I will find him, based on how I act.
You: Not something she’s ever said aloud, but it sounds sort of implicit.
Stranger: hahah that sounds like my mom. She thinks that in my heart I believe in the church. Same thing with my grandma.
You: Yes, I think it’s like a denial, I guess.
You: I try to challenge that whenever I can.
Stranger: I have a predicament I’d like to run across you. Seeing as we’re similar.
You: I had to face something similar because I also came out as gay (later on, like 3 years ago). Denial was a big part of that. I don’t intend to see more of it.
You: And sure! Run me through it if you’d like.
Stranger: Man… I can only imagine what you must go through.
You: It’s alright, it has gotten better, and conflict of ideas is necessary to swat the poorly-reasoned ones down.
Stranger: I’m in love with someone. I’m deeply and truly in love with my girlfriend. I know she loves me also. I think we were meant to be. We’ve known each other for a long time and we’ve been through a lot together. I can’t even express how infatuated I am with her. We are similar in many aspects and as cheesy as it sounds, we complete each other. And she believes that I am going to hell. She was born and raised a Christian. Through many years she has come up with her own belief about religion and god, etc. She doesn’t follow any major organized religion but is very strong in her beliefs. She believes that because I don’t belief in Jesus Christ as my savior and because I don’t believe god that I am damned to hell. Not to be immodest but I have a lot of morals. I consider myself a very good person and so does she. My only downfall is that I don’t believe. If I ever try to talk to her about it or try to persuade her opinions, she gets upset. To the point of crying when she thinks about not being able to be with me in the afterlife and my eternal suffering. I’m not sure what to do about that. We’re perfect for each other and she’s perfect for me. That’s our only difference.
Stranger: my apologies it took me so long to type haha
You: No worries, I’ve thought about something like this happening to me before.
You: I don’t know, I’ve known some people who could “look past it” and realise the love they have for each other despite it. But it’s usually only when someone has “weaker” beliefs. “Christians on Christmas”, etc…someone who isn’t very regular or adamant about it.
Stranger: We do look past it but I want to be able to talk to her about it. I don’t mean to sound invasive but I’d really like her to at least consider that she could be wrong. I want her to change her beliefs which isn’t very fair of me and I think there’s a chance she might in the future.
You: Yes, I know that sentiment. I have the same thought about my religious friends. I think this ties into frankness about your relationship in general — what do you hope comes out of it?
Stranger: I just don’t know how to make any progress. She’s trying to change my beliefs also so that she can spend eternity with me and I can understand that but I won’t ever go back on my beliefs.
You: I don’t mean to say you got into something as anything temporary, but how do you foresee a future under these circumstances?
Stranger: Well we never really argue over it. It’s certainly not detrimental to our relationship by any means.
You: Like I mentioned with my mother, and like you understand it seems, her belief is a powerful one. Caring about you a lot probably makes it even more potent.
Stranger: I’m going to marry this woman and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. That’s how I view the future.
You: If you can connect in these other ways successfully, it might be workable. It sounds like you should keep pursuing that openness, if that is your intention.
You: The worst thing would be making it taboo, even if it is hard to speak about it.
You: Do you plan to have children? There might be another problem there.
Stranger: We surprisingly, unlike a lot of couples, never argue. We’ve never gotten mad at each other but the only times there is any stress or a heated discussion is when religion gets brought up. It almost is taboo. She doesn’t like talking about it.
You: I wouldn’t push a cyclical debate, but I would encourage her to share her views with you (and you do the same).
Stranger: I do plan on having children with her but I know she’ll allow them to make up there own decisions.
Stranger: She isn’t pushy about her religion by any means. Not to mention she isn’t apart of an organized church. So going to church wouldn’t really apply to our children.
You: I think the implications of a taboo subject are distrust, which can be harmful to your relationship in general.
You: I’m glad she is open about it in that regard. I’m guessing that is also a reason you might like her, while she seems very solidly Christian, she is not imposing with her ideology.
Stranger: I agree with you. It can be harmful… I don’t think it will lead to distrust or anything like that. We’re both very open. She just doesn’t like getting to deep into it. I can’t really blame her… It
Stranger: ’s impossible to argue religion.
Stranger: Yes it is.
Stranger: Like is said, she’s perfect for me in every way.
You: Yes, though you have to wonder, when you shed your religion, that was a form of argument that occurred (even if it was within).
Stranger: Very true.
You: I would see your situation as hopeful — you are still together despite this. For many people, this would not be the case.
You: Her openness is also very helpful.
You: I would be cautious and try to preserve that open dialogue (as far as that can exist).
You: I think though, at some point, her beliefs would have to become less ardent to ensure anything long-term.
Stranger: I believe there’s a chance of her abandoning her believe.
You: If you imagine your loved one burning in hell constantly, it can probably be traumatising.
You: I hope that is the case — you, as a virtuous person, certainly do a lot to dispel some of the “grounds” for her religion.
You: Morality, goodness, and kindness are found in you — these are traits religions tend to think of as creating or originating in their deities.
You: And of course, she knows you intimately. So you as a person are definitely your best “argument”.
You: But that level of introspection…is difficult. The more you are exposed to people that challenge your belief’s assumptions, or just ideas that sort of circumvent what you believe in, the easier it might be to cast doubt on what you think. Hopefully it is the case with her.
You: It seems like a continuous battle however, if her beliefs remain ardent.
Stranger: She’s told me before that she doesn’t want to believe I’ll go to hell and she says she wants to change her belief in that sense. Which makes it obvious that she isn’t set in stone with her beliefs. I
You: I would not want to say anything out of line, but I would also keep in mind that the level of conflict (internal perhaps) might also escalate.
Stranger: I feel like that conflict will definitely escalate if I push on her belief to much but I also feel like my attacks to it are necessary and afterward, that conflict will disappear.
You: That’s a good thing — like I said, your person is your best argument. Your love for each other is knocking on her at her door asking her to reflect.
You: One would hope, but it might also lead to an end to your relationship if things get severe. But I would generally say that these views of the world are incompatible, and while people of different religious beliefs can get together, they have to become inclusive in a way.
You: I can’t imagine perspectives that exclude a partner, being something that could lead to happiness.
You: So hopefully she continues on that line of “adjusting”, and ultimately shedding or weakening the certainty she has for her beliefs.
You: If her beliefs become less and less open to her reality (which in this case, means you), I would be cautious.
Stranger: You have very excellent advice. I’m glad we got to talk about this. It helps me think of things and better my decision making process if I talk about them with someone. You’re also very intelligent which was vital.
You: Thank you, you’re too kind. I’m glad I was able to help in some way, and glad I was able to hear about something (and someone) you care about.
Stranger: It’s not very often I meet someone on Omegle like you. I hope everything goes well for you and that you aren’t heavily persecuted. It was very nice speaking with you but I need to go :)
You: Same to you, stranger. I wish you all the best.
Stranger: Thank you my friend.
Your conversational partner has disconnected.