Not Christian But Going Along With Everyone Else

Has anyone else ever done this?

There have been so many times when I’ve bowed my head while people around me prayed or smiled and nodded when a coworker talked about god. Pretty recently actually. 

I was in a meeting last week with someone who explained they were going through a difficult time in their life and they were only getting through it because of god. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t make a scene to keep the peace. Nobody wants an awkward workplace even though it’s already awkward for me. Just nod and smile. 

Also, who wants to disappoint grandma?

I don’t want a confrontation. I don’t want to explain myself. I just want people to leave me be.

No matter how much my heart breaks, it is just easier to go along with it. Sometimes I speak my mind if I feel safe doing so, but that’s pretty rare. 

I can’t be the only person doing this. I imagine that a lot of people nod along not wanting to stick out. I mean, how many people really are Christian? Does anyone truly believe in that anymore? Are we all just going along with it?

There’s got to be people like me – maybe even thousands or millions – who just don’t want to be ostracized. It’s just easier to pretend you agree so people will leave you alone. 

Could you imagine if we could get an accurate head count of atheists in the US? There’s got to be so many more than we know. 

How can we flip the narrative? Can we make a pact – if one of us speaks up we all do?

Does anyone else feel this way?


  1. StevoR says

    I’ve done and will do this.
    I’ve got friends who are Christian and as long as they aren’t trying to convert me or arguing about it, I let it go and go along. Because I value their friendships & don’t want to hurt their feelings more than wanting to win arguments.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    In my experience, the religious come in two flavours: those who are that way because that’s how they were brought up, and those who suffered some kind of trauma and it was the sky-pixie that helped them through it. I don’t blame people for their upbringing, and can’t get too excited about their incuriosity in adulthood. And I especially don’t blame people for leaning on a psychological crutch. Of course I nod and smile and don’t make a fuss – it’s only polite.

    If someone tells you they’re into needlework, and you’re not, do you nod and smile, or say “fuck not that nonsense”? Obviously the former. I don’t see anything wrong with regarding other people’s religions as their slightly embarrassing and uninteresting hobby. It’s not my job to engage in the probably futile task of deconverting them.

    This doesn’t have to mean pretending to agree, any more than you have to pretend to be into needlework or folk music or whatever. Eventually, if they persist, it may become appropriate to get rude, but unless they’re actively proselytising and demanding a positive response, why not let them be?

  3. txpiper says

    “…how many people really are Christian? Does anyone truly believe in that anymore?”
    As best as I can tell, there are still quite a few.
    “How can we flip the narrative?”
    I suppose you’d have redirect to alternate ideas. Most everybody is involved with a deity, or something that serves the purpose of a deity. If someone at the table is expressing thanks for the food, after they say amen, you could express appreciation for serendipitous mutations and natural selection, panspermia or hydrothermal vents.

      • Karl M Griffin says

        My personal, but unprovable belief, is that “True Belief” in any ideology is always just a justification for doing what we want anyway. The more extreme the fear, or desire for power, the deeper the need for “true faith” and no tolerance for heretics. For example, when the atheistic Chinese communist party and the southern Baptists both agree that women should stay at home, that tells me it ain’t the ideology. The belief is just a tribal marker. It’s about controlling people. Some people don’t even care if it’s true as long as it works for them, etc. Think about the crap they tell us. If we can believe that corporations are the same as any other ordinary citizen, then we can believe that giving money to politicians in some legal scam isn’t bribery, and they are never influenced by it. Or that Zygotes are people, but not women.

  4. StonedRanger says

    I dont bow my head. I will, most of the time, nod and smile politely. But sometimes, I will put someone on the spot if I feel they are trying to take advantage of my atheism by being annoyingly christian or muslim or whatever. If people dont choose to examine why they believe what they believe, I suppose thats on them. But stick your religion in my face every time you get a chance and I will start asking you questions about your religion that I know most people wont be able to answer because they have never thought about it. That usually results in some people not talking to me which is fine and dandy as most people have nothing of value to say, they just like to hear themselves speak. I dont consider that being ostracized, I consider it living peacefully and quietly. I respect the person as much as possible, but I will mock the shit out of their beliefs if they keep shoving them in my face. I dont go around proclaiming my atheism, but I will admit being one if asked. Ive had many good conversations with people who are religious, but Ive had many more short ones with religious people. Even though I live in a blue state, there are still churches on practically every other corner so sometimes you cant get away from them. But if they choose to avoid me, Im not going to lose any sleep over it.

  5. antaresrichard says

    I live under the same roof with a person who is openly “spiritual’ (not Christian per se, but a blend of East and West) having no qualms exercising their conviction. I say absolutely nothing and, for practical reasons, never will.

    Most times however, given the number of faith systems about me, I feel like a solitary needle diplomatically trying to navigate myself among a huge press of balloons of various sizes, shapes, and colors, who would all perceive me as a threat if they knew the true nature of my being.

    Hence the continued secrecy.

    Besides, who likes the perennial “party pooper” or should, to be consistent, I say “popper”?


  6. says

    Most everybody is involved with a deity, or something that serves the purpose of a deity.

    Are you sure about that? I know “most everybody” say they’re “involved with a deity,” but are they really? Very few of them seem to act like they’re in any way “involved” with anything that much greater than themselves.

    Also, “something that serves the purpose of a deity” is a pretty vague phrase, and includes all manner of things, including obvious religious bigotry, phoniness and scams.

  7. lanir says

    Recently a family member passed away and I haven’t told my whole family I’m atheist yet. Only a few people. The service was at the funeral home rather than a church. I intended to step away but they closed the doors and there wasn’t a good spot for it. In hindsight I’m sure if I’d told the funeral home I’d rather not be there for it they would have accomodated me. But I hadn’t thought to ask, didn’t feel like it was the right time to explain anything, and didn’t want to create a scene opening the rather large doors as everyone was sitting down.

    There are limits to what does and doesn’t bother me, I guess. That did. I intend to make that the last christian religious service I sit through, probably the last of any sort. I don’t really mind other people having a religion but I’m kind of tired of dealing with it. It just wasn’t my focus that day so I got caught up in events while dealing with other complications.

    Usually what happens with me is I’ll retreat once or twice but if someone keeps bringing up religion and they just want to actually talk about it rather than simply mention it, then I say something. If it’s once or twice or it’s from different people in a group I don’t quite know what to do about it sometimes.

    I think what I’m afraid of is that people I know too casually to get a solid read on might not be very reasonable about their beliefs. If I bring up being atheist I may be snagging myself a front row seat for their first real conscious thoughts about religion and what it means (unlikely but some responses I’ve gotten in the past have made me wonder if this is exatly what I sat through). And then in the worst case scenario I’ll have unreasonable people throwing a fit and others who might be more reasonable alone will back them up because they’re blinded to how badly the other person is behaving by an insider bias.

    What I’m going to do about all this… Well, next time I’m around my family I’m going to tell all of them I’m atheist. If any of them treat me like some kind of amoral freak I’ll shrug and go back to having nothing to do with them. I get that some of them have heard garbage info about atheists, especiall the older ones, but if a bit of explanation doesn’t fix their behavior I’m not going to let anyone make it my problem. Work hasn’t been a problem for me for most of my jobs. In my current job no one mentions religion at all and they still manage to act like considerate and caring people. I assume some of them are even christian, they just don’t feel the need to bring it up.

    The only way I can think of to deal with something like the workplace Ashes has described is to talk with someone in human resources. This does put a great deal of trust in your HR person. But if you think you can trust them to listen and help you defuse things then go for it. I think most of us are only disturbed by christianity because we’ve been browbeaten with it before. I think if we can get some acknowledgement of who we are and that this is okay, it can help us feel better about the situation even if we don’t feel like shouting our personal truths from the rooftop for all to hear.

  8. says

    For me, it depends a great deal on the context. If I’m at someone’s house and they pray before a meal, it does me no harm to think about something else for a bit, and there’s nothing to be gained from causing a fuss, really. Ditto if I’m in someone’s house of worship or whatever.

    But when it comes to things happening in public or professional settings, well, context still matters, but I’m generally fine starting those conversations.

    It’s also different if someone tells me to say specific words, or participate in a ritual for their religion.

  9. brightmoon says

    I advised my Buddhist son to put non specific Protestant on his job applications . There are just too many fundie nutcases in NYC . There are a lot of JWs where we live and they really are a scary cult

  10. brightmoon says

    As a further explanation we’re Black and the Black community has a lot of fundies. I’m an outlier as I’m not a fundie and I’ve got a biology degree ( that evil evolution dontcha know) I always advised my kids to not comment on their weirder rituals to one of them because they don’t need that type of static. There are people who won’t talk to me and walk on the other side of the street because I like to do ballet warmups . It’s demonic you see, to be able to do this at my age. 🙄

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *