I was chatting to a friend at work who is a serious christian (he does all the Alpha course stuff so he knows a lot about it too) and mentioned about Jayne’s current situation. He had got halfway through saying he would pray for her when my raised eyebrow stopped him. We do discuss religion sometimes so we know where each other stands and are able to keep it on a level that is more wind-up than argument.
The thing is that I’m not offended by such things. More like bemused and finally found a way to express my bemusement. Imagine (I said) that you mentioned some problem of yours to somebody and they said, with all sympathy, “don’t worry, when I get home I will sacrifice a chicken for you”, how would you feel?
Since then my mind has been wandering. How would a christian respond to that? Would they think it was some primitive mumbo-jumbo? If so, would they have enough self-awareness to realise that is exactly how us atheists view their mumbo-jumbo?
A common criticism made of atheists is that they/we have it in for christianity or only ever bother to criticise christianity because of a sense of PC-gone-mad combined with fear of upsetting certain fatwa-happy religions. I can’t speak for other heathens, but personally I think it is more because none of the sikhs, muslims, hindus or pagans I have known has ever assumed I should agree with them nor tried to make me agree with them. Respect cuts both ways and while I try to respect other people’s faith no matter how ridiculous I find it, I have a lot less trouble doing that when they respect my own (lack of) faith enough to not try and convert me.
In future I think I shall counter all offers of prayer for whatever reason with a counter-offer to slaughter a goat and defile a virgin in their honour and see what happens.