Positive Atheism Forum
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Wife Seeks Advice
About Evangelizing
Fundamentalist Husband

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From: "James Call"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Sunday, August 20, 2000 12:55 PM

Everyone encounters people in life with different opinions about things. It's a mark of civility the degree to which we are able to live, work, and play together regardless of these differences. When someone annoys you too greatly--when you just cannot tolerate their actions, you generally have to put some distance between you and them. We have our friends because at least to some degree we enjoy their company. Since everyone is different and a friend is sort of a package deal, some balance between enjoyment and annoyance is to be expected with each one. (A husband or wife is a friend with whom the opportunity for both enjoyment and annoyance is multiplied by proximity.) I expect from the people around me a degree of respect for my individuality, for my equality--equality the way Thomas Jefferson described it. I have a right to think what I think and be who I am. When someone insists too heartily that I change or that my thinking is invalid they need to be prepared to change my mind too or risk a rising annoyance factor in our friendship.

I've been speaking in generalities here, but for me those are sort of the ground rules. Respect my rights as an individual and we'll get along fine. My father, who is a devout Mormon, and I have been having spirited religious discussions for many years now, since I left the church in my early 20s. He continues this lengthy discussion, I'm sure, at least in part because he sees it his duty as a father to try to return "the prodigal" to the fold. I expect that each visit home will include one or more of these discussions. And I'm not really annoyed by this. Sometimes I even enjoy these discussions. They have certainly affected the developement of my philosophy. Often my thots about the way things are (and are not) have coalesced in my head in the form of an imagined argument with my father. I expect that I have been firmed in my atheism by this process and it has guaranteed that much thinking, reflection, and examination have gone into the formation of my opinions. So I think I have benefitted by these arguments. Then again, my father has never disparaged me personally for my disbelief. Maybe he thinks that the devil made me do it and it's not my fault. At any rate, he has always tried to win me over with what he feels is reason. I have never felt "attacked."

My father's bottom line, win/win argument for Christ goes something like this: "Either you're right and I'm wrong, or I'm right and you're wrong. If you're right, then when we die that's the end of it. If I'm right when we die I go to heaven and you go to Hell for eternity. So why not try it my way?" My answer at first was that I didn't know anything about an afterlife. All I've got is this life to live the best way I can. He seemed to see that as reasonable but he continued to bring up his you've-got-everything-to-gain-and-nothing-to-lose-by-trying-it-my-way argument. I later articulated that position much more strongly and in a way that seemed both to catch him by surprise and to answer forever his try-it-my-way argument. I told him that as a person of conscience under no circumstances could I try it his way. I told him that, "Belief is immoral. When you accept as true things that are not, you suffer -- and people around you suffer." I'll never forget the look on his face when I said that. It was one of shock. But he seemed to have a greater understanding of my position than ever before.

Despite all the pseudo science that Christians occasionally try to come up with, even they will admit that at the end of it all, acceptance of Christ is an act of faith. Their search for truth is answered by a "still, small voice," a feeling "in their hearts." How easy to overlook that a great variety of contradicting beliefs are defended in exactly the same way. That still, small voice is not so trustworthy after all. It is really interesting to me that Christians often presume for themselves the high moral ground. Ironic when it seems to me that they have such a profound disregard for the truth. That somehow disbelief is, in and of itself, immoral when exactly the opposite is true. These are the things that a Christian must have faith in, must accept without question. It is by the very act of questioning that faith crumbles. I know. That's what happened to me. Like my father, I was once a devout Mormon. I simply began to question the tenets of my faith. And how quickly faith crumbles without absolute unquestioning acceptance. That left me without much philosophy but I knew almost immediately that a great veil had been lifted and that there would be no turning back. Once again, my father sees the devil's hand in that. Of course, he has to.

Many Christians, it seems, need to shore up their preposterous beliefs daily with prayer, proselytizing, church meetings etc., etc., etc. -- and especially by trying to talk other people into their beliefs too. Atheists, generally, have no such ax to grind. That sometimes leaves the argument sort of one sided. When someone close to you becomes too insistent it may be time to explain a few things. Or to use the terminology, bare your testimony. Make sure that they understand that your views are not lightly held. Tell them you respect the truth too much to be a believer. That you require a much more rigorous test for truth than faith, prayer, or a feeling in your heart. If you like, that you live a higher law than god's law and you hope that one day they will see the light. Or, stronger, just because they've been taken in by a load of nonsense not to expect you to. Call them on their pronouncements and as my friend Cliff Walker does, hold them accountable to the truth. The danger here is in hastening a schism. But if a schism results from you merely walking your truth -- well, what's the alternative? And maybe instead they'll just lighten up. Maybe they'll even snap out of it.

James Call

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From: "Bill Garrett"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 7:27 PM

Hi Cliff,

In response to Atheist Wife (AW), I noticed that her husband changed during a stint in the military. It might be helpful to know how long they were separated, and if there was some kind of crisis that led to his conversion. If the time was brief, and there was a crisis, it may be that the familiar environment of home could lead to his returning to normal. There was a book some years ago called "Snapping" that explored sudden conversion experiences and the equally-sudden "snapping back" that often occurred after a period of time. The Atheist Wife might find something helpful in that book.

Bill Garrett

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From: "Lyn L Milnes" (New Zealand)
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 9:58 PM

My response to Atheist Wife

1. If the husband was away on a residential basis from you, and came back quite changed, sue the military organisation involved for alienation of affections. Use a lawyer who will take a percentage. You could win, it will break through the mist in your poor husband's skull, and it will force the military to pay attention to such abuses of the military situation. RL Stevenson said, "Hanging is a sharp argument". Well, being sued is too.

2. Forget that stuff about "respect his religion" This is mind control, not religious choice. There is a difference: you can tell religious choice by its gradual and reflective nature. Where a genuine religious choice has been made, there will be elements you recognise as having been there all along.

Your husband has been turned into a robotised slave, and it is up to you whether you wish to rescue him or leave him in that predicament. Think cult, think mind control, think hypnosis aided by drugs and electronic devices that now exist to heighten and widen the effects of hypnosis. Look at the Mind Control Forum site maybe, for extreme versions of how it works. It's not VERY relevant, but it alerts you to some of what is happening out there in the world.

3. He has probably been got at by an organisation like Promise Keepers. Read about it.

4. When you have sorted it out, write a book about how you did it, for all the thousands who will be suffering the same way before too long. This is a trend, and you are an early experiencer of that trend. Aim to make it a best-seller.

Best wishes,
Lyn L Milnes
New Zealand

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From: "Gregory Tinker"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 8:47 PM

Oh, you are in a bind. Honestly, prepare for the worst. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try for the best.

You're gonna have to be

to have a prayer at getting through this with an intact marriage. Was he an atheist when you got married? Depending on your vows, you might want to remind him (with plenty of tact) that there was no third party involved in your marriage in the beginning, and you resent this intrusion. I hate to say it, but if the worst happens and you do split, try to take comfort in the fact that in a way he may have been "cheating" on you in a sense, in that some ways a fundamental relationship with Jesus is technically supposed to supercede your earthly ties.

Consider the kid situation. If you don't have them, you may want to think about ramifications there for the future.

Lead an exemplary life. If he's not so infatuated with his new "imaginary friend", he may notice how honorable you act and take that as a hint. Likewise, if those responsible with filling his head with that stuff lead less than exemplary lives, point it out. Be nice!!!!

Point out inconsistencies, but don't load them up. It tends to go in one ear and out the other if presented all at once. (Fundy defense mech). You are gonna have to get educated on a lot of issues quickly if you aren't already. Thankfully there's Cliff. Above all, be nice!!

Do the best you can. Remember, if it fails, it isn't necessarily your fault. You can't change someone's mind when they don't allow for that option. If you succeed, then you two will undoubtedly be stronger.

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From: "USAF Buttcrack"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 11:45 PM


After reading Cliff's response, I believe I'm unable to address your question from a personal perspective as well as Cliff did because he has had similar relationships. However, I can address your situation from the perspective of a military supervisor.

Over the years, I've observed how a person's entire value system can change drastically and abruptly. Sometimes these changes are for the better, but sometimes they aren't. A common thread is that some major event occurred in the persons life causing them to redesign their values and behavior.

Since the your husband's values apparently changed during an absence from you due to military service, I encourage you to find out what occurred will he was away. If his duties are sensitive in nature (i.e. ICBM Launch Officer), he might be struggling with the horrific consequences that might occur when he executes his duties. He might have experienced an episode of infidelity or immorality.

It might not be related to his absence or the military at all.

Nonetheless, it can't hurt to ask him questions like: "What kind of problems did you have to deal with during your deployment?", or "What lessons did you learn?".

If your husband is enlisted, don't hesitate to approach his First Sergeant to gain clues. Another resource available to you is a chaplain. Even though I'm an Atheist, I've benefited from conversations with chaplains when I've faced dilemmas.

Final thought: "The military will make a strong marriage stronger and a weak marriage weaker." I've observed this to be true. Whatever you do, continue to seek out a resolution to you and your husband's conflicting views. Not doing so will result in a painful and heart-breaking ordeal.

Randy Balsom (_|_)

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From: "Jim Austin"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 8:40 AM

Dear Sue,

This is indeed a dire situation. The only thing in your favor is that you know what it is like to be separated from this person. Did you ache every minute? Or did you get along fine? The more important question is: Do you want him back the way he is? I suggest you follow the advice that Cliff eventually got to after he took us all down a convoluted path involving drug addicts, abusiveness, his past lives etc.

Ask your husband to agree never to bring up religion in your presence. If he won't agree get a lawyer and sue him for mental cruelty. He is not the man you married is he? Hope you can find your way out of this wretched situation. Good Luck,


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From: Dorman Blazer
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 10:39 PM

I am in my third marriage. In the first, we did not discuss religion much, if at all. We had three kids. She finally decided that she wanted to be divorced. The second woman was a (Southern Baptist) Atheist, in that she was a strict feminist atheist. As atheists, we were compatible. She was too insecure and as such the relationship did not work. My present wife and I get along. She is not strong intellectually, but she values who and what I am.

I am also an atheist. I had a friend in college who introduced me to the Unitarian movement. He was liberal. He went to the Vietnam conflict. He went through divorce upon coming back. He went into the arms of a Southern Baptist and became converted. When we meet years later, he decided that he did not want anything to do with me. He had changed, but I had not changed that way.

With this background, I presume that the only option is divorce. There is going to be no compatibility as long there is this difference in religion. I know it is hard to find a partner that one is comfortable with. Your husband is no longer comfortable with atheism. It is not stated why/how he came about that change. I recommend a divorce before there are any kids. I did not feel comfortable raising kids atheist, where the mother was not an atheist. When there are kids, there will be more discord than you are experiencing presently. You could even loose custody of any children where a court was sympathetic to the husband because of religious differences in a divorce.

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From: "Randy S"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 8:43 PM


I just finished reading the advice you had to offer the lady with the born again husband. Would that I was so wise. If a relationship is worth salvaging, then compromise is in order. My wife still has some left-over Christian beliefs from our twenty years as believers. If she asked me to go to church with her I'd be glad to. She knows I don't believe, but I would go for entertainment's sake. For some reason I enjoy watching seemingly learned men make fools of them selves.

My point is, I enjoy having my beliefs challenged. To have someone show enough interest in me as to try to convert me to their way of believing is an honor...even if they are mental zombies, staggering behind some smooth talking suit on their way to eternity. Hopefully she can get some enjoyment out of the relationship, but my experience with most born-againers is that they take their beliefs way to seriously -- I know I did -- for twenty years.

I'm sending a check for a one year subscription to your newsletter.


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From: "Smith Design Works"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 10:33 AM

Dear Ma'am,

It saddens me when I hear that the military is still coercing it's people to attend church services, fight for the American Christian Right, believe in God, etc.

I spent 6 years in the Navy as an EOD officer and I was often asked to attend some sort of Christian religious service, especially when it concerned a fallen soldier/sailor.

I never went.

I was even asked if I was a communist because I didn't believe in God.

That's the sort of logic one has to put up with in the military.

I found a group (a large group I might add) that I associated with that shared my views.

It sounds like your husband didn't fair too well with the constant peer pressure.

The individuals that I found in the military to be of a religious nature were mostly a). Enlisted; b). From an agrarian society (mostly coming from the Southern U.S.); c). Uneducated; or d). in the Army or Marine Corps.

But more than the above variables, there's an overwhelming desire to belong to a group that's on the side of the "decent, moral, and right". One reason I think we all join the service to begin with. There's certainly nothing wrong with serving one's country. It's an honorable action.

It's sad that the same individuals that are sworn to serve, to protect freedom and liberty, are brainwashed into fighting for "God's country" then try to project their own mythological nonsense on those of us who actually know the truth.

If you know something about psychology as Cliff suggests, it's a lot easier to deal with the boredom, loss of life, and making one act under orders for a "higher good" when one has a "God" to make moral sense of everything and to entertain you.

I wouldn't take it personally, he didn't become a BAC because of anything you did or didn't do. I have to agree with Cliff on this matter. It won't get better... it will only get worse. I would seriously consider divorce... painful as it may be.

By the way, I came home from Active service in the Middle East in the mid 80's. My wife had some great news to tell me: "I found Jesus!"

My response was not too enthusiastic. I replied: "Where the @#$! was he hiding...underneath the sink?"

We were divorced 6 months later.

I am 40 now and very happy.

She remarried a Born-again Christian and has 5 children.

It all worked out for the best!

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From: Art Haykin
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 4:29 PM

Get a life, woman! Being a fundamentalist is not what someone does, it is what someone is!

If you have apprenticed yourself to this pathology, it says very little for, your mental health, and your sense of self. If this man returned ranting about black helicopters, microwave messages from Mars, or that he'd been to Venus and back, would you still accept him? I'd like very much to hear your definition of the terms "love" and "intelligence."

This man has surrendered his most precious birthright as a human, he has sold out to a belief system that demeans the human spirit and offers nothing in return. He has given up his personhood to become a sheep -- and you know what happens to sheep: they are shorn of their wool for profit, then eaten for their mutton. The shepherd is not their protector, he is their jailer on death row!! Could you tell someone you putatively loved that they are possessed by demons??!! Such hubris, such stupidity.

As in war and politics, the first casualty in religion is truth.

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To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: FORUM: Wife Seeks Advice About Evangelizing Fundamentalist Husband
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 3:55 AM

Yes, it hurts when your husband continually implies "demonic" powers at work to wear your down.

My recent feelings on this is his "savior" (JC) is that JC was a real coward. JC, according to the scriptural fictions, was tempted by "the devil" three times (numerology) but didn't destroy, kill, tomb or anything to the "devil" just "get out of my sight". SO, here's JC which could have destroyed the "devil/evil" replacing it with good and didn't. JC's a coward. What has "JC" done when "Christians" have genocided, slaughtered, enslaved and performed other nasty deeds on humanity in "his" name? Nothing. And, when "Christians" have been tortured and beat on, what did "he" do for them? Nothing.

No one even knows what he looks like! There is no description of him in the NT. If he was such an important "immortal" surely we would known what he looks like. Why are there no Gospels according to JC but only the fictionalized gospels of the NT of evangelists at least fifty years after the socalled "times of JC"?

And, if JC was "immortal" after resurrection, why did "he" just take off to "heaven" to let his disciples get banged on? Why didn't "he" just stick around on his "mission" against the "anti-Christ" or evil or injustices of the Earth--he couldn't be killed again, could he? Did he educate the people? What knowledge did he give? "Cast out evil to cure sickness", hygene?, sewage systems?, geography?, sciences?, NO. "He" just takes off to "heaven (sanctuary)" with "believe in ME and you will be saved". Sure, after your are beheaded and physically dead. "Thanks, JC".

So, just give it back to your husband. After the evangelists have been preaching the same message for two thousands years, the end is coming every year for the past 1600 years, what is the result? Are we better off for them? NOT. Science and technology has provided for us this century--not religion.

Chet Twarog

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