Recently I had two unsolicited attempts at conversion, on two platforms that I don’t deal with religion. One is a Facebook page I run to advocate for children with special needs in my state. The other was a “review” on a fanfic I wrote. Whoever left the review hadn’t read my story, rather, they were spamming writers by leaving a message about the end of days and Jesus on fics, and several other people reported having the same message left on their fics. Frankly, stuff like this is unwanted and aggravating, just like spam for penis enlargement, and here is why.
- Part of writing fanfiction is enjoying the community you are in. When I get a message that I have a review, I’m expecting to hear from a friend, or to hear someone’s feedback about something I took the time and effort to write and share. So it’s a huge let down when I read the feedback to find that whoever left it hadn’t even bothered to read what I wrote. The message I get? “I don’t care what you have to say, and you should care about what I have to say.”
- The page I have is about an issue I care about passionately, especially as my son is at risk of losing his rights and protections as the rights of people with disabilities are under attack. The person who contact me said nothing about my cause or aims, just spewed a lot of Jesus talk. Once again, here’s the message I get, “I don’t care what you have to say, and you should care about what I have to say.”
- In both cases, I get extremely frustrated with Christians somehow thinking that people in the English speaking world have never heard about Jesus or Christianity. It just isn’t possible. I wish it were, but it isn’t. Imagine being interrupted, constantly, with someone trying to sell you something. Even though you have considered the product you aren’t interested and you have good reasons for not being interested, but every day someone interrupts you to push the product on you. After awhile, your dislike for the product switches from indifference to annoyance at it’s very existence. I did have one Christian friend admit this one, “I’m never going to change your mind if I annoy you to death about it.” While it wasn’t the “I’ll respect your right to believe differently” at least it was an acknowledgement of not wanting to badger me.
- In most cases, the proselytizing feels like an insult. When I am approached as though I have never considered the “evidence” for Christianity, it comes off as patronizing and insulting. When someone asks me how can I care about children if I don’t believe in a god, then my morality is called into question as it is implied that caring about children and not believing in god are mutually exclusive. So I find most attempts to proselytize thinly veiled insults. Worse, these assumption fuel bigotry and discrimination against atheists, and I really don’t care to have these ideas shoved in my face.
- Especially with fandom, these places are safe online sanctuaries from the uber religious culture I find myself in, and I resent it when they are invaded. But then, I’ve been at Freethought and Secular Humanists groups where Christians have invaded to proselytize. I can not imagine how an atheist or a Muslim would be treated if they attempted to do that do a Christian church. Once again, the message is, “I don’t care what you have to say, and you should care about what I have to say.” with an added, “I don’t care about your boundaries or your safe space.”
- The other message I get is the only reason Christians care about me is because they see me as a target. The person proselytizing does not care about my interests, or they would provide feedback. They also do not care about my thoughts or my feelings. All I am is a soul to save. How dehumanizing.
I had one Christian in high school who would spam me with religious messages. This person was not my friend, rather, she tracked me down when I was mentioned in an article about teen atheists and tried to befriend me for the sole purpose of converting me (not because she thought I was a great person, but because she thought I was deficient. See why I didn’t want to be friends back?) When I asked her to stop, she wondered why she couldn’t express her beliefs to me. I’ve had other Christians wonder to me why they shouldn’t attempt to convert people. Frankly because in a lot of instances it’s insensitive and insulting, but to put it in terms that Christians care about, it backfires against their cause, because most people who aren’t Christians end up being annoyed and angry in response.
The Christians I know who I respect don’t force their religion on others and save it for people they know want to hear their message. Yes, I do know Christians with boundaries, who focus more on doing good deeds and living a positive example and inspiring others through that example, and less on preaching, condemning and judging others. I can respect that, and if more Christians were like that, I would not be as frustrated with their religion as I am.
But by spamming random fanfic authors and advocacy groups on Facebook, while minor crimes, aren’t helping their cause any and just fueling the flames and ultimately tarnishing their image.