Proselytizing Religion to Atheists

“Do you know you’re going to hell. So is your whole family. When you die, you’re going to burn in hell forever.”

Our 10 yr old son’s response, “I’m not going to hell. And neither is my family. Besides, there is no such thing as hell.”

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Our 10 yr old son’s closest friend was at our dinner table sharing a meal per usual. Half way through dinner he said to our son, “Do you know you’re going to hell. So is your whole family. When you die, you’re going to burn in hell forever.”

He didn’t say it to hurt, though of course it did. Our son’s response, “I’m not going to hell. And neither is my family. Besides, there is no such thing as hell.”

“Oh, yes there is,” the child insisted. “My pastor told me, and showed me in the Bible where it says that all non-believers, people who don’t follow Christ, are going to hell. You and your family don’t believe in anything. You’re going to hell.” He said it as a statement of fact, and for him it was.

My husband and I looked at each other with furrowed brows, both of us looking to the other for words of wisdom. Clearly the boy’s words were hurting our kids, as our daughter was at the dinner table too, and protested loudly at first. Then, being only 7, turned to me and asked, “Is he right, mommy. Are we really going to hell forever after we die?”

“No. Of course not.” I assured her. Then I addressed our son’s friend. “I realize you are a Christian, with certain beliefs, but everyone’s beliefs aren’t the same. Since no one really knows what happens after we die, as no one has come back from the dead to tell us–”

“Jesus has. If you’re good you go to heaven. If you’re bad you go to hell.”

“Do you think your good friend since kindergarten, or his sister, or my wife and I are bad?” my DH inquired gently.

The boy thought about this. “Well, no…” He thought some more, clearly in conflict with what he’d been preached and his experience in the real world. He was at our house constantly, afraid of his own with two older brothers that bullied him relentlessly.

I wanted to say, “Then think for yourself instead of believing your pastor,” but didn’t, of course.

Later, my husband felt a need to mention the exchange to the boy’s father.

The dad scoffed at his son while the boy put on his sneakers to leave. “Your pastor didn’t say that. You misunderstood.”

“No. He said it, Dad. And showed me in the Bible, too. It’s in Revolutions.”

“Revelations.” My DH corrected.

The boy’s father scowled. He didn’t apologize for his son’s earlier words. He simply insisted his son didn’t know what he was talking about and had misquoted his pastor, then bid us goodnight.

The exchange had little to no effect on the boys relationship, or my feelings towards our son’s friend. Children proselytize what they are taught. My sadness and frustration is directed at the Church and their followers, that preach togetherness, forgiveness, but only to those who believe as they do— dividing us, still.

2 thoughts on “Proselytizing Religion to Atheists

  1. I’ve heard similar sentiment from adults here on WordPress, except instead of saying:
    “Jesus has. If you’re good you go to heaven. If you’re bad you go to hell”,
    it is more like:
    “Jesus has. If you take Jesus as your savior, you go to heaven. If not, you will perish in hell”

    I try to be understanding of everyone but when someone says this more than once, they are telling me they are not accepting of my beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would not know what to say at the moment , except to respect each other’s belief system. I am in a different situation which is that I no longer believe like I used to, but I am open to different interpretations and to possibility of a greater being different from the Christian God. But my wife and kids have held to the faith, although we don’t practice or go to church like we used to. But if my kids ask me directly if I still believe in God, I would have to pick my words carefully . However , every time there is a discussion about life, evolution , or human nature, I stick to scientific explanation and facts , and they seem ok with it, since they learn the same at school. I also remember from the time I practiced Christianity that we were taught that God loves us so much that he gave his son to die for us and save us from hell, but we still had to believe this doctrine in order to have the ticket to go to heaven. It is not really by grace alone, we really have to accept and work towards being “saved”. But at the same time different denominations have different versions of this story of salvation. Anyways , good for you for standing for what you believe (or don’t believe ).

    Liked by 1 person

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