Let’s Talk Religion: Can we have a civilized conversation about religion with someone outside of our faith?

Let’s Talk Religion: Can we have a civilized conversation about religion with someone outside of our faith?
February 20
02:00 2020

I pride myself as someone who enjoys learning new things. I think of myself as a sponge, because any opportunity to obtain new information to make me more knowledgeable about a subject is enjoyable to me.

Normally, I can have a regular conversation with most people about most topics, but the one that seems to incite an argument is religion. I am a Christian, but I seek to learn more about my faith and one of the best ways for me is to have conversations with individuals to see their interpretations and how they are the same or differ from my own.

For some reason, those conversations are never really productive. I am by no means a biblical scholar, so I would never judge anyone’s beliefs or interpretations, because who’s to say that my way of thinking is the right one? When I say the conversations are not productive, I am not limiting that statement to just my conversations with other people, but the ones I have observed or heard about.

I am not sure why religion triggers arguments and frustration so much between individuals. I would think that would be a great way for us to learn more about one another. I recently wrote an article about how I know “my” God is real. I wanted to emphasize in the article that I am not judging anyone else, but just to simply state how I feel about my own spiritual journey and beliefs.

I received some of the most hateful and judgmental emails I have ever received. I could not believe how some people were flat out attacking me for stating how I feel. That article was not meant to enrage others or as an indictment on any other religions, yet some people felt compelled to respond negatively.  

I also wrote a column about how I didn’t take everything in the Bible literally. That really seemed to offend some people. The entire purpose of these articles is to spark conversation, but I intended it as constructive conversations, not criticism.

How can we as people of faith begin to have conversations? I am really wondering the proper way to do so.  Of course, there are many people you can converse with on the topic, but from my experience, more often than not, those conversations have not ended well.  

Even though having many spiritual conversations with people of faith, I have had more negative conversations with those who do not believe there is a higher power. I have been called stupid, a sheep and blind.

I am not saying that all atheists react in this manner, but from my experience, those talks are not fun. I would never judge anyone for what they do and don’t believe in, so I don’t appreciate my faith being judged, especially when I was not pushing it on you to begin with.  

Just like with eliminating racism, bigotry and homophobia, having conversations is the best way to eliminate the biases and stereotypes we all have about others. I think if we continue to talk, these conversations can be had without any anger, judgment or yelling.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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