So, I joined ask_me_anything
recently and was inspired to respond to this post
more at length here.
Living in the Bible Belt in the southern US, I've had every single one of these phrases directed at me multiple times. Even the last one requesting visitors to stand. I was fortunate enough to have a wayward Christian mother who, every couple of years, would go on a new quest to "find the right church," and we kids got to go along for the ride. So yeah, let's break down my reaction to each of these one at a time, shall we?"Everything happens for a reason."
How trite. That's so comforting to hear when something terrible happens. You can think, "Oh, okay. Well, at least I know God's up there planning all my suffering ahead of time. Wouldn't like to think it was just a random act of chance!" And on the flip side, when something good happens it's nice to know that it's all predetermined and that my efforts don't really mean anything. Who needs free will, anyway?"If you died today, do you know where you'd spend the rest of eternity?"
This one is absolute gold. I don't have much to add to what Mr. Piatt said about neither party having the answer to such a question and how asking it is presumptuous and rude."He/she is in a better place."
People seem torn on this one. I'm not. It makes me angry because it's also extremely presumptuous. Number one, you're assuming the person is going to be comforted by this exclamation. Number two, how do you
know? The person who died could've been an asshole. What if they weren't right with God before they died, and the person you're trying to comfort with your stupid platitudes is worried that their loved one might be in hell? Are you really willing to promise them one way or the other? A more appropriate thing to say would be that you're sorry for their loss or that they'll be in your thoughts. Come on people, it's not that hard to come up with something genuine that doesn't come off as placating."Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?"
I'm actually surprised when they bother to ask first, anymore. Honestly, no. I'm not interested. I've heard it a thousand times before, and your testimony isn't going to be the shining example I've been waiting on to change my mind. Let me talk to you about some of my ideas about religion and see how fast you say thanks, but no thanks. Heck, if you actually listen without interrupting or counter-arguing after I'm done I'll give you a cookie."You should come to church with me on Sunday."
Yeah, because that would be super fun
and not awkward at all
. Like Piatt says, if you barely know someone they aren't likely to want to skip dinner and go right to second base with you. Get to know someone before you ask them this, and when you finally do phrase it like an invitation, not a demand."Have you asked Jesus into your heart?"
More often than not, when someone asks me this it is in an extremely inappropriate situation. Like when I'm working.
Or just randomly walking down the street. Seriously? I don't know you, and that is a really personal question. And none of your business."Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?"
Again, personal question. It annoys me enough when my religious family members ask me this, much less random Nosy Parker Christian Soldier who just has to witness to everyone and save us all from ourselves. I don't go around asking you if you've reached enlightenment or purged all your thetans or sacrified any babies to Satan, so do me the same courtesy and butt-out of my business."This could be the end of days."
More often I hear that it is
the end of days and that I'd better get right with God, OR ELSE. I know some Christians genuinely believe this and want to impart to me a sense of urgency on the state of my soul, but rushing me down the aisle is not the right way to go about wedding me to the idea that you have the answer to all of my problems."Jesus died for your sins."
How generous of him. I'll be sure to send him a thank you card. This is really only relevant to someone who's already a believer. You might want to rethink your approach on this one."Will all our visitors please stand?"
Piatt has it right when he points out that a newcomer may be uncomfortable being singled out. Instead, why not approach them one on one after service and introduce yourself? You never know. Some people might even be there against their will. Like I mentioned above, my mother dragged me to plenty of new churches of various different factions of Christianity throughout my childhood, and I hated being called out every single time. Makes the reluctant even less inclined to give you the time of day.