Years ago I was one of the admin team at MSN Religion Forum. We had a few rules and they were pretty simple, just to keep the peace, and mostly it worked. But we had two rules that were a problem, not individually, but together.
You see, one rule, which we considered very important, was the special freedom of speech that allowed each member of the forums to share their beliefs freely. Really, not much point having a forum if you can't share the topic at hand, after all. All beliefs were treated equally this way, and there was no risk of censorship just because one belief was unpopular.
Another rule was no proselytizing. Because freedom to discuss religion means freedom not to have that religion attacked. If people spent all their time trying to convert you to their belief system it would get very tedious.
The problem was that some members of the forums were from belief systems where proselytization was expected or even demanded. And we wouldn't let them do it. Twas a bit of a dilemma. We sorted it out, more or less, with a bit of compromise and grumbling, and our sole regular Jehovah's Witness was very good about it.
But the conversation didn't go away. Every so often, somebody would mention the Great Commission, and we'd have to say "No"....and there'd be a bit of grumbling.
I tried to explain what the problem was, but I know for a fact they never understood. Or were they just being stubborn?
I would say "Proselytization is rude." and they'd feign lack of understanding. Some would explain how they MUST do it, and I'd tell them they had free will (which they were always telling ME), so then they'd switch to what a great kindness it was, sharing their "good news".
The problem was, it wasn't news. We'd all heard it a gazillion times before. It wasn't even a variation on a theme. It was the exact same stuff, over, and over, and over, and over.......perhaps they thought eventually it would wear us down.
I would explain, patiently, that it is arrogant to assume what other people "need" to hear. How they were in no position to decide that. "Blank." I really found it hard to believe they actually didn't get it, but it seemed like they didn't.
Nothing has changed of course. I talk to different people, and explain it to them, without the constraints of forum rules, and I am a little more blunt.
You have absolutely no idea what I need.
You certainly do not know me better than I do.
I am fine as I am.
If you need Jesus, that's great, you keep him.
If you need saving, go and do it. With my blessings. I don't need saving. Stop telling me that I do.
IT IS REALLY ANNOYING.
No. You don't "know". It's your belief. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
No, please don't repeat yourself. I've heard it all.
As I age, I become (I hope) increasingly compassionate/kind/tolerant. That's the plan, anyway.
But I am, at the same time, increasingly tired of repetition. Some arguments I walk away from because I've done them so many times I just can't be bothered.
This is one I am bored silly with, and yet it just won't go away. I don't think a week goes by that somebody, somewhere, tries to "save" me. And as soon as I say I don't need saving, they simply redouble their efforts.
So let me be clear.
I don't need saving. I am safe. Whatever it is you need saving from is something I don't believe in, so it holds no fears for me. And I cannot believe what you believe, because I don't believe it. There is no choice in the matter. Belief is not optional. If it were, it would be fraudulent.
And I especially object to being proselytized by people who have fucked up their life, and then fixed it. I'm very happy that you found a way to do that. You needed your religion to achieve that goal. Fine. Carry on.
I did not fuck up my life. I did not make those bad choices. I did not go off the rails. I'm sorry you did. Please don't try to make yourself feel better by assuming we were all as foolish as you, OK?
And don't talk to me about morality. Mine is fine. It isn't the same as yours, but that's not my problem. If yours works for you - GREAT! Stick to it kid.
And especially, if, without your version of religion, you are a bad person, please stick to it. If you need to go to church to be reminded regularly how to behave, GO. Go regularly. If need be, I'll get you there, FFS. We don't need you behaving badly. We have enough problems.
Personally, I don't need that. I am capable of remembering to behave ALL BY MYSELF. Many of us are. We are sorry you have a problem there. We don't.
Finally, do not tell me I'm going to hell. I will probably be flippant about it. I do not believe in hell. It's a very empty threat. But I'm more likely to say "fine, it sounds like fun". Because such a ridiculous idea deserves to be joked about. However, if we are going to be serious, can you seriously tell me that what has happened right here, in this life, on this planet, to innocent people, by sheer bad luck, or by the bad behaviour of other humans - war, tsunami, torture, disease, slavery, earthquake.......the suffering of millions, sometimes their whole lives, can be one-upped? Plenty of people have been through hell. When you can stop that happening, I'll be impressed.