6/6/10

Christian Proselytizing at the Gym

I have tried to join many of the atheist-oriented Meetup.com groups in our state so I can spread the word about what they are doing here on Mississippi Atheists. One of the perks of being on their various listservs is that I learn quite a bit about the experience of atheists here in Mississippi.

What follows is a detailed description of a recent experience one Mississippi atheist had while working out at a gym. I've reproduced it here with the permission of the author, modifying only what I felt was necessary to protect his identity:
I had an incident tonight where a "born again" nut case came up to me at the gym. The guy had tattoos of swastikas on one arm and a white power tattoo on the other. He said he saw me and Jesus told him to come talk to me. He asked me if I was saved, and I told him I wasn't religious. That usually ends the conversation, but he pushed on. He went on to tell me his life story about how he was "like me," a non believer, until he came home one night and Jesus was there. I wasn't interested in his story and was trying to think of a nice way of telling him to fuck off, but the parts of his story I remember was some crap about how Jesus made his family and newborn son glow green and told him if he didn't straighten up and save them that they'd spend eternity suffering in hell, you know, cause Jesus is such a nice guy and all. I interrupted him and told him that I wasn't trying to be rude, but I wasn't interested, I just wanted to finish my workout and go home. He still didn't get the message and kept on.

I was almost finished with my workout, I just had two more exercises to do, so I really did just want to finish working out and go home. He kept on with his story though. He said he used to believe the bible was written by men who wanted to control people's lives, but after his conversation with Jesus in his living room, he read the bible, saw the light and was born again. I wonder what bible these people are reading?

He told me about some little church they have nearby, but I didn't catch the name. He wanted me to think about what he said and think about coming to check out their church. Then he wanted to pray with me to save me. I told him again that I wasn't religious, and he was free to go pray for me if he wanted, I just want to finish my workout and go home. I thought he was finally going to leave, but no, he put his fucking hand on my shoulder and started praying. Finally after he finished his prayer he left. I don't know how much of my time he wasted, but I know it was more than 10 minutes because that's how long it takes my music player to shut off if you pause it and don't touch it.

I have thought about what he said, but not the way he wanted me to. I've been thinking about how I could have gotten him to shut up and go away. I've had people approach me on the street or in a store somewhere, and as kind as I can, I just tell them I'm not interested and I keep going. This time I was cornered with nowhere to go.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? How would you deal with it?

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