“Excuse me, can I pray for you?”
“Yeah, do what you like”!
There I was, on my way home earlier this evening, when a random stranger accosted me (and I responded), in the manner set-out above.
Some may interpret my reply as brusque, perhaps even rude. However I am blind and a guide dog user and my gut instinct screamed “this man is a religious zealot who believes that by praying for me he will, with god’s assistance, help me in regaining my eyesight”.
I don’t have a problem with religion. If religious belief gives a person a sense of wellbeing and (hopefully) makes them live a good life, then I am all in favour of religion.
I also believe that if religion helps believers to cope with the death of a loved one (due to their belief that the person who has passed away has gone to a better place), then I have no right to disabuse them of that conception, as to do so would be cruel.
Furthermore, as a child/teenager, I derived tremendous pleasure from the traditions associated with religion, including the singing of hymns and the sense of peace I gained from being in the school chapel.
I would describe myself as an agnostic (rather than an atheist), so have no anti-religion axe to grind.
No, what I object to is people (religious or otherwise) ramming their ideas down the throats of others.
Indeed I have experienced equal annoyance when being brow beaten by atheists who insist in disparaging people of religious belief.
If you don’t like religion you are, of course perfectly entitled to your point of view, but please don’t corner me in the pub and ram your dogma (which is equally as unpleasant as that of the religious zealot) down my throat as, quite frankly I wish to enjoy a quiet pint without being lectured by a saloon bar bore.
The above should not be taken as indicating an unwillingness on my part to engage in friendly debate on religion or, indeed any other subject. I enjoy discussion with open minded individuals.
What I object to is having a particular view rammed down my throat by those who are not prepared to listen to counter arguments.
I defend the right of people to hold inflexible views on religion or any other topic. However I also stand up for my absolute right not to be asailed by zealots, religious or otherwise.