Help me be godless at work
January 9, 2012 6:34 PM   Subscribe

I have a colleague who is a lovely person. We get on quite well and have a fairly productive professional relationship. This person is an evangelical Christian, and has broached the topic of his god and his belief to me on a few occasions. I am always polite, telling him that I do not have religious beliefs. I have not invited the discussion, and I would have thought my attitude would have been sufficient to ensure that he left the topic alone. I returned from holidays to discover that he has bought me three ebooks for my kindle – Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ and Case for a Creator – and some other book about god.

I want to maintain a good relationship with this person but let this person know that I won’t be reading these, to stop asking me if I have read them, and that proselytising in the workplace is possibly a no no.

He has spent money on them, so I sort of feel a bit obligated. Can Metafilter help me out with the right words. This person is genuinely nice, and I don’t want to his hurt feelings.
posted by mattoxic to Work & Money (45 answers total)
You don't owe him money, that's for sure. If you made your beliefs clear and he's still pressing the issue by buying these things for you, that's really not cool.

I'd gently but firmly mention your feelings about religion and if stuff like this happens again, it might be time to go to HR.
posted by Fister Roboto at 6:36 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

He has spent money on them, so I sort of feel a bit obligated.

Don't. If this were fancy jewelry or some other "expression of interest" it would be no more appropriate. Politely tell him once that you do not wish to discuss religious matters with him anymore [just to make sure you've gotten the message across to him crystal clear] and if he persists, take it up with HR. The fact that he's being polite about this doesn't mean that what he's doing isn't inappropriate. I appreciate that you don't want to hurt his feelings but he's intruding into your personal space in a way that is unwanted, it's totally okay to tell him not to do that at work.
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 PM on January 9, 2012 [26 favorites]

Safe route (wise route): simply ignore.

Dick route (my route): buy them some atheist literature in return, ideally for almost exactly the same amount of money. Preferably something that isn't completely polemical.
posted by aramaic at 6:39 PM on January 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

Best answer: "Bob, I appreciate the concern and caring behind this gesture, but I really can't accept these from you. I'm not interested in exploring these issues at home or at work, and I'd rather we share other topics of conversation instead. Is that OK with you?"

This won't work if you aren't totally OK with where you stand on the issue or if you have trouble being assertive. I find it a heck of a lot easier just to convince evangelicals that I'm OK with the fact that they think I'm going to hell by pointing out how very very Mormon I am. It's easier if you demonstrate you're defending some kind of territory.

Alternatively, you could buy him something that makes your point (he's being very aggressive and rude - you do understand that, right?) Not "The God Delusion," but more like "Discovering Secular Humanism."
posted by SMPA at 6:43 PM on January 9, 2012 [17 favorites]

"telling him that I do not have religious beliefs."

Hard to tell from the way you typed it but possibly in your effort to be polite you might have been a little vague? If I told some of my religious acquaintances that I didn't have religious beliefs they would probably hear 'I don't have religious beliefs because I have never even considered the wondrous majesty of evangelic christianity, please show me the way!'
posted by ian1977 at 6:44 PM on January 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

"This person is genuinely nice,...." Don't confuse "nice", with the following words/phrases: not pushy, considerate, sensitive, respectful. Once you realize this, you can easily understand that you have no obligation to accept the gift, read the books, or be thankful.

aramaic is right, ignore it and don't feel bad about it.
posted by HuronBob at 6:45 PM on January 9, 2012

Evangelical Christians are supposed to save souls. It's a huge part of their religion. You saying you "don't have religious beliefs" is a wide-open invitation for him to try to save you. Then again, a good portion of Evangelical Christians would take nearly every response except "I am an Evangelical Christian" as a wide-open invitation to proselytize.

Hope fully all you'll need to do is firmly tell him that you have no interest in religion/you have reflected upon these things for years and have come to the conclusion that religion isn't for you/whatever the reason is. Then change the subject.

If he persists, you're free to go to human resources.
posted by cooker girl at 6:52 PM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I'd probably say something like look I appreciate what you meant to do, but I've already given this a whole lot of thought and I'm very comfortable with myself, and asking me to change makes me uncomfortable, so thank you, but no thank you. Maybe offer an analogy like you wouldn't try to convert his allegiance to a sports team, and that even though you hate the Yankees (or whatever) you'd still have no trouble working with one professionally.
Hopefully an approach like this would save you having to make the direct threat of going to HR, since you still managed to squeeze in the word "professionally". If he doesn't get the hint, he's no longer just being caring, he's being obtuse. Gloves off at that point (for me anyway)
Good luck.
posted by hypersloth at 6:56 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just ignore it completely and don't bring it up. If he ever asks about the books, say that you didn't read them, and didn't want to mention it because it was awkward at work.

Then just drop it and move on to another topic, accentuating the awkwardness.

There's nothing wrong with what he did, but he chose to spend his own cash, gambling at winning your soul. His risk, his loss. You have no obligation.
posted by General Tonic at 6:57 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

*one Yankee fan that is - I'd never work with an actual Yankee.
posted by hypersloth at 6:59 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

telling him that I do not have religious beliefs.

The key words for me, when dissuading Evangelical coworkers or friends who have expressed an interest in saving my soul, have been along the lines "Thank you for your concern, but I am comfortable in my beliefs. I will let you know if I ever happen to want to discuss spirituality further with you." That helps draw the boundary that your non-religiousness is an actual position you have taken, rather than just some void or lack in your life that you are open to having filled.
posted by scody at 7:03 PM on January 9, 2012 [29 favorites]

Response by poster: Great answers. He knows I don't believe in god, and when i showed him my new kindle I was reading Peter Hitchen's God is Not Great - that sparked a discussion. I knew of his evangelical status and was pretty keen not to get into a conversation - being the work place and all. Also, I'm not too good at being gentle with people - I need to be gentle with this person as i want to maintain a pretty fun (on all other aspects) working relationship.
posted by mattoxic at 7:03 PM on January 9, 2012

Best answer: Thank him for the thoughtful gift, ask if they come with a gift receipt because you'd really like to return buy "The God Delusion".

This is without a doubt what my significant other would do in this situation. This is also what I would do in this situation if I had a workplace culture which allowed me to peacefully exist while asserting no public religious belief.

Do what you want, the path of least resistance would be ignoring it, and if he asks about it, tell him you re-registered your kindle to your anonymous personal email address just to make sure that there wasn't any problems with work content on your personal email and suggest he asks for his money back. If he asks for your personal email address, fall back on Miss Manners' old saw, "I'm sorry, that won't be possible." Change the subject and ask about his children.
posted by arnicae at 7:05 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hmm, since you've already had a conversation about your religious beliefs, I take back my previous answer. New answer, say diplomatically "Thanks for thinking me over the holidays." If they persist in asking when you'll read it, "I'm really not sure, it is a pretty busy time for me." Wash, rinse, repeat.
posted by arnicae at 7:06 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Already a lot of good answers.

One thing that goes on sometimes is that people do take "atheist" to mean "person with no belief system" and treat it as an empty space waiting to be filled. I mean, if you were Jewish or Muslim, would they be trying to talk you into "switching teams?" 99%+ of Christians realize that kind of conversion is in incredibly poor taste and just not done in this day and age.

So sometimes I explain to religious friends, "I have a belief system just like you. Mine just doesn't fit into any organized religion. I would never try to talk you into changing your beliefs or switching to another religion." That usually does the trick without hurting their feelings too much.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:14 PM on January 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think it's best to approach this as if you think there's just a misunderstanding. In other words, he may interpret you saying you don't have religious beliefs as you don't have religious beliefs yet. I would just explain to him that you don't have religious beliefs and it's not something that you really feel like talking about. So, something like, "I really appreciate the thought that went into buying these books for me, but this is not really something that interests me." It's like buying mysteries for someone who only reads romance novels; it's just not a good "fit."

My suspicion is that he probably knows how you feel already and is trying to "save" you, but I think it's always best in a situation like this (where you want to preserve the friendship) to assume the best.

On preview: I totally agree with what drjimmy11 said.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:17 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

if you were Jewish or Muslim, would they be trying to talk you into "switching teams?"

Actually, yes, evangelical Christians want to save everyone who doesn't believe what they do. I've had a few try and save my poor Jewish soul in the past.

You just have to be clear that while you respect his beliefs and his passion, you aren't interested in changing your own beliefs, and you won't be discussing this further (especially at work).
posted by leesh at 7:18 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

when i showed him my new kindle I was reading Peter Hitchen's God is Not Great - that sparked a discussion

I wonder whether he felt like this was an opening. If you were too polite about his religion, he might have got the sense that you were "looking for the answers" (which, of course, he thinks he has), and if you were too forthright about your own beliefs in that conversation, he might have felt like showing him the kindle and what you were reading was a subtle form of proselytising atheism at HIM. This response could even be a passive aggressive retaliation to that.

Anyway, it might be worth bearing that in mind when deciding how to respond.
posted by lollusc at 7:19 PM on January 9, 2012

Many Evangelicals are charged with outreach as part of the demonstration of their faith, so consider the fact that it's a bit of a selfish act on his part. Add to that the constant drumming that it's the End Of Times and they are pretty persistent. He'll be compelled to keep trying if you don't draw the line.

Just return the books and in as few words tell him you are not a interested in reading on that topic as if someone had given you a book on another neutral but uninteresting topic. Centered, detached, move on and talk about something else.
posted by effluvia at 7:23 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've found myself in the same situation and sometimes I feel like it would be easier to just tell people I am "saved" or whatever. I haven't been able to bring myself to do it, and I don't know why because my atheism isn't really all that important to me.

My equivalent to your coworker was my RA in college. I had no idea what to make of her because even though I grew up in the bible belt I had never been confronted by someone as persistent as she was. My roommate had been saved as a child(I still am not sure exactly what all that entails but I basically raised in a secular household and never had any sort of religious ceremonies) so RA didn't bother her. I never caved in to her pressure and she graduated and moved that year so I never saw her again.

Good luck.
posted by fromageball at 7:25 PM on January 9, 2012

Best answer: So you're decent friends with this person, and they saw that your reading interests include the topic of religion...against, in this case. The generous interpretation is that this person wants to share his pro-Christian view on a topic he thinks you're interested in, partly out of genuine care for you as a friend. It isn't work-appropriate and it crosses some uncomfortable boundaries, but I think you should keep in mind that it was an act at least partly done out of good intentions (which, ironically, we all know lead to hell).

As others have said, I would be gracious about the gift, but I would make it clear you're not interested in further discussion. Returning the books seems unnecessary, unless you're really deeply offended by them. And I've never felt obligated to read a book anyone has ever given me as a present.
posted by daisystomper at 7:28 PM on January 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

As a kid, I went to Pentacostal evening bible classes for a year and got really turned off by the attitude of smug superiority that seemed to underpin the evangelical drive. He likely has no respect for your views, he won't be reasoned out of his position and the only thing likely to stop him is the possibility that he might get fired. He doesn't have to succeed at converting you, he just has to feel that he tried as hard as he could.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:28 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can return/exchange Kindle gift books. Just get yourself something that you do want.
posted by tomboko at 7:29 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

that sparked a discussion

You can't participate in a discussion and expect people not to think you're open to a discussion. Discussion and arguing require more than one participant. Don't be one.

As others said, this person's belief system requires them to outreach and some folks interpret that to take every opportunity. Plus, if he likes you then he really wants you to do what he considers critically important for your well-being.

If there's a way to return those books so he gets the refund, great. If you can only exchange them, also fine. But you need to avoid anything beyond "Gee, I really don't feel comfortable talking about religion with co-workers" and change the subject when it comes up from now on. You can be very polite but still be firm about it.
posted by phearlez at 7:37 PM on January 9, 2012

Hmm, really tricky as you want to remain gentle and kind, but colleague's church-driven mandate is to convert the heathens in the world ASAP. A friend of mine worked with a guy who preached in the workplace. Everybody was gentle at first, and polite. Then when he really stepped it up, they said Look, we really don't want to talk about this in the workplace, thank you. However, he continued to ramp it up, at which point they brought in the boss to talk to the guy. And even this didn't do anything. His job while on the planet was to save, save save all these sad lost folks.

Which is to say, I wouldn't worry too much about the books. Give them back so he can pass them to the next person, but don't feel beholden to him just because he's spent money. Allow him the luxury of mourning for your poor lost soul.
posted by lulu68 at 7:43 PM on January 9, 2012

"*Co-Worker*, thank you so much for your generous gifts. I appreciate that you thought of me and that you took the time to choose these gifts. However, having thought about it, I think it's inappropriate for us to have these sorts of conversations or even exchange these sorts of books. I probably made an error in judgement in even getting into this before and I don't think that it's okay for us to be talking about this. From now on, let's keep religion out of our discussions, since, here or outside the office, it's still tied to the office. I've noticed, though, that we have so many other great things to talk about, like X, Y and Z. Would you be okay with sticking to that?"
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:43 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a Christian (Episcopalian), I wouldn't recommend saying that you suddenly got 'saved' or whatever, because this may end in a few different ways:

1. He's satisfied, and leaves you alone. Ok, but not that likely.

2. He interrogates you about the kind of Christianity you discovered, and if you don't know the language, you might get discovered as someone who's lying. I would find that annoying, but I'm also not the proselytizing type.

3. If they ask you what denomination you are and you say 'Catholic', for instance, they may zero in on you more, because that's not the 'right' kind of Christianity, and he may work on trying to save you *more*. Catholics have saints, Mary, etc., and to a lot of Evangelical sects, these are seen as dangerous distractions to knowing Christ.

4. He may totally accept you as his 'buddy in Christ', and you will get told more church and religion gossip than you ever thought imaginable. ("We sang 'Angeltread' by Sixpence None the Richer last Sunday, and I *hate* that song! What's your favorite worship song?")
posted by spinifex23 at 7:56 PM on January 9, 2012

I would thank him for the gift, and that you'll let him know when you've read them. Then never read them. If he asks, say, "I know, I have so many books on my list right now, I just haven't gotten to it yet." Repeat, repeat, repeat. If he presses you further, say, "I know you gave these books to me with the best of intentions, but one of the reasons I've avoided reading them is because I find it very uncomfortable to be evangelized, especially in the workplace. But when the day comes that I feel like I need to examine my beliefs more thoroughly, I'm sure I'll be glad to have these in my library. Thank you so much for thinking of me."

People who evangelize are rarely monsters. Many of them do so out of genuine concern for your soul. So it can be hard to back away from this part of your friend's persona. Just smile, be kind, and be firm.
posted by elizeh at 8:10 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

When it comes to issues of religion I'm a big fan of the wording "I appreciate the importance that this has for you but..." I heard that from someone once and I thought it was rather nice because it doesn't diminish the significance for the other person, but also creates clear boundaries between you and them. So kindly tell him that you're not interested.
posted by GilvearSt at 8:22 PM on January 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

No obligation, no. But I think it was a nice thing. I mean, he saw you were interested in the topic, and he got you a gift that showed he put some thought into getting something you might be interested in. (Hoping to convert you, sure. But in a nice way, as that goes. You might convince yourself, or at least decide to investigate further, from your own reading, rather than having someone badger you into going to their church.)

Me, I'd try to read the books just out of curiosity. What's the worst that can happen? If it turned out they were terrible, I'd stop reading them. When the subject came up, I'd be honest about that. But at least you tried and appreciate the gift. If they weren't terrible, but I wasn't convinced, I'd say that, but then add, "but I'd rather leave religion out of the workplace; It's kind of a sensitive subject, I think. I hope you understand."
posted by ctmf at 8:35 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't pretend I was going to read the books. If he persists after a polite "I'm just not interested, though I appreciate your concern," I'd probably just go for a big friendly smile and a cheery, firm "No, thank you!" every time he brought it up. On this topic, I'd treat him the same as a coworker trying to sell jewelry, baskets, or anything except food for their kids' fundraisers.
"I wanted to tell you more about Christ."
"No, thank you!"
Would you like to visit my church?"
"No, thank you!"
"Can you tell me more about YOUR beliefs?"
"No, thank you!"
"Why aren't you interested in these conversations?"
"No, thank you!"
Friendly, unambiguous, don't engage!
posted by Occula at 8:36 PM on January 9, 2012

He knows I don't believe in god, and when i showed him my new kindle. I was reading Peter Hitchen's God is Not Great -

This is kind of a mixed signal, don't you think? I could see him misreading that has an sign that this is a discussion you are willing to have. He may be trying to have a friendly debate rather than convert you. Just ignore the topic and stop broaching it yourself.
posted by spaltavian at 8:40 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I were you I wouldn't treat the religious aspect in such a precious way. This guy is being damn pushy. He's otherwise nice, from what you say, but so what?! It's your workplace. You deserve to feel comfortable. As a religious person, this is the kind of thing that makes me angry-- it gives us Christians a bad name! Apparently he knows you're not into it. If I were you I would be compelled to treat him like someone pushing a pyramid scheme or any other sort of "Exciting Opportunity" you consider bunk.

Here's how I handled a similar situation.

My well-meaning but pushy ex-employers were very much into the Landmark Forum. They were always inviting me to come. Landmark has never appealed to me for a variety of reasons, their excitement about it notwithstanding.

As a religious person (Liberal Christian) I was/am not not short on fellowship opportunities or any other thing Landmark offers (though perhaps they didn't realize it so much until I expressed myself very clearly about it, so I encourage you to do the same, once more), so I finally said to them, after brushing them off for the thousandth time:

"I think it's great that you found something that works for you. It must have been a revelation after searching so long, no wonder you're so excited about it. Luckily I never really had that period of uncertainty cause Christianity does it for me."

They got it. If they hadn't, I would have been less subtle. Once you've expressed your lack of interest and incompatible beliefs, it's time to be assertive. Civil but brief. No, not interested, I have my own beliefs, thanks.
posted by devymetal at 8:58 PM on January 9, 2012

Mine got really pushy - telling us in meetings he felt he was called to lead us to Christ, for example, and then found one of my study books when he went into my bag when I was out of my cube getting lunch (Alexei Kondratiev's "The Apple Branch"), then would leave his computer playing gospel music while locked.

It ended up escalating to HR, but I think this fellow is just doing his perceived duty as an evangelical. A polite response like elizeh and GilvearSt promoted would be best, I think.
posted by mephron at 3:21 AM on January 10, 2012

that sparked a discussion

I wonder if this is why he bought you these books - he saw you reading about God not existing, and thought you might be interested in books about God existing. It might be no more prosletysing than this. I might be optimistic in thinking this, but I did wonder!

I work with someone who is involved with a mega-church (which aren't common here) which is known for being fairly evangelical. She never brings up her religion at work, although I'm sure if I wanted to talk to her about it she would be open (I'd be interested, because I find faith interesting, but worried that showing an interest in her beliefs would suggest that I want to change mine, which I do not). I think this is the appropriate way to be just as it would be with any strongly-held and personal view. I don't blame you for feeling uncomfortable. I think it might be worth explaining to him your position on having these kinds of discussions - it sounds like you respect his beliefs despite not agreeing with them, so emphasise this.
posted by mippy at 5:42 AM on January 10, 2012

Maybe I'm a jerk, but I work for a large company and when someone was doing this, the first thing I did was ask them to stop (which (s)he didn't) afterwhich I filed a complaint with HR. It stopped and fast. As it turns out, there were a few atheists at the office who were bothered by it, but never said anything.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:58 AM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

He might seem "nice" to you but he is rude, smug and presumptuous on this topic and has no standing to inflict this pushy stuff on you. It isn't his business what your philosophical beliefs may be. You may have to be politely clear that you're not interested in hearing any more about it. I would have done so already.
[Christopher not Peter Hitchens, I think.]
posted by fivesavagepalms at 6:52 AM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I suspect, like others, that had you not been reading that particular book, he might not have bought you these other books. I also think you should ask him once to stop and then go to HR. This kind of thing is not cool... you shouldn't have to feel like you're being judged in the workplace.

This is a bit beside the point but the author of God is Not Great is Christopher Hitchens.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:53 AM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have to agree with some the answers that you didn't favourite, because you're nice and he's nice and you want to be gentle.

I felt that way too, when I once worked in a little store where I was often visited by really nice customers who also had a mission to spread the word while they were in there. But since I bought a couple of these flip charts used as "a Plan for Witnessing to People for Christ at an estate sale a few years ago, I've been more aware that a lot of the niceness and sincerity is part of the training. There are pages and pages in them about how to get around "No" as an answer and to look for any opening. I kind of knew, as most people do and is adequately covered here, that this is part of what they "do" - I didn't know until reading through them and reading a little further, how systematically it's taught and and how psychologically manipulative behaviour is encouraged as part of it. Soon, because I was the boss and alone in the store, I'd say "Oh, no thanks - I'm not interested and can't have that in here. Can I help you with any other store business?" the first few times. Beyond that, the minute it came up I'd say "I'll walk you to the door now, there's no place for that here" and I'd do it every time and after three or four attempts, it wasn't an issue. You can't do that, though.

I think you need to draw a very clear boundary when you next talk to him. Ignoring won't make it go away, and thanking him will only encourage him. It has to be "No, thank you." and nothing less firm. Accepting them is like the vacuum cleaner salesman who throws the clod of dirt in the door. He has made a calculated move to engage you, and has already been successful in making you feel somewhat obligated to at least kindly respond to him.

Th next time, he brings it up, explain that you understand that this is part of his religion and you get that he's got to try; affirm that you like your friendly working relationship and acknowledge that you may have seemed open to more discussion, but really, you need to keep religion out of your friendly working relationship with him; and let him know that if it comes up again, you'll need to walk away because you want to remain friendly, but you'll find further approaches a transgression on the workplace, and that you depend on him to work with you on this, or you'll have to take it up with HR. You already had the answer yourself with "I won’t be reading these. Stop asking me if I have read them. Proselytizing to me in the workplace is a no no." and maybe add "But I'd love to get a coffee and talk about (work project; sports; cute celebrity babies - whatever)."

The goal isn't really to get him agree with you. Instead, it’s to explain exactly what you don’t like, what you want, affirm your mutual right to a good professional relationship, acknowledge anything you did that contributed to the dynamic, and, let him know the degree to which you want a future relationship. And to let him know that if it continues, there are consequences.
posted by peagood at 7:42 AM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's a bit rough and crude....say, "Please don't tell me how to die!"
posted by goalyeehah at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I recently had someone at work say some very rude, disrespectful (and frankly, ignorant) things to me about my beliefs. This is someone I spend a lot of time with, and have a pretty good relationship with. It really frosted me, and I spent the rest of the day fuming about it, and trying to decide what to say.

Ultimately, I decided not to bring it back up, but that if the subject arises again, I'll basically say that he honestly offended me the last time the subject came up (and I am damned hard to offend), so I think it would be better for everyone if we skipped that particular subject from now on. Despite our friendship, we have radically different world views, so I think he'll be okay with adding this to the compartmentalization of our conversations. He'll likely be curious about what offended me, but I'm planning to insist we just move on, and not go there again.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:17 AM on January 10, 2012

"I'm sorry, I can't accept your gift. Religion isn't an appropriate workplace topic, and we shouldn't talk about it anymore. I apologize for engaging you about it to begin with."

After that, it's just harassment and should be treated as such. I realize you like this person, but you'd be doing him (and yourself and your coworkers) a favor.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:19 AM on January 10, 2012

I shudder to think what Peter Hitchens's God Is Not Great would be like. Even more ranting about Islam, I suppose.

"I hate to see you waste money on giving me books I will never, ever read. Please accept them back and give them to someone who might find them interesting or enlightening. Though I value you as a co-worker, I must insist that you stop trying to convert me. I know you'll understand."
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:53 AM on January 10, 2012

Serendipitously came across this quote which seems to fit perfectly: "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." - H. L. Mencken
posted by IndigoRain at 6:21 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he asks whether you read the book tell him "Nahh... I'm not really in to religious stuff, but thanks for the thought (of remembering to buy you a gift) "
posted by WizKid at 2:17 PM on January 12, 2012

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