How to answer tough questions

Religion Is Fine, But Keep It to Yourself

Conversation Stopper

Students today want to be seen as open minded, accepting, and tolerant. They seem to be very sensitive to the idea of imposing ideas on others and are wary of being imposed upon. The topic of religion and faith is one that students are uncomfortable engaging with their peers. There are negative assumptions that when Christians engage in conversations about faith, they just talk and do not listen, and all Christians are just trying to tell everyone else they are wrong.

Assumptions

  • People don’t like the idea of things being imposed on them
  • They might have felt things imposed on them in the past
  • We live in a “whatever makes you happy, relativistic world”
  • Students are worried the the topic of religion and faith is controversial and/or uncomfortable so they stay off the subject to keep the peace.
  • Tolerance today is defined as being silent in the midst of differences. Not talking or asking each other questions is tolerant.
  • “Why are you trying to convert me?” This comes from the idea that sharing = wanting someone to change and believe the same thing vs just sharing personally.
  • Religion is supposed to be a private, personal thing for the individual, not something shared in the public realm.
  • Public school systems separate church and state so students coming to campus are used to topics of religion not being an accepted thing to share.

Talking Points

 

  • Sounds like you don’t think the topic of religion should be talked about among people. The purpose of these questions is to draw out the person and their experiences.
    • Why do you think people should keep it to themselves?
    • Have you had a bad experience in talking about religion with others?
    • Oh, you’ve felt things imposed on you. Tell me what your experience has been.
    • Though you’ve had a negative experience with talking about faith and religion, do you think it’s possible to have positive? Would you be open or want to experience that?
  • Wouldn’t it be more open minded and tolerant to hear what other people have to say, despite our differences, and learn about why they believe a certain thing?
  • If you encountered something that you really liked, enjoyed, etc, wouldn’t you tell your friends and family about it? Like a good movie, book, diet that worked? Why is religion or faith different? I think of my experience of faith in the same way. It has been so significant to me that I want to share my experience with my friends.
  • If religion was really important to someone you knew, wouldn’t it be important to learn.

Additional Resources:

What are some things you particularly enjoy that you cannot wait to share with people when you discover them?

Share some examples in a comment below.

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