“Ask a Priest: What If a Friend Is Trying to Force Religion on Me?”

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Q: How do you maintain a friendship with someone of a different faith? I am an atheist, and my best friend of 13 years recently became a Christian. I respect her beliefs and never try to change her mind. But she constantly accuses me of having demons and gets frustrated when I politely tell her I understand why she feels that way but I disagree. She keeps trying to push me toward faith, but I feel like as long as I’m a good, kind, charitable and honest person, that’s all that should matter. She is making me uncomfortable with how much she keeps pushing this on me. I don’t want to lose this friendship, but I refuse to lie and say I believe in God when I don’t. I just feel like if I can be respectful of her, she can do the same. After all, doesn’t Jesus say to love thy neighbor no matter what? I would be perfectly fine never talking about religion at all. But she just cannot drop the subject. I really don’t know what to do at this point. I know it’s weird, an atheist asking for spiritual advice …. – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It sounds as though your friend is enthusiastic about her newfound faith.

It’s great that she wants to share her faith with you — her heart is probably in the right place. But sharing one’s faith means proposing it to others, not imposing it.

For now, you might just politely repeat your desire that she leave the religion issue alone for a while. You might ask her — and this might sound strange — to pray for you instead. Ask her to pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten you.

This might help her channel her good intentions. And who knows? — maybe it could lead to a new chapter in your own life.

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