A Religious Dilemma – Dealing with witnessing

August 10, 2018 – On August 4, I posted the following query on Agnostic.com, but have received only one response. I wonder if I will get more here?

Related imageAugust 4, 2018 – I don’t know how I attract them, but customers seem compelled to “witness” to me while I am at work. The problem is that I cannot say anything or argue with the people who seem to think that I need their god in my life.

Now if it were a street preacher or someone coming to my door to tell me about their religion, that I can handle. I usually thank them and ask them not to come back for I am an atheist, a nonbeliever, a heathen. I tell them that I have copies of their holy books so do not waste the time, energy or money to offer me another. And, by the way, I have read them.

But it is the customers at my workplace that I get most annoyed with. For example, a gentleman (and I use the term loosely here) decided that he needed to witness to me while looking for a suit and dress shirts. I tried walking away, but he followed me around the department telling me that Jesus loves me. I wanted to tell him “No, he doesn’t” and explain to him that his sky god does not exist, but did not. Though my employer is not a religious organization, I am sure that ridiculing a customer’s religious beliefs would be, at worse, grounds for dismissal.

I also sell jewelry at the store and have had a number of customers looking for Christian cross pendants and pins. Many are already wearing multiple symbols of their belief and another would only enhance the experience for some. A few have told me while shopping how their god came into their lives and “saved them” from so catastrophe. I always look for an excuse to walk away, but there is jewelry out of the case that must be watched. (Interesting enough, the store does not carry a Star of David for our Jewish customers. But I can order one online.)

It happened again yesterday (August 5) at the jewelry counter. A customer asked if I went to church and I said “no,” but he continued to grab my hands and pray for me. I have a slight tremor in my left hand and he called on Jesus to remove the palsy from my body. To say it did not work in an understatement.

I can ignore those who wish me to have a “Blessed day” in their farewell. I usually respond “Have a good afternoon” or evening as the time of the day would suggest. But witnessing…

I am proud to be an atheist and have been for over 30 years. I write about my disbelief and am not afraid to tell anyone who asks. I have even mentioned it in my columns that I write for a local paper. But at work…

Other than ignoring the person and walking away, I really do not know how to handle these situations. Do you have any suggestions on how you would handle the religious customers at your place of business?

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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