Just down the block from me are two churches right across the street from one another. It's a pity I'm an atheist - that would be damn convenient . . .
On a walk recently, I saw a sign at the end of one of the church's driveways (pictured to the left here) and walked closer to get a better view of what it said - "You Are Now Entering The Mission Field." Now, if, through this statement, they mean to encourage their parishioners to practice things like brotherly love, fine. However, if they're referring to mission work in the more common sense of the phrase - "converting the godless" - we've got a problem.
This. This . . . is precisely the kind of thing that raises my hackles when it comes to religion. I don't begrudge anyone of their beliefs or right to practice them. Likewise, I'd like others to refrain from self-righteously thinking I need to be "saved."
I realize plenty of people who do mission work believe they are sharing something wonderful with the world, something that can transform people's lives in a positive way. And I'm not saying that some of the people they've "recruited" aren't happier now as a result of their indoctrination, and thankful for it. I'm just opposed to the intrusive, assuming behavior that can accompany some of this. Atheism does not equate ignorance, immorality, or evil. I've come to hold my beliefs about religion the same way I've come to hold beliefs about many other things - through becoming well-informed on the subject. To presume otherwise is insulting and disrespectful. Don't come insisting I accept god into my heart, and I won't insist you cure yourself of your pesky god delusion. "Live and let live," people.