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Should I end my friendship with a persistent and devout Christian?

I am an atheist who has been befriended by a very devout Christian (read: an ex-missionary). I often find that our philosophical differences prevent me from expressing myself the way I would like. However, this friend has been very devoted to pursuing a deeper friendship with me despite my attempts to keep the relationship very casual. She calls me her "best friend" to others and goes out of her way to forge a deeper bond by regularly telling me how "special" I am to her and reiterating how close to me she feels. She will often say that she regards me as a "sister." I am puzzled by her persistence, given that she has so many friendship options within her Church and the rest of the Christian community. I am also increasingly uncomfortable with our interactions, given their necessarily narrow breadth and depth: we tend to focus our discussions mainly on a shared hobby we enjoy that has nothing to do with religion or philosophy. I really value time spent engaging in philosophical discussions with my other friends, and this is simply not possible with her. The dilemma is that she has been admirably non-judgmental toward my lifestyle, at least outwardly. She does not proselytize or try to "convert" me. (I have made it clear to her that this is not possible.) Still, our friendship feels vacant to me. I have tried to express my concerns to her at various times but her response is always that she loves me and accepts me "no matter what." I think she is being sincere, but it feels like a manipulation or, at least, an evasion of our many differences. Still, I always end up feeling guilty for keeping her at a distance while she works so hard to be my friend. Should I end this friendship once and for all?

Anonymous , 19.06.2013, 00:34
Idea status: completed


Tjitze de Boer, 26.06.2013, 14:07
Your friend sounds awesome.
I've got a rather skeptical agnostic buddy who I've probably got bigger differences with then you and her.

And are you sure you can't talk about 'any' philosophy with her?
Maybe you could dissect the commentaries of Thomas Aquinas with her.
Anonymous, 27.03.2015, 01:24
Update: I wrote this question a couple of years ago, and have continued and deepened my friendship with this person. In fact, she is one of the most precious friends I have ever had and I count her among my inner circle, despite the fact that she continues to be a devout Christian and me a devout atheist. I have learned to appreciate her for all the things she does give me (loyalty, respect, compassion, a great listening ear), rather than the things she cannot (agreement with my views on religion), and I'm so glad I kept her in my life. The key to our friendship is that we do not proselytize our views to each other, and share a deep mutual respect for our individual life choices. I still know that there are some conversations I will never be able to have with her, but I have many other friends to call upon in those scenarios. I'm still interested in Diana's take on this question, but just thought I'd provide an update on this, for what it's worth.
DianaHsieh, 29.03.2015, 12:48
Thanks so much for the update!

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