“… I am from a family that was Catholic but not too serious about it. As a result, my brother, sister, and I are all atheists. But despite my own convictions & your encouraging & illuminating writings, I fell by the wayside recently. I didn't know what to do & took the easy way out.
I had hired a handyman to do a few repair jobs around my house. … The work being done was over several days, and as he was leaving one day he pressed a brochure from his Baptist church into my hand & asked if I would like to attend a service and join the choir!
Needless to say, I was shocked & caught off guard by this intrusion into my privacy. I could have pointed out that I didn't want any part of this nonsense but just to get him off my back I said that I already belonged to another church & wasn't interested. Also, he still had to finish up some work so I just wanted to get the job completed without any fuss. The whole episode was upsetting to me. Needless to say I won't be hiring him again.“I tried to think quickly of some clever argument that you would have made, but I just drew a blank. How should I have responded? “ -- L.
My reply to L follows. How would YOU have handled it?
The situation you described put you between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand you wanted to be true to your atheism / non-belief; on the other you had a project to complete. One can never predict how religionists will respond to a person openly declaring their atheism. He may have smiled and said if you change your mind you're welcome. Or he may have walked off the job leaving you high and dry.
You have no obligation to reveal to this guy your position. He was hired to do a job, and as the client your only duty is to yourself in seeing the job done. That's exactly what you did. I'd have likely done something similar. You'll recall in my book that I related using a similar tact when dealing with a "Christian business" with which I had an outstanding order. Instead of talking offense at their religious proselytizing on their site I used it to my advantage and got priority attention and faster delivery than I otherwise would have.
My / our rationality and ability to reason permits me / you to do what is rational and expedient. There is no "spirit" watching us to see if we deny "him." We owe no allegiance to any dogma, doctrine or man-god. We certainly don't owe anything to a hired contractor other than payment for work completed to our satisfaction. On the other hand, if the job were done and paid for, I'd have not only told him I was an atheist, I'd have offered him a copy of my book in exchange for his hand out.
It's all good, L. Leave the guilt trips to the theists... they thrive on it.
Yours in reason,