Am I bothering someone’s god?

Yesterday my wife and I were walking through a popular local park with our two rather large and very dopey/friendly dogs, enjoying the sunshine and trying to teach the dogs a little about self-control when they encounter other dogs. There was some kind of large group of families in the park area and rather pleasingly, at different times we had groups of kids run up to us and ask to pet the dogs. We love kids and we are proud of our dogs so of course it was fine for them to say hi and we enjoyed the youngsters enjoying the goofy friendly mutts.

Both of us were, therefore, slightly surprised to be handed individual copies of the new testament by the children – and apropos of nothing whatsoever (it seems the large group was a church outing). Of course the kids were just doing what they had been told or programmed to do, and so we had no problem with them doing so, however on principle I find this kind of thing rather annoying.

I am very happy to share our public spaces with people of whatever belief or non-belief, but the handing out of religious material is taking ‘sharing’ too far. I neither ask for, nor implicitly welcome anybody patronisingly giving me their religious propaganda. In this case the kids are possibly required to do so by the adults, or taught to do so as a merit-gaining exercise in the eyes of their deity. No doubt the adults know that it’s hard to tell a kid that their gift is not welcome. Sadly it was a waste of resources and the bundle of paper was tossed into the recycling at the first opportunity.

I wonder what would happen to me if I had approached the children or adults with a leaflet extolling the virtues of agnosticism or atheism? It won’t happen beacuse I don’t believe I have the right to make the kinds of assumptions about other people’s beliefs which entitle me to press my message into their hands. I don’t bother them or their god(s), so why should I allow them to bother me with their stuff? There is, in my mind, no difference between being harrassed this way or being harrassed by a group of noisy protesters – both are intrusive and unwelcome.

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4 Comments on “Am I bothering someone’s god?”


  1. Sounds like there’s an awful lot of this type of stuff going on over your way. One of the potential drawbacks of living over there I guess. We don’t seem to do God as much over here these days.

    Maybe you should print yourself up some brochures of your own, publicizing your non-belief. Or, I saw a documentary on Ayn Rand, maybe you can find some literature based on her beliefs to pass on to the God-bothering kids?

    Might teach em something useful?

  2. elsimmo Says:

    I think Canada is far, far more tolerant that the states – we don’t have the pervasive christian theme running through everything in Canada. Because the country is formally aiming to be multi-cultural, we don’t have politicians competing to be the most devout. However, christians in particular do tend to be far more vocal and visible here than in the UK, and perhaps more than in other parts of Canada here in this small part of BC, which has a large proportion of European christian settlers in its short history (for example the local papers all have christian – themed columns). The second apparently most common(and perhaps the most visible) religion is Sikhism – this part of the province was also heavily settled by folks from India in the late 19th and early 20th century and ever since. Most overt racism from white folks (which isa what I mostly hear) is directed towards that group, but nobody can complain about having the Sikh religion forced down their throat. It seems to be a particularly christian thing (and I know it is part of the dogma) to take an extremely patronising view of anyone who does not share the faith, and feel entitled to get in their face with a bunch of ‘shoulds’.

    On the subject of printing my own stuff – well its been done before and I doubt it would be remotely effective and therefore not really worthwhile and to be honest I have other more immediately pressing stuff I need to do. I’ll look into the Ayn Rand thing – not a name that I am familiar with at the moment.


  3. the kids in the park was a bit of a weird one, but not half as disturbing as the group outside the high school doing the same thing with the high school kids. I understand that Canada is tolerant and I like that, but I cant help feeling that adult men passing bibles to high school kids in the UK might get a visit from the Police. The two of our kids that were handed this stuff, seemed mostly mystified by the practice and the unwelcome gift.

    • elsimmo Says:

      Yep while there is no overt reason to suspect the bible – pushers of anything more than an annoying assumption that they have a right to impose their beliefs upon other people, that kind of adult/child contact is trust based and open to abuse – I’m not comfortable with it on many levels.


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