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What is the best way to sensitively handle conversations with others about a self-proclaimed atheist who just passed away?



    
    

Clarify Share Report Asked March 15 2018 413 Lori Cypher

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
This question brings to my mind the recent passing of Stephen Hawking, who was both a world-renowned physicist, and also a self-described atheist. I would say that the focus in speaking about the individual should be on his achievements and his positive qualities.

Nothing of a religious nature that could be said about an individual after that person's death is going to change anything for that person from a spiritual standpoint.

I also personally do not consider it appropriate for a Christian (unless possibly a member of the clergy) to use the individual's demise as a cautionary example when speaking to others (especially to those directly impacted by the individual's death) of the transient nature of life; or as an occasion to witness to those others about one's personal faith; or as an attempt to evangelize those others (unless the others initiate the discussion by raising the subject themselves, or asking the Christian for words of comfort from the Christian's faith).

Despite the Christian's best or most sincere intentions, I would think that doing so uninvited or out of context could easily be perceived by those whom the Christian was addressing at such a time as rubbing salt in their wounds, especially if they share the decedent's beliefs.

In my view, it would be far more sensitive (as well as effective with respect to how it is received by others) for a Christian to offer a sincere expression of sympathy at the loss of the decedent, as well as whatever service or assistance that he or she can provide to those who are grieving, or who are otherwise somehow adversely affected by the decedent's death, while also remaining aware of possible opportunities to touch on matters of faith, but in the natural flow of the conversation, and preferably at the prompting of something that others have said.

March 18 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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