I had an interesting experience recently. Someone on my friend list on Facebook posted on their status a prayer request, which is not unusual, but then went on to specifically ask those that weren't religious to refraining from posting "thinking of you" posts. Which of course then led to people asking why and getting really insulted. Which is what generally happens when religious and non-religious people argue. (They all need to read this article) Her reasoning made perfect sense if you are of that particular faith. She felt that each time someone said I am thinking of you, instead of I am praying for you, she was participating in their belief in false gods and felt hypocritical. Someone else pointed out that maybe by them thinking of her, her god could then pick that thought out because if he really and truly was God then wouldn't he listen to everyone not just the people who had already sworn allegiance to him? She said it didn't matter, it made her feel wrong so she was just asking them not to do it on her status. Which prompted the reply, "Well that's not very Christian of you." Which struck me as funny.
Just to be upfront, I read all of the discussion but I did not participate in it. On one hand I think it's silly to ask people not to think kind thoughts about you but on the other if she really and truly believed that by doing so she was participating in something that was against her religion I have no issue with it at all. Religion is a very personal thing, even among people of the "same" faith you have a lot of variation. And I think that trying to argue your way into agreement about religion never ever works. That's not to say I won't challenge your beliefs if they conflict with mine, but usually I will only do that if you come to my post and say something. And I will usually challenge you from where you stand. I'm not as well versed (so to speak) as I used to be but being raised in the church I still have a pretty firm grip on what the bible does and does not say about issues. And I also know that it contradicts itself and espouses rules that no one follows anymore. Not even the most devout. So my most basic argument is "But why? Why do you believe that? Why do you do that?"
And if you've thought about it you have an answer. And sometimes that answer is just "It's what I believe and feel is right." And I'm okay with that as well. My entire moral system is based on what I believe and feel is right. Some of it I kept from the teachings of the church. Some of it I cherry picked out of other belief systems and some of it I just feel. I can't explain why I believe what I believe, I just do. I'm not atheist, though people assume I am. I believe there is something greater than just me out there. I just don't know what it is. I have an idea, but it's sort of wacky so I mostly keep it to myself. But I also don't believe there is only one path for the faithful to walk. I think there are a lot of roads that get you where you need to go. And for me the end results are all that matters. (I blogged about my beliefs along time ago here and also here.)
You can call yourself a Christian and if you are forgetting the whole "love your neighbors" aspect I won't believe you are on the right path. You can call yourself an atheist and if you are kind and loving towards the people around you I will imagine you are on the right path. See the labels don't matter much to me. And it doesn't matter to me what you say you believe. That's your business not mine. I have some wonderful caring friends who are Christian. Who walk their walk. And I know some people who call themselves Christian that I feel like handing a highlighted and annotated copy of their bible to, because they've missed some of the most important lessons. The same thing works for the atheists I know. I know some that are wonderful and caring and some that I want to point out their whole, "I don't need an imaginary friend in the sky to do what is right and wrong" argument doesn't hold water if they aren't doing right instead of wrong. And of course, I have friends of many other religions and beliefs that fall in there as well. I don't care what you call yourself. I imagine you are on (or not on) your path in life.
But see that's just what I believe. I believe in paths, and walks, and living life as a kind reflection. And if you want to pray for me I will graciously accept it. If you want to think kind thoughts for me I'm all for that as well. Hold me in your heart, offer my problems up to God, any and all of that I am okay with. And just so you know I will think kind thoughts and send healing wishes, and hold you and your family in my thoughts as well. but I won't tell you if it bothers you. Because it wouldn't be very Christian of me if I did.