Atheist and other unbelieving friends:
You spend all day spouting your opinions, many of which I agree with because I can agree with a fellow human being outside the purview of our “religious affiliation,” or lack thereof — and I love you and respect you outside of our proclaimed identities.
But the moment I disagree with you — not having even brought up anything spiritual —suddenly you become a trashy pedestrian version of yourself with predictable, preprogrammed, Pavlovian-reflex statements about my “brainwashed zealot hive mind.”
All this without addressing the actual disagreement, or without realizing the nuance of a friend who states truth as opposed to an enemy who spews hate. It’s possible to address me without throwing in the “religion” card — which you yourself have the least likely reason to do so but are so hard-up to do.
I understand you’ve met many dirty cheapshot Christians who don’t understand such distinctions, which is even more reason not to become intellectually lazy by always resorting to automatic name-calling and blanket defenses. It makes you soft, spongy, dull, like the elder walrus in the corner who lost his tusks on a Halloween candy binge.
A disagreement is not an insult to your character. If you are so threatened by an aggressive expression of opinion contrary to yours (which is no different or divisive than your own methodology), in the grown-up world we call that a “crybaby.”
I’m not trying to be mean here — I’ve hardly even begun the trek down the mean-road — but please, friends: You’re better than this, and this tactic is no better than bigotry.