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Defending the Faith in Casual Conversation
Question from Anon on 7/3/2013:

Judie, what would you suggest that we as Catholics do when our friends bring up points casually in conversation that are against our Catholic beliefs, especially when they're not asking for our opinions on the matter? For example, one of my long-time friends has become very much a product of our increasingly secular society (especially during her college years - we both graduated a year ago) and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to relate to her because of the silently widening gap between our worldviews. But for instance, I was eating dinner one night with her at a restaurant and there was a baby in the room. She said to me, "It's amazing how much newborn babies look like chimpanzees." Knowing her, I knew that this comment flowed out of her belief that humans evolved from chimpanzees. Not knowing what to say, I changed the subject. In the midst of normal conversations, she'll just casually throw in remarks such as "....abortion, which I don't think is wrong..." (and she'll keep talking without a pause) or " can tell how progressive a city is by how strong their gay community is..." (she was speaking favorably of these progressive cities). Most times, I am just too caught off guard to respond. She does most of the talking anyway and I don't want to cut her off midstream. And the frustrating thing is that she never asks me directly what I believe, she just seems to assume. Therefore, not wanting to start a debate, I don't say anything, but I really wish she would just ask me what my beliefs were. If she did, I would gladly tell her the truth. I'm noticing an increasing trend that people in our society today, if they consider you to be a good person, automatically assume that you uphold the beliefs popular in our society today without thinking twice about it. I think that's why my friends bring these things up in casual conversation. But what are we as Catholics to do about these off-handed comments that aren't directed toward us, but are nonetheless disturbing and against our system of beliefs?

Answer by Judie Brown on 7/5/2013:

Dear Anon

FIrst of all, the main reason that friends do not ask what you think or know about a subject is because they understand that you are a person of integrity and that you would explain to them why a position they have taken is not compatible with Catholic teaching. The other reason may be to goad you into entering into an argument. In those situations the usual outcome is unresolved conflict.

So what to do? Well, you are on the right path if you change the subject rather than make a corrective comment, but in my experience, a frown and a statement such as "you can't be serious" will begin a discussion, NOT a confrontation. Further you will not arguing, just asking how such a comment or statement of belief could be serious, thus helping the person think. If you can get the friend to respond to that type of question, then you can educate them.

Finally never forget that in this world of tolerance and accommodation of evil, many souls are at risk. Praying for them is a good place to start. And never forget that being a witness for Christ is never out of style. You might wind up with fewer friends but Christ's disciples ran from His suffering and death so nothing should surprise us. Being faithful is worth a few less friends.



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