The Jesus Forwards

I received this email from a friend:

… I have a co-worker who is always sending me forwards, which is annoying enough as it is, but recently they’ve shifted to the Christian variety of email. Now I don’t think she’s secretly trying to convert me — in fact, I think she believes I’m already all about Jesus. So how do you tell someone you work with that you’d like to stop getting her “Jesus saved my baby” forwards? The problem is she’s the only other person here under the age of 40 and I tend to talk to her more than anyone else. I don’t want to alienate her, but I also don’t care so much about how Jesus smells (that was literally one of the emails). Any thoughts?

Personally, I would just delete them. (It’s what I do at my own workplace.)

It’s not worth causing drama with a work colleague over something like that. Plus, telling her you’d rather not get those emails won’t make the situation any better.

In fact, if you say you don’t want the Jesus emails, it may make the other person feel the need to send you more of them. Because you’re an evil heathen.

Other thoughts?


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Beth

    I agree with you. Or I would use them as material for a character in my next book.

    I used to get emails from people who thought I would like cute pictures of fluffy kittens and teddy bears, too. And doesn’t everyone get sent the same old jokes 50 times by various friends? That’s why god invented the delete key.

  • williamk

    Just send her something mildly offensive back. An off-color joke perhaps? Let her bring up not sending unwanted emails :)

    Btw, make sure you reply to all if she sent it to you as part of a big list. That type of behavior cannot be tolerated.

  • Vincent

    I’d just ask her not to forward any mass-mailings. Tell her that your email box fills so fast you have lost some messages from family so please only send emails that are work or “you and me” personal.

    I did this with an old friend who used to send “Congress is killing PBS” and other internet urban legend emails. Worked fine. (I got sick of pointing him to Snopes.com every single time and just asked to get off his spam list).

  • JohnB

    I also don’t care so much about how Jesus smells (that was literally one of the emails).

    Oh, great, now we’re gonna see tee shirts emblazoned with HWJS???

  • http://veggiedude.com veggiedude

    I lost contact with a family member about 5 years ago after I told her I did not want to have those kinds of messages.

    Off topic, but why is friendly atheist standing outside of what appears to be a church?

  • Mythprogrammer

    Just forward the emails back and ask why she is forward the stuff back to you. Eventually you two can ‘discover’ that you are on the same mailing listings and hope she believes it. If not, your computer has a flux capacitor and is always operating in the future 3 seconds, cant be any less rational than religion.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    Don’t be such a pushover! Just tell the person to stop forwarding so many e-mails. Not spamming people is just common courtesy, regardless of whether those e-mails are religious in nature.

    Alternatively, (if you still insist on being a pushover) you can filter out all the e-mails from that person into a separate folder. I do this for one of my advisors, because she has a habit of forwarding lots of things to her entire mailing list. I don’t want to be removed from the list, since there might be important stuff, so I just funnel it all into a separate folder. Of course, in practice, I just completely ignore the folder…

  • http://fefferbee.livejournal.com Liz

    I believe Jesus smells like rain, if I’m getting the same stupid forwards from coworkers.

  • http://holyprepuce.blogspot.com Holy Prepuce

    I used to get exercised over people sending me stupid forwards, but then I developed this mantra: “my Delete key works as well as anyone else’s.” And it’s true, that little square key, so easily operable with the pinky, lowers my blood pressure and solves all such problems.

  • http://ecstathy.blogspot.com efrique

    Easy-peasy.

    For every email she sends, send five back. If you can knock up a script to troll the kookiest of christian websites for content, all the better – it doesn’t even need to make sense, or even have grammar or spelling – just random lines from any christian website will do.

    Eventually, she’ll ask you to stop… and that’s when you accuse her of being a filthy baby-eating atheist who is destined for hell. That’s when you ramp up and start your script sending one of the random kooky christian emails every 7.2 minutes.

    Finally, your employer will have to ban all such email, and then you’ll not only have saved yourself, you’ll have saved many others like you in the future.

  • Marlowe

    Send atheist emails back at her!

  • Stephen M.

    I used to receive a Daily “Chaplain’s Thought of the Day” from my Army chaplain. He was sending them to me because the guy i replaced in my job liked to get them. I liked them too, becuase I would write back with questions. I would provide additional quotations for the people he cited (Martin Luther was a favorite of his) and would ask about other bible versus before or after the ones he quoted that didn’t make much modern sense in our out of context.

    I was actually sad when he left the unit; his replacement isn’t taking the email proselytizing route.

    Stephen in AL on vacation in PA.

  • Ralph Reese

    If you have any interest in self preservation do not discuss your beliefs (or lack thereof} at work. Even if you are not actually persecuted or harassed I can guarantee that you will never hear the end of it. Just look at the way religious zealots infest these atheist blogs with their never ending arguments. Unless you want to spend a lot of your time defending yourself from those people, well-meaning or otherwise, who feel it it their duty to straighten you out. If you’re pressed, just say that you consider it a private matter.

  • http://thegentlepath.wordpress.com GentlePath

    I had someone who was fwding all these stupid religious emails specifically to aggravate me. (It worked really well.) For awhile I was real mature and scoured the Internet for atheist fwds – but other than obnoxious cartoons there really aren’t any stupid atheist fwds. We don’t seem to mind aluminum on our armpits.

    So I sent this person something real, a link to http://ayaanhirsiali.org/ but oddly enough, I got no response, not even a prayer.

    Finally I got superduper mature and set up a filter that funnels everything from that address right in to the garbage.

  • Chris

    I’m with Miller….use a filter option. If FROM so & so AND contains JESUS then DELETE. I use a filter for the political stuff from my sister in law. No arguing, just plain gone. No hard feelings on either side.

  • Grimalkin

    I have this issue on and off with my sis-in-law. She’s a muslim and sends me the most awful pro-allah stuff she can find (you know, all the “Islam is the true religion because Muhammad once described a developing fetus as a blood clot!” stuff). I did what miller said at first – I just told her that I’m too busy to read my own spam, let alone hers, so could she please not forward stuff to me.

    That worked, for a couple months. Then I started getting them again, crazier than ever. So I e-mailed her back, told her that I don’t want any more spam and, if I got another message like that from her again, I would have to add her to my ignore lise (“nothing personal, I just don’t want to have to spend half an hour every day trying to sort spam out of actual communication”). It stopped again for a while.

    It recently started again. So I wrote her back a long e-mail detailing the reasons why I don’t believe in her god (in point-by-point format) and why, if her god were a human, he would be arrested and given a life sentence because he’s pure and simple evil (and then detailed the reasons why this is the case).

    The good news: I haven’t had any spam from her since.

    The bad news: I haven’t talked to her at all since. In fact, she seems to be avoiding me at family functions.

    Ah well, ya win some and ya lose some.

  • http://blackskeptic.wordpress.com blackskeptic

    I think you should just tell her (politely) of course that you’d not like to receive any emails from her. Perhaps make a joke out of having too many emails or trying to cut down to just the bare necessities. I think if you make it light, then it won’t be a big deal at all.

  • Javier

    Tell her that you want to keep your email at work for strictly work purposes. and giver her another email where she can forward all the jesus type emails and just never check it. To me it sounds like a quick fix, I dont know if anyone else suggested this I didnt read all the replies.

  • http://www.chedstone.com Roy

    Hey! I had to do this one time, but to my grandmother ( I know it sounds mean, but it had to be done.). What was nice about it, was that she didn’t just send me the “jesus emails” but other forwards as well. I asked her if she could not send me any email unless it was directly a note from her. I told her my inbox filled up quickly and it was hard enough keeping up with all my emails. That might be an approach to take if she sends you more then just the “jesus emails.”

  • http://mattstone.blogs.com Matt Stone

    I don’t want to alienate her, but I also don’t care so much about how Jesus smells

    Imagine my position, I am a Christian and I don’t like receiving those cheesy emails either. What is more, filtering out emails with “Jesus” in them is not an option, since that would involve too much “friendly fire.” So I just use the delete key. I don’t get that much anyway as most the Christians I hang around are not the sort to spamgelize. Mind you, I do sympathize with that comment as there was one girl from church who used to have a habit of doing this till I took her to task about its inappropriateness. She was hurt and probably somewhat embarressed and took some time to recover. The relationship was damaged by it. But would I do it again – probably. I still do not think it is appropriate and think a spade needs to be called a spade.

  • Axegrrl

    Start sending her articles about Bill Maher’s ‘Religulous’ and various stories from friendlyatheist.com.

    The problem should solve itself :)

  • http://www.mysinglemomlife.com/blog/ Kat

    In a work setting using work computers, I would just politely say to stop sending any fwds and chain emails at all. Your work emails are getting lost because you are getting so many personal type emails, and it’s causing you to get behind on your work emails.

    At home, I have no problem telling any person who emails me any Jesus fwds or chain emails, example “send this to every person in your contact list so Jesus knows you’re a true Christian!” to stop sending me them.
    I am not a Christian and have no interest at all in reading them.
    I tell them I am an Atheist, and have no belief in gods, easter bunnies, leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus and numerous other fairy tales.

    In all the time I’ve been telling people that, I’ve only had one person send me a very nasty and so un-Christian reply, and then stop corresponding with me.
    Most people reply back to say they didn’t know, and ask me what it means.

  • Lenny

    +1 what Chris said [July 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm]

    Modern email programs have extensive filter mechanisms. Just auto-delete the message. then when she inquires “you never reply to my Jesus messages” calmly explain that “my email program deletes them automatically” without bothering to tell her you’re the one who setup the filter.

    If she doesn’t stop, who cares? The message is flushed.

  • http://amiable-atheist.blogspot.com amiable

    yeah, don’t tell her.

    either tell her you don’t want *any* forward emails, or just deal with it, delete them.

    telling her would hurt your relationship and be unnecessary. it’s just an email! i get worse things in my inbox than that sometimes. just delete.

  • David

    Go with the filter. Filter all the email from this person to its own folder.

    Accumulate the folder for a month or so, dealing with the work-related msgs normally, ignoring the other. Then, after the month, check the relative proportions of the two. If the J-spam is half or more of what’s in the folder, call the sender over to see. THIS is what you have to do to get the day’s work done, do they think it’s fair to you?

    That should shut it down for good.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Off topic, but why is friendly atheist standing outside of what appears to be a church?

    Because it’s funny, dammit. And I liked the pic.

    The banner will change soon, anyway :)

  • Aatish

    I agree with Miller. It’s basic courtesy not to spam, and you should just tell her exactly what you said here, that you don’t care as to how Jesus smells. If she can’t accept you as a friend because you disagree with her religion, I wouldn’t consider such a friendship as meaningful to me in any way. If you happen to be an atheist, I’d mention that as well.

    P.S. – could you forward me the jesus smell forward or post it up here? Not to make light of your situation, but that in particular sounds hilarious. Did you know that you can make your home smell like jesus?

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    Jesus smells like spam.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.com GDad

    You could do what my brother and I do. We get these from one grandmother, and we edit them to add absolutely horrid bits, then send them to each other.

    Or, you could reply to her with a well-intentioned but oblivious reply that totally misses the point of her spam. For example, for the one where Jesus smells like stuff, you could reply with a “Thank goodness we have running water now.” Or if you get the one where some kid’s mom died, you could make some comment about how expensive funeral costs are. It may take a while, but she will likely get frustrated with your inability to grasp the simple message of Our Lord and Savior(tm), and you may be off the hook.

    If you choose the second, let’s start an archive where we can all use the same oblivious responses to this glurge.

    Of course, a spam filter works wonders.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    I hd a friend who kept sending me “the forward” e-mails, ya know you have to forward it to X number of people within 5 minutes to get money/one wish/love/free pants/etc. After I asked him to stop and he wouldn’t I started to “reply all” to his e-mails, so I knew his friends and family were getting them. I’d start by saying how dumb the forwards were and then continue on about personal stuff and write as if I thought I was only writing to him. I didn’t say anything too personal but I’d hint at private matters and throw in some mild cuss words. After doing this a couple times I got off his forward list.

    With the coworker I would tell her to stop sending me forwards. Say you get enough forwards from other people and don’t have time.

  • http://atheistself.blogspot.com David W.

    It’s called a filter. Set it up so that messages with her email address in the From field, and “Jesus”, “God”, “Bible”, etc. are in the entire message, then the email gets deleted immediately.

  • TXatheist

    If it’s a friend and you don’t to annoy them then I don’t suggest responding to the email like I do. I get them and I’ve alienated people I thought were cool with me and just realize it’s not worth trying to be their buddy if it hinges on me being a xian.

  • stephanie

    I’ve had to do this before. I usually take the too much spam route and tell them if they want me to be able to respond when they actually send me something then they need to stop the forwards because it makes all of their posts go into my spam filter. If you play it right, that mix of conscientiousness and insult hits just right and they knock off the forwards. I’ve only had one friend who kept sending me crap, and I started sending back relevant debunk links from places like Snopes.

  • Maria

    I agree Hemant

  • Nicholas Svara

    Is this a work e-mail address? I work in an IT department, and I know for a fact that we’d prefer any e-mails that don’t need to be in the system to be taken out of the system. They might also want to check their employee handbook, and check out “Appropriate use of computers and e-mail” or whatever their chapter is. That gives you the opportunity for the following, polite statement: “With the 4th of July coming up, I was double-checking what other days we have off, and I noticed that you could get in trouble for forwarding these non-work related e-mails around.”

    A quick forward to IT or Human Resources, politely checking if it’s OK for these kinds of e-mails to be sent around, isn’t a bad idea either. If you keep it neutral, then you should be fine.

    The filter only works if they’re not going to ask, “Did you see what I forwarded you?”

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    Sounds like a pretty good time to test how good your email program’s spam filters are. A few clicks and they’ll learn.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Most of the stuff I got was of the chain letter format. At first I used to enjoy sending one-to-one replies that would say, “Sorry, I deleted it.” Then I’d send back a message five minutes later saying something like “Holy crap! My car’s on fire in the parking lot! Could you send me that message again? I swear I’ll forward it to everyone I know … please!”

    As I matured, I began to return said messages with a link to the relevant Snopes page for debunking. Hit “reply all” and add a vaguely reproachful note about how the stupid troll should have done their homework before spamming you with this.

    On occasion, for especially stupid or stubborn Spammers, I clip the relevant dire threats from the “consequences if you fail to forward” section and send them (again with “reply all”) to the sender asking “You know I don’t forward spam, so why would you want these filthy things to happen to me?”

  • http://mattstone.blogs.com Matt Stone

    Yeah Stephanie I have found sending back Snopes stuff can be helpful too.

  • http://www.calladus.com Calladus

    I call this sort of thing chain email, and label them as a sort of computer virus that can actually infect humans.

    I wrote a blog entry on it, and anyone who sends me one of these emails will get a “reply all” with a link to my blog entry, explaining how they’ve been infected by a computer-borne virus.

    My response is always the same – reply all with a link to that entry. After a while, people get the message and stop sending me stuff.


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