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How do I tell my friends I don't want to do the Alpha course?

(331 Posts)
BumperliciousVsTheDailyHate Sun 13-Sep-09 20:47:34

Some lovely friends of mine have just asked me and DH if we want to do the Alpha Course. I'm not completely adverse to it but I don't particularly want to at the moment for several reasons:

1. I work 9 hour days, and by the time I get done with dinner and putting 2 yo DD to bed I get about 2 hours before having to go bed, the last thing I want to do is go and be sociable, articulate and thoughtful
2. I'm an atheist, though I was into religion and church until I was a teen then got completely put off it after my mum dragged me a along to a born-again Christian church.
3. We couldn't get a babysitter, though I could go on my own, I just really don't want to
4. I don't think it would make me change how I feel, I don't want it to change how I feel, I am perfectly happy as an atheist. I think it would be a waste of time.

Can anyone help me let my friends down in a nice way, that doesn't belittle the way they feel. We have discussed religion, and they know how I feel. They are very strong in their beliefs and very up front about them, though not in a pressurising way. They are really lovely and I don't want to offend them but to be honest I struggle to muster up the energy to make conversation with my husband at the moment. But I need a better reason than 'I can't be bothered'. I'm not adverse to the Alpha Course per se, I have seen very good reviews on it, but it smacks a little of brain washing to me.

What do I say?

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Sun 13-Sep-09 20:49:23

Just tell them you have turned to the dark side and that Master Yoda saw it coming. He tried to warn you but you didn't listen.

LovelyDear Sun 13-Sep-09 20:49:30

'im interested but now's not the time. maybe next years, when the kids are older?'

CMOTdibbler Sun 13-Sep-09 20:50:56

'No thanks, it's not something I have room for in my life at the moment'. Remember that no is a complete sentence and that you don't have to discuss it any more than that

Fleecy Sun 13-Sep-09 20:51:54

Just say no! Why do you have to explain your reasons? I'm sure they wouldn't be offended if you said you understand how important their beliefs are and appreciate their asking you but you don't want to go.

DH and I did an Alpha course some years ago and it was good - but you're committing to one evening a week for a fair few weeks so if you don't get enough free time as it is, I'd say it's perfectly reasonable to say no.

spongebrainmaternitypants Sun 13-Sep-09 20:54:00

As a fellow atheist I would tell them the truth - and I wouldn't say "not interested at the moment" I would say "not interested" end of! Don't leave the door open for repeat requests.

You are perfectly happy with your beliefs and they should respect that and accept a "no thank you".

alwayslookingforanswers Sun 13-Sep-09 20:54:10

Just say no you can't do it.

Although on the "brain washing" comment I have to say I've known atheists go in at the start as atheists.......and come out the other end as atheists grin

stinkypinky Sun 13-Sep-09 20:55:23

Just say 'no thank you' like any other social invitation. The more excuses you give, the more uncomfortable it may feel. If they are offended, then they are not true friends.
Good luck.

preciouslillywhite Sun 13-Sep-09 20:55:24

a polite but firm "no, thanks" should do it imo!

..if you have discussed religion before, and explained that you are completely happy being an atheist, and they're still trying to get you to do Alpha then it sounds to me that, however lovely they are, they're not respecting your beliefs.

(read Jon Ronson's account of Alpha-bound to be on tinternet somewhere- is v interesting!)

pussyabcess Sun 13-Sep-09 20:58:20

Please don't be offended, but I'm going to say no. It isn't right for me right now but I appreciate that it's a kind offer.

They are asking because they think it's right for you and you need it. You need to say that you recognise that in a way it is an offer, because they think belief is the greatest gift of all.

(I am a Christian but wouldn't go on an Alpha course. I went with a friend to some self-belief thing once, and realised half way through that it was basically brain washing. I fear that Alpha have similarities: everyone sits around tables for intimacy, you feel a debt and connection to people so you don't leave, empowering personal stories are told, people convert or affirm on the spot and so on.)

But I haven't been so if someone comes on to correct me about the style then I bow to that.

My own view, but again I'm ready to be wrong about this, is that if you were to accept you would find yourself under a great deal more pressure afterwards, and at some point you are going to have to say no, so may as well do it now.

however we do have a lot to be grateful for smile

BumperliciousVsTheDailyHate Sun 13-Sep-09 21:09:27

Thanks for the replies.

I don't think for one minute that they will have a problem with me saying no, I just don't want to offend them. I have heard that the course is interesting even for atheists. But in light of pussy's post in even less inclined to go now as despite being very firm in my beliefs I am not good at disappointing people. I even let cold callers have a chat with me as I feel sorry for them! I'm not good at saying no.

I would be interested in anyone else's experience of the course though?

Thanks for the replies, I feel better about saying no. I'm not up for the emotional investment.

TheBolter Sun 13-Sep-09 21:16:05

pussyabcess (gorgeous name love grin) I did an Alpha course once - was invited by a Christian friend - but the format was very different to what you've described!

I didn't there was enough discussion at mine, I felt more as though we were being told what was the truth,and I went away feeling as though many of my questions remained unanswered.

I'd recommend a book called 'Conversations with God', it's quite a good book for anyone like me who wants to explore the notion of God but doesn't want to jump right in!

Overmydeadbody Sun 13-Sep-09 21:21:57

Don't worry that you will offend them by saying no. Just say no. If they are good friends they will not be offended.

whomovedmychocolate Sun 13-Sep-09 21:25:29

Someone has tried to drag me to one recently (we're members of the National Secular Society and everything, they must be barking to even try). I also know quite a few people who've been along.

Here's the thing - if someone said to you 'I know you aren't interested in fishing and probably don't feel one way or another about salmon, but would you like to come and sit on the riverbank every night for a few weeks - there will be a picnic' you'd have no qualms about saying 'no, I have no interest in that' so why is this any different.

Although personally I'd reply 'sorry, I only do cults as a new year thing and it rarely lasts'. grin

questioneverything Tue 15-Sep-09 15:07:16

Personally as a believer in Jesus Christ and a student of his word, I would have no problem saying a big fat NO to a Alpha course. Infact I would avoid them at all costs. I know several people who went on them and had some kind of 'experience' and thought they where christians, only years later realising that actual 'repentance' is required and a turning away from sin for good.

In Jesus

duelingfanjo Tue 15-Sep-09 15:08:24

just tell them you are an Atheist. Surely it's a no brainer!?

Bucharest Tue 15-Sep-09 15:11:07

Just Say No.
If you say anything else "not right for me right now...etc etc" they'll be asking you on a weekly basis if you've changed your mind. When/If you do want to do it, you approach them. It's not like selling tupperware. Or it shouldn't be.

said Tue 15-Sep-09 15:14:08

Why would they think you'd want to do it if you're an atheist?

manfrom Tue 15-Sep-09 15:14:08

bleugh alpha course. Irritating evangelicals with slick marketing.

What is wrong with old-fashioned non-commital once-a-week wishy-washy anglicanism?

nickelbabe Tue 15-Sep-09 15:24:15

hear hear manfrom! grin

although, i should imagine the OP wouldn't like that, cos it's not atheism...

i am a CofE christian and firm in my belief, but i wouldn't do an alpha course either (it's all too evangelical and happy clappy: no offence to happy clappies, but it's not my thing) and i would never invite a friend of mine if i knew they were an atheist, even if it was my thing: it's just too much! church, maybe, but not something as severe as alpha...

AvengingGerbil Tue 15-Sep-09 15:33:42

I'm sorry, I'd be offended even to be invited. These people are disrespecting your known views and beliefs.

How would they like to be invited to attend a course to persuade them of the virtues of, say, Islam or Buddhism? Alpha is not just a discussion forum, it is an evangelising course.

UnquietDad Tue 15-Sep-09 15:38:47

Well, I imagine they want atheists to do it more than anyone.

They make it sound very reasonable. All this "just come along", and "no questions are forbidden", and all the free food.

Did you see the C4 documentary on it? Very enlightening. I knew a lot of it already as I know someone who went on one.

UnquietDad Tue 15-Sep-09 15:40:50

After the course you are "challenged" to "give church a try". You are put in a position where you almost feel rude not doing so. It's how they reel people in.

duelingfanjo Tue 15-Sep-09 16:20:49

surely they would be better off targeting the Agnostics?

WhingeBobShitPants Tue 15-Sep-09 16:25:25

say "I won't be doing the Alpha Course"

or "I have decided that I am not going to do the Alpha Course"

or "I really have no interest in the Alpha Course"

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