• Resolving Problems

When religious differences divide friends

Published: June 25, 2013 | Last Updated: June 25, 2013 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
Religious differences aren’t always deal breakers, but can be when one friend is intolerant


Hi Irene,

Recently my best friend has been going to church and I am absolutely, completely, happy for her. Although, lately, I’ve been feeling like she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.

I myself am agnostic and she knows this perfectly well. Despite knowing this, she still tries to convince me to attend church with her. I did once because she’s my best friend and I wanted to make her happy. Once I did, she tried to convince me to go again but this time I refused and told her that church just wasn’t for me. She then got really upset and said I was disrespecting her and her church and her entire faith.

Now, I’m not one to start cat fighting or anything so I just calmly explained why I said no and that I was absolutely not disrespecting her at all. We’re okay now, but she now talks to me only once or twice a month and never wants to hang out with me anymore, just her youth group. Which is perfectly fine! And I’m glad she’s making new friends and stuff, but. It’s just really, really frustrating for me.

I want to keep our friendship because I think it’s silly to end our friendship over something like this. I even told her that although we don’t see eye to eye on our beliefs, I still respect everything that she believes in, and that I hope she can understand why I’m agnostic, but she just can’t.

I wish I could talk to her about it, I really do, but every time I try to she just doesn’t listen and she automatically disagrees with everything I have to say. And if I talk to a parent about it, they’ll just think I’m being over dramatic and that I’m trying to start something. I really don’t know what to do. She’s been my best friend for almost ten years and even thought she may not be a great best friend, I still don’t want to lose our friendship. Anyways, thank you for taking the time to read this and answer it, I really appreciate it.

Signed, Amy


Hi Amy,

Differences in religion (or politics, for that matter) don’t necessarily have to divide friends but if one person is unable to accept the other’s beliefs or values, these differences can easily topple a friendship. It sounds like you have been accepting of your friend’s beliefs but that she has shown little tolerance for yours.

At this point, she seems to be heavily invested in her religion and her youth group—and prefers to surround herself with people who share similar values. My guess is that it is very unlikely you will be able to change her mind or convince her otherwise so I think you need to accept that your friendship won’t be the same as it once was, at least for now. Bear in mind, as you have suggested, that this friendship wasn’t perfect before the religious differences cropped up.

Try to make other friends and when you do get together with this friend, agree to keep any discussions of religion off the table.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Also see these prior posts on the impact of faith, religion and religious differences on friendships:

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Category: Faith and friendship

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  1. JulieBaxter says:

    I, too, had a friend who wasn’t particularly religious (it seemed). But then she went to a Nazerene college, converted, and met a guy there and got married soon after graduating. The friendship was on its way out during college anyway. I missed her; but when a friend turns to religion, chooses to break a date with you to hang out with another Religious Good Girl (I was as goody two shoes as you get, btw, just wasn’t into religion) and then tells you later she should have hung out with you because she didn’t have such a great time…. Yeah.

    My example is about friends growing apart, with religion being a part of it.

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