(to read the Huffington blog post, Atheism Reaffirmed, from whence this quote came, click the lovely picture above.)
I would like to make clear that this is not directed solely at Christians, even though Jesus is mentioned in the sentence that resulted in this post. It is for anyone of any faith to take to heart. With the exception of extremists in any religion, I think that believers are good, well-intentioned, and beautiful people who do what they do out of love. But humans, as is our nature, make mistakes in the name of love. This is a chance to avoid making another one.
This one perfect [portion of a] sentence flawlessly describes the point at where my lifelong spiritual journey has been going since August 2011. When I began studying Witchcraft in the late 80s, I was particularly struck by the notion that praying or working magick for someone who neither asked, nor gave their permission for you to do so can, at the very least, be perceived as unethical when looking at the deed through the Wiccan Rede. As someone who grew up in an area of America where "I'll pray for you" was a phrase that implicated two very different messages (1. I care about you and only want the best for you in these difficult times and 2. Just you wait - you'll get yours!), I began refraining from imposing my spiritual inclinations, if only indirectly through prayer/magick/whatever, without explicit permission to do so.
When Aunt Tudi died, I was bombarded with declarations, all of which were well-intentioned from people who truly care about me, of: "I will pray for you." Her death had already hurtled me into a crisis of faith, so the innocent efforts on the part of friends and family, fell on increasingly resentful ears. Most of the time, I felt violated in a very profound way, by the very people who meant, and still mean, everything to me. That one simple sentence tipped the balance of my Agnostic Paganism onto a burgeoning Agnostic Atheism. The emotional and psychological landscape in which I found myself, and still do to a slightly lesser degree, found no presence of god, goddess, or anything in between. I began politely requesting that people leave me out of their communications with the deity or deities in which they believe. Most everyone understood why I asked this of them. Some were offended, but came to accept and honour my wishes. A minute number were determined to carry on with their activities, feeling that my request was born out of aftershock, immeasurable grief, and misplaced opposition to faith-based efforts on my behalf, their logic being that, once the initial trauma eased, I would be grateful to them for keeping my spiritual back when my own belief system had been shaken to the point of abandoning it altogether.
The reason why I'm posting this quote and link, and adding my opinions regarding its subject, is to add some perspective for anyone who is suffering in some way, or knows someone in crisis of any kind. The issue of spirituality and the countless religions that have sprung from it is probably the most sensitive in human culture. Before you inadvertently have a hand in someone's loss of faith, think as objectively as you can in a wholly subjective situation. Pray on it, if that's how you address the moments in life that leave you unsure of what you could or should do. Listen to your inner voice and, most importantly, listen to the one for whom you want to pray or hold ritual. Just being there for her/him could be the best thing for them, and may eventually restore faith on its own terms.