I am not religious, but I try not to force said lack of religiosity on anyone. Likewise, I really appreciate religions that do not try to force themselves on others (Judaism, most Bhuddist sects, etc.). I really, really do not like religions that try to convert others. If your message is so great, won’t it sell itself?
Today, at the end of our hike, we came across a circle of people, with a leader praying and the rest murmuring in response. While I firmly believe people should be permitted maximum freedom in practicing their religion the way they choose, these people had chosen this rather public display at the intersection of two trails. That meant there was no way around them, and we had to scramble up a talus slope to get back to our cars.
That’s just inconsiderate. There were several places out of sight of the road that wouldn’t block two directions of travel on the Appalachian trail, as well as an access trail, that they could have prayed on. If practicing your religion means you need to be in public showing you are religious, well, that seems a bit like you’re trying to prove something to yourself by proving it to others, but I have no reason to attempt to stop you. But if you must block others from going about their business and enjoying a public land, you’ve just gone too far.
In the end, we asked them, politely, to move one way or another down the trail as people were turning away rather than disturb them. One man said he’s take care of it, and within a few minutes they broke up. It was not my intention to stop them, but just to have them move somewhere where they wouldn’t interfere. Perhaps they were at the end of their service.
Normally I wouldn’t dream of disturbing someone in prayer, but it was really intolerable how inconsiderate, rude, and annoying they were being.