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Prayer At Family Gatherings


Guest RATIONAL EYES
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Guest RATIONAL EYES

How do any of you deal with (if this applies to you) your family praying over a meal and everyone joins hands and (most of your family doesnt really know or understand your view on religion)

do you A. shout im agnostic, athiest, other B. get up and leave the room C. go along with it D. avoid family gatherings because of this type of this thing.

I avoided going to my moms easter dinner cause i could just imagine everyone praying over chicken tettrazini or whatever and now she thinks im mad at her.

Anytime ive ever tried to debate religion she automatically leaves the room or says "im not going to talk about this" Im the only one in my family like me,free of religion.

My mom.stepdad,grandma,cousins and even my girlfriend whom i live with are all christians. from methodists to hardcore baptists.

Anyway i just wanted to know how you all deal with this! Thanx................

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How do any of you deal with (if this applies to you) your family praying over a meal and everyone joins hands and (most of your family doesnt really know or understand your view on religion)

do you A. shout im agnostic, athiest, other B. get up and leave the room C. go along with it D. avoid family gatherings because of this type of this thing.

I avoided going to my moms easter dinner cause i could just imagine everyone praying over chicken tettrazini or whatever and now she thinks im mad at her.

Anytime ive ever tried to debate religion she automatically leaves the room or says "im not going to talk about this" Im the only one in my family like me,free of religion.

My mom.stepdad,grandma,cousins and even my girlfriend whom i live with are all christians. from methodists to hardcore baptists.

Anyway i just wanted to know how you all deal with this! Thanx................

 

Here is the question. Its the same question you must ask when you have a disagreement with a family member on anything, religious or not. Whats more important, your family, or being right?

 

My parents know I'm an atheist, and have gotten used to it over the last few years. They have their religion and accept that I don't have it. They pray over Christmas dinner and I let them, but they don't ask me to pray.

 

I don't recommend debating emotionaly charged topics with family unless it just can't be avoided. My advice is that unless you're family wants to force the issue, then you should let it go.

Sometimes hard, but until both you and your parents get enough distance from the topic to discuss it without letting your emotions get the best of you then it's usually for the best. I had been an atheist for more than 4 years before we could touch on anything related to religion without getting pissed off at one another.

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Guest RATIONAL EYES

Of course my family is more important than being right,we havent had any huge fights about this or anything cause i keep alot stuffed down.

But when there are family gatherings everyone joins hands and prays and grabs my hands as well,i was just curious how others react to this situation.

Are their non beliefs important enough to them or affect them to leaving the room or saying something or do they go along with the prayer and ignore it?

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Holding hands with your family is not praying.

Closing your eyes is not praying.

Bowing your head is NOT PRAYING.

 

So long as no one is asking you to lead the prayer, or doing some kind of 'everyone adds their own little bit (aka give a better speech than the person before you)' type of prayer.... who the hell says you are praying? You are listening to someone ELSE pray while you hold hands with your eyes closed! That's IT. NO ONE can dictate or be prayer police for what you've got going on between your ears.

 

My family always says grace at every meal. It's more tradition than faith, and only my dad says the prayer. Instead of saying "Amen" with everyone at the end, I stay true to myself, AND stay true to courtesy towards my family by nodding my head at the end of the prayer. It is an acknowledgment to the speaker...that is all. As far as anyone else is concerned, I have fulfilled the "ritual" adequately enough not to call down an argument or even real notice right there at the table. And my parents know damn well where I stand. They know I'm being courteous to them in this way. And they know damn well I CHOOSE to do that much. They are not idiots. They know if they push, they will lose having me visit for dinner.

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This is something that bothers me as well, though the answer for me is simple.

 

If you care more about the feelings of your family than being right, answer C is the way to go. Just suck it up and hold their hands while they pray. You don't have to close your eyes, or say amen at the end of the prayer, but participating in their ritual is about more than just religion. It's a family bonding thing as well, and you don't want to risk alienating them by refusing to participate.

 

As for me, I usually try to not sit down at the table until after the prayer is said. Maybe I'll take my time getting my drink or I'll go to the bathroom right before the meal so I don't have to pray with them. If I'm at the table I'll join them in the prayer, but if I act like I'm busy somewhere else I can get by without praying with them and not feel like I'm shunning them at the same time.

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How do I deal with it? I don't. I try to avoid my relatives as much as I can. On the extremely rare blue moon we do get together and we eat together, I just keep my mouth shut and say nothing. Of course, there is that one little problem... the tradition my grandfather started before he died- the guest has to say grace. IF my mother and aunt follow that, I'm between a rock and a hard place, so a fake it and hope I make it past them without any altercations. Oh yeah, I'm chicken sh**. At least I don't have to see them much.

 

Now the phone calls! UGH! They drive me nuts with the phone calls. I can't begin to tell you.

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  • Super Moderator

Just say, "No, I'd rather not, but please, you go ahead."

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My family does the prayer thing ever thanksgiving cause my great uncle charlie wants too..I liked this years thanksgiving cause he didn't make it lol

 

I just go along with it and say a mantra in my head"I know this is stupid but it's worth the homemade food!"

 

I would say "I don't want too" or "I don't believe in it" but my family would bitch and yell at me and my mom would call me everyday just to bitch about me not wanting to pray on thanksgiving.

 

I don't have a problem with thanking god for food the problem I have is the end of the prayer "save the lost"

 

I thought about staying home on thanksgiving and going on christmas..no charlie at that time of year.

 

But I probally would be bugged about it.

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If you decided to follow a non-theistic teaching (like paganism or buddhism) or make some statement of your beliefs in your own home, how would you want your family to react? I think that you should choose to extend respect to your family by sitting quietly until they are finished.

 

I don't really understand the need to leave the room, but I would respect it. I just feel that you can't avoid every situation that you don't like, and that having a calm conversation about a compromise later would be a better choice.

 

I think that shouting and ranting and disrupting the meal would be extremely rude, immature, and disrespectful. Intolerant even. Is making sure that everyone hears the truth of your atheism at every opportunity more important than respecting people's ability to practice their beliefs in their own home? I'd consider someone who did A. to be every bit as obnoxious as the evangelist shoving tracts in people's faces.

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I respectfully bow my head, but I no longer lead the prayer. When I was first struggling with my deconversion, I would publicly pray. Now I simple say, "no thanks, let someone else do it"

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I'm a fairly new athiest-in-training, so haven't had to deal with family prayers, etc. The only time my family prays is at the big reunion held once a year. We are a large diverse group and I figure there's no way I'm the ONLY non-theist in the bunch. But do you think I'm going to announce my beliefs? Heck no! So when the time comes, I figure I will simply go along with it.

Like White_Raven said

"Holding hands with your family is not praying.

Closing your eyes is not praying.

Bowing your head is NOT PRAYING."

 

Also, I figure it's a matter of respect. If I want them to respect my belief that there is no god, then they have a right to expect me to keep my pie-hole shut while they're praying. When in Rome...

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Personally -- I just hold hands, sit there and stare straight ahead. I have no problem saying "thanks for the food" as long as it's going towards the cook...

I dont say amen, i dont do anything, but joining together and giving thanks is a very good idea -- but i try to passively participate in silly traditions like prayer.

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If they ask me to lead the prayer, I will say "Lord, thank you for this food, Amen" to appease them, but using the term "Lord" so that I don't have to specifically say "God" and I'll send it as if I were talking to Odin, Lord of the Aesir Gods. He doesn't give us food, but it'll do for now, so I'm appeasing the family, and also trying not to pray to the christian god.

 

But most of the time, someone else does it, so I just wait for everyone to bow their heads, close their eyes, then I just look up until they're done.

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I'll hold hands and maybe bow but I do not say amen, unless maybe the grace is 'rubadubdub, thanks for the grub'

 

If they asked me I would probably decline.

 

My father asked if he could pray at our wedding, this was the day before. I was frozen,but my wife covered for me and shook her head. He may have been upset but it was our day, not his.

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Last Thanksgiving my mom singled me out because I was the "religious one." I just about panicked and was thinking "god dammit mom! Didn't dad tell you I'm an agnostic now?" I guess he didn't.

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I'm perfectly comfortable with holding their hands and letting them pray. They aren't a threat to me. As white_raven23 said, they aren't my thought police, and I'm not being oppressed, challenged, or disrespected by being included in a prayer circle.

 

I try to leave the soapboxing for this forum, the voting booth, and the occasional random Christian who gets in my face on the street or the internet. If I'm going to a church or a Christian home, then this is to expected, and it's got nothing to do with me personally. So I don't mind at all.

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Guest RATIONAL EYES

I've always done the bow my head and dont say anything,don't say amen,and will probably continue to,I just feel out of place.

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Guest RATIONAL EYES
Last Thanksgiving my mom singled me out because I was the "religious one." I just about panicked and was thinking "god dammit mom! Didn't dad tell you I'm an agnostic now?" I guess he didn't.

 

LOL i know.........right

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Guest RATIONAL EYES
My family does the prayer thing ever thanksgiving cause my great uncle charlie wants too..I liked this years thanksgiving cause he didn't make it lol

 

I just go along with it and say a mantra in my head"I know this is stupid but it's worth the homemade food!"

 

I would say "I don't want too" or "I don't believe in it" but my family would bitch and yell at me and my mom would call me everyday just to bitch about me not wanting to pray on thanksgiving.

 

I don't have a problem with thanking god for food the problem I have is the end of the prayer "save the lost"

 

I thought about staying home on thanksgiving and going on christmas..no charlie at that time of year.

 

But I probally would be bugged about it.

 

Thats hilarious..............

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Well, the way I look at it is...they don't make me pray over dinner when I host them, so I'm not going to make them NOT pray when they host me. Respect goes both ways.

 

My parents don't know I have deconverted, but they do know I'm not an ultra-religious freak or anything. I just bow my head, close my eyes (most of the time), and think about other things until they're done. I don't say Amen or anything like that when it's over. They don't ask me to pray anymore because they know I won't. They probably just think I'm too shy...who knows.

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My family doesn't know I've deconverted, so if I'm ever asked to lead the prayer and I'm not able to get out of it, I just go along with it. I just say some generic prayer to ask God for forgiveness and thanks for the meal and to heal the sick and feed the poor. Like what was said earlier, it's not much different than being asked to say a prayer to Zeus, but I don't know how I would react if my family knew I'm an atheist.

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I generally rest my hands in my lap or hold hands, depending on what the group in question does. I do not bow my head, close my eyes, speak a prayer along with everybody, or say "Amen". I don't share their religious beliefs anymore and I think it would be disrespectful of their religion and my lack of it to do anything other than be silently polite about it.

 

No one has asked me to lead grace or prayer. They probably all know my position, so they probably never would ask me to do so. If for some reason somebody got a bug up their butt and asked me to, I'd probably initially decline, letting them know that since I am not a theist it would not be appropriate for me to say grace.

 

If they really insisted, I'd give thanks - to the people who made the meal possible, not to any deity I don't believe in. I would thank my relatives for their generosity in hosting the get-together and taking the time and effort to provide and prepare whatever meal it is; I'd suggest that we thank the grocers who worked hard to stock it, the truck drivers who brought it to market, the farmers who labored to produce the food itself. I might even throw in some props for the folks who invented the technology that made it possible - refrigeration, railroad, the internal combustion engine, effective fertilizers, what have you. I'd thank my family for getting together and suggest everyone eat.

 

But I wouldn't include some damn petty backwoods podunk Bronze Age deity with a Napoleon complex and delusions of grandeur. He's not invited to my table, ever.

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How do any of you deal with (if this applies to you) your family praying over a meal and everyone joins hands and (most of your family doesnt really know or understand your view on religion)

do you A. shout im agnostic, athiest, other B. get up and leave the room C. go along with it D. avoid family gatherings because of this type of this thing.

I avoided going to my moms easter dinner cause i could just imagine everyone praying over chicken tettrazini or whatever and now she thinks im mad at her.

Anytime ive ever tried to debate religion she automatically leaves the room or says "im not going to talk about this" Im the only one in my family like me,free of religion.

My mom.stepdad,grandma,cousins and even my girlfriend whom i live with are all christians. from methodists to hardcore baptists.

Anyway i just wanted to know how you all deal with this! Thanx................

 

 

I'm not going to avoid my family's dinner just because they say a prayer. I think that's a bit overboard, and this is coming from someone who hates Christianity. I just basically stare at my plate and shut the f*ck up while they pray. It's done in a few seconds and then we eat. If they go to hold your hand, hold their hand. It's not like you're going to get Christ cooties. Personally, I don't see the big deal.

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I've always done the bow my head and dont say anything,don't say amen,and will probably continue to,I just feel out of place.

 

Trust me, we all feel out of place, but you have to decide if you really want to distance yourself from your family because of this. If it was "Jesus this" and "God that" all the time through the meals and such, I could see how that could get really annoying, but if it's just a prayer, I wouldn't sweat it.

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  • Super Moderator
If they really insisted, I'd give thanks - to the people who made the meal possible, not to any deity I don't believe in. I would thank my relatives for their generosity in hosting the get-together and taking the time and effort to provide and prepare whatever meal it is; I'd suggest that we thank the grocers who worked hard to stock it, the truck drivers who brought it to market, the farmers who labored to produce the food itself. I might even throw in some props for the folks who invented the technology that made it possible - refrigeration, railroad, the internal combustion engine, effective fertilizers, what have you. I'd thank my family for getting together and suggest everyone eat.

 

 

About three years ago, everybody insisted I say grace at Thanksgiving. That was about the gist of my "prayer". I haven't been asked to say grace at any meal since... :wicked:

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