Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tensions of mealtime prayers

Richard Wade at The Friendly Atheist site wrote a post on a subject that affects all of us atheists who have relatives and friends who are god believers and must pray at mealtime. I am respectful when visiting family and friends who must say prayers before eating. I do not participate by bowing my head and folding my hands, I do sit quietly and let them do their thing. I even am respectful and quiet when we go to restaurants with god believers and do not eat till they have said their magical incantations to their imaginary friend. I do not roll my eyes, do not tell them they are really talking to themselves, and I would never interfere with what they feel they need to do. I especially would never interfere with the raising of their children no matter how I feel about them indoctrinating their little ones to believe in and talk to an imaginary being. It is not my place as long as the child is not being abused and is loved and cared for. Everything else is none of my business and I keep my opinions to myself unless they try to convert me or ridicule my non-belief or tell me I am going to go to hell, etc.

Richard's post tells of a family problem where the religious folks will not reciprocate when it comes to respect of non-believing family members, going so far as to force the child of the non-believers to fold their hands while others are praying. I would have a big problem if one of my friends or family members actually reached over and clasped my child's hands together and insisted they talk to an imaginary being they cannot even fathom.

Respect goes both ways. While god believers are in my home I will do things my way and expect them to just utter their prayers to themselves and not make a deal of it the same way as when I am in homes of god believers and sit respectfully while they say their mealtime grace and not make a big deal of it.

But the thing is, sometimes they DO make a big deal of me not having my head bowed, my eyes closed and hands folded. They say it is insulting to them and to their imaginary friend. I have been through this a few times. If we just stay in another room until grace is said, then we are also the bad guys, we are told we are disrespecting them. But when they come to our house they still bow their heads and pray and utter to themselves in my presence and I am to say nothing or else I am disrespecting them. No thought at all about them disrespecting me and what I believe.

They want everything their way. They think that my opinions and beliefs are irrelevant, and in order to keep the peace, it is usually me, the atheist, who must give in and be tolerant and cater to the ways of the religious folks. And they wonder why we get angry.


tina FCD said...

Hmmm..I have never had that problem, I don't usually visit or have dinner with people that pray at meal time.

I remember sitting at the table with my great niece and her telling me that I forgot something....I said oh yeah, what?
She said, you forgot to pray. I said do you pray at home, she said no. Duh, then forget it girlie, no go on the praying here in my house.

Stardust said...

My family for the most part never does the prayer thing before meals, just a couple of people on my side and my husband's side who feel they must even in public places. Some even want you to hold hands even if we are together in a restaurant and while I go along with the hand-holding, my hubby will not. And no one is going to try to grab the hand of a 6'4" 250 lb crazy guy. LOL! (he's really a great guy, but everyone is always worried about pissing him off.)

Doubtful Daughter said...

Ugh, my brother and his wife and kids do the praying before meals, even in restaurants. I'm like, seriously digging into my food while they have their heads bowed. I actually can't stand it when they are in town because I would hate for someone I casually know to see that and think that I'm some evangelical fundie.

Back to the topic at hand, if a family member tried to "force" my daughter's hands into a prayer position, I would firmly tell them to not touch my kids like that.

Stardust said...

DD, I would be the same way if someone tried to force my kids hands into a praying position. I would have to tell them to do their own thing if they choose to, but hands off my kids and leave them alone.

Anders said...

Hello! I read your post.

I recommend you the formal logical proof found in (left menu) for an Intelligent and Perfect Creator and what His purpose is.

And when it comes to your Christian friends I reccomend you to give them the website
which show the origin of their faith.

Have a nice day! Anders Branderud

Stardust said...

Anders, no matter what kind of proof you create for yourselves, it still does not prove the existence of your imaginary friend. There is no god, gods, goddesses, pink unicorns, etc.

And as for the origins of your religion/faith. Part of it goes away back to the beginning when humans began to invent answers for questions they did not have the answers to, and for the answers they did not understand. Humans invent mythology...which starts out as their religion and just becomes what it actually is over time...myths to cope with life's struggles and the fear of death and dying.