My guess is that this has been covered in another forum but I wanted to throw it out there;
So who among us has been the following situation: You are sitting at a friends or even a family's dinner table and everyone gets ready to say grace. Everyone bows their heads and or closes their eyes. What do you do? Do you close your eyes and or bow your head out of respect and think to yourself "omg this is such bs", or do you hold your atheist head up high with a kind of "suck-it" mentality I am not going to coddle you just because you expect me to, I'm an atheist dammit and proud of it!!!
Would love to hear your thoughts and stories!!
I like No Religion's attitude towards it. I know that Atheism ( or any religion in general) is always a heated topic, especially when we come to family or cultural traditions. I always go along with what they are doing, although that si where i draw the line. I don't follow the prayer or make any motions that they make, but I will bow my head and close my eyes, and during that moment I usually find myself thinking about how good the food smells and what I plan on doing after dinner, lol.
Overall, I'll respect them if they respect me too. Most people I hang out with know my views and respect them by not talking about theirs. I would like to think of myself as a peaceful person that doesn't judge people based on their imaginary friends! :)
I bow my head.
I think it was IEatDinosaurMeat that mentioned choosing your battles. To me, if you make a mountain out of a molehill, you're sabotaging any attempt to de-convert them (as slim as that chance may be). From the get-go, you're putting them on the defensive by not simply bowing your head even if you don't believe it. You might as well walk into the room with an "I am an atheist" shirt on. They'll just see you as arrogant and disrespectful.
It's kind of like debating with a christian and you let out a swear word. Many fundamentals will be more concerned with the swearing than your actual debate. Or, in the case of the denomination I came out of, if you refer to one of their pastors without putting the title "pastor" in front of their name (eg PASTOR Smith), they'll get offended and won't listen to the actual meat of your argument. Yes, that's their problem if they can't hear your actual argument, but as No Religion said, "When in Rome...".
You don't want to plant a massive tree in front of them when you're trying to get them to see the forest from the trees.
I agree with you about this, I understand the mis-conception that if you bow your head and go along with it, your respecting them. To some degree, yes, you are, but mostly you are appeasing them. very, VERY, rarely the religious think of atheists as having a different belief, it's more akin to there thinking of you straying away from "the flock". By contributing to their ritual you aren't making them think "Oh there so considerate and respectful", even if they say something similar to that.I'm not trying to say theists are liars, just that they think very strange. With linear, sensible, thought [atheist+bowing head=trying to be respectful] but they see [atheist+bowing head=that atheist is seeing "the error in their ways and are trying to change"]. The only reason I have this opinion is because as a former catholic this is the general opinion expressed by believers.
Now don't misinterpret, I don't mean for you to cause a riot over every prayer your expected to take part in, just distancing yourself by means of sitting/standing there and not condoning, condemning, or contributing to the prayer.
Here is where I make a distinction. If I am in their house, at their table, I would be respectful, especially if they are particularly good cooks and I want to get invited back. I'm not going to pray or chime in on the amen, but their house, their rules. Rarely do people get respect unless they give it.
We don't say grace at my house. But - I have to add it has never come up so I don't really know how I would react. I like the idea of keeping it simple and secular. Thank you for coming and enjoying this meal.
The only problem I see of trying to control whether or not someone says grace at your house is if then you go to their house and they try to make you say grace(your a hypocrite if you don't, and your going against your beliefs if you do). To avoid that maybe you could just let them pray and every one else continues, or you could start by offering grace but instead of saying something religious you just thank them for being there and your glad that you can enjoy this meal with them or something along those lines. But then again I'm just someone on the Internet and it's your call.
I'm really amazed at the spectrum of responses.
I can really 'get' almost all of them, too.
When asked to lead any type of prayer/grace/chat/voodoo, I either respond by doing so in a secular fashion with something non-aggressive but steady like "...and I'm really appreciative for the opportunity to give thanks in the way I feel most comfortable.. by mentioning the hard working farmers who grew this food, the truckers that spent long hours away from their families to bring it to us, the scientists at the FDA that made sure it was safe for us to eat...the wonderful country I have that helps make abundance like this possible..but most of all I appreciate my friends and family gathered here today. I encourage us all to give the way we see fit. After all, it's not about how you give thanks, only that you are thankful."
Or, depending on the situation, I just keep quiet.
I won't lie. Sometimes I have to bow my head and close my eyes.
Seeing adults hold hands and chant.. it is so hilarious to me. I can't help it. Sometimes I literally have to close my eyes and think of dead kittens to keep from laughing or giggling.