It doesn't offend me when people say it, because its almost lost religious significance (Unless they put God in front of it), but I don't say it to others, I say Gesundheit.
On a side note: Didn't the word 'goodbye' originate as the phrase "God be with You"? (I may be wrong on this). But its completely lost its religious meaning today.
This or that the devil was trying to steal your soul through your sneeze, so you needed protection.
That's why I don't like "bless you." It serves no purpose. People say it's "polite" to say it when someone sneezes, but why? The devil isn't stealing my soul. I don't say "salud" when someone farts. I'd don't say or acknowledge "bless you" because it's a mindless vestigial saying that has no purpose.
I've actually never associated it with religion. It's just a saying now, like Christmas is just a holiday.
I like our wacky superstitions. They add depth and colour to my life.
Today is Thor's day (Thursday), in the month of Janus (January) on a planet wedged between Venus and Mars.
"Herculean task" means difficult and a mix of genetically mixed tissue is a Chimera.
Phases like "God bless you" are no more offensive to me than "touch wood" (harking back to pagan mythology avoiding bad luck via tree spirits). In fact, it's not that I'm not offended - these peculiar phrases brighten my day.
When my children go to bed, I say "good night God bless" (although it comes out as "G'night g'bless"). It's just an expression (in our house).
If I say "Hi Guys" in the back of my mind is the etymology of "Guy". I don't worry that I am suggesting my colleagues are Catholic terrorists.
As atheists let us celebrate these idiosyncrasies.
They are linguistic milestones that show us how far we've come.
"God bless you" is another of the quaint phrases. To purge our language would be DOUBLEPLUS BAD.
I feel slightly offended when people say "GOD bless you" but it doesn't really bother me, because how would they know?
Unless they DO know and say it anyway. Then that's just rude.
And you don't have to say thank you. When people say Merry Christmas to me I say "yeaaa....Reasons Greetings." So I couldn't hold your lack of gratitude against you! Haha
Yeah, its a funny one. I'm from the UK where it's always "bless you" (nobody ever says "gesundheit" or puts "God" in front of "bless you"), but even as a Christian I used to say something like, "thanks - that was a close one, my soul nearly escaped that time!". A few people ask what you mean, but I was always surprised how many other people also knew the origin of the phrase and would then laugh with you at such a ridiculous idea. Think about it; how many people today - Christian or not - really say "bless you" because they are worried your soul will escape to the devil if they don't?! It's purely a cultural habit.
I live in the Netherlands and here it's "gezondheid" meaning health, same as German. I think that's also what most people saying "bless you" would say they mean - that they wish you well and hope you aren't coming down with pneumonia or something terrible...