Sometimes when I'm not feeling particularly snarky, I just say "Gesundheit" or "please cover your mouth", or my personal fave, "Bob bless you!"
But I do tend to get offended more often than not, and like someone else has already said, depending on my mood, I usually reply kind of snarky, "You have the power to bless people?! Man, you should take that show on the road and make some money. People pay big bucks to get blessings from a god!"
I get a lot of wide-eyed stares, I get told I'm going to hell, to which I reply right back by saying something like "You have the power to send people to hell too?! Seriously! Take that show on the road, you could make millions and be just like Benny Hinn!"
But there are a lot of things that religious people say to me that seriously annoys and offends me to no end, I live in the south, part of the constantly whipping bible belt, so even just going to the grocery store can end up being an hour of hearing all kinds of religious things said to me.
I've had major back surgery and during the recovery months having to wear back and neck braces, I heard all kinds of religious things said to me by both customers and store employees.
I hate it when people say they are praying for me
They added my name to their churches weekly prayer list
The lord works in mysterious ways
god gave you a miracle!
Just look at how god's love has placed these blessings in your life
god loves you even if you don't love him
Let go and let god
Trust in him to heal you and he will
and so on and on.
I know that getting offended by these things and saying something back just perpetuates the "angry atheist" stereotype, but I don't go around randomly saying my personal beliefs or lack there of, to total strangers in the frozen foods aisle, so I don't appreciate it when total strangers say their beliefs to me while I'm trying to buy food to feed my family and I let out a sneeze.
I know that it's become, to a lot of people, just a cultural thing, that most people don't even stop to think about it, or don't even have any religious tone behind it, but just because something has become cultural, doesn't mean that I, or any other atheist, has to put up with it.
Culture has allowed people to say very offensive things to and about people for many years, and only with telling people that it's not acceptable, that culture can change.
For many, many years, it was totally acceptable and part of culture, to call black people ni**ers, and only through saying it's not acceptable, was it changed.
Do I equate calling blacks ni**ers the same thing as saying god bless you?
No, but again, just because something is culturally acceptable doesn't mean that it's ok to do.
Someone else said that you need to pick your battles.
Where I live, the things that I posted are what I have to battle on an almost daily basis when I walk out my front door, so yes, it's a battle that I have fight if you can even call it a fight.
This is too funny because my coworkers (all women) all talk about how I playfully ask not to be blessed when I sneeze. I have desert allergies so I sneeze 20 times a day at work. I tell them I prefer "fuck you" to "bless you". But that hasn't caught on well except for with 1 girl. There was a definitive time, about 7 years ago, I was in a room full of Atheists. There were maybe 250 people so sneezes were audible. Nobody said "bless you" and I knew, "These are my people". I'd found out that it started because people thought a sneeze was your soul trying to escape and possibly being intercepted by the devil in the process. I thought, "That is the most ridiculous thing". I had just watched the Seinfeld episode where Jerry put his foot down about kissing hello. So I did the same with "bless you". It was all in fun. But I totally enjoy it and it's a good conversation starter. And frankly, some people think I'm serious about it. Those people are always judgmental and uptight Christians. Really. So it's an effective litmus test for people I don't need to invest energy into. I'm glad I saw this blog. I didn't LOL but I did do a little nasal giggle. And ya know what? I nearly sneezed... "Fuck me".
I tell them I prefer "fuck you" to "bless you". But that hasn't caught on well except for with 1 girl.
That's funny. I sometimes tell my partner, jokingly, to 'shut up' or 'fuck off' when she sneezes... Always good shock value. And she's gotten me back, too. But I've never thought of suggesting that to others...
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.