If I can arrange to be in the next room when prayer time comes up and it won't cause a problem, I'll do that, but if I get caught at the table and someone decides to offer a prayer, I go ahead and link hands, but make sure to keep my head up and my eyes open so that anyone who cares to look knows that I'm just being polite, not participating.
There have been a couple of occasions when I knew that most of the people at the table were not religious, so when the one religious person said something like, "Aren't we going to pray?" I was able to shut it down with a comment like, "Yeah, that's not really something we do as a group."
I always linked hands and pretended to pray until my late teens, when I started to keep my eyes open and head up, too. Most of my family members do not know I don't believe in their fairy tales. I've been curious for a while now how many other atheists are in the closet with their families.
Do you pretend to pray with the rest of your family before meals during the holidays?
- Nope. My parents and siblings are not religious. My mother believes that there is something out there. My father passively believes in "the big man upstairs." And I'm pretty sure both of my brothers are atheists. Thanksgiving at my families house is about enjoying a meal and time together.
My extended family on the other hand is very religious. Strangely enough, despite being very religious and extremely conservative me being atheist hasn't been a problem. They don't like that I'm an atheist but they haven't felt the need to reject me because of that. Whenever I visit them I just sit back politely and wait for them to pray then dig in when everyone else does.
You are fortunate to not have a religiously religious immediate family! My husband's family isn't religious and doesn't pray before meals and it has been a breath of fresh air for me, because most of my family has always been the types to pray and I found it annoying to have to passively participate just to keep the peace.
I never pray, no matter where I'm at. I try to not be completely rude about it, but I'm definitely not passive and I won't even go through the motions to be polite, and if asked I will always say exactly why I'm not participating and what I think of the whole thing. I have quite a few religious family members, so it has come up quite a bit, and while I really don't like upsetting them, I just can't bring myself to pretend to respect their imaginary friend.
When hosting holidays myself when religious family members are present, I've always countered prayer with telling whoever prayed that they can definitely eat the food that god prepared for them, if that's what they're so damned thankful for, but I have no idea where that food may be, and thanking god for food that I purchased and prepared is rude... That probably sounds a bit harsh, but it's true and I don't have a lot of patience for nonsense in my house.
I can understand why some people want to hide their atheism from their family, but it's never been something I wanted to do. I think religious people trying to shame and threaten others into hiding their lack of belief is pathetic, and allowing them to do it doesn't help anyone. I have no sympathy for them being made uncomfortable by having to see that there are people who do not drink their religious Kool-Aid. I've lost contact with a few family members and former friends because of my lack of belief, but I honestly don't miss them.
You are awesome. I wish I had the strength to let my real thoughts on the whole thing be made evident at family affairs. I'm tired of pretending. It's extremely difficult to feel close to people who don't share your views on major issues, because if there are any subjects you avoid talking about it puts a wall between you and them. It's natural to feel closest to those you can talk about anything with. I don't like that my family members don't really know me, but if I stopped pretending and made it clear why it would stir up something that I don't think I'm ready to deal with.
I don't pray, and I don't pretend to pray.
If my mum drags me to a church (fortunately she lives on the otehr side of the planet so it does not happen often, maybe once in 5 years) sure, I'll stick around because she'd get mad if I dropped her off there and came to pick her back an hour later. It's always packed with old people there, and I guess I'm the only one who does not give a rat's a$$ and does not pray or pretend to pray either.
I'm always amazed about all the bible talk in the church, like about all the sacrificial lambs' blood in the ancient Israel. How do they think that would be of any relevance to today's world?
I know, right? I think they see those stories as relevant in today's world as metaphorical stories, which is how different interpretations come into play, of course.
Interesting that her church is full of old people, because I tried to join an atheist meet-up group in Los Angeles when I lived there, but they were all old people! I was like, wtf? The one I joined was mostly people over 50, but there were a few younger members. We (the young members) had our theories why this would be. Mine: it takes the closeted atheists a long time to be comfortable coming out, and they probably wait until their parents are dead, in some cases.
Although my immediate family is not religious, my partner's family are. Whenever they join hands to pray before a meal I would usually play along but only as far as the hand joining was concerned. I usually just look around the room while everyone else has their eyes closed and is in player.
It's definitely more difficult being truthful about religious views with a partner's family! Yikes! We all want to be on their good side, and it would feel awkward asserting yourself in that situation.
My family never says grace... on christmas all we do as a family is give gifts...