Edit:Problem is solved, but feel free to reply with any opinions.***



On christmas I told my mom that I wasn't going to pray when it was time for dinner. She respectfully said "That's fine", and went on with her day. When it was time to eat she made everyone hold hands, I said "I'm not praying" she said "You don't have to, but hold hands". I refused and everyone at the table started to glare at me, then start yelling at me till I caved in. 


I know it's not technically praying if I hold hands, but it still feels like I'm partaking in an activity that I don't want to be apart of. I don't have a problem with them praying, let them do what they want, but don't make me do join you. And I know this is going to sound completely trivial to a lot of people, but it's still the fucking concept. I mean christians wouldn't hold hands with Muslims to pray, so why should they expect me to do the same? I know my sister just goes along with it (She's an atheist as well), and some of you might. But for what reasons should I HAVE to?


When I approached my mother afterwards I merely said "Why did you make me do that, why did you make me pray?". She got hostile towards me, even though my tone was normal. She responded with "You weren't praying, and if you don't want to take part in this family then you can go sit in the corner". I just stopped talking about it after that, I feel like I've just been pressured into something that makes me feel uncomfortable (even if it is a very small issue). 


So should I show resistance and go sit in a corner next time this happens, or should I follow the way of the sheep? 



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I've been there as well. Like Neal, I have held hands to avoid offending the crowd, but didn't bow my head or pray to anything... My wife has gotten to where she'll open her eyes to check on what I'm doing during a prayer. She used to say that I should at least pretend to take part. All the while, I'm thinking "I'm pretending to take part by not causing a scene."
Wow, you really created a scene and during a holiday dinner.  Your mom did say that you did not have to pray, I would've just held hands.  I do at family dinners where the majority of people are Christian, I simply don't bow my head and politely wait for the ritual to be done.  That being said, if you object to holding hands and participating in prayers on any level you could be more tactful.  Stating "I'm not praying" at a family event invites argument, you could've just said "excuse me, I'll be back in a minute go ahead with the prayer without me."  For next Christmas you could prepare your mom, tell her how you really feel uncomfortable joining in and that it goes against your beliefs, say that you mean no disrepect and ask to stay in another room until the prayer is over.  My husband's cousin did this the first year he became atheist, noone even noticed he was gone.  He now just holds hands and we grin at eachother in agreement of how annoyed we are at all the god praising.

I don't think he created a scene. The rest of them created a scene.


Why should atheists be so careful not to offend, polite, apologetic and respectful when they are not?


Maybe you should drop the attitude and just be a part of your family.  It sounds like they respect your decision to not pray.  Why push the issue by being so obstinate about it?  So what?  You have to hold hands and be respectfully silent during the prayer?  Big deal.  This is your family.  Holding their hands and indulging them a little should not be a big issue and it is not a sacrifice of your ideals or principles. 

Drop the attitide?

Who the hell do you think you are?

I would say that the ones with an attitude are his family.


You may be right. Just conform. That would be the easiest... Like the people who conformed when the Nazis invaded.

He obvioulsy doesn't want to do that otherwise he wouldn't have taken the trouble to ask us for advice.


They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Holding hands with your family is hardly the same as standing up to the Nazis, but I am of the opinion that it is time to speak up. The USA has been all but destroyed by these right wing christians.Bronson is in a position to stop the same thing happening in Canada - well in his house, at least.


I think you should politely speak up, Bronson.

Something like "Sorry mum, I don't believe in that stuff any more. You go ahead, but I'm going to sit this one out".

If she causes a scene, well... perhaps she just needs to calm down, but that is not Bronson's responsibilty, it's hers.

And he can continue to love her in spite of her asenine nonsense.

Good point! - fair enough! haha!

I could have just said "slippery slope", but I hate that expression.





haha OK, OK

It was a crap argument! I admit it!


However, just look how far these christians have taken over in the USA. It is very difficult to get into a political office withuot saying that you are a christian. I understand that atheists are made to feel like pariahs.

OK, it's not quite as bad as exterminating tens of milions of people, they are up to about a million in Iraq if you believe some figures. And they have invaded just as many countries as the Nazis...


So laugh all you want... It's a "slippery slope", that's all I'm saying and it needs to be nipped in the bud, not just conformed to.

However I retract my dumbass analogy!

Give them an inch and they'll take a mile - is that better? haha!

I think you are on the right track.  Your suspicions that you have stumbled onto something very revealing about religion are correct.  Religion is groupthink; it is the herd mentality left over from our evolutionary history.


Because it is such a deep-seated impulse, however, you have to be careful in how you approach it.  There is a time and a place and, even more important, effective things you might say or do and counterproductive things you might say or do.


For instance, when your mom said that if you don't want to be part of this family, then go sit in the corner, you might have said:  "Are you telling me that enforcing the appearance of religious conformity is more important to you than your own son?"  Or:  "You would disown your own son because he doesn't want to be a hypocrite (or dishonest)?"  "Is your belief so fragile that you can't tolerate those who don't believe--even your own son."


If that doesn't wake her up to what she is saying and doing, nothing will. 


You have to prepare yourself for the possibility that she will answer in the affirmative and that, in fact, nothing will wake her up from her lifelong delusional trance.  People have done far worse in the name of religious conformity than making their children sit in the corner--or even disowning them.


That being said, generally, if I am in someone else's house or a building owned by a religious organization and there is prayer going on, I don't make a fuss.  I do the minimal amount necessary to avoid confrontation.


If, however, I know that they don't usually pray and are doing it simply because I am there, then I consider it an overt act of bullying.  In such cases, I will usually make it a point to avoid them and their home in the future.  Such bullying is nothing but extreme rudeness.



I agree. Be honest about what you are and are not willing to do. Accept the consequences without judgment or resentment, and perhaps you can be an example to the rest of us.

Personally, I don't think it's right that your mother can't respect your wishes.  You should not have to cater to her need to lie to herself that you are not an atheist and that you are (in her mind as she allows) actually praying.  She knows it's wrong to reprimand you for your choice to not believe in prayer, but she clearly shows through her actions that she cannot respect your wishes and will never respect them until you and her have it out.  It's always going to be this way.   Either assert yourself or allow her to mock your dignity.  It's easy to say "oh just let it be and make your mother happy"...and if that's what you want, then disregard my advice and continue on the way you have.  It's an interesting notion that your desire to keep your hands in your personal space, while others wish to violate your wish to be excluded from what is purely a spiritual practice that you were forced to join despite your falsely "respected" wish not to, somehow got turned around into you not wishing to "be a part of the family."  I like how your mother used GUILT to assert herself and assume your acquiescence to her 'loving' motherly will.  Say, if you are into having other people control you with guilt, why be an Atheist?  After all, if you can't stand up against the very crap you're trying to rise above, then why fight it?  If you can't beat em, join em?  Hell no bro.   I am crossing my fingers that you find a way to co-exist with your mother and earn her respect for your actual choices and not the perverted version of your decisions she mutates in her mind to make herself feel better.  I love my mom too man....  But you are grown enough to have respect.  That includes your mother's respect.
Yeah I mean I'm not bothered by them praying at all, and I wouldn't force them to hold my hands if I praised and worshipped Satan. Thanks for the advice, I'll see if I can get her to see it in a different frame of light.

No.  The importance of this issue is captured succinctly in his mother's words:  "If you don't want to be part of this family..."


Public prayer is ALWAYS about bullying and enforcing conformity by sending a message that conformity is required to be a part or that particular community.


This, my friend, is the beginning of intolerance.  And, we all know where it ends.


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