I study in a christian University and it is very common to get picked on by a lecturer to pray for the class before any given lecture commences. I havent been as unfortunate as to be chosen to lead "brethren" into a word of prayer but am sure a day will finally come when am picked out. So fellow thinkers, any ideas on how to go about it if the day comes? What reason can you give a lecturer whose age tripples yours, why you can not pray, and not sound like you are disrespecting him? suggestions highly welcome

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There are three main reasons that atheists go to a Christian college or university.
1. The quality of education
2. They were still a Christian when they chose the school.
3. Parents made them go to a Christian School.
There may be other reasons, but those are the main ones that I have heard. As for myself, it is a combination of all three.

not to mention that some may go based on the financial aid offered to them by a xtian school...

2 and 3 were my reasons.

I began studying religion in a christian school because I wanted to be a minister.

In the course of studies I became and Atheist and tacked philosophy onto my major. I could still go in to the ministry if I so desired I guess. But I don't desire so.

1 and 2 are the reasons

Most educated Christians I have met are able to accept disagreement, in fact they are quite often respectful of those who do not share their opinion. I would apologize and request that he appoints someone else, as you are not a Christian and do not wish to affront their beliefs by falsely participating in their rituals.

Tough situation.  I agree that you should first look into what obligations you have to the university as a student there.  I say this because, the practice of calling on people as opposed to asking for volunteers makes it seem more like a requirement of class attendance than a choice for those who wish to pray.  However, you also state that it is common, which implies that it is not universal (e.g. not all lecturers in all classes follow this procedure).  You need to ascertain if this is just a cultural practice or a formal policy for the university at large.  If it's a formal policy and you still have an issue with it, then you may need to take that up with the university admin as opposed to the lecturers to see what your choices are.  If it is a cultural practice of certain lecturers, then I suggest privately approaching each lecturer to let them know that it is your preference to not be called on to lead the prayer.  I'd say that your reasons for this are your own personal matters, and that you shouldn't feel obligated to explain why.  Easier said than done, but if you remain calm, stay polite and consistent, and stick to the issue of mutual respect (rather than personal beliefs and who's right or wrong), you should be better off for it.  Good luck!

Simply say "I don't believe in prayer and I would feel intellectually dishonest if I was to pretend I did. No disrespect intended, but I don't share your faith."

Remain silent. Don’t say anything. Don’t explain why you won’t start the prayers. Don’t even shrug your shoulders. Just look blankly over his head as if you cannot hear him or understand the meaning of what you are being asked. If he or any students ask you what you were doing or why you would not pray say nothing but adopt the same blank expression. Never explain to them what you are doing. Then continue as normal with everything else – as if nothing happened – which of course it didn’t. Never explain it – never complain about it.

If chosen, start singing the alphabet song, or counting, or ordering a big mac meal and try to get onion rings instead of fries (which McDonalds doesn't have), Even better, start your prayer by listing all the gods you know in alphabetical order and pray to them one by one.

Guarantee you'll only be asked once.

On a more serious note. Don't wait for him to call you, go to him after your next class and let him know you're not exactly personally comfortable with praying in public. You don't need to give him a reason unless he asks, and if he does all you need to say is that it's something concerning religion. Be honest, but sadly in this case I think you must be somewhat evasive if you want to stay "under cover", so if he pries just say something like "I like to keep my prayer life private." Yes you do not have a "prayer life" but that's why it's private... right? Basically what you want is to give him just the right amount of information to deduce that you are seriously not okay with praying in public, but to deduce nothing else at all.

Perhaps use an argument against prayer I like. "I do not wish to pray because God is all-knowing and has already formed his unchanging, perfect plan. When praying, asking for something that comes to pass serves no purpose because he was already going to provide it. Asking for something you end up not receiving is presumptuous and arrogant. You are asking God to change the aforementioned plan. I do not dare attempt to tell him how to go about his business." Or something along those lines. Use their "virtue" of God-fearing as the Achilles heel it is truly. Btw, I think you have just convinced me there is a hell, an atheist at a Christian "university." Bet there's a superb science department.

Play the game or stand up for the truth and deal with the consequences, but first weight the Pro's and Con's.  What are you in this University for in the first place?  Whatever it is, keep the goal in mind and do what you need to, to reach that goal.  If Sheep's clothing get's you thru the herd to the exit at the other side of the pasture, you're still a Wolf and you can throw off the Sheep's skin now that you no longer need it.

Why make your Academic life harder then it needs to be?

Shucks I'll forgive you for 'going along to get along', if that makes you feel better about blowing smoke up their ass to get to your goal.

Enjoy life, you only get the one.


You're in an unusual situation. I would probably try to say something like "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable with that" and just let everyone assume you're shy. If that doesn't work, I'd just go ahead and do a short, generic prayer. Think about what you'd say beforehand, so you have something in mind and can wrap it up quickly. You don't have to impress your fellow atheists by taking some pointless stand in a classroom -- we don't have some kind of dogma you'd be betraying. Get it over with, get on with your life, and forget it. You know you don't believe it, and it's not a life-or-death situation, so who cares?


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