Well, I went to my fathers church today, where he pastors.


I sorta had to:


I have been living in South Korea for the past 2.5 years, and I came home for the month to visit. My parents have been talking about, and updating all the church people about what and how I have been doing and told everyone there that I'd be in town. I felt pretty obligated to go just to say hello to people and shake a few hands. I do plan on not attending for the rest of the month, but it seemed like I would have been the bad guy if I hadn't attended.


Thing is, my father has been talking about how people are praying for me and basically letting me know in any offhand way that he hasn't "given up" on me yet. I'm sorta annoyed but not as I know where his mind is and I know he means well, but I am annoyed at the fact that he's attempting to validate himself against me by saying the things he does... Anyhow...


Today we had lunch in the park together. We sat at a picnic table, and we were ready to eat. My dad asked me to pray. I was immediately reminded of this thread, and began to think over whether I wanted to pander to my fathers needs, stand up for my own beliefs, or if I was just respecting his wishes. It seems he wanted confirmation that I still had faith, and he was forcing me to admit to it.


I said "uh........."


After around 10 seconds, the longest 10 seconds in my ENTIRE life, my mother spoke up and said to my father "You just do it" and while the tension dissipated, I felt a bit like something was wrong and that my father lost something and my mother wasn't all that thrilled with either of us.


I wonder, should I have been more active in my stand? Did I do it the right way? I know I was NOT about to pray, and I'm actually VERY amazed that he asked me to do it... Either way, I am not 100% sure I handled it right. I think I should have said more than "uh....." but I still have a strong reluctance to be entirely up front to my father.

Views: 121

Comment by Dan Tres OMi on August 7, 2011 at 6:52pm
actually, i feel the onus is on your dad. He put you on the spot WITHOUT asking. If he respects your beliefs as you have shown respect to his beliefs, he should have discussed it with you beforehand. That way you could have told him yes/no and there would not have been a public argument. I think your mom did right by budding in and passing the ball to your dad for everyone's sake. So honestly, I have to call your dad out and say he was being immature about the entire affair.
Comment by Bob MacVay on August 7, 2011 at 6:57pm

Sounds like you owe it to yourself and your father to be completely up front about your thoughts on religion, Explain that you respect his beliefs but you now require him to respect yours. Good luck!

Comment by Scott H on August 7, 2011 at 7:00pm

I'm in a similar situation myself.  I'm not open, however, about my atheism around my parents.  I am with my friends, however.  I guess my thinking is that I can always swap out my friends if they're not comfortable with my non-belief.


As for the prayer thing, is it unreasonable to simply fake it?  I suppose it depends on your relationship with your parents, and whether you want to maintain it, but I would hardly think you were being unfair to your own convictions for simply bowing your head while somebody was praying in order to avoid making waves.  You can think about the football game or whatever, or how silly the praying people around you are.


Being an atheist doesn't mean you need to be a "radical atheist" who wears their non-belief on their sleeve and gets in religious people's face about it at every opportunity.

Comment by Breanne on August 7, 2011 at 7:23pm

I disagree with Scott above me. He wasn't asking him to bow his head, which I'm sure he might have done: He was asking him to speak to someone who he believes was imaginary in front of a group of people. 

Comment by Gordon Wood on August 7, 2011 at 7:57pm

Nothing about what you did (or didn't do) makes you a coward. You showed your father respect by showing up at his church. To react with "Uh..." when you are caught off guard is perfectly fine. Your father was disrespectful to you and you reacted in a perfectly respectful way by not letting him draw you into a discussion you did not want to have. If you have made your views known in the past, there is no need to argue those views every time you are provoked. If you had said a prayer, that would have been the "cowardly" thing to do as it would violate your own views.

Comment by Dustin on August 7, 2011 at 9:24pm

No offense , but your father was completely out of line.  That's like asking your son whom you know is a vegetarian to please eat the first slice of a bleeding rare steak.  I think your reaction was pretty normal ... 'uhhhh' ... you were caught off guard because let's face it.  You weren't expecting such an amazingly strange request if he knows you don't actually believe in God....unless he's in denial.  

Comment by Helena on August 8, 2011 at 12:40am

This is a tough one. I saw a very young girl do this and thought it was an apt solution for you:

as her father started to pray, a little girl grabbed her fathers hand and said "daddy, please don't embarrass me in public, I outgrew fairy stories and think its time you did too"

Comment by Kairan Nierde on August 8, 2011 at 3:55am

I don't think you were cowardly--I think you were caught unprepared in a highly charged situation and froze up.  This is kind of like having a momentous brain fart and then kicking yourself as you're thinking of the perfect thing to say in hindsight.  You just can't be hard on yourself about these episodes because no one is on top of their game 100% of the time.


There will be a better situation for you to express your atheism to your father.  You can bring up this whole kerfaffle and talk about respecting boundaries then too.  I think it'll go better if you're more psyched for the topic and have thought about it before hand.  Good luck. 

Comment by Kairan Nierde on August 8, 2011 at 3:59am

lol btw, I am the queen of brain farts, especially when it comes to controversial and delicate topics.  I feel/felt/will continue to feel your pain!

Comment by Cognizant Psyche on August 8, 2011 at 10:14am

I agree with James (and I absolutely love that prayer, totally ninjaing that btw ^_^), not a coward at all.  We all have to deal with some family member being religious and trying to "save us" despite our objections.  I think most of us would have responded the same way had we'd been caught off guard by someone where the relationship is...complicated.  As Kairan mentioned... it was a Brain Fart.  And no matter what 10 seconds later you’ll be thinking “Hindsight’s a bitch” lol.  We have all been there and will all return.  Best of luck to you. ^_^



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