Grudgingly, I have to give a reading at my parents wedding vow renewal mass

One of my brothers knows I'm an atheist (though he probably thinks it's a 'phase'), and my sister probably has a good idea that I am.  I am not looking to ruffle any feathers, but I am kind of annoyed that I am being asked to walk up to the altar, bow, and lead the recessional prayer.  For the uninitiated, this means I will say after each prayer offering "let us pray" and everyone will respond "lord hear our prayer", as Catholic drones are wont to do.

My parents seem to have no idea that I'm an atheist, although I'm sure they know I haven't gone to mass in a decade or more.  My Mom once asked if I believed in angels or demons and I laughed and said "No, I do not."  She then asked if I believe in the Devil, I just said something like "No but I believe that a lot of shitty things happen to good people."  She stopped short of asking if I believe in god, maybe because she didn't want to hear the answer.  BTW it would probably crush her since I went to 17 years of catholic school, and she uses the fake word "prayerfully" in place of "hopefully".  Example: "I woke up with a little head cold today, prayerfully it will go away before the barbeque this weekend."

So as I said, I don't want to bring any drama to my parents 50th wedding anniversary, which is obviously a HUGE deal and something I'm very happy about and proud of, so I am just going to grin and bear it; but at the same time I wish I had a way out of this.  Maybe this sore throat/cough I have had will turn into full fledged laryngitis by tomorrow?  Maybe I'll go to karaoke tonight and sing a lot of Led Zeppelin til my voice disappears? Flying Spaghetti Monster, please let it be so.

Just venting...thanks



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Comment by erik112358 on July 2, 2011 at 1:51am

Richard Dawkins has some insight here:

At a lunch party I was placed next to a well-known female rabbi, now ennobled.  She asked me, somewhat belligerently, whether I said grace when it was my turn to do so at High Table dinner in my Oxford college.  "Yes," I replied, "Out of
simple good manners and respect for the medieval traditions of my college."  She
attacked me for hypocrisy, and was not amused when I quoted the great
philosopher A J (Freddy) Ayer, who also was quite happy to recite the grace at
the same college when he chanced to be Senior Fellow: "I will not utter
falsehoods", said Freddy genially, "But I have no objection to making
meaningless statements."



Comment by Atheist Exile on July 2, 2011 at 3:50am
If it were me in your place, i would tell your parents that I'm an atheist but would gladly set that aside if they really think I'm the best or only choice for the reading.

They sound like lovely people, so I wouldn't be surprised if they respected your position and nominated somebody else for the chore . . . I mean, honor.

Or, at least -- that's the way it plays out in my head :-)
Comment by J. Ratzinger on July 2, 2011 at 5:31am

You know that there are no gods listening to whatever prayers you will say in service to your parents on their special day, but your parents will be listening, so I could not agree more with the advice of @andyinsdca when he says that it is alright to do as you are bid by those parents who have given so much to you.


Do it, and do it gladly for them, without concern for yourself. You are not a Muslima, or a Hindu, or some other kind of faither, so it is not as if you will be offending whatever gods you believe in when you do this loving act for your parents. It will be an easy and rather meaningless task for the others to say the words, because they, the many, will be believers, but you will be the one who is more devotional to your parents because you will be putting aside your own vexations for the greater good of your good Mother, and your good Father who you wish to honor at this special time.


Pleased do not do as some here would have you do, and befoul this day for your parents. You will never have the chance to redo it or make it right with them, so please do it for them, and take your atheist grievances elsewhere at some later time without foisting them upon your parents on this day of reaffirmation for them.


Led Zepplin, the Spagehetti Monster, and I will approve of your love and devotion to your parents!!

Comment by Tex in the City on July 2, 2011 at 7:48am

Thanks for all the tips, everybody.  I especially like the funny bit about uttering meaningless statements.  That's basically how I feel.

I'm definitely going to do the reading, and I won't smirk or make any comments. It really is no skin off my back, and the most important thing is that my parents enjoy their day.  It felt good to rant for a couple minutes, and it's nice to see so many people on TA interested in helping and giving advice.

And for those who are asking, there is a party to follow - and I'm looking forward to that!

Comment by Dustin on July 2, 2011 at 4:03pm
Oh ... well , if your parents don't know you're an atheist or that this will bother you to any serious degree , You should probably inform them you are an Atheist and that you don't feel comfortable doing it. Wouldn't the truth be better?

I wouldn't of course do anything crazy at the ceremony ... if you agree to do it ahead of time that is.


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