Before we eat, let us commune with the dead

I’m curious to know what other people do around the holidays when it comes to to praying at meals.  As someone who isn’t particularly religious, I feel as though it would be condescending and or rude to pretend that I buy into someone else’s religious beliefs that I in no way share.  Perhaps because I’m not religious I’m also not fond of the idea of forcing someone to chant an anti-religious or pro-science/evolution blurb before we ate if I was the one who was hosting.

This isn’t so much of an issue at my parents house because as you can imagine they have long since learned that I’m not a fan of faith based logic and don’t hold it against me (or rather forgive me quickly) for not partaking in the prayer.

What about going to a strange place though?  What if the holidays happen to be somewhere you’ve never been and you want to make a good impression.  Is it possible to both make a good impression and stand up for what you believe in without lying to someone in order to stay on their good side?

22 comments

  1. I’m also not religious. I figure that if I’m at someones house then its their rules. By that I mean if they want to bang drums and chant before they eat then that’s up to them but I just stay respectful to their beliefs and mine by being silent.
    So if someone wants to pray and give thanks, I close my eyes and silently thank myself for being civil.

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  2. I live in Belgium and I’ve never prayed at meals and never plan to do it. Religion has just died down so much in this part of the world after the Enlightment etc. Parents would be more upset if you said you were religious than gay in this country.

    As for not partaking in prayers, I went to a Jesuit high school (which sounds more religous than it actually is) and we occasionally (seldom) we had to pray. I never actually said the words as I think it’s total BS and never did a teacher make a remark about it. And even if they did, I’d just say I don’t want to do it and that’s that. Forcing someone to do something religious is just ‘not done’ here.

    You might think this anti-religion attitude is great but it has it’s drawbacks.
    The last years there has been a rise of discrimination against immigrating muslims so they’re often prejudiced even though only a small portion of them are actually fanatic.

    I usually travel inside Europe where the situation is mostly the same so nothing changes but I think it’s possible to make a good impression without praying as most people care about your personality and attitude, not your religous beliefs. Unless you decide to dine in the middle of the headquarters of Hamas.

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  3. Well, you don’t have to be praying, necessarily, at Thanksgiving. Many families which have no particular religion simply just meditate and exhibit gratefulness.

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  4. I usually just go with the ‘when in rome’ idea. I am not religious at all, but not hateful of people that are either. It’s sort of a situation where I think just being honest with people, but not offensive, is the best route. I have to deal with prayers before EVERYTHING where I live, which I kinda accepted was going to happen when I moved to South Carolina. It’s all fine and dandy, and I don’t mind holding a hand or bowing my head in respect of other people’s beliefs, but I don’t say an amen and certainly wouldn’t give a prayer myself. I would stand up for myself in that situation because as I am respectful of other people’s beliefs, I expect them to be respectful of mine.

    I would hope it wouldn’t become a dinner table debate, though as the host I’d probably just make it a point to change the subject. Unless you burned the turkey… Did you burn the turkey Waldodude? If so you’re fucked. good luck. lol

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  5. I go to my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving and they are pretty religious. My grandfather always says a little blurb about being grateful for everything we have and then goes into a short (2-3 line) prayer. I just sit there in silence then follow er up with a quick “Amen”. I don’t believe in god or in religion in general and neither does my father but I guess I just think it is more polite to say “Amen” then not say anything at all.

    I guess you are alluding to the fact that you will be going to a household that is religious for Thanksgiving. If you are someone who doesn’t make a big fuss about religion, which is what I understood from your post, then if everyone else there is big into religion just throw out an “Amen” at the end of the prayer. You don’t have to if you don’t want people to think there is a chance you are religious but really what’s the harm? It’s not like they are going to ask you to join their church. If they do, then just tell them straight up that you don’t believe in religion and sorry if they got that impression.

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  6. RIP in peace, Jesus.

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  7. Roland:
    RIP in peace, Jesus.

    Spill my drank 4 da dead homie

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  8. The first time I met my girlfriends family was thanksgiving last year, thus trying to give off a good impression I jumped through every hoop, from holding hands with everyone kumbaya style and listening to a 6 minute grace, to eating overcooked mashed potatoes, cold turkey and some type of unknown white casserole, but I complemented the food tossed some pigskin with her racist father and made awkward small talk all day.

    When it comes to in laws and prayers just take one to the gut.

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  9. I’m not from America (I’m Canadian), but thankfully nobody in my family is overtly religious to the point where they make us sing Oh lordy, lordy, lordy. Instead we see Thanksgiving as a family get together (only about 8-10 family members who live in immediate area around us).

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  10. just try not to be that guy who inevitably coughs during a moment of silence before any major sporting event

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  11. FYI, I think ‘Murica is the only country that does this.

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  12. I try to avoid prayer if possible but if it cant be avoided i normally just play along so not to offend anybody.

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  13. By sheer coincidence, I just read this post a few days after finishing Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”. I’ve finally realised being hypocritcal isn’t being respectful. It’s just being hypocritcal.

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  14. @Andy

    If you are invited to someone else’s house, you should follow their customs. It is a bit different with family, but it still should apply.

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  15. If the gathering is not being held under my roof and I didn’t provide the meal… I think it’s just proper manners to be polite, stay classy, and make an effort not to offend the host(s)’ by demeaning their beliefs. My time to make a moral stand was before I entered into their home. Otherwise show up “fashionably late” after the meal has already begun.

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  16. I am in no way religious. I do believe that, if in the stay of another person’s home, you should be respectful of that person’s culture or religion. It isn’t a matter of taking those beliefs on as your own, it is a matter of respecting your host’s beliefs. I think it’s only proper to do so. It doesn’t mean your selling out your own opinions in the least. It’s simply recognizing that you’re currently a guest and should allow your host the proper respect they deserve for hosting you. Part of that respect entails respecting their religion and culture. It doesn’t mean you’re chugging back their koolaid. It’s about being able to be courteous enough to put your beliefs aside, just long enough to show respect for the religion and culture of those in your presence.

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  17. Coming from a believer, I pray because I’m thankful for everything that’s happened. Whether it be the big man up there or for my loving family. Honestly for me, when the whole family all comes together that time around and we get that split second of silence and grace, it makes coming home worth while. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving Waldo.

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  18. I think about it this way: should I end up eating with a family that is from a country where you burp after you eat to thank the cook, then I will do it. This follows with every other custom, including prayer (even if my family cannot accept that I am not religious and tries to rub it in my face at every corner). I feel as it is polite and just better in general to go along with what is their custom, as I am their guest.

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  19. I always just bow my head and hold hands and not say anything. It’s better than making a pointless awkward moment.

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  20. iPotatoes:
    I always just bow my head and hold hands and not say anything. It’s better than making a pointless awkward moment.

    I do the same just don’t tell my family, My aunt hates me enough for not sharing a stupid image on Facebook.

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  21. I dont fucking pray and im not going to pray just because other people at the holiday do. Fuck that shit. I just wait until they are done with my eyes wide fucking open, then again no one really gives a shit that I dont partake.

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  22. omg so i was at thanksgiving this year and my mom’s boyfriend said a prayer. I was like wat??? and he was making us hold hands and stuff, so me and my bro we were lookin at each other like wat??? Then the big mistake slipped out of my mouth??? whoops. but anyways i(qoute) “I pray that jesus lets us start this fucking meal soon cuz I’m hungry” :) Jesus didn’t say nothin but everyone else looked at me like wat???

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