Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

How do you feel about people who make their religous stand really, really obvious, even it it's sure to offend, or even hurt other people?

Asked by Dutchess_III (36388points) May 20th, 2014

At my husband’s family reunions they always hold hands and say a prayer before we eat. I’m an agnostic so it isn’t really important to me, but out of respect for the people who it is important to, I quietly participate. Also, there are always 1 or 2 folks who passed since the last reunion and most of the prayer revolves around them. There is often some quiet sniffling from family members closest to the deceased.

At the last reunion I happened to glance up, briefly, in the middle of the prayer, and there was some guy standing there, rigid, with his head up, and his eyes wide open, and this set, determined look on his face. He almost looked angry. I thought “You asshole. What point are you trying to make with such a blatant display of disrespect and rudeness?”

It would be different if he was just standing quietly, but he had to set up his body language in such away that it almost shouted out his disapproval.

What are people like that trying to prove?

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45 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

What were you doing looking up at him then? : ) I participate in those things also out of respect….I guess but it’s probably more out of not really wanting to stir things up. I do get tired of the lack of respect religious people have for those who are not. We’re not going to “hell” so they just need to get over their hateful attitude.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am about as Atheist as they come, but out of respect for the company I will always take the polite approach and: hold hands / take off my shoes / bow / sit on an elephant / light an incense stick / (fill in the blank) to match the traditions of the host. It costs nothing and does not change my belief system a whit. I am not worried that a religion germ will infect me while my guard is down.

My Mom taught me how to be polite.

JLeslie's avatar

I also comply with whatever the host wants to do. It’s their house, and if they want to say grace before dinner holding hands, then I just go along. If someone doesn’t bow their head, I don’t think it is a big deal, because all those who are religious don’t see it. Their head is down. I don’t see any reason for the person to be annoyed as you described, but maybe he was just uncomfortable? I used to be uncomfortable in similar situations, because it was so unfamiliar to me, but now it doesn’t bother me.

If someone tries to force a prayer at my house then I find that pretty presumptuous. That has happened on only a couple occasions, and I went along, but I think it is obnoxious. It has happened while out at dinner with freinds also, and I go along with it, but I find it odd.

I don’t love the idea of holding hands, because I have a little bit of a germ thing. Not so extreme that I won’t hold hands or shake hands, but right before I eat I prefer not to.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me LOL! I don’t know what caused me to look up, but he was right in front of me.
Reminds me of a story from when I was a kid. My mom, dad, me and two younger sisters were sitting around the dining table, saying prayers. After they were over my youngest sister said, “LEXY HAD HER EYES OPEN!”
My dad said, “And how do you know she had her eyes open, Becky?” :D

@LuckyGuy Nicely put. Following traditions foreign to me isn’t going to change my belief system a bit. I wonder if the guy was trying to change everyone elses belief system by his defiant (albeit quiet) display of defiance? Or was he just expressing his opinion that we’re all idiots?

syz's avatar

I sit quietly. I don’t bow my head or close my eyes or hold hands. I respect someone else’s right to pray, and I expect them to respect my right not to. And if it’s too obnoxious (or it’s not family), then I don’t spend time with them.

ragingloli's avatar

You should be just as angry, if not more so, at the people praying openly as you are at the guy just standing there.
But alas, double standard.

Blondesjon's avatar

I had the same Mom as @LuckyGuy.

Great answer, sir.

livelaughlove21's avatar

What @syz and @ragingloli said. GAs for both of you.

If your eyes had been closed, which you seem to think is an essential part of prayer, then you wouldn’t have seen him or his body language. MYOB. :)

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yeah, I don’t understand the whole “if you respect me, you’ll do what I do” thing either. If they respect me, they’ll understand that I don’t feel less empathy for their loss just because my eyes are open. Sheesh.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That was covered in the first couple of posts @livelaughlove21. I’m an agnostic. There is no such thing as an “essential part of prayer,” to me.

Before this turns into “They don’t respect him!” No one said a word to the guy. Nothing.

Mariah's avatar

Yeah I guess I also don’t really see how not participating in prayer is any more of a pushy religious stand than participating in prayer is.

But I’m like you, although I don’t believe I’ll bow my head and feign it because I don’t really want to stand out or draw attention to my lack of beliefs in those settings.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It wasn’t a simple lack of participation….his whole body language was just screaming disgust with the proceedings. He couldn’t have been more obvious than if he’d yelled something out in the middle of it all. Guess he reads FB too much.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Some people are so afraid to give any quarter as to make the entity being prayed for real. To even go along out of respect is lessening him to one of those ”nit wits” believing in a myth. The question to ask, if he was at another event and something was being done that had no supernatural component but against his belief would he go along with it, or be just as deviant?

Mariah's avatar

I mean, isn’t it similarly religiously pushy to assume everyone present is comfortable with praying in the first place though?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think it’s just a general assumption. Many, many of the people there were 70+. Those people are deferred to. I’m sure things will slowly change as new generations replace old.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “Some people are so afraid to give any quarter as to make the entity being prayed for real. To even go along out of respect is lessening him to one of those ”nit wits” believing in a myth.”

Well, in fairness, you do the same thing every time someone posts the word “god” on Fluther without a capital “g.” You pretend you don’t even know what we’re talking about as if it will protect you from getting the slightest stink of atheism on you. So that has to be a kind of dynamic that you understand.

Crazydawg's avatar

It is a shame praying for some has a religious and negative connotation. Praying for me is a positive affirmation in the form of a prayer. When an Atheist wishes or makes a positive affirmation it may not seem like a prayer but it is no different than a prayer of sorts. I respect most religions but have to draw the line though when someone intrudes into my space and begins some religious act or service that I did not approve of.

longgone's avatar

It depends on where I am.
I went to a catholic church a few months ago, for a memorial service. I did what everyone else did, minus the believing. I don’t go barging into churches just to upset people – that’s like going over to your neighbour’s house just to tell him you dislike his furniture.

If I’m on neutral territory, I don’t feel obligated to close my eyes or even bow my head when someone says a prayer. Prayers are just words. I’m not going to give them power I don’t believe they should have.

@Dutchess_III “Guess he reads FB too much.”

Can you explain what you meant by that? Do you think the guy was annoyed at religious posts on FB?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think many of the things we rant about now, like breast feeding in public and this whole religion thing, has been given far too much attention, and blown so far out of proportion on facebook that it begins to affect people in their everyday life. And so much of what you see on fb is make believe.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I don’t know, @Dutchess_III. I remember having to ask myself what I was comfortable doing in a Catholic church long before Facebook even existed. It comes down to “How far am I willing to go along to get along before I lose my integrity and all respect for myself?” It’s an important question, and not a new one.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@dappled_leaves You pretend you don’t even know what we’re talking about as if it will protect you from getting the slightest stink of atheism on you.
No…..if we are talking about a god, man-created, made of stone, wood, metal etc. then I am all for using the ’god’, god. If you are speaking of Him who has all power, knowledge, and is the sovereign Creator of the Universe, then to use ’god’ is like trying to talk about a F-22 Rapter but keep saying it has propellers; it logically doesn’t compute.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central See? I could not have written a better example.

Blackberry's avatar

People go through stages with beliefs. I’m apathetic now, but I used to love talking about this stuff. I used to proudly keep my head up and eyes open at military ceremonies, because I felt I shouldn’t have to compromise myself.

But now….I really don’t care about religion or politics.

Maybe your friend is still in his own phase. Or he’s a dick.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone I don’t kneel. I stand and sit, but I don’t kneel during the service. I wonder what other people do who are not Catholic?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I need to add something. I host an event at my place that lasts for a few days – food, drinks, overnight stays – the works – for about 30–40 people. One of the guys is a minister and needs to say Grace. For the one formal meal I ask him to lead us in Grace. He thanks “Heavenly father for all this bounty and friends….” When he is finished I take the mic and thank “Texas Roadhouse for donating all the meat, Stevens Farm Market for kindly donating all the vegetables and, everyone, let’s give a special thanks with a round of applause for Paul and Jesse for manning the cookers since 5:00 AM.”

If some people think their Heavenly Father magically brought the food and cooked it, fine. I won’t argue with them. However, I ALWAYS make it clear to everyone that it was Texas Roadhouse who donated the $1000 worth of meat and Paul and Jesse who slaved over the cookers for our benefit.

It works. Nobody is offended and everyone leaves as friends.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband’s favorite steakhouse is Texas Roadhouse. He is always very thankful when I find one along the road when we take a trip.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@LuckyGuy date, time, address please? :D

LuckyGuy's avatar


Dan_Lyons's avatar

You say his body language offended you and indicated he was critical of praying.

He was rigid, with his head up, and his eyes wide open, and this set, determined look on his face. He almost looked angry.

Sounds like you are describing a person in rapt devotion (having been carried away bodily or transported to heaven).

Maybe this guy wasn’t angry, but was rather in a religious moment.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III Hm…well I didn’t ask what religion you ascribe to and my comment about the essential part of prayer was pretty clearly sarcasm. Lastly, I don’t know what answer you’re looking for, but I do know that you won’t be satisfied with anything else.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie That might be a good separate question. I did kneel. I’ve only been in a catholic church that one time, and the memorial service happened to be for a friend who was catholic. Taking a stand wasn’t on my mind. It did feel weird, though.

@Dutchess_III I see. FB may exacerbate some of these issues, but I don’t think it’s the cause. Thank you for explaining!

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone I agree it is a good separate question, do you want to ask it? I have only been in Catholic church for weddings, Easter, and Palm Sunday. I don’t take a stand, I am Jewish, I don’t do it because I am Jewish, not because of God or no God.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie Agreed, I don’t see it as “taking a stand” or being confrontational either. It is only about being honest.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I don’t subscribe to any religion, and the prayers at the family reunion were generic.

Body language can say a LOT, even if no words are spoken. If he’d been relaxed, rather than so tense, and if he’d had a calm look on his face instead of an angry one, I would have interpreted it differently. His body language was confrontational.

longgone's avatar

@Dutchess_III Remember, though…our body language is often being used subconsciously.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Gosh, @longgone…re fb “causing” issues…did you see the one recently where they’re going into melt down over the USDA supposedly buying “submachine guns”? And people just suck into that instantly, without even taking a moment to do a little research.

Yes, I know it’s used subconsciously. In fact, body language usually is subconscious.

muppetish's avatar

It’s possible that he had a very negative experience with religion and has, as a result, formulated a sense of resentment toward it. Maybe he needs more compassion and less judgment in order to overcome those feelings.

It’s also possible that he was just not having a good day. Maybe he was thinking about something else entirely separate from the prayer that you mistook as anger directed toward the gesture.

Body language may be telling, but it never gives a complete story.

longgone's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m sorry for getting you worked up like that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s true, @muppetish. I wasn’t inside his head. It may have had nothing at all to do with the prayer. It was just my impression that it was.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III Once again, I asked you no questions about what you believe or what type of prayer it was. If you hadn’t looked up, you wouldn’t have seen his “confrontational” body language. What does it matter?

josie's avatar

You mean like al-Qaeda and the Taliban?

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

I agree with you Dutchess III, the guy at the dinner was an asshole. It always seemed to me that people like him (who are so full of anger) make me wonder what happened to them in life to make them hate God as much as they do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Maybe he just has an overall desire to treat people like they are stupid, be it religion, work, play, what have you. Some people are like that.

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