Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
It’s generally accepted that of all the holidays, Thanksgiving in America is the least offensive of them. Halloween is Satan’s foot in the door to children’s souls, somebody somewhere is waging war on Xmas, yeah yeah, somebody somewhere is getting stoked about something. It’s America, country of lawyers and hurt feelings.
But the title itself lends itself to some wide-open translation. Just who are we thanking, actually? For millions of Americans, it’s that God fellow, the imaginary sky daddy who somehow mysteriously provided the bounty at the table – regardless of all the hard work put in by the adults in the house who worked their fingers to the bone, the farmers who put in months of work to provide the turkey the butter the wheat for bread, the truck drivers who lost valuable hours of sleep transporting these items over long lonely roads, the furniture that’s sat on (regardless whether it’s handcrafted or from Ikea)…you get the picture, right?
The worst part is when we, the atheists, get strong-armed into praying at the table. This happened to me about four years ago, and when my mother passed, I was completely cut out of the funeral arrangements, the car promised to me was taken without a word or note – it was ugly. I haven’t spoken to my family for going on four years now. I had to take a stand. A painful stand, but hey…principles are principles, no?
It’s about respect.
If someone were to welcome a Muslim, a Jew, or any other denomination to their dinner table, it would be un-American to force them to pray a Christian prayer. Because freedom of religion is freedom FROM religion. Diverse ideology is one of the many freedoms granted to others. An atheist in America, however, is told to shut up and sit down. Come to think of it, that is the pat response regardless of situation or content.
I reject the supernatural, and find the action of prayer offensive to the extreme. You want to? Knock yourself out. Just leave me out of it. Please.
Sometimes the word ‘please’ just doesn’t work. You hear wheedling, cajoling, and if dealing with family, ‘can I talk to you in private?’ followed with a lot of whispered shouting.
It’s hard, but refuse. Raise your voice. Flat out refuse. If you’ve asked, implored, and otherwise rationally explained yourself in a calm tone, and nothing’s worked, then you may as well raise some hell.
It’s about principles.
You don’t drop your principles because they’re inconvenient, or make people uncomfortable. If you do, then they’re not principles, they’re lip service. The world has enough sycophants, yes-men and ass-kissers. So take a stand. Hold your ground. You don’t want to pray? Don’t. Say so. Out loud. No whispering.
Because this is America. If you force someone to pray, you’re violating the First Amendment profoundly.
Till the next post, then.