Should Atheists Allow Their Christian Relatives to Pray over the Thanksgiving Meal?

Image result for image of thanksgiving meal with family

Today is Thanksgiving.  A day to spend time with family, to eat a lot of good food, and to “give thanks”.  But to whom or what should an atheist give thanks?

As an non-supernaturalist (an atheist), I prefer to use the term “appreciate” rather than the term “give thanks”.  On this special day I appreciate my family, my country, my friends, and the bounty of my hard work and good fortune (rare, but beneficial coincidences, such as being born in a First World country).  I appreciate the ability to afford a Thanksgiving day feast.  I could be spending the day in a homeless shelter or worse yet, hungry and on the street.  But I do not believe that I need to “give thanks” to any invisible force in the universe.

Today, one of my Christian relatives asked if we could say a Thanksgiving prayer before our meal.  They asked for permission because we were celebrating the meal this year in my house.  (If we had been celebrating our meal at their home, my permission would not have been requested.)  In the past I have tolerated this practice, even in my home.  The supernaturalists say their quick little prayer, while I and my family remain silent at the table, eyes open, heads unbowed, patiently waiting until the conversation with their imaginary, invisible friend is over.

But not today.  I couldn’t do it.  I have become just too opposed to superstitious belief.  How can I tell my children to use the skills of critical thinking when confronted by the supernatural claims of their friends, while I passively participate in ancient hocus pocus right in front of them?  Nope.  I could not sanction this superstitious ritual occurring in my home; occurring in front of my children.

No.  There was no Thanksgiving prayer at my house today.  I will not perpetuate this particular family tradition.

So, Happy Appreciation Day to all!












End of post.

4 thoughts on “Should Atheists Allow Their Christian Relatives to Pray over the Thanksgiving Meal?

  1. When my wife’s 80ish IFB father was at our home for Thanksgiving, we let him speak to the ceiling. 😀 Outside of that, if someone wants to pray they can do it silently. I subscribe to the maxim, when in Rome do as the Romans do. We don’t pray, so we expect people to respect our wishes. When we are in the homes of praying people, we recognize and respect their right/need/desire to pray. We would never tell anyone what they should do in their own homes. We expect that same respect when people are in our home. Unfortunately, way too many Evangelicals don’t play well with others.


  2. Yes, I would agree with Bruce. At their house the tradition is to pray, at your house the tradition is not to pray. If that gets really awkward, perhaps you could substitute a different activity for the prayer, like going around the table and each naming a specific person or profession that you appreciate, who make your lives better. (I really appreciate trash collectors, for example.) Or start off with a toast. That way, the theists expectation of having a pre-meal ritual is satisfied, without any superstitious nonsense.


    1. Good advice.

      Just for the record, I have no intention of causing a fight regarding praying over a holiday meal at THEIR house. I will respect their customs in their home. I will simply keep my mouth shut and eyes open while they say their prayer. My issue is what is done in my house.

      Liked by 1 person

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