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Those of you in the US that celebrate Thanksgiving with religious family, do you all have to do the pre-meal prayer? If so, how do you respond?
Coming from a VERY religious family, I tend to just ignore it and look around the room awkwardly until it's over.

Nova41 4 Nov 20

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In the military we have invocation before large group meals and some events. Every time there's a group prayer I like to look around and find other atheist people.

lol, that's what I did too

Right!? Lol. I worked at a company where they prayed ALL THE TIME, before luncheons, safety briefings, weekly department meetings, all the time! The I.T. guy and I would always seek each other out to give one another that knowing nod, paying respect from one non-believer to another.

Lol I used to do the same thing before I got out last month. It was kinda of awkward at change of command/responsibility ceremonies though especially when I would like the new commander but knew they were religious.

"other atheist people" I love that hahaha


I really haven't ever found a better Thanksgiving prayer than the one I learned in the Zen tradition. It is a wonderful nontheistic expression of gratitude, and if I am put in the position of having to give the "grace," this is what it is:

First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us this food.
Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as we receive this meal.
Third, what is most essential is the practice of mindfulness, which helps us to transcend greed, anger and delusion.
Fourth, we appreciate this food which sustains the good health of our body and mind.
Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings we accept this offering.

This prayer sounds like it is about 'I and me'.

I can't find a way to reply to your comment, Diogenes, so I guess I have to reply to my own. I guess to some extent, you're right, but there are also the elements of this prayer that go out to the world: reflecting on "the effort of those who brought us this food;" being "aware of the quality of our deeds" (as they impact others); transcending "greed, anger, and delusion (all qualities that impact others]; and continuing our practice "for all beings." Sorry, I see more than just "I and me."

I am NOT a 'good' person. I have made many evil choices; they were not "mistakes"; they were "choices". And now for the double whammy; I can't go back to reverse any of them. My point is that I don't have the right to criticize anyone!

Depressingly, I have learned my lesson; some have still not. There are other pronouns in the dictionary besides "I, me and we"; there are "they, he, she, them" etc.

There should be stenciled on bags of donated food- "This food was brought to you because you are hungry"---- NOT, "This food was donated by 'Whatsoever' Church and for the glory of god".


Usually at such events my daughter and I are the only non-believers and we do the same as nearly everybody below has said: we just look around to see if there is anybody else not paying attention then grin at them.

gearl Level 7 Nov 21, 2017

I like hanging out in the kitchen with the food. Better conversations come from a roasted turkey imo


I typically will consider it a quiet moment for personal reflection. If tagged with "would you lead us in prayer", I choose a moment of silence (for the group) instead. THAT tends to prevent being asked to lead another in the future. If someone criticizes the quiet moment, I ask them who/what the prayer is for. Supposedly, it is not for human ears, for showing off before others.

Zster Level 8 Nov 21, 2017

I recently found myself in this situation, but since it doesn't happen very often, I really didn't know what to do other than just play along. I'll try to remember next time to look around the room as others here do, trying to spot other non-theists.


I do that or mock bow my head & stare at my shoes or something. That way I'm not being disruptive or starting anything with family members. Plus, if I care enough it's my way of showing respect for them.


This is the first thanksgiving that I will be open to my parents, still not open to my grandparents (and don't plan on it since my grandfather is a pastor and I don't see any benefit from telling them). When I'm back from school and my parents want to pray before eating I just sit there silently and wait for them to finish. This thanksgiving I'll probably say something about being thankful for all of the people who made the meal possible from the farmers who grew the food to my mom who worked all day preparing it.


I do exactly the same thing. Everybody holds hands, which I do, but I refuse to close my eyes or participate in any other way.


Same here. It's awkward. Everyone with their heads bowed, eyes squinted closed intensely. It's funny to watch actually. I just deal with it then get my turkey and dressing fix on.


I'm with you. If they believe, that is their business and I'll be respectful of their ignorance - but later I'll try to talk about why they believe in one god, but not all gods. Brainwashing is a wonderful thing.

Hey, let's get serious. How are they going to believe in the thousands or millions- of "one-true gods"?

If they actually 'believe' in one, it's just a matter of numbers after that.


My kids and I sit respectfully while winking and making faces at each other from across the room.

For those wrestling with the best way to handle things like this, Greta Christina's book "Coming Out Atheist" is arguably the best resource out there!

"Winking and making faces"! Sounds rather infantile to me.


I pointedly look about and see who the other posers are.


I don't come from a very religious family at all, but my brother's wife tried to pull that shit one year, many years ago.
She went ahead and did her thing and I did like you did and just looked around.
She never tried to do that again. It was very awkward.


I just don’t. No one seems to care.


Sometimes my family prays at holiday meals. I politely look down.


It's no big deal to go along with the family, especially a deeply religious family. these events are defining moments in many families, and they only occur several times a year. believe me, I've been through 45-50 thanksgiving dinners and I've come to the conclusion that my personal ideas sometimes have to take the backseat, and I just tolerate the ride, be respectful.


My mom told me once to bow my head in respect for those you eat with, but don't close your eyes in submission to what they bealive.


I keep my eyes open, scanning the room for any other "friends".


I agree with you and fortunately experienced the same thing as you! Fortunately, overtime, my family because less religious via debate and questioning their principles about God! They finally accepted my atheist beliefs in Clovis, California!

I would just send them this because a picture is worth a thousand words! []


I'm always respectful of others beliefs. I'll remain silent and hold hands if that's what's going on, but I do not join in the prayer nor say amen when it's finished. I don't believe in any god or messiah but I make sure to be respectful of those that do as long as it doesn't infringe on my right not to participate in their belief system.


This year I am not going to the part of my family that pray before every meal whether is it thanksgiving or not so I don't have to deal with that. When I am with them I do the same thing. I look around the room awkwardly and stay quiet for the duration of their prayer. Thankfully this year I am only having thanksgiving with my immediate family and they don't do any of that and know me as an open atheist.


Last Thanksgiving i gave thanks to Publix Supermarket and their wonderfull employees for making this wonderful food my mom told me i ruined Thanksgiving for her.


I do the same thing


I, too, look around waiting for it to all be over

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