Should the Non-Religious Pray at Dinner?

Krista - posted on 10/15/2010 ( 50 moms have responded )

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This is a side debate from another thread, where a poster said that it's good for a kid to learn to pray, as he would need to do it if he goes to the house of anybody who is religious, and that "it doesn't hurt anybody or anything".

Do you agree? Should non-religious people make a show of praying when Grace is being said or at other prayer times? Or should they just remain silent out of respect? And does the opposite scenario hold -- should a religious person be expected to NOT pray before dinner if they go to an atheist's house?

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[deleted account]

Silent out of respect if you are non-religious in a religious home.

Silent prayer out of respect if you are religious in a non-religious home.

While I don't understand anyone NOT believing... I understand there are people that don't believe and why would/should you pray to Someone you don't believe in?

Johnny - posted on 10/15/2010

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A non-believer should never be expected to participate in the prayer of a believer. That is the height of disrespect and incredibly egotistical. I believe that in the home or house of worship or other gathering held by a believer, that the non-believer should be very respectful during the moment of prayer. Sitting or standing quietly is sufficient. I will not consider "pretending" to pray by bowing my head or closing my eyes or anything else. But I will be patient, polite, and accepting. I expect the same in return.

When believers have come to my home for a meal, I have actually always asked if they wish to pray or say grace before the meal. I feel that if I expect my feelings to be respected, then I should do the same. This has happened, and those people showed me enough respect to do it quietly amongst themselves and never expected me to participate.

Faith is a personal thing. It seems to me if someone is truly comfortable and confident in their faith, they don't need to require others to falsely participate. In fact, I know that for some believers, having people "fake" pray would actually be somewhat offensive.

Amie - posted on 10/15/2010

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No. If people want to pray, by all means do so. My children and I will sit quietly. My kids may even want to join in but I'm not going to make them.

It's respect, it goes both ways. It's rude and presumptuous to except others to pray to your god. If others want to pray at my house, again, we'll sit quietly and wait. No skin off my nose.

We have many religious people in our family, we all respect each other and our ways. No one forces anything on the others, I wish all religious people were this way.

C. - posted on 10/15/2010

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Well, if you're non-religious, who are you going to pray to??



No, I don't think so. You can teach your kid to be respectful of other peoples' religion w/o making a mockery of it (let me explain.. I mean if you don't believe in anything and you're teaching your kid to pray to nothing, I consider that mocking religion- If that makes sense). You don't have to pray while at someone's house and they're praying. Just be respectful. Sit quietly and patiently and let them do their thing.

Charlie - posted on 10/15/2010

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"it doesn't hurt anybody or anything". yes it does , thats like making a christian praise Allah on their hands and knees .

I have enough respect to sit quietly in same room while people pray reguardless of whos house they are in they can respect my beliefs and not expect me to participate in something i do not believe in .

For anyone to suggest not praying is disrespectful is just ludicris to me and a major double standard .

Respect my beliefs i will respect yours , i wont make you pray on my doorstep before you enter my house and you wont make me participate and i will sit quietly and respectfully .

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Mary - posted on 10/19/2010

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Actually, it's sort of a silly question, when you consider the definition of prayer. Since prayer is basically a reverent communication with God (be it praise, thanksgiving or request) an atheist is incapable of this; They do not believe that God exists, so they have no one to "communicate" with.



I think this is one of those topics that really just fall under having good manners. If you are invited to someone's home for dinner, do not share their religious beliefs, and they partake in a communal prayer before a meal, you simply sit in respectful silence until they are through. You do not need to make any type of statement about not sharing their beliefs or in any way try to make an issue of whether or not you are pryaing along with them.



If a truly devout believer attends dinner at a non-religious household, they are more than capable of having a silent, unobtrusive prayer before their meal while sitting in their seat. Since prayer is a private communication with God, there is no need for anyone else to be involved, or even aware, that it is happening. Anyone who insists that those around know and/or respect that they are praying are simply trying to be showy or confrontational. Prayer does not require the awareness or acknowledgement of others.



I see it this way. My in-laws are absolutely fanatical about removing your shoes when in the house. I am not (an find it a bit silly). However, when visiting then, I respect this practice (even though it can be a major PIA if we are just running in to the house for 10 minutes, and my toddler has on shoes that lace up). I don't say a word about it. When they visit me, they can remove their shoes when they cross the threshold, and I won't bitch about tripping over those shoes that are littering my foyer. However, my shoes will remain on if that is my preference at the time. To me, prayer at meal time should be as much of a non-issue as this.

Dana - posted on 10/18/2010

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I think they should just remain silent out of respect. I also think a religious person should be able to pray before dinner if they go to an atheists house but, I do not think that the atheist's have to wait until the prayer is over before they begin to eat.

Becky - posted on 10/18/2010

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When in Rome, do what the Romans do in respect to what they practice when being a guest in their home. Teach the children a wide variety of things about the world and life so that can be adaptable with the company they have. However, when in my home I still live the life I live and practice what I do. (So Respect for another's practices when visiting is a must.

Cat - posted on 10/18/2010

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I dont teach my kids to pray, at 5, 2 and 2 they have absolutely no idea what praying is... we dont really have any religious family/friends who require it BUT if the situation DOES come up, I'll just work on making sure they stay quiet while everyone else prays... When they're old enough for me to explain different people have different religions, I'll just let them know that to respect someone else's beliefs is the nice thing to do...

Jessica - posted on 10/18/2010

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I have been to 3 wedding this month, all super catholic ceremonies even though some of them aren't religious and were only doing it to please relatives. There was so much praying I was sure I would catch fire, lol, but I sat there quietly, did not bow my head and everything managed to run smoothly regardless so no, I don't think people should HAVE to pray at dinner, just respect there choice to pray and sit there quietly. :)

[deleted account]

I would be respectful and bow etc but i wouldn't be comfortable being pushed to part take in there religion etc if i didnt want to, i agree in showing respect and i also think that works both ways.:-)

~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/18/2010

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I agree with Lacy, just bow your head and be respectful. My in laws do this, but only during major holidays....it makes me itchy,,,I don't like holding hands and praying...yuk. But I am respectful, and they do not know how I feel about it. Why would I want to start a religous debate over that? Not me that is for sure!

Desiree - posted on 10/18/2010

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As the old saying goes when in Rome do as the Romans do. It is rude to go into anothers home and do things that they don't normally do. Fi you don't pray in your own home I would you to respect my beliefs and keep quiet during this time, you would have to say or do anything just show respect for me and mine and keep quiet. Just the same if you come from a home that prays, just ask to be excused for a minute step into another room and say your prayers without offending anyone especially the lady of the house. There is a correct way of doing things and not to rub peoples noses the wrong way is the correct way. people will respect you more than if you constantly go on about what you do or don't do at home.

LaCi - posted on 10/18/2010

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When in rome..

At my grandparents house, during large family dinners and such, they pray. Everybody in a circle, holding hands, bowed heads. I am in the circle, usually bow my head, it's the polite thing to do. I do not pray. I respect their rituals. He'll respect them as well, when he's old enough to hold still for a minute.

Jane - posted on 10/18/2010

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Man....I have to retype what I responded because I lost my connection. I'm going to have to paraphrase because I can't remember exactly what I said....but...in the end, if you're sharing a meal with someone in each others homes, then you know each other well enough to respect each others views on prayer/grace. I am not a religious person, however, if I were having a meal at someone's house where grace was said, I would sit silent and respect that grace. In turn, if someone was sharing a meal at MY house and they wanted to either say grace either to themselves OR even ask if they could say it out loud, I would allow it and respect it. It's a matter of respect and acceptance, in my opinion, on peoples views.

I've always taught my children that when you are in someone's home, you respect their rules, traditions, etc. My kids have not been raised religious but believe me, where I live, there are a TON of religious folks...some extremely religious and my children have happily co-existed in the religious world without issue beause I taught them to respect others beliefs!

[deleted account]

Thankfully for me no one I know or have known religious or not have ever said grace before eating. The only time I have said grace was at school as I went to a Catholic school, and it didn't bother me then as I was raised Catholic but now I think I'd burst out laughing if anyone suggested it. It's just an alien concept to me. I've seen it on some American films but never encountered it here in the UK in the home. If I did however come across this I'd probably just keep quiet and respect their choice of doing that in their home.

Jodi - posted on 10/16/2010

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I am not religious, I do not pray. I have been in homes for meals where the family prayed, I keep quiet and bow my head in respect. I feel (having been raised Catholic but am not any longer) that it would be more disrespectful to perform an act in which I didn't believe. For instance, it is actually considered blasphemy to take host in church if you don't believe it is the body of Christ, I don't pretend to pray to a God in whom I don't believe.
On the opposite side, if someone came to my house and wanted to pray, I would expect them to do so silently. They can bow their head, fold their hands, whatever, but there is no commandent or rule that says prayer has to be outloud, it can be personal and be kept inward. I would however, allow them a moment of silence (that meaning, I would be silent and ask my children to do so as well.) to accomodate their beliefs. It's all about tolerance, you don't have to believe in it, you don't have to participate, but you should be respectful and tolerant.

JuLeah - posted on 10/16/2010

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Remain silent out of respect. Don't say "amen"
My roommate is of a different faith, so we choose words that are inclusive of both .... I am Jewish, she is Cathloic, so usually she would say words like "Father, King, Lord" .... a lot of 'he' pronouns.
Out of respect for that fact that I don't believe in that, the words and pronouns changed .... and I in turn don't offer a prayer in Hebrew, or use terms like Adonai

Rosie - posted on 10/16/2010

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i posted basically what you are saying is wrong in the other thread. but after reading this thread i realized that my idea of praying vastly differs from others. i just sit there quietly out of respect. i may even sit there and wish that i am blessed by my meal and thankful for my family and such, but since i don't believe in god i'm not actually talking to "him", i'm just throwing my thoughts out there.
and no i don't think a religious person should be expected to NOT pray before dinner if they go to an atheists house. why should they not get to practice their beliefs? i don't think that either side should have to do something they don't want to. ME personally i don't see any harm in praying since i wouldn't be praying to any god anyway. i do think it would be rude to start scarfing my food down while my family is praying so i sit quietly, maybe making my wishes and dig in when they're done.

Krista - posted on 10/16/2010

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I'm the same as Carol. I'm a complete athiest but I will sit in silence while another prays. I encourage my children to do the same. I will not bow my head though.

I do get offended if my children are asked to pray though.


That's my sentiment as well. If people are praying, at a wedding, or at dinner, or what-have-you, I will remain still and silent. But I will not bow my head in subservience to a deity in whom I do not believe.

Bonnie - posted on 10/16/2010

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I agree with how Teresa put it.

No one should be forced to pray if they are not religious. There is nothing wrong with just standing or sitting there, whatever the case may be, and be silent out of respect

[deleted account]

Side note to Kelly, sorry it's off topic:

When you do study the Protestant church, message me and tell me why those books are left out. I'll do a little research on my own until then. I really should know things like this! I'm kind of embarrassed that I don't!

And yes, Teresa, well said. =)

Jessica - posted on 10/16/2010

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"Silent out of respect if you are non-religious in a religious home.
Silent prayer out of respect if you are religious in a non-religious home."

^^ That pretty much sums it up for me. I'm actually kind of curious about what the other poster said in my post- does she actually believe that people should learn to pray along with others whether or not they believe it? That doesn't make sense. You can expect someone to sit quietly, sure, but how can you ask them to "pray along"? Most people pray silently anyway...

[deleted account]

I'll come back and read the other posts later I've not got time at the moment, I just wanted to say

No if you are not religious you should not pray, but you should remain silent while the religious pray in their home. In your home the religious should pray privately (unless you are happy for them to do it openly) so as to respect your beliefs (or lack there of). It is incredibly rude and disrespectful of none believers to not consider their beliefs/ none beliefs, in the same way it would be rude for me to expect a muslim to follow my Christian beliefs and rituals.

[deleted account]

Yup, I agree with how Teresa put it.

I always stand silently (or sit) if someone is praying. At my work we sing a karakia (prayer) before the children eat but it doesn't mention any god it's just a thanks so I don't mind singing that and don't mind my daughter doing it either. On the older children's side they are currently saying a karakia which ends Amen. I'm not too thrilled about that but I have a while before my daughter goes on that side (if ever) so I'll deal with that when the times comes.

Becky - posted on 10/16/2010

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Well, I pretty much agree with everyone else. I believe that prayer is worship. So why would you expect someone to worship someone they don't believe in or don't care for?
We pray before meals in our house, when we all eat together. I admit, when it's just me and the kids, we don't. But then again, I don't believe it's a sin not to pray before a meal. God still knows whether you're thankful or not. Either Jeff or I prays, we don't all pray together, one of those recited prayers. So no, we would never expect someone else to join in, and if they don't want to close their eyes, no problem. Half the time, I'm feeding Zach - who is 1 and has not learned patience yet - while Jeff is praying! :P Typically, if we're at someone's house where they do not pray before meals, or don't believe in God, we don't pray. Like I said, God knows whether we're thankful or not. I kind of think for a lot of people, it's more about the ritual than about really being thankful anyway!

Joanna - posted on 10/15/2010

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quoting Teresa:

"Silent out of respect if you are non-religious in a religious home.

Silent prayer out of respect if you are religious in a non-religious home."


Said perfectly.

Jodi - posted on 10/15/2010

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I'll have to get my son to bring his Bible home from School. I don't have a spare one at home, and he left his at school - it is the most recent edition of the Good News Bible Catholic Edition and is the one they use in Catholic Schools in Australia.

Sharon - posted on 10/15/2010

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I came, posted the link, intending to comment but instead published and went back to reading - oops.

I was curious that there was a book I hadn't read, much less heard of regarding the bible.

I guess from that website, most biblical scholars consider it historical fiction?

Below in the notes - it mentions being printed in the king james version - I KNOW I have the king james version??? I have to dig it out now and see if i'm missing something although my bible isn't catholic per se? I got it as gift from my youth group at a non denominational christian church???

Johnny - posted on 10/15/2010

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Neither of my bibles have Tobit. One was a gift from my godmother, a Catholic, and the other was a gift from my mother's best friend, a Mormon. But after the wedding, I was speaking to a friend at work who is a practicing very faithful Catholic (he's unmarried, 33 and still a virgin!) who did not know of this book. Is it used in some Catholic denominations and not others? I know my girlfriend left her parent's Catholic church and went to another, and that she got a new bible because of it. I'm not too knowledgeable myself, being an agnostic.

[deleted account]

Carol, the Book of Tobit and the Book of Tobias are the same. I see it as Tobias more often, but sometimes it might be Tobit. Does your Bible have Tobit? I seriously thought all Christian Bibles were the same--learn something new on here everyday!

Johnny - posted on 10/15/2010

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Sorry to go off topic, but does anyone have the Book of Tobias in their bible? I went to a wedding where it was read from (Catholic) but none of my other Catholic friends had heard of it and it's not in either of my bibles.

[deleted account]

Well, that's trippy! I didn't know they were not in all of them! I guess I've only seen Catholic Bibles....I've never studied the Protestant Church, but I think that will be one of the next ones I learn about.

Kate CP - posted on 10/15/2010

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I don't believe any one should be forced to pray. However, being respectful and not interrupting others is just common courtesy.

Jenny - posted on 10/15/2010

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I'm the same as Carol. I'm a complete athiest but I will sit in silence while another prays. I encourage my children to do the same. I will not bow my head though.

I do get offended if my children are asked to pray though.

[deleted account]

Maybe I'm mistaken, but what are Estrada, Tobit, Judith, Maccabees? Those are in Catholic Bibles I've flipped through, but not mine.

[deleted account]

You're good Sara, I just meant to explain why Catholics, or people of a religion with similar beliefs, would see omitting the prayer before eating as a big deal.

Btw, Catholics do not have additional books to the Bible. They do have the writings of many of the Saints, but they do not belief they are Inspired texts, like the books of the Bible, just letters and articles that help explain some parts of the Bible in more detail or give points of reference.

Sharon - posted on 10/15/2010

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No. A non religious person should not pray when dining at the home or as the guest of a religious person. However, they should respect the act and bow their head and in silence laugh at the futility of the prayer.

No. A religious person should not abstain from prayer just because they are in the home of atheist. The atheist doesn't believe, how can they be offended in what they don't believe?

Would you serve pork to a muslim? If one showed up at your home tonight would you not go out of your way to accomodate their religious needs? Why?

[deleted account]

Kelly, as I just said to Jennifer, I'm Protestant. Catholicism tends to have very different beliefs and traditions, so I can't explain the repentance and confession that Catholics do. Catholics even have more books of the Bible. I've read the entire Bible and studied parts of it in depth, but couldn't tell you about the Catholic books. Sorry, I'm not much help there!

[deleted account]

Jennifer, I'm not Catholic, but I am Christian, and I don't find that you just sitting is disrespectful. Why go through the motions if they don't mean anything? As long as you aren't causing a disturbance, then I'd think it's fine. I have been in a Catholic service and not taken communion because a Protestant's belief and Catholic's beliefs about communion are different.

[deleted account]

Sara, I didn't mean they would be condemned or anything like that. I don't know much about religion, but the people I know who follow it are really serious about it. I'm studying Catholicism now, and to not give thanks for food is a sin, but not a "mortal one" (meaning a bad one).But to deny God to others, or however it's phrased, is a major sin, and they consider not praying just because others will see you do it to be denying their belief in God. That one you have to repent, confess to a priest and pray for a while about and then promise not to do it again on purpose. It doesn't say you have to give thanks out loud, or even bow your head, but you have to do it, and you have to not be ashamed to do it. Does that make sense? I'm still studying, but that is the way I understood it.

Jennifer - posted on 10/15/2010

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my husband and i sit quietly while others pray. if we have people over that are religious, they are more than welcome to pray as long as they do not expect us to be involved...but then again, we don't often have religious people over for dinner :P



we've been to a few catholic weddings and funerals...with all the sitting, standing, sitting, standing and we just sit the entire time...is that disrespectful?...we've gotten some awfully dirty looks for it. i've been tempted to tell them that they're lucky we just quietly sit there instead of speaking our mind about how we really feel about organized christianity.

[deleted account]

Kelly, I'm not sure that it's a major sin in the Bible to not pray before a meal. Never read those exact words, or heard them references. Maybe in the Qur'an. Hmmm...something to go look up. But you aren't condemned to Hell or anything for not praying before a meal...lol.

[deleted account]

My niece (non religious) was given the opportunity to offer thanks before a meal and she said, "Rubba-dub-dub, thanks for this grub!" Of course everyone laughed, including my extremely religious MIL. Good times. Gotta love kids

[deleted account]

Children should be taught to respect the customs of present company. Being respectful doesn't mean they have to pray, it just means they need to remain silent during a prayer. On the other end of the spectrum, Christians (insert whatever religion here) shouldn't expect to be able to say a long drawn out prayer in the home of an atheist. But they can say a silent prayer in their hearts. Prayer is a personal thing anyway. No one can stop you from doing it silently, and no one can force you to do it.

When out to eat with one of my non-religious friends, I typically ask if they would mind that I pray silently for a second. It's never been an issue.

[deleted account]

hmmm....Well, I don't think a non-religious person should pretend to pray just because he/she is at a religious home, but common courtesy would be to sit quietly while the host prayed and not to draw attention to the fact that you are not praying.

As for the religious person not being allowed to pray before a meal, I'm less sure. I think somewhere in the Bible and in the Qur'an, it is a major sin not to pray before a meal, so if they are of that belief, they would probably not be okay with not praying. However, I think they should pray silently, and perhaps excuse themselves to a quiet room away from people who might be offended by their prayer. Or they could pray before they come into the home.....maybe. I do think it would be rude of them to ask others to join in a vocal prayer if they know the host or other guests are not religious or are of mixed religions.

[deleted account]

I think people need to be more respectful of each others beliefs. If you're not religious, sit quietly in someone elses house while they pray but in your house, it's your rules. If you don't pray and aren't comfortable with it they can do it silently to themselves and not expect your routine to change. Simple.

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