Friday, September 4, 2009

Pray for Me All You Want

I've noticed that many atheists take offense at religious people offering to pray for them, as if it were some sort of hostile act. Now someone has come up with an atheist card to let people know you don't want anything religious done in the event of death or severe injury.

I don't see the point or the need. If I'm dead, why should I care about whatever religious nonsense goes on after my death? If I get killed tomorrow, and my parents, who are devout Christians, want to hold a religious funeral for me, even though they know I'm an atheist, why should I care? I'll be dead, and maybe it'll make them feel better.

My attitude toward prayer is similar. Since I'm an atheist, I don't think prayer actually does anything, since there aren't any gods out there to hear. If someone offers a positive prayer for me, such as a prayer that I'll get better if I'm sick, I'll just thank them. It's completely harmless. If it's a negative type of prayer, the kind that asks God to turn me away from my evil godless ways, I'll just laugh and tell the person good luck with that. It's still harmless. If they wanted to chop off one of my body parts to let out the unclean spirits, that would be a different matter. But prayer is nothing more than some words addressed to a deity that I don't believe exists. I don't see why I should get worked up about it. 

Reacting to offers of prayer or other harmless religious practices with outrage and offense just makes atheists seem like thin-skinned jerks. And we aren't exactly that popular as it is. If a religious person is pushy and insistent after being told their beliefs/practices are unwelcome, that's a different matter. But I don't see the point in jumping on someone for a simple prayer, any more than I could justify taking offense when someone says "God bless you" after a sneeze.

h/t Forever in Hell


  1. I'm with you. My mother-in-law prays for her son and me all the time, and I just take it as the expression of love that it is. She at least has the good sense not to try to convert us, for which I am extremely grateful.

  2. Conversion efforts can be much more annoying, but even there I try to keep some perspective, if it's someone that actually knows and cares about me. Since according to their beliefs I'm going to hell, naturally they are going to try to convert me before it's too late.

    My parents often send me religious books. I knew it wouldn't do any good to ask them to stop, so I requested that they only send high-end Christian apologetics by people with obvious intellectual credentials. That way I actually get things that are at least worth reading.