Seeing someone pray, to me, can only be described as alarmingly creepy. Watching a person mouth words to something that is not there – to someone who has never believed in a god, it’s like watching an adult pull down his trousers and shit on the floor. You start in with the “Heavenly Father…” bullshit and I’m all
So, when I am asked about prayer by readers, often I try to avoid the question as it’s just very difficult for me to take speaking to a nonexistent entity all that seriously.
Yesterday, however, I was emailed this:
My relative has cancer and I seem to be the only one that isn’t praying for her because I’m more of an agnostic and don’t believe in prayer. I don’t want to piss my parents off but I feel upset that they can’t just seem to lay off me when they say to pray and I don’t. What should I do?
This is a tough situation. Never having had a religious family makes this even more difficult for me to tackle, but here goes.
I think this situation all depends on if what sort of people your parents are. Some religious parents have been known to kick kids out of their homes, shun them and disown them if the child doesn’t share their beliefs. Other parents are more easygoing, and, even if they are disappointed you don’t share their beliefs, they may be supportive of you being your own person.
If your parents are more the first type, and might react poorly, I would suggest just faking it until you’re ready to move out. Losing your home and stability is not something you should risk until you’re capable of taking care of yourself. You don’t just risk losing your bed to sleep on, but could also seriously be endangering your future, your education, and your ability to make something of yourself. If there is abuse of any kind going on in the home, that’s a whole other post, but if all your parents want you to do is pray for your sick relative and the alternative is destroying your future and living on the street, I say fake it. It can’t be more than just a few more years before you’re out on your own, anyway.
If you don’t think they would ever kick you out or shun you, I would stand your ground calmly, respectfully and explain that you do not believe that prayer works. Don’t engage in debate with them. Just tell them, this is who you are, take it or leave it. Then, perhaps find some other way to show how much you care for your relative. Maybe visit her everyday or try to raise some money in her name for cancer research. Show your parents that your lack of prayer is not a sign of lack of love, but rather a lack of belief. Don’t forget to show your love and respect for them, too. The best way to get respect is to show it.
In short, I would advise against doing anything that will result in you being harmed – don’t push them until they kick you out. Don’t push them until they disown you. Don’t do any of that until you’re financially independent and have your own place to live. Your future is far more important than not having to fake a little convo with the imaginary guy in the sky.
If you have a question you want to ask me, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
How would you have answered this question? Let me know in the comments!