How do you deal with religious ceremonies?
I enjoy them!
19.9% (27)
19.9% (27)
I go for my family and friends
23.5% (32)
23.5% (32)
I don't care either way.
4.4% (6)
4.4% (6)
I don't like them, I only go when it's really necessary or required.
29.4% (40)
29.4% (40)
I won't get involved with any of that.
14.7% (20)
14.7% (20)
Generic "other"-answer.
2.9% (4)
2.9% (4)
It IS the rabbit!
5.1% (7)
5.1% (7)
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Poll: How do you deal with religious ceremonies?

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So a friend of mine had her baby a little while back. She's a rather devout Catholic and she and her husband will be baptising their child in the summer. As a friend of the family, I've been invited to the ceremony.
Now, I've already decided what to do, so this isn't an "advice-like" topic or anything like that. I will attend because of the value I put in them, not the ritual and should the issue come up, I will explain it that way as well.
The baptism is pretty much meaningless to me but it isn't to them, so that's why I'm going to be there and be respectful.

However, this does make me wonder: How do other Atheists around here deal with religious ceremonies and rituals?
Do you go along for the sake of your friends and family? Do you state your position openly? Do you not want any part in it, period?

Same question goes for others, I suppose, considering many religious people don't want to attend church or equivalent, either, but rather have personalized religion.

Baptisms, weddings, and the like are one of the few times that friends who have since moved rather far away come back into town. If for no other reason than that, I'll happily attend such events.

do you mean even such things as saying grace before a meal? because other things I will go to to be respectful, like funerals and weddings, but I am sick of waiting to eat for my boyfriends mom to ramble on about how sorry she is to god for all her failings and that crap. They can go ahead and let their food get cold but I'm not waiting.

Smiles:
do you mean even such things as saying grace before a meal?

Hehe, didn't even think of that... some people do that, don't they. Huh.
But in the context of this thread, it's more about the bigger ceremonies where various people show up, baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmations etc. and whatever equivalents there might be.

Religious ceremonies can be so cool, though. If you are free this Saturday evening, you should find the Catholic church near you and go to the Easter Vigil mass. There's fires and crazy bells and probably the reading with the chariots and charioteers... best mass of the year. Even if you actively resent Catholicism, it can be fun like an art exhibit.

I refuse to even enter a church under any circumstance (ok, maybe if I had to in order to live). I make it very clear, I believe organised religion is detrimental to society and that it has harmed many people. I will not forgo those beliefs just because someone wants me to attend a wedding. If they want everyone to go then they can hold it in a location that is not owned and run by an organisation that if there were not so many of them would all be considered mentally ill.

I don't mind for family. Mostly it's been grandparents in the past, but there are a few other loosely connected relatives that seem to take religion seriously. My remaining grandparents are showing signs of dementia, and all my other immediate family are comfortable with lack of belief. But when my nan still had her wits about her, she'd have been mortified with the idea of me being an atheist. Why put her through that? I doesn't cost me anything to go through with a little white lie. It's easy enough. I don't know about the rest of you, but I swear like a trooper at home, but I've always had that "grandparent mode" put on around older people. Ceremonies aren't that awful; I might as well be respectful to my relatives and turn up to said events.

I don't see any harm in it.

I go for my family and friends, and I usually sit at the back of the church (Ireland nominally being a Catholic country so it's a church 99% of the time) out of the way and quietly.

Someone mentioned saying grace before meals. So as a little off topic, I've heard people saying before "Oh we're not really that religious, we just go to church every Sunday and say grace before meals". That is rather religious, in fact that's very religious. My in laws are considered religious in Ireland, in so much as they go to mass every Sunday, sing in the choir and minister the eucharist. But they do not say grace before every meal. If you do, you are very religious by standards here.

Depends on the denomination, really, and the people involved.

I've attended all manner of religious ceremonies and events growing up, in accordance with the wishes of people I cared about. It was to celebrate or mourn the people involved, not to praise their god. That said, there are people who I am related too or get along with well who's church I will not attend for any reason as I fundamentally disagree with the way they behave towards people not part of their flock.

Even if you don't believe in the religion itself, you can still see it as a way to bless the child and introduce it to the world. I mean, there are a lot of people invited to baptisms after all.

I certainly don't enjoy religious ceremonies. They're tedious and tiresome.
In the past, I've went because I've been a minor and my family's insisted. Now a days, I go to be polite towards whomever it is that's having a ceremony.
image

This isn't really exclusive to religious ceremonies though. Secular confirmations are boring as shit, just like their religious counterparts.

The midsummer night fires are pretty awesome though.

Skeleon:

However, this does make me wonder: How do other Atheists around here deal with religious ceremonies and rituals?

That question isn't limited to Atheists and those with a "personal religion". Religious people are not a block and have the same issue when they go to services from other religions.

Personally I come to the same conclusion as you did. You go and show respect for your friends/family and supporting them in their important moment.

Smiles:
do you mean even such things as saying grace before a meal? because other things I will go to to be respectful, like funerals and weddings, but I am sick of waiting to eat for my boyfriends mom to ramble on about how sorry she is to god for all her failings and that crap. They can go ahead and let their food get cold but I'm not waiting.

Wow, some people really are rude and selfish. It won't kill you to show respect for people and wait for a few seconds to eat the food they generously prepared for you.

Skeleon:
So a friend of mine had her baby a little while back. She's a rather devout Catholic and she and her husband will be baptising their child in the summer. As a friend of the family, I've been invited to the ceremony.
Now, I've already decided what to do, so this isn't an "advice-like" topic or anything like that. I will attend because of the value I put in them, not the ritual and should the issue come up, I will explain it that way as well.
The baptism is pretty much meaningless to me but it isn't to them, so that's why I'm going to be there and be respectful.

However, this does make me wonder: How do other Atheists around here deal with religious ceremonies and rituals?
Do you go along for the sake of your friends and family? Do you state your position openly? Do you not want any part in it, period?

I'll go along to most things, but I don't like singing hymns or any of that stuff. If there's an element of an event where you're expected to be 'personally religious' as it were, I won't. The idea of pretending to pray or whatever to conform makes me a little uncomfortable.

Taking your baptism example; I'd be quite happy to go along and be in the room watching the ceremony. But I wouldn't be OK with individually blessing the baby or whatever, because me doing so would be dishonest given I don't believe in that stuff.

I know it's a somewhat pedantic attitude! But I think that draws the line between 'observer' and 'participant' so to speak, and it means you don't needlessly offend people by not attending.

OneCatch :

Skeleon:
So a friend of mine had her baby a little while back. She's a rather devout Catholic and she and her husband will be baptising their child in the summer. As a friend of the family, I've been invited to the ceremony.
Now, I've already decided what to do, so this isn't an "advice-like" topic or anything like that. I will attend because of the value I put in them, not the ritual and should the issue come up, I will explain it that way as well.
The baptism is pretty much meaningless to me but it isn't to them, so that's why I'm going to be there and be respectful.

However, this does make me wonder: How do other Atheists around here deal with religious ceremonies and rituals?
Do you go along for the sake of your friends and family? Do you state your position openly? Do you not want any part in it, period?

I'll go along to most things, but I don't like singing hymns or any of that stuff. If there's an element of an event where you're expected to be 'personally religious' as it were, I won't. The idea of pretending to pray or whatever to conform makes me a little uncomfortable.

Taking your baptism example; I'd be quite happy to go along and be in the room watching the ceremony. But I wouldn't be OK with individually blessing the baby or whatever, because me doing so would be dishonest given I don't believe in that stuff.

I know it's a somewhat pedantic attitude! But I think that draws the line between 'observer' and 'participant' so to speak, and it means you don't needlessly offend people by not attending.

I think you have found the right balance. It would be, in my mind, disrespectful to participate in those things you describe.

Just pretend really.
My sister wants to get married in the church near where we grew up, so she has informed me that we have to pretend to love Jesus on her wedding day. (She's an atheist too, she just likes this church).
So, fine. Churches are generally nice, and this one is lovely. So I'll just smile and pretend.

If I can pretend to believe in Santa for the kids, I can pretend to believe in god for a few hours.

Phasmal:
she has informed me that we have to pretend to love Jesus on her wedding day. (She's an atheist too, she just likes this church).

Hahahaha, that is brilliant!

OT: I went to Catholic schools, so I attended church and payed lip-service to appease the masses, but since then I haven't been in a church or anything except for a funeral. At this point I'd just sit there quietly and let everyone else religion themselves up to their desired extent.

EDIT: Actually, kind of funny story. At my school, every year we'd have a camping excursion, or go on a retreat or whatever (it depended on what grade you were in). Anyways, we went on a retreat near Easter, and during dinner one night, being the lead up to Easter, we were doing the pre-food rights of .... something or another. Aaanyways, it was required for the youngest person to stand and say a prayer, and the only two people younger than me were in the other retreat group (and were therefore very much NOT there). The awkward/funny bit is that I was a very openly acknowledged atheist, perhaps the least religious person in the room, and I was the one they wanted to lead them in a religious rite during one of the most important religious times of the year. My friends found it High-larious, and I just stood up, did my bit as respectfully as I could, then sat back down and pretended nothing had happened.

pyrate:
I refuse to even enter a church under any circumstance (ok, maybe if I had to in order to live). I make it very clear, I believe organised religion is detrimental to society and that it has harmed many people. I will not forgo those beliefs just because someone wants me to attend a wedding. If they want everyone to go then they can hold it in a location that is not owned and run by an organisation that if there were not so many of them would all be considered mentally ill.

Just out of curiosity:
How many times have you been actually invited to an event in a religious institution that you have explained this position to someone? Secondly, how many friends have you lost through making such an obnoxious demand?

Because let me tell you, while I'm not fussed about where I have my wedding, if my fiance and I went through all the trouble of choosing a location, spending the tons of money it costs to reserve and decorate the place, and one of my friends demanded I change the venue because he personally can't handle setting foot in a place belonging to the team he has personally decided belongs to his rivals, that friend will be subsequently invited to fuck off and never speak to me again. Weddings and such are for celebrating the people who are having them. Not platforms for reminding everyone just how self-centered one guest is.

As for the OP, I probably would not go to baptisms, confirmations, etc. It's less so much a moral opposition to the belief expressed, and more the simple reality that most of my friends and family who live within driving distance of me wouldn't invite me such events anyway- either because they wouldn't have the event in the first place or because they see it as a private matter between themselves, their child, and their church. I say if you don't want to go to someone's religious event, don't go. No need to make a huge production out of it, no need to get up on a platform and pontificate. Just say you won't be able to make it. If a friend invited you to their kid's 5th grade recorder concert, would you feel the need to launch into a diatribe about how you oppose recorders? Or would just just say, "Sorry, I can't make it."

As for prayers, I usually opt not to participate in the way that is least disruptive to the people who wish to participate.

Well, I like them, the paster at my church (Lutheran) is pretty good (and not extreme), so I enjoy them. I guess I have too considering I am going to get married, have my children Baptised, and partake in communion....the like once every 2 months I go.

The only services I actively avoid are the ones specifically designed for preaching/outreach/evangelism, what have you.

Personal services for friends, I'll go. I don't actively pray (no point) but I will sing as some hymns are right belters.

In all honesty, if I was living back at home I'd still be going to my old church, as most of the people I know from home still go. I'd be pretty straight with them about not believing in it though, although I'd be more willing to let some people know than others. I'd be interested to see how keen they are in letting an atheist counterpoint be presented within their schedule, as they've recently been surveying former members to find out why they left the church.

Eh.

Lots of people think differently to me, because they aren't all perfect like I am.

But, due to my great humility, I've learnt (quickly, of course) to put up with it.

How is it different from another other...I don't want to say "silly quirk" or eccentricity, but you know what I mean. Why do some people have to make the bed every morning? I don't know, but I'm not going to stop talking to them because of it. It has about the same impact on my life.

Religion is important to a lot of people i care about, and its not like i'm going to burst into flame if i go into a church, so personally i think it's important to go and be respectful. Having said that, I wont say the Nicene creed or take communion or any of the things which are about confirming ones faith, because that would be a lie.

As a plus, there's usually tea and cakes after the service, although that inevitably means some well-meaning person from the church will try and give me the "such a shame you can't make it more often" talk. That can be annoying.

I tend to enjoy them, oddly enough.

It was rather awkward when my cousin got married in the catholic church, though. Being a protestant, I didn't know all the things they were doing.

tstorm823:
Religious ceremonies can be so cool, though. If you are free this Saturday evening, you should find the Catholic church near you and go to the Easter Vigil mass. There's fires and crazy bells and probably the reading with the chariots and charioteers... best mass of the year. Even if you actively resent Catholicism, it can be fun like an art exhibit.

Really? The one I went to on Easter a few years ago (My dad's side of the family is Catholic) didn't have any of that cool stuff.

CM156:

Really? The one I went to on Easter a few years ago (My dad's side of the family is Catholic) didn't have any of that cool stuff.

Was it the Vigil? Only Saturday night Easter mass has the cool stuff. Sunday morning is basically a normal mass.

tstorm823:

CM156:

Really? The one I went to on Easter a few years ago (My dad's side of the family is Catholic) didn't have any of that cool stuff.

Was it the Vigil? Only Saturday night Easter mass has the cool stuff. Sunday morning is basically a normal mass.

Ah, it was Sunday morning. Didn't see anything cool, sadly.

At my church, it's packed and it's always the same story

My father used to be a dominee (vicar? minister? preacher? none of these terms really catch it, but you get the idea) in a vrijzinnig hervormde (...liberal reformed?) church. I'd come every Christmas, and afterwards we'd drink alcohol and have wonderful snacks with the entire family.

I'm not religious, but it was a pleasant tradition and the man really enjoyed it when I was there.

Now I don't care for God (and if He exists, I'm certain He feels likewise about me), but I'm not going to be the pedantic arsehole who refuses to step into Church. My father was really touched when I held a short speech when he went into retirement.

Same for other cases. A good friend is having his/her child baptized and want me to come? Sure, i'll be there. They want to marry in church? Heck, I'll be there. My girlfriend would like me to come to Church every once in a while? Sure honey, I'll tag along every once in a while.

I don't have an (anti)religious agenda, so I can be in church without being part of the church community.

OneCatch :

I'll go along to most things, but I don't like singing hymns or any of that stuff.

Neither do the people who go voluntarily. Heyo!

I don't involve myself in any sort of church services and tend to offer up the bare minimum participation in any segment of life that involves religion but I wouldn't shit on a big day for a friend or family member if they specifically invited me to a service.

Considering that my family does not know I am an atheist (my relationship with them is already far too strained), I have to be somewhat more careful with this one... which in some cases merges options 2 and 4 for me. Most of my friends do know though, and the few times I have gone along to churches or something I just sit there and don't get involved... neither do the christian friends actually so it really comes down to "don't laugh so loud that they stop the service" in cases like that.

I am not a violent anti-theist so while I don't feel comfortable at such events, I won't make a large fuss over them.

If it's something for someone else, such as a Baptism, then of course I'd go and support them. I may be an Atheist but that doesn't mean I'm going to criticize people of faith that I know for what they chose to do. That being said, I don't go to church on Easter, and I don't go to church on Christmas or anything like that out of personal preference. But I still eat chocolate bunnies and give presents and what not. I just don't personally attach religious connotations to any of it. I know I used holidays, instead of ceremonies, but the same sort of logic goes, for me.

My best friend is Catholic. He knows I'm an atheist and respects that fact, but sometimes will ask me if I'd like to go to church or the like. He's not trying to convert me; he just wants to share a cultural experience which gives him a lot of happiness. I'm always happy to oblige, and in fact I find it kind of fun. Attending a church service isn't something I'll do for just anyone, but I'm always willing to go and hang out with a good friend.

For me, fact of the matter is: I never attended any single religious ceremony as far as I'am aware. My family is completely atheist and there haven't been any occurence where my friends invited me to something like that. As such, religious rituals are an utterly strange thing to me.

Would I participate in these rituals if it would come to that? Well, yeah I guess. Depends largely on the situation. But aside from that, actually witnessing one of these rituals first hand would prove to be interesting.

Most of my friends are atheists so I'm fairly certain I won't be attending any religious rituals in the near future, even moreso considering neither of them want to get married. Of course, shit happens so, yeah.

If you go to someone's house, and they typically pray before a meal, and you refuse to just be polite and wait for them to pray before you start eating, you are an asshole. What you do in your house is your business, but when you go to someone's home other than your own, you should show them due respect. It's not really any different from them wanting you to take off your shoes.

If you are invited to a wedding but you refuse to go because it's being held in a church - and for no other reason - you are pretty much a shitty friend. This also applies to funerals and other such ceremonies. Now, if you have other reasons - it's a long distance, you don't even like this person, you just don't want to go...well, you might still be a dick, but you're not quite as much of one.

Seriously, why is it so hard to just be polite? If I were eating at someone else's house and they -didn't- pray, I'd either forgo the prayer or do it silently and quickly to show respect. This isn't difficult, people, it's common courtesy.

Friends and family > petty ideological squabbles.

If someone I care about is getting married I A) want them to be as happy as possible on that day and B) want to see the moment for myself, since I care about important moments in their lives. I will gladly stroll into a church if it helps either of these goals to be attained.

Also, in reference to the prayer thing a few people have brought up, I have no issue with others saying grace or something similar before a meal (although I've never actually seen anyone do that in real life, am I correct in thinking that's really more of an American thing?), as long as they obviously don't expect me to join in, which I think demonstrates mutual host-guest respect.

If it's important either to me or to someone close to me then I'll sit through it but if I have a choice I'll bow out of it. Note that this applies to stuff that actually serves some purpose, like weddings or funerals or other such events. If I get invited along to a Sunday mass or some shit, there'd have to be a damn good reason for me to go.

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