What’s the harm in a meaningless ritual after all? It’s polite, respectful of others. Surely christians respect non believers more when they are accommodating in these ways. Or do they?
One of my best friends in the world is a believer. His whole family is deeply religious. Yet we’ve been able to maintain our friendship over the years because we can accept each other without the need to “change” one another. We’ve discussed our personal struggles over the years and pretty much understand where the other one’s coming from. This hasn’t been without it’s occasional difficulty. Holidays and special events like funerals and weddings have me attending what are for all intents and purposes, religious ceremonies. I can attend them without feeling like I’m violating any of my personal principles. My friends wife, whom I also have known for a lifetime, is another fine kettle of fish. She made it her mission to invite me to as many religious ceremonies as she could without making it terribly obvious what she was doing and would publicly put me on the spot at dinners by asking me to lead the invocation or participate in the ritual in some way or other. I’d politely decline, but it was annoying. I asked her privately several times to stop doing it, to no avail. She felt “lead of god” to bring me back into the fold. Finally, I took to carrying a Satanic mass book with me on these outings. Sure enough, she asked me to pray publicly and I dug my little pamphlet out and shared some satanism with them like it was a perfectly ordinary thing for me to do. That brought an immediate halt to to “prayer requests” and of course any further invitations to their family events.
Was it about respecting each others traditions? Well no. It was a passive aggressive attempt at manipulating me over my beliefs. In my experience, joining the blessing is rarely about being polite, and more about manufacturing consent for the primacy of religion. How do I handle those situations now? I ask for equal time for a religion they find distasteful. If they object, it’s a sure sign they’re not about mutual respect.
How do you handle those situations? Do you join the blessing?