When circumstances are terrible, certainly you will suspend your atheism...

I truly hope I don’t come of as a complete jerk with this post as it deals with a sensitive topic (death & prayer). Therefore, I hope no offense is taken, and I really don’t expect any consideirng the demographics of this forum.
Certain times, Christians think it is acceptable to lead a group (outside of the context of any homogenous religious environment in which there could be persons of other religions or atheists) believe is ok to conduct the prayer anywhere. For example, in the workplace there was an unexpected death; a leader in the company said he wanted to say a prayer, aloud and launched right into, “Dear heavenly Father…” For me this was awkward. I am certainly empathetic and saddened by death just as a Christian would be. However, I struggle with the notion that Christians also believe that even atheist suspend their non-belief for situations such as death or when a holiday celebration is underway.
What are your views on this? For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.

For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.
Seems in character. Christians have a habit of making up things and believing stuff that doesn't actually relate to what's happening in the real world. Heck just look at all the Christians obsessing over "right to life" and actively interfering in the personal tragedy of abortion, blowing it up into a contrived energy draining national distraction, while only giving lip service to real life issues of the living poor. All the while waving flags and endorsing exporting bombs and misery and non-stop war mentality to millions of truly innocent bystanders.

Christian priviledge hits the nail on the head.

I truly hope I don't come of as a complete jerk with this post as it deals with a sensitive topic (death & prayer). Therefore, I hope no offense is taken, and I really don't expect any consideirng the demographics of this forum. Certain times, Christians think it is acceptable to lead a group (outside of the context of any homogenous religious environment in which there could be persons of other religions or atheists) believe is ok to conduct the prayer anywhere. For example, in the workplace there was an unexpected death; a leader in the company said he wanted to say a prayer, aloud and launched right into, "Dear heavenly Father..." For me this was awkward. I am certainly empathetic and saddened by death just as a Christian would be. However, I struggle with the notion that Christians also believe that even atheist suspend their non-belief for situations such as death or when a holiday celebration is underway. What are your views on this? For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.
You're right for all the right reasons, but, IMO, a moment like that is not the time to make an issue of it. It's too fraught with emotion. To make an issue of it at that moment would probably backfire and whatever you might say would make everyone even more uncomfortable, even the non believers among you. I would stand still and listen to what he had to say and say nothing but bring up the issue at another time. You could say then that that the prayerlike atmosphere made you feel uncomfortable and that it was inapproropriate in a business setting. If the leader is religious and most of your co-workers are, too, it could be more awkward than having to listen to the prayer in silence and without comment. You have to assess your audience before you make an issue of it. It may seem like the perfect opportunity to make a statement, but it could backfire. You aren't going to change any minds if the odds are stacked against you. Lois
I truly hope I don't come of as a complete jerk with this post as it deals with a sensitive topic (death & prayer). Therefore, I hope no offense is taken, and I really don't expect any consideirng the demographics of this forum. Certain times, Christians think it is acceptable to lead a group (outside of the context of any homogenous religious environment in which there could be persons of other religions or atheists) believe is ok to conduct the prayer anywhere. For example, in the workplace there was an unexpected death; a leader in the company said he wanted to say a prayer, aloud and launched right into, "Dear heavenly Father..." For me this was awkward. I am certainly empathetic and saddened by death just as a Christian would be. However, I struggle with the notion that Christians also believe that even atheist suspend their non-belief for situations such as death or when a holiday celebration is underway. What are your views on this? For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.
You're right for all the right reasons, but, IMO, a moment like that is not the time to make an issue of it. It's too fraught with emotion. To make an issue of it at that moment would probably backfire and whatever you might say would make everyone even more uncomfortable, even the non believers among you. I would stand still and listen to what he had to say and say nothing but bring up the issue at another time. You could say then that that the prayerlike atmosphere made you feel uncomfortable and that it was inapproropriate in a business setting. If the leader is religious and most of your co-workers are, too, it could be more awkward than having to listen to the prayer in silence and without comment. You have to assess your audience before you make an issue of it. It may seem like the perfect opportunity to make a statement, but it could backfire. You aren't going to change any minds if the odds are stacked against you. Lois I certainly agree. I am a very shy and reserved individual and would never speak up about this or under those circumstances. It's just an interesting observation that I wanted to bring to the table for discussion here.

My typical response to “forced prayer” situations like the one you mentioned or even just saying grace before dinner at family gatherings: bow my head and remember that they mean well.
Just about anything else and you’re going to come off as a jerk. I’d love to hear a graceful way to say “no thanks” if anyone knows one.

You’re right, it’s part of the Christian mindset that is really no such thing as an atheist. The apostle Paul said that there is no excuse for not believing in God, and as far as they are concerned, that settles it. So they believe that we are just “faking” being atheists either because we don’t want to be bothered or out of some perverse desire to deny God. So naturally, according to this worldview, when faced with death, we should go running back to God like a frightened child. They just don’t get it. I’m like Scott, though, it costs me nothing to just stand silently and let them get on with it, as long it doesn’t take up too much time. If they were to ask me to lead the prayer, I’d have to tell them I was a Secular Humanist and we don’t pray.

Skeptical people around the world may well embrace their local community’s conventions at times when then feel a particular need for community support. On the other hand, that is not any sort of argument in support of the correctness of that community’s beliefs. Moreover, people who live in non-Christian communities are highly unlikely to embrace Christian beliefs during times such terrible circumstances. They are more likely to embrace the local provincial beliefs that are to be found in the community that they seek support from.
Most people spend a great deal of time telling people around them that they are right about all sorts of things, where those people aren’t right about those things. Sometimes they do so while accepting belief and sometimes they do so while pretending to believe. But that ritual is a fundamental thing that most people do countless times every day. It’s part of the way that most human animals socialize.

I just noticed this discussion is posted twice. Both here and When circumstances are terrible, certainly you will suspend your atheism…] (that last title is supposed to be a link)

I just noticed this discussion is posted twice. Both here and When circumstances are terrible, certainly you will suspend your atheism...] (that last title is supposed to be a link)
Thanks for pointing this out. I have merged the threads. NB: making identical postings is against the rules for this reason.

The only thing I can think of that atheists can do in the business situation described here, if they think they should do anything, is to quietly walk away from the gathering as soon as the prayer begins, saying nothing, but if someone should ask, say, “I don’t believe in prayer and don’t wish to be present for it.”
When faced with “grace” before a meal i would try to not be present at the table during the saying of it… If it is impossible or too awkward to make a graceful retreat, I would sit quietly, not bow my head or hold hands, if that is expected, but would stand or sit with my arms folded and stare straight ahead, perhaps at the speaker. If someone should say something, I would say, “Thank you, I don’t wish to engage in prayer.” But the best thing is to refuse to sit down until grace is over, if you expect it, giving a quiet explanation if challenged. If you are in someone else’s home, you might ask the host if grace is to be said and, if so, say you would prefer to not sit down until it’s over.
Lois

I truly hope I don't come of as a complete jerk with this post as it deals with a sensitive topic (death & prayer). Therefore, I hope no offense is taken, and I really don't expect any consideirng the demographics of this forum. Certain times, Christians think it is acceptable to lead a group (outside of the context of any homogenous religious environment in which there could be persons of other religions or atheists) believe is ok to conduct the prayer anywhere. For example, in the workplace there was an unexpected death; a leader in the company said he wanted to say a prayer, aloud and launched right into, "Dear heavenly Father..." For me this was awkward. I am certainly empathetic and saddened by death just as a Christian would be. However, I struggle with the notion that Christians also believe that even atheist suspend their non-belief for situations such as death or when a holiday celebration is underway. What are your views on this? For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.
I believe many Christians find comfort in their belief that they have control over death (their own, or another's). I believe public prayer is often times, nothing more than a power trip. A way of saying "A co-worker is dead, but we can control the destiny of his 'spirit'. I'm glad I stepped up, to make sure his/her soul is safe from eternal torment." I know this opinion is harsh, and I won't claim that ALL Christians practice such behavior, but I am fairly confident that I HAVE experienced such behavior in the past.
I believe public prayer is often times, nothing more than a power trip.
I've never seen it used in that way. At least not in any non-business settings. In the business environment, however, there can be a certain which-side-are-you regarding politics (as in "only God hating Liberals could be atheists"). I have experienced this, not so much in a formally led prayer but in general conversation. But even there, it has generally been the older individuals. People in their 30's can be "fence-sitters" but most of the people in their 20's have a more humanist point of view on the subject.

Comes to mind a line in a movie by a soldier who is about to shoot an innocent child in the head. When the preacher witnessing the scene begins to pray, the soldier tells the priest, “God is not here today, priest”.
It should be clear by now that prayer has no more influence on events than a simple wish for an end of the horrible situation, “Please (god), let this end”.
How many millions of prayers have been offered by people about to die during the untold wars in history? Did it in any way influence the outcome?
As George Carlin put it, “if God has a Master Plan, why do you expect Him to change His Plan for every soul with a two dollar prayer book?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE (6:15)

I truly hope I don't come of as a complete jerk with this post as it deals with a sensitive topic (death & prayer). Therefore, I hope no offense is taken, and I really don't expect any consideirng the demographics of this forum. Certain times, Christians think it is acceptable to lead a group (outside of the context of any homogenous religious environment in which there could be persons of other religions or atheists) believe is ok to conduct the prayer anywhere. For example, in the workplace there was an unexpected death; a leader in the company said he wanted to say a prayer, aloud and launched right into, "Dear heavenly Father..." For me this was awkward. I am certainly empathetic and saddened by death just as a Christian would be. However, I struggle with the notion that Christians also believe that even atheist suspend their non-belief for situations such as death or when a holiday celebration is underway. What are your views on this? For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.
Why would a Christian expect me start believing in some supernatural entity because "things got tough." I'm sure it would be best that if I seek more truth and facts and keep my mind clear of superstions my chances of voercoing bad times will be greately increased.
I truly hope I don't come of as a complete jerk with this post as it deals with a sensitive topic (death & prayer). Therefore, I hope no offense is taken, and I really don't expect any consideirng the demographics of this forum. Certain times, Christians think it is acceptable to lead a group (outside of the context of any homogenous religious environment in which there could be persons of other religions or atheists) believe is ok to conduct the prayer anywhere. For example, in the workplace there was an unexpected death; a leader in the company said he wanted to say a prayer, aloud and launched right into, "Dear heavenly Father..." For me this was awkward. I am certainly empathetic and saddened by death just as a Christian would be. However, I struggle with the notion that Christians also believe that even atheist suspend their non-belief for situations such as death or when a holiday celebration is underway. What are your views on this? For me, it is a facet of Christian-privilege to believe that even an athiest will believe in a god if the times get really tough.
No one forbids prayer anywhere, as long as it is silent and does not interfere with other people's privacy or on company time. A good management team would declare a short recess to allow for condolences, in whatever form that is offered. I don't see where an atheist's response to crises has any bearing on this. A short recess would allow anyone to does not wish to partake, to withdraw. However, I do agree that the assumption of a right to offer a specific prayer and expect all present to partake is presumptuous. I do wonder what would have happened if the dead person had been Muslim and someone started to recite the Koran.