advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
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07-06-2014, 07:11 AM
Question advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
Hi Folks. This is my first post (from the US) and I hope this is the right place to write. I'd like your advice about my fundamentalist Christian inlaws in this country's bible belt. I'm 51, I realized I'm an atheist in my 20s, I've been married for 28 years, and I'm endured by them. I think they know my non-beliefs, but it's never talked about. (They used to think I'm a Catholic, which is how I was raised - the bastards - and /that/ was considered bad enough when I was dating. [1])

To the point, I'm sick and tired of enduring the heartfelt, earnest, and serious short prayers my wife's family does at meals. (We visit them only 1-2x/year, thankfully.) I find them deeply offensive and repellant. For almost three decades I've been silent during these prayers, just sitting with my eyes open and passively waiting for it to end, but I'm ready to push back, and I'd love your advice on how to do this.

I like the idea of "I respect your right to have beliefs, but not necessarily the beliefs themselves'" (love the sinner, hate the sin? :-), and I don't want my wife to be to discomfited or my inlaws to feel personally attacked.

Maybe I could stand or leave the room during them (explaining why), or (at the other extreme) disrupt during the prayers, but that seems extreme, given that I'm not technically family.

Any thoughts would be helpful, thanks!

[1] My to-be mother in law told my wife that "I'd almost rather you marry a black man than a Catholic." Sweet.
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07-06-2014, 07:34 AM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
My inlaws are the same way and like you I'm glad I only see them 1-2 times a year and I try to stretch it out longer if I can.

I just try to think about how my actions will affect my spouse. Because I know they will drag him into the middle of it. When they confront me directly- I push back, then they stop talking with me and nag my spouse privately. So in the end-my husband gets caught in the middle of hearing me rant about them and them emailing about how I'm so aggressive and just don't understand possibly because I might be a non believer.
<insert eyeroll>

I have decided that my husbands happiness is more important than my 5 minutes of discomfort 1-2 times a year during prayer time at meals. I suck it up. I'm glad I have children, I usually sit across from them so we can look at and smile at each other, and try to hold in giggles (yes-its childish, but so are the prayers). We are respectful without participating.

My husband has had to endure the crazy from my family--they aren't religious crazy--they are hillbilly, angry, want to fight crazy. So in the end, we live faraway from the others, and just deal with life the best we can--as a team. And try not to make life worse for each other by poking the crazy people in our lives with a stick.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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07-06-2014, 07:36 AM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
Let them. It's their house, and they're not forcing you to participate or harming you or anyone else by praying to their sky fairy for not having killed any of them in their sleep, or whatever. If they are forcing you to participate, however, you should say something (preferably something tactful, seeing as how you're dealing with racist bigots, AKA fundamentalists).
I'd advise against telling them you're an atheist, though, unless your wife isn't like them and won't divorce you due to parental pressure. Of course, get ready for a serious shitstorm if you do tell them.

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07-06-2014, 08:36 AM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
My mom is a Pentecostal fire breathing accept jesus as your personal savior or spend eternity in hell minister.....yeah. She knows I don't believe, although I have never said to her "I am a militant atheist"...we just avoid the subject. If we are at a dinner (she lives in florida and I in Virginia so it doesnt happen often) I just sit there and blank out while looking around while they clutch hands and pray to baby jesus..her husband is so bat shit crazy about it he goes on forever. In the wish to keep it peaceful I just smile politely if he tells me the latest story of a personally witnessed miracle or whatever delusion he thinks he saw...it is afterall once every year or so I go down to see them...I can endure anything for a few minutes. Why try to engage someone who is so out of their mind they wouldn't hear reason anyway, and I don't want to upset my mom..she doesn't push me, I don't bother to engage.

Now if they try to insist you participate in the babble for baby jesus, then I would interject with, sorry, not my personal beliefs but I respect yours...continue without me.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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07-06-2014, 08:49 AM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
You can take anything for a few minutes a year and do it politely. Sitting through a couple of short prayers, and keeping your mouth shut about it, cannot hurt you.
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07-06-2014, 02:19 PM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
(07-06-2014 07:34 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  My inlaws are the same way and like you I'm glad I only see them 1-2 times a year and I try to stretch it out longer if I can.

I just try to think about how my actions will affect my spouse. Because I know they will drag him into the middle of it. When they confront me directly- I push back, then they stop talking with me and nag my spouse privately. So in the end-my husband gets caught in the middle of hearing me rant about them and them emailing about how I'm so aggressive and just don't understand possibly because I might be a non believer.
<insert eyeroll>

I have decided that my husbands happiness is more important than my 5 minutes of discomfort 1-2 times a year during prayer time at meals. I suck it up. I'm glad I have children, I usually sit across from them so we can look at and smile at each other, and try to hold in giggles (yes-its childish, but so are the prayers). We are respectful without participating.

My husband has had to endure the crazy from my family--they aren't religious crazy--they are hillbilly, angry, want to fight crazy. So in the end, we live faraway from the others, and just deal with life the best we can--as a team. And try not to make life worse for each other by poking the crazy people in our lives with a stick.

This all the way Thumbsup

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07-06-2014, 05:08 PM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
(07-06-2014 07:11 AM)matthewcornell Wrote:  Hi Folks. This is my first post (from the US) and I hope this is the right place to write. I'd like your advice about my fundamentalist Christian inlaws in this country's bible belt. I'm 51, I realized I'm an atheist in my 20s, I've been married for 28 years, and I'm endured by them. I think they know my non-beliefs, but it's never talked about. (They used to think I'm a Catholic, which is how I was raised - the bastards - and /that/ was considered bad enough when I was dating. [1])

To the point, I'm sick and tired of enduring the heartfelt, earnest, and serious short prayers my wife's family does at meals. (We visit them only 1-2x/year, thankfully.) I find them deeply offensive and repellant. For almost three decades I've been silent during these prayers, just sitting with my eyes open and passively waiting for it to end, but I'm ready to push back, and I'd love your advice on how to do this.

I like the idea of "I respect your right to have beliefs, but not necessarily the beliefs themselves'" (love the sinner, hate the sin? :-), and I don't want my wife to be to discomfited or my inlaws to feel personally attacked.

Maybe I could stand or leave the room during them (explaining why), or (at the other extreme) disrupt during the prayers, but that seems extreme, given that I'm not technically family.

Any thoughts would be helpful, thanks!

[1] My to-be mother in law told my wife that "I'd almost rather you marry a black man than a Catholic." Sweet.

Not worth making a scene, IMO. Whenever people start praying around me, I say "Excuse me, i need to use the restroom".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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07-06-2014, 06:43 PM (This post was last modified: 07-06-2014 09:02 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
(07-06-2014 07:11 AM)matthewcornell Wrote:  For almost three decades I've been silent during these prayers, just sitting with my eyes open and passively waiting for it to end, but I'm ready to push back, and I'd love your advice on how to do this.

I'm 51 as well. Been married to a good Catholic girl going on 30 years now. At family gatherings prayer time I bow my head, close my eyes and take a nap (some of them prayers are interminable). More than once ManlyGirl has had to elbow me to wake me up. They don't seem offended. More like puzzled. "Does he have narcolepsy Sue?" "No but he says he's working on it." Big Grin

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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07-06-2014, 07:09 PM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
(07-06-2014 07:11 AM)matthewcornell Wrote:  Hi Folks. This is my first post (from the US) and I hope this is the right place to write. I'd like your advice about my fundamentalist Christian inlaws in this country's bible belt. I'm 51, I realized I'm an atheist in my 20s, I've been married for 28 years, and I'm endured by them. I think they know my non-beliefs, but it's never talked about. (They used to think I'm a Catholic, which is how I was raised - the bastards - and /that/ was considered bad enough when I was dating. [1])

To the point, I'm sick and tired of enduring the heartfelt, earnest, and serious short prayers my wife's family does at meals. (We visit them only 1-2x/year, thankfully.) I find them deeply offensive and repellant. For almost three decades I've been silent during these prayers, just sitting with my eyes open and passively waiting for it to end, but I'm ready to push back, and I'd love your advice on how to do this.

I like the idea of "I respect your right to have beliefs, but not necessarily the beliefs themselves'" (love the sinner, hate the sin? :-), and I don't want my wife to be to discomfited or my inlaws to feel personally attacked.

Maybe I could stand or leave the room during them (explaining why), or (at the other extreme) disrupt during the prayers, but that seems extreme, given that I'm not technically family.

Any thoughts would be helpful, thanks!

[1] My to-be mother in law told my wife that "I'd almost rather you marry a black man than a Catholic." Sweet.

Hello and welcome to the board!

I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. Your situation is most likely going to be difficult, no matter how you go about this. If it were me, I think that I would try revealing my atheism, in small doses, so as to not create a horribly uncomfortable situation for any of you, all at once. Have you talked to your wife about this? She might be able to give you the best advice, with regards to her family.

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. ~Mark Twain
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07-06-2014, 07:25 PM
RE: advice in dealing with fundamentalist inlaws praying at meals?
(07-06-2014 07:11 AM)matthewcornell Wrote:  Hi Folks. This is my first post (from the US) and I hope this is the right place to write. I'd like your advice about my fundamentalist Christian inlaws in this country's bible belt. I'm 51, I realized I'm an atheist in my 20s, I've been married for 28 years, and I'm endured by them. I think they know my non-beliefs, but it's never talked about. (They used to think I'm a Catholic, which is how I was raised - the bastards - and /that/ was considered bad enough when I was dating. [1])

To the point, I'm sick and tired of enduring the heartfelt, earnest, and serious short prayers my wife's family does at meals. (We visit them only 1-2x/year, thankfully.) I find them deeply offensive and repellant. For almost three decades I've been silent during these prayers, just sitting with my eyes open and passively waiting for it to end, but I'm ready to push back, and I'd love your advice on how to do this.

I like the idea of "I respect your right to have beliefs, but not necessarily the beliefs themselves'" (love the sinner, hate the sin? :-), and I don't want my wife to be to discomfited or my inlaws to feel personally attacked.

Maybe I could stand or leave the room during them (explaining why), or (at the other extreme) disrupt during the prayers, but that seems extreme, given that I'm not technically family.

Any thoughts would be helpful, thanks!

[1] My to-be mother in law told my wife that "I'd almost rather you marry a black man than a Catholic." Sweet.

Welcome to our community!

I don't think I could ever say anything. You wrote its only a couple times a year that you share a meal. I would just be polite, compliment the cook and offer to help clean up. In their home you're not just a son-in-law, you're a guest.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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