Post # 1
My fiance and I are not religious. If I had to identify myself, I’d say I lean closer to Atheism, whereas my FI has no interest in religion or spirituality.
Growing up, my mom was/is devoutly Christian. From a very young age my brother and I we were indoctrinated into beliefs beyond our comprehension or understanding. We went to church or church events a minimum of 5 days a week.
We were encouraged to only have Christian friends. Anyone that wasn’t, it was our duty to convert them. Dating was strictly forbidden (I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 19).
When I was a child I only liked going because I made friends and played with the other children. I never felt or believed in a divine force. As I got older, I found it hypocritical and oppressive. Around the age 14, I told my mom I didn’t believe in any of it. I was still forced to go and participate because “I lived under her roof.” Our relationship was very strained for years once I “came out” as an Atheist. We now never bring up the subject.
My mom is now doing the same thing to my little nieces.
Sunday they came over our house to swim. I made lunch. As we’re all about to bite into our sandwiches my mom says, “Wait! We have to pray. Join hands.” This made FI and I very uncomfortable. She knows how we feel about this. I said they could silently pray.
The weird thing is, my mom doesn’t even pray before meals at her own home. If she does, she definitely doesn’t make announcements, holds hands, and says a prayer out loud.
What is a tactful way I can tell her that I respect her right to her religion, but to not bring it into our home?
Post # 2
I don’t know how to tell a religious woman not to practice her religion when she’s in your home. That seems rude IMHO.
Asking everyone to pray is too much. So I would tell her she can pray on her ownm, but you are not going to participate.
I had Muslim guests over my home. Instead of telling them to check their faith at the door I pointed them East when they needed to pray. These guests did not try to convert or impose their religion on me.
Post # 3
I don’t know. There’s no real tactful way to say, “Hey. Your religion isn’t welcome here.” Perhaps instead ask her to pray instead of involving everyone else? If I am at someone’s house and they want to pray, I will respectfully bow my head (I am an atheist) but I will not join in. I just want to be polite. If they want to pray in my home that’s fine, but perhaps they should pray quietly to themselves?
Post # 4
That’s tricky. I would try to talk to her sometime about this issue and let her know your feelings. Would she be open to praying privately to herself?
Post # 5
SprinkleDonut: This is going to open a can of worms, regardless of how you try to talk to her. If this really bothers you, I would just ask her to pray silently. Speaking as a Christian, I find the “display” piety with your nieces, at your home, that she does not practice in her own manipulative. I don’t think you should forbid her to practice her faith because it will give her a platform to cry victim from. I think the less attention you give to this, the better.
Your story is why I have never forced my daughter to go to church. She goes on her own now as older teenager, because it is something she wants to do, not has to do.
Post # 6
- Wedding: A very pretty church.
SprinkleDonut: The tables have turned, your house, your rules. She can indoctrinate your nieces on her own time.
Post # 7
CurlyCue: Of course. I’ve been in situations where I’m at some event, or someone’s house where they are praying. I will not participate, but I’m not going to make a stink about it because I’m at their home, or their guest.
Hyperventilate: Yeah, that’s why I just asked them to silently pray. I didn’t want to get into an argument about it in front of the kids.
Bridey77: You hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me so much and made both of us so uncomfortable. I feel like it was a strategic, manipulative move on her part. Her way of “saving me” or sneaking God into my house. She doesn’t do it at home, so why all of a sudden now?
Taiki: Yeah. I guess that’s why I’m trying to figure out a way of telling her this. My nieces were about to bite into the sandwich like FI and I when my mom had to try and take over. I feel like it’s some weird form of control.
Post # 8
- Wedding: December 2014 - Columbia, SC
SprinkleDonut: What religion were you that you were at the church for something 5 days a week?
You can not tell her she can not pray while in your home, unless you want her to never be in your home again. If you had chosen a religon, opposite hers, how would you feel if she told you that you could not pray or whatever it would be?
Post # 9
- Wedding: A very pretty church.
SprinkleDonut: It is.
It sounds like (from what you wrote) that your nieces are not used to saying grace either. When you are eating with people who are, you feel it, there’s a pause, no one is poised over the food… If they were just as ready to chow down that food as you were, that tells you something 😉
This was a power play by your mother, she knows how you feel and she did it in your house. I would encourage being super polite about it, only because Christians love to be ‘persecuted’, but it is your house! She can pray if she wants, but the rest of you can and should be eating as she does. Show your neices that it is good to be polite but not necessary to show extra deference to religion in a non-religious space. You are more than your mother’s daughter in this situation, you are an aunt and a rolemodel.
If that situation were to happen again, where your mum suggests grace I might say “Well, you are of course welcome to pray, but this is not a religious household and we don’t say grace here, so we will be eating as you do it.” *big secular smile* 😀
Post # 10
Meh, even though she’s actually religious she’s definitely making a show of it specifically for you. The fact that she doesn’t pray at her home before dinner, yet insists on doing it in public at your house speaks volumes. Honestly, just let it happen and don’t let her get a reaction from you. She’s wanting to cause a stir–don’t give her the satisfaction. Just start eating, let her have her moment, and start talking with your husband about how dang good those green beans are.
Post # 11
SprinkleDonut: I think the best way to go about this is to simply take your mother aside one day and say that you respect her desire to say grace before dinner, but if she is going to do so, please do so silently. Politely explain you do not want “grace” to be a part of every meal that you have together. You have to accept that she may get upset and feel offended. That’s totally her right to do so, however, she should also realize she is a guest in your home and if you aren’t comfortable with what she is doing, she should have the tact to stop. We do not say grace in my family–never have, but I have other family members and friends that do. When I am at their home, I bow my head out of respect and join hands, but I am only thinking of the food I am about to eat, not the thanks I should give. Additionally, when they come to our home, they bow their heads silently and say a few words to themselves and move on. If I had a someone come into my home and request we all join hands and say grace I would have to pull them aside and explain that FI is atheist and I am agnostic at best and due to this we do not want our guests to force us to join in in saying grace. I do agree you probably shouldn’t tell her she can’t practice at all–that is borderline rude; however, you do need to tell her to respect your home, your rules because when she is at your house she is technically under your “roof” now.