No, I will not bow my head with you as a guest at your dinner table. I will not utter prayers or amens with you. I will wait patiently while stealing glances with my comrades, who are stealing knowing glances back at me. Together we share a moment, while you finish your prayers and attempts at absolution.
It’s poor manners to expect another to join in faith traditions they do not share, especially a guest. A guest who, if they do not engage in this still socially acceptable and encouraged form of coercion, are now labeled a “rude guest.” I was also labeled a rude student, “not a patriot” or “un-American” for refusing to stand for the Prayer of Allegiance.
While we wait for the religious proclamations and assertions to be done, we await more anxiously the delightful intelligent discussion, the spirited debates that challenge our friends and ourselves, the seeking of answers and problem solving; once our hosts are done with this display.
My guests are respectfully free to engage in whatever traditions they prefer at my table, as long as they respect those of others, and refrain from proselytizing, or pressuring others to join in. I want my guests to feel welcome after all. If you’re invited to this table, it’s “our table” for the duration. That means — you help with the dishes too! I would feel abhorred if my guests felt pressured to participate in deeply personal rituals and ceremonies not of their proclivity, simply in order to participate in the festivities. Even more so if they were the religious or non-religious minority of the group.
When removed from the dinner table setting, it’s very difficult to problem solve or find those ties that bind us in any environment, particularly the government, or within grass roots movements, if we must first say our prayers, or wait on others to say theirs. Often faith leader after faith leader after faith leader. Yes, I know they mean well. They want to rally everyone to the cause! On the other hand, we know this is nothing more than blustery pandering when coming from our legislators. Nonetheless, and however well intentioned, this is still divisive in essence.
We must keep religion out of schools and our government, for the very same reason we must keep it out of non faith based movements. If you want a religious based movement, then make it one, so others can opt out if they’re so inclined. We too, are a religious movement of our own making, but our efforts are, and will be clearly stated as such, no trickery.
With a larger, broader non-religious based effort and organization, a secular humanistic platform is not only necessary, it’s essential to progress. Like politicians should do (but don’t), we can pray & prep at home if needed, but we should by all means arrive ready to work when called to public service, to action.
Just my two cents. Or, figuring in inflation, my 2 bucks worth.
That’s Hel for you.