WEST CHESTER, Pa.–Atheism is the quickest-growing non-religion in the United States. To celebrate this glorious fact, we are pleased to introduce a series of articles of, by, for, and about atheists. We begin with “Ask Nietzsche, Advice for Atheists,” a column designed to help atheists who find themselves caught in the sticky wickets often created by the bumptious believers of the world—folks whom only an imaginary, all-forgiving god could love.
Last year I went to a friend’s house for Xmas dinner. To everyone’s surprise he insisted that we say grace before dinner, something he had never done before. When a few people, myself included, attempted to make light of the suggestion, he said, “If you don’t like it, you can wait in the bathroom.” I sat there in disbelief (and nonbelief) while he began grace with the ludicrous salutation, “Heavenly Father . . . ” If he invites me back for Xmas dinner this year, what should I do?
Puzzled in Pennsylvania
God is dead, but, unfortunately, the fools who believe in him still walk among us. If you are invited again this year, you could ask your newly pious friend what time he plans to say grace so you can arrange to arrive after that. You could go to his house of prayer and then excuse yourself and head for the bathroom when he begins talking to his heavenly father, or you could tell him politely when he invites you to dinner that you prefer not to eat with people who believe god had a hand in bringing the food to the table, and who address god in such a pompous manner. Heavenly father, indeed!
If you’re ever at someone’s table again and he begins to say grace, raise your hand quietly when he’s finished, announce that you are a Wiccan, and ask if you can thank The Goddess for bringing the vegetables to the table, observing archly that your god is a vegan. Have an invocation ready in case your host is the rare religious person with a shred of tolerance.
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