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A Religious Person’s Feelings: More Important than an Atheist’s Trauma

So there is a post that has been going around tumblr a lot lately (at the time of writing it had 77k+ notes).

If you have suffered a tragedy and someone says, “you’re in my prayers” with sincerity, and you respond with some egotistical shit about being atheist you are an emotionally inept moron. (original source)

You know, I get the sentiment. The first few times it passed across my dash, I though, yea, sometimes atheists can be real assholes. To be honest I haven’t personally encountered anyone who would be likely to say the above line in the above situation, so it seems like a bit of a strawman sort of an argument in the first place, but hey– maybe I’m wrong.

The more I thought about it, though, the more it started to rub me up the wrong way. In this situation, where somebody has suffered a tragedy in their life, I really don’t believe in policing their behaviour over a person who means well but ultimately is saying something quite insensitive. People are allowed to be ‘emotionally inept’ after suffering a tragedy, that’s kind of what happens.

Grief and loss are already so steeped toward religious thought, and this theoretical non-believer who lashes out in such a way is likely to have had a fair few unwanted religious messages already, and at a time when they’re feeling emotionally vulnerable responding politely isn’t often at the top of their agenda.

Prioritising the feelings of a person not affected by a tragedy over someone who is is really not cool.

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Lauren is a Maths and Physics student from somewhere in the southern hemisphere. She has an affinity for reality, and you can find her on twitter @lolrj, or Google+.

1 Comment

  1. July 24, 2013 at 10:15 am —

    I would actually argue that the person saying “you’re in my prayers” is the more ’emotionally inept’ (and, in fact, I would say ‘rude’) person in this situation. Unless you don’t know that person is an atheist, you’re being a prick by telling them you’re praying for them. (Again, it may be that we’re specifically talking about less-than-close individuals in this case and my comment is unrelated. Idk.)

    If someone who knows I’m an atheist told me this (especially after suffering a tragedy) I would be so pissed. And, you know, I would be pissed (if less so) at someone who *didn’t* know I’m an atheist, too, because that’s just dumping Christian privilege all over me. Since of course they never considered that I’m not a believer and I don’t *want* them praying about me or telling me about it if they do so anyway.

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