David Silverman of American Atheists was asked this question on a radio interview:
Do you get offended when someone says “I’ll pray for you”?
While we all know the sentiment and good intentions behind that phrase, Dave responded that he still considered it to be offensive.
… when someone prays for me, they are trying to change me against my wishes. Yes, of course it will fail, but as the old saying goes “it’s the thought that counts”, and this thought is negative. They are trying to convince their god to “open my heart” or whatever other metaphor they wish to use for “convert by force using your supernatural powers”.
Indeed, praying for someone is an act of religious intolerance.
I don’t think that thought goes through theists’ heads when they say it. It’s like saying, “Bless you” after someone sneezes. You just say it; you aren’t thinking about the meaning.
But at the core, Dave is right. What do religious people mean when they say they’ll pray for atheists?
They pray that we will realize we’re wrong (not that we are).
They pray that God will work His way into our hearts (as if there’s some God-shaped hole waiting to be filled).
No matter how they spin it, they are saying we are wrong. But instead of being so blunt, they try to spin it with positive words, consciously or not.
Do atheists do such things? If we think you’re wrong, we’ll just come out and say it. We’re not trying to sugarcoat our disapproval of religious beliefs.
Do we have any atheistic equivalents of “I’ll pray for you”?
On a side note, my favorite retort to “I’ll pray for you” is “And I’ll think for the both of us.” But that’s a dickish thing to say in response…
(via No God Blog)