Are You Around Your Religious Family for the Holidays? December 22, 2009

Are You Around Your Religious Family for the Holidays?

If you’re home with the religious family for the holidays, might as well try to make a game of it!

How will they all respond to your atheism?

I think the winner has to be the person who fills up the entire board first.

Otherwise this will end too quickly…

(Thanks to Paul and Jason for the link!)

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  • I love it :)! My husband and I will definitely have to play some Bingo on Christmas Eve. Although, lately his family hasn’t been as belligerent towards us as they used to be. We may have a better chance with a Bingo card consisting of phrases that are aimed at converting us or phrases about the “real reason for the season” 🙂

  • I love Pascal’s wager as the free square. We were gently reminded that that we would have to respect Christian beliefs if we wanted to spend Christmas with our Christian relatives. *sigh* Why is disagreement construed as disrespect?

  • I love it!

  • Pony

    That’s gold. I’m printing that one out for Xmas!

  • I think I have heard just about all of these. And I have heard “Why are you mad at God?” enough to be on my BINGO board. SIGH!

    This is great!

  • Angie


    What’s my prize?

  • Anonymous

    Shouldn’t it say “closed-minded” not “close-minded”? I think the issue is our minds NOT being close…

  • Loved it, I’ll be printing this out for sure!

    “But you HAVE to believe in something!” – Oh, how much I hear this one, ugh.

  • Jim

    Believe IN GOd!

    Anyone else notice this or was it just me being clueless as always?

  • I can guarantee that I won’t hear any of these but only because I an not at home with the religious family for the holidays. I don’t have a religious family.

    Go me.

  • Joyfulbaby

    I’m so lucky. I’m at my in-laws’ and they’re both atheists! Sweet!

  • Edmond

    Where’s the card with all the rebuttals? I want that one handy!

  • Ashley Moltzan

    I’m with Edmond…I want a card with the rebuttals handy. lol.

  • Although I’m not an atheist, I liked it. But just because some people use some pretty tired old worn out cliches, does that mean that what they are saying is not true? Would it be better if they came up with some new and fresh cliches to use?

  • Derek

    Ouch, honestly … most of us don’t sound like that do we? It was pretty dang funny though.

    Anyhow, just read Hemant’s book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Cheers everyone, and have a very Merry Christmas! I wish a minimum of(or preferably zero) stupid comments to you all =D

  • Peregrine

    I’m not really on the receiving end of any of these tactics in meatspace very often. However, I was surprised how many times the topic of religion came up last weekend. No arguments, no conversion/deconversion attempts. Just… discussion. A little more than average, for a random topic of conversation. Oh well; at least it was civil.

  • I love the free space! I’ve got the “Devils work” once before, and “What am I going to tell my son” one.. This is great.

  • medussa

    Funny, looking at this I realized I hear all of these at work. Can we play this version of Bingo at work?

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    Some rebuttals. The snarkiness of the response is (usually) in proportion to the snarkiness of the original statement.

    • “Where do you get your morals?” ? Same place you get yours: conscience.
    • “You’ll grow out of it.” ? I’ll “grow out” of having grown up? (or) One doesn’t “grow out of” thinking like an adult.
    • “So you want to outlaw all religion?” ? No. Just yours.
    • “You’re what’s wrong with society.” ? Not all of society. Just the part you’re in.
    • “95% of the world believes in God.” ? Not all the same god, though. No single religion constitutes a majority of humanity. Therefore, the correct side, like every side, is in the minority. By your logic, that makes the correct side wrong.
    • “It takes just as much faith to be an atheist.” ? Wouldn’t that make atheism a good thing?
    • “How arrogant.” ? Whether I’m arrogant or not doesn’t affect whether I’m correct or not.
    • “You can’t prove there’s no God!” ? You can’t prove there’s no Invisible Pink Unicorn!
    • “Atheism is a religion too!” ? Wouldn’t that make atheism a good thing?
    • “The evidence for God is all around you.” ? The only thing the world is evidence of is the world itself. There is no kind of evidence for god that couldn’t also be used as evidence for [the FSM / the IPU / fairies / etc].
    • “God loves you anyway.” ? So you don’t have to?
    • “What’s stopping you from committing crimes?” ? Same thing that’s stopping you: conscience.
    • “Pascal’s Wager!” ? What if it’s the wrong god?
    • “Aren’t you afraid of hell?” ? There is no hell to be afraid of.
    • “I feel sorry for you, having no reason to live.” ? I have my own reasons, not someone else’s.
    • “There are no atheists in foxholes.” ? No cowardly ones, anyway.
    • “But you have to believe in something!” ? I believe in reality, in truth, and in cherry cheesecake. Not necessarily in that order.
    • “[Bad evil guy] was an atheist too.” ? Many terrorists are heavily religious, just like you. Doesn’t that make you a terrorist?
    • “What are you going to tell your children?” ? How to live, not how to die.
    • “I’ll pray for you.” ? Out of concern or spite?
    • “You’re doing the devil’s work!” ? So are you. You’re a sinner, after all.
    • “If you read [book], you’d change your mind.” ? Just as surely as you would if you read [book].
    • “You are so closed-minded.” ? How open-minded should I be? Just enough to accept your beliefs and none other?
    • “Stop being intolerant!” ? And deny you your persecution complex?
    • “God doesn’t believe in atheists.” ? God doesn’t have to. (or) How can he love us, if he doesn’t believe we even exist?

    And to throw in one I came across in the comments:

    • “Why are you mad at God?” ? Why are you mad at the Flying Spaghetti Monster? No, really, why?

  • This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/23/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  • Derek

    Some nice rebuttals there Vystrix. I very nearly snarfed my coffee at some of them. Though I would think that they would rather serve to heat an argument rather than promote a mutual respect. Unless, of course your religious person happens to be like myself…but then I can’t really see myself saying any of the “religious statements”.

    … Oh and how dare you imply that there are no Invisible Pink Unicorns! Mine is named Bob. 😉

  • Martin

    Andrew said:

    Although I’m not an atheist, I liked it. But just because some people use some pretty tired old worn out cliches, does that mean that what they are saying is not true? Would it be better if they came up with some new and fresh cliches to use?

    Well, of course bad arguments do not automatically invalidate the idea in question. The point is, no good arguments are ever made.

    And, quite honestly, many of these cliches are pretty ridiculous. No one would say those things, if they thought themselves into the atheist’s position for just one minute. Being angry at something the existence of which I do not believe in? Trying to make me feel guilty toward someone I consider imaginary? Defining intolerance as not sharing someone’s beliefs (mirror, mirror)? Politeness and attempts at education notwithstanding, the sheer thoughtlessness of these reactions is comic.

  • @Vystrix Nexoth

    Nice rebuttals! Short and sweet.

    I’ve heard most of these in small group bible study usually about other people but perhaps also as oblique passive aggressive references to me.

  • Stan

    Fortunately for me most of my family knows but doesn’t really care. Only one relative has ever been notably upset and tried to re-convert me, but it was just that flimsy “I can feel God all around me; where do you think this wonderful world came from?” stuff. We remain on good terms and the subject doesn’t come up often. Doubt I’ll be needing this card, but it’s funny just the same.

  • I’ve made a German version. Does anyone know who came up with this?

  • I just got a, “well, you’re I know you’re much more intelligent than me, but you just have to have faith…” card today.
    Oh, and an “I’ll pray for you.” And I’m not even at the relatives’ yet!

  • @Jim

    You’ll find that “Believe IN GOd” also contains “devil” backwards. It’s like Stairway to Heaven played backwards.

  • nico

    My grandmother, upon hearing that my husband and I are atheist.”there’s no such thing as atheists! You just haven’t found the right church yet.”

    Well, I suppose by a stretch of logic that’s right, but we’re not looking, we don’t want one, and uh, grandma, has the “I haven’t stepped foot in a church or uttered a single religious phrase, or said a mealtime prayer since I was 12” just maybe a tip off?

    I didn’t know how to respond, nor did I want to duke it out with my set in her ways grandmother. But yeesh. No such thing? I’m sitting right in front of you!

  • Bee

    At dinner today my dad (who suddenly thinks he’s mister religious, even though he hasn’t set foot in a church since I was 9 and made him since he was the one sending me to southern baptist private schools even though he wouldn’t even go to sunday service, whereas they made me go to sunday school which meant 6 days a week in that place) wanted to “join hands” around MY dinner table. My 3 year old said “Why?”, and refused (lol, with no prompting from me, may I add) and looked at them like they were nuts. My husband just kept on ladeling food onto his plate (I did grab his arm and make him stop, no point in being impolite) while Dad prattled on with his prayer while noone else was paying much attention. Anyway, I figure wtf, he’s old and getting scared he’ll go to hell when he dies, is all. Shame, but it is what it is.

  • Liz

    Well we had a merry godless christmas. Santa delivered by proxy as usual. All the family came over and we made merry.All is well in Godless Australia.
    I dont know anybody in Australia who says grace before eating.

  • DisGRUNTled

    I love the “There are no Atheists in foxholes”

    My reply to that is usually one of two things.

    1. Of course there are no Atheists in foxholes, because we’re out repelling the enemy assault instead of praying for a non existant invisible being to save us.

    2. Foxholes are for hiding.

  • We didn’t get Bingo, but we got 9 out of 25 between Christmas Eve and Christmas.

  • Hal in Howell MI

    Two quotes about foxholes:

    “‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” – James Morrow

    “The sermon was based on what he claimed was a well-known fact, that there were no Atheists in foxholes. I asked Jack what he thought of the sermon afterwards, and he said, ‘There’s a Chaplain who never visited the front.’” – Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus, p. 182.

  • Well so far at a pre-Christmas get-together at my brother’s house and then with my own family at my house on Christamas day, not one word about god or religion. We have one party at a friend’s house and a visit at my in-law’s to go. With any luck I will be shut-out at BINGO this year.

  • teammarty

    There needs to be a way randomly move the squares around for each printing. Itherwise, everyone at the same party would fill out the same squares and the game would always be a tie.

  • Dan

    No “If God didn’t create the universe, what did”?
    Still good stuff though

  • I actually blogged about the “atheists in foxholes” canard a couple of times:

    Summary: my father was in literal foxholes during World War Two, and later died slowly and horribly of a chronic and incurable disease. He never decided “Since I’m scared, God must be real” and died as atheistic as he had been my whole life.

  • That is classic. Good thing I didn’t need it this year (since all of my wife’s immediate family is non-religious)

  • Baconsbud

    I see myself as lucky since out of the 35 of us there only 2 maybe 3 of us aren’t religious. The only thing that was even close to being religious was the prayer and that was all of maybe 15 words. The family doesn’t believe it is something that should be pushed on others. It is seen as a personnel thing and each to their own. There was one weird thing and would like to know if anyone else has had this come up. We were playing a card game and I said this sucks. I was asked by another adult to watch the language. When did this suck become bad language during a card game.

  • csrster

    Nico makes a good point. The “you’re not really an atheist, you just think you are” gambit is surprisingly common. That said, since my father died (and after I moved away from the USA) I hardly ever hear any of these any more.

  • I had a completely different reaction at Christmas this year. I’m not comfortable ‘coming out’ with my family yet. I have no doubt that they’ll be okay with it after a while, but the problem is that I didn’t want to make a big stink about it over Christmas.

    Since they don’t know, they asked me to go to church on Christmas Eve, to which I refused of course. They didn’t ask why. That night, they made a quip about my being a heathen and ‘hating Jesus’ at which point I was like “Yep.”

    The shock in their faces let me know that if I even told them I was an atheist, that they would probably start yelling or crying or something of that sort. I know they won’t disown me (though I’m living by myself) but I know that they’ll ostracize me and choose to begin preaching to me.

    It was a very uncomfortable situation, though, because my family would make little digs at things that I wanted to speak out against, but couldn’t – “800 snowfall records broken, guess that declares Global Warming dead.” “They should start profiling Muslims at airports instead of causing problems for normal people.”

    So, no Atheist Bingo for me this year, next year for sure.

  • JM

    Oh my god! (hehehe) The “atheism is a religion too” line… I hear that all the f’ing time and it drives me mad. And being a scientist, my family tells me I’ve replaced god with science, or god with Darwin, or god with… what’s next? A petri dish? Do they think I’m praying at my lab bench? It is, however, a little annoying when science does something good for them an they are so ungrateful. “Praise GOD the dialysis is working!”… “Thank the LORD the doctor chose the right antibiotics!” If science were my god, then science would be pissed about not getting any damn credit.

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