Thanksgiving is once again upon us and while this is a time in which we should all reflect on who and what we are thankful, for many atheists this is also a time of deep anxiety. Many atheists spend their Thanksgiving with deeply religious families. Some atheists have families that are not that religious, but choose to use Thanksgiving to suddenly become temporary fundamentalists. The Thanksgiving table can often be the battleground of some very awkward conversations.
Every situation is different. Some atheists are in the closet to their families. Others are pretty open, but may still be in the closet to an older relative or two. The sad fact is that our very existence can often times be an insult to some religious believers. This puts us in an awkward position. Do we let those we love who are such believers know that we don’t believe and risk insulting them by our mere existence or do we stay silent and let those family members continue to demonize us at the dinner table?
Too many religious believers don’t really have much consideration to how they might be insulting to us and yet the burden to “keep the peace” at the thanksgiving table often falls upon us.
Again, I don’t have the answers here because every situation is different. Every family is different. For me, I don’t usually hold my tongue much. My family, in-laws, and extended family pretty much know where I stand and that I don’t like to hold back. However, there are times that I do hold back when there is an older relative or family friend at the table who might take offense to the mere existence of an atheist.
On those occasions, I tend to let the religious believers start the conversation and then jump is as a voice of moderation. I don’t go “full atheist” as they say, but I often do try to at the very least hint at my religious skepticism.
What’s your Thanksgiving story and how do you handle it? After Thanksgiving dinner, please come back to this post and leave a comment about your family situation and your reaction. Is there a particular religious believer at the dinner table that you had to engage? If so, what happened? Please share your Thanksgiving experience.
Check out my other Thanksgiving articles and share them too: