The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


February 17, 2009

A graceful way to say grace?

A “Dear Amy” question on “grace” left readers divided. A woman asked how to handle saying grace before Christmas dinner when guests include atheists and people of faith (at Thanksgiving, her boyfriend’s mother announced they would say a prayer). Amy advised tolerance: “When you host, you could start by saying, ‘We don’t say grace before meals, but if you would like to, you are welcome to.’ ... Your family has every right not to pray; sitting quietly if others choose to shouldn’t be too challenging. After all, as atheists you are voluntarily hosting Christmas dinner, which is, after all, a religious holiday.”

In January, a reader suggested “thankfuls”—her atheist family shares something for which they are thankful.

The discussion continued over two more columns, with comments such as “If someone doesn’t believe ‘in prayer,’ one should not feel obligated to accommodate it” and “Would devil worshipers insist their atheist or other believing friends join them in the meal prayer to their particular ‘God’?”

Divided indeed. Any thoughts?

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