I’ve been mulling over a situation that happened at an event I was judging this summer. The organizers are friends of mine. They are very outspoken Christians. References to their faith are all through their conversations. As a partially closeted Pagan I have to respect anyone who is that free with sharing what is important to them. But the problem at this event was public prayer.
The first night dinner was for officials only. There was a prayer said aloud over the meal. It was not some generic prayer either. It was of the “Dear Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who died for us….” variety. I looked around and knowing the people in the group, I was probably the only one who was bothered by this. But it happened again the next night at a dinner for all participants. In fact, the food line was already going for the buffet when they called for attention and had a prayer. That’s when the rumbling started. I overheard other people discussing how much it bothered them to have public prayers. What I found interesting was that the main person with the problem also sometimes officiates at events and she was worried about speaking up because she was worried that she would offend people and lose judging jobs.
Now, my friends will have events again. I would like to mention this. I didn’t do it at the time for two reasons. One, they are very emotional. They would have been crushed to think that they had offended people. There would have been sobbing and high drama that we didn’t need at the time. Two, they wouldn’t have understood. To tell them not to express their faith is like telling them not to breathe. Also, that feeds into the world view that they’ve been taught. If people are uncomfortable with Jesus talk then it means that they need to hear it even more.
I was reminded of this because of our foster/adopt classes. They started with asking why we were there. One man said that he was Christian and God wanted him to get back into fostering. That was accepted as an answer as it should have been but it made me wonder what would have been said if I had said that I’m a Pagan and the Goddess wants me to foster or that I did a tarot spread that lead me to that class. This same man also led a public prayer before lunch today. Again, I don’t think it is an attempt to be belligerent. I think it is that some people honestly can’t imagine that what they are doing is offensive.
How do other people handle this? Just ignore it (and possibly slide to the front of the buffet line when everyone else is praying)? Confront and/or educate the person?