Doris, You might consider, this holiday season, telling coworkers that you celebrate HumanLight on Dec 23rd. It's a celebration of humanity, reason, and hope. There's a HumanLight group here, for more information. You could even put an ornament on your desk, if they decorate their desks with Christmas stuff. This one is $10. If you're interested in waaay overpriced tee shirts etc. Check out my store at Cafe Press. We've been celebrating HumanLight for quite a few years now.
It's hard to rise above this kind of crap. I look on it as observing some strange athropological death throe reflexes of a dangerous mental virus that is only slowly leaving us, unless we die of it first. It's always fought to survive. We find antibiotics and it regroups and evolves into another variation. I think we might be gradually closing in on it now.
I had a Jehovah's Witness working at my last place of work. I never told her I was an atheist (I was there to work, and it would have been a real uphill struggle anyway), but my colleague who was agnostic but believed in 'angels' used to start conversations with her designed to bait me. She'd say in a loud voice "Oh but atheism is just a belief system as well", (yeah, like that belief system of not believing in unicorns or Santa Claus, or anything else you can't see or hear). Then the J.V. would enthusiastically agree. I just acted busy. But when I had a few life traumas the bloody Watchtower started getting left on my desk.
Another highly religious friend paid me a compliment once that spoke volumes about his faith He said I behaved in a more Christian way than many of his Christian friends...soooo...I waited for him to start to make some connections. No, instead I was (he died 2 years ago) for many years told that I would one day come to God because I had a "Christian heart". That was annoying. No, y'see, this is simply how atheists behave, mostly.
But I haven't had exactly your experience Doris. Just remember, there's all of us out here!
It's hard for me to understand why otherwise rational people subscribe to belief systems that usually contradict there own morals, then wonder how people with no belief have morals. However, the workplace is not an appropriate place to push a belief or disbelief on anyone, and i certainly wouldn't be shy to say so when someone behaves that way. I would think that participating in a game like that isn't likely to work out very well. I hope you have some better luck in dealing with these silly people in the future.
I am the lone atheist and liberal in my office, luckily, I work with really open minded and wonderful people who would never try to push their beliefs on me or make me feel poorly for what I believe. The women you work with have an obvious lack of respect for others around them. Don't let it get to you too much, though, if they disrespect you in like that then they are disrespecting others as well (probably not for atheism but for plenty more.) Remember that you are the reasonable one. I really like Ruth's idea about HumanLight. I had never heard of it before and am looking forward to researching it. My family always celebrated Christmas but in a religious manner, it was about family not a deity, but I think that HumanLight would fit us (or at least me better.)
I am truly sorry that you have to put up with that. Whenever someone says "I'll be praying for you," I usually respond with "I appreciate you keeping me in your thoughts." It's non confrontational and appreciative, without being like "that's the last damn place I want to be." I am open and honest about my atheism but I try not to be a jerk about it. If someone sneezes I say "health" instead of "bless you." But I always respond with "thank you" if someone says "bless you" to me when I sneeze just out of respect.
I think that maybe you should have a respectful discussion with these women about your concerns. You deserve to work an environment where you feel 100% comfortable.
the biggest thing I hated about work was -always- office gossip and the music they played--I also worked every Sunday(truck day--I didn't mind getting up at 4am to start my shift at 6am--I was out of there by 2pm), and so I'd end up showing religious people just after church where everything was(after about noon was our busiest time).
But no, the gossip and the music--luckily in an office environment they likely don't play music for -everyone- but at my job they would always pick a local church station.
I highly suggest you point out that because you, as an atheist, only have one life to live and consider yourself accountable for all actions--you're much less likely to do something bad than someone who can simply pray about it and be forgiven--and if someone talks about how they're "raising their children in a good christian home" I'd point out that hell is a terrifying concept for children, and you wouldn't want your child living in fear forever of some mythical hades.
You will have to carefully slip these in--but they're all true, and run contradictory to how your gossipy coworkers react--and now that you're out, you will need to protect yourself from them--they could eventually ostracize you or attempt to get you fired.
This IS one reason why if I got hired in an office, I'd end up begging to telecommute most of the time.