I've always felt a bit uncomfortable saying "amen" at the end of religious invocations at family weddings, baptisms, even thanksgivings. But I also realize its such a trivial thing, so I don't want to interrupt things by refusing to participate. What do you do in situations like these?

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I just remain silent through the whole thing... easy enough... call it "silent protest" if you will no one's ever looked at me sideways for this practice. I use the time to think about the reasons behind the ceremony, the people getting married, my family, I try to purposefully conjure up good thoughts and bask in appreciation for those things... i mean that's really what the prayer is doing, I just don't need to invoke "god" in order to appreciate my life, friends and family.
I have to go to a lot of Catholic weddings, being at a phase where all my friends are getting married. I usually just sit quietly and show no disrespect, go with the flow and all without actually participating. I stand when they stand, I sit when they sit, I sit when they kneel. I simply refuse to kneel to their delusions.
I remain quiet. I'll stand and sit with them, but I don't kneel and I don't pray or recite anything else with them.
I don't do amen. I just sit, or stand or whateverhaveya. I don't bow my head or close my eyes either. I just sit quietly and wait for the deed to be done. I keep hoping that one day I will catch someone else not bowing their head or closing their eyes...so far no luck.

I was in a really uncomfortable spot at work last year, though. We have this winter celebration where a couple of departments get together and play dirty santa. It's fun. Well, we had a guest come last year who is a minister and he was invited to speak at the party. He asked us to stand in a circle and join hands, and I started panicking. So, I got into the circle and was holding hands with my boss on one side! Ewwww!!!! :D

Anyway, so then the prayer happened and I did my usual standing there and doing nothing. BUT, then the minister guy told us to go around and give thanks. *THE HORROR*. I was in the middle across from him, so I had a bit of time to think, but not nearly enough. Meanwhile, all of my colleagues were praising Jesus before me. Then it got to my turn, and I said "I'm glad to be alive". That was it. No thank you to a higher power or anything else. Hahah.

My colleagues looked a bit horrified. I never want to do something like that again. I am just going to avoid any holiday festivities from now on. I feel dirty.
I wouldn't have even stood in the circle.
When I get invited to family & friends baptisms and things I generally go along to show my support for the family. I don't take part in the ceremony, just sit quietly and wait. I think if I did take part then I'd be mocking them, I'm up for a discussion about religion and god, but an arguement during a family party is never good.

Last week I went to my Mums funeral, she was Catholic and the service was in her parish church. I sat at the front, I stared at my mums coffin. I stood at the relevant parts, I was with my Dad and brother and sister. My beliefs were of secondary concern at that moment. But amongst all the ceremony there was nothing of value to me, nothing that I could take away about the service, nothing at all. It was all empty gestures and incense.

These very difficult time for me has strengthened my atheism. The knowledge that my mum is always with me, and my children. She is quite literally the essence of who we are and every generation that my come... its in the genes and in the way I've been brought up. THAT is more beautiful thing, a more "divine" experience that any religion could offer me.

So to answer your question, just don't take part, they should respect you as much as you respect them. And the reality is so much better than the fantasy.
I am honestly always frightened by Catholic ceremonies. Anyone who has ever been inside of a RC church knows that there is a great deal of weirdness going on. The scariest thing that happens, in my humble opinion, is the "Peace be with you" stuff. You are supposed to turn around and shake hands and talk with all your neighbors (whom you've never met) and with them "peace." I just shook hands with everyone around me.

I've also been in a RC wedding once, as a groomsman. The groom's father actually gave out the Jesus crackers, and I had to take one, too, which was very weird to everyone around, since NONE of the groomsmen were catholic or religious. Anyway, I am not sure what the other guys did, but I crumpled the body of crist and put him in my pocket -- I figured it was better than eating it. But to this day, I still think it was rude of the groom's dad to assume it was okay.
I had the full catholic mass wedding, right in the midst of my de-conversion. My atheist best man and the atheist maid of honer made it easier. We were specifically told unless we were "full catholic" and all of its nonsense we couldn't eat the stale jesus. We just sat there and stand-kneel-stand-kneel for an hour and half. Although at one point, while looking up at the creepy dead christ, it reminded me of the scene in dogma where George Carlin said the traditional cross was depressing and unveiled the BUDDY CHRIST. So every time I looked up I saw a buddy christ staring at me.

Also as an aside, if you are in the prewedding consult, don't say that transubstantiation sounds a lot like cannibalism...they don't think its very funny.
I used to participate. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, and its just what you do, I suppose. I actually went through a slow evolution into the stand/sit that I, and it seems like most here, do now.

First, I stopped singing. Originally this is because I figured God would appreciate it if I not sing, since it is far from my strong suit. I can play instruments, but not control my voice! Later, after not singing for a while, I started listening to the words of the songs, and began to oppose their messages philosophically. Then, I refused to kneel, I wasn't getting on my knees for anyone, much less "God". This led to refusing to bow my head, participate in prayer, fold my hands, hold hands during the Lord's Prayer (which I actually had tried to refuse to do since fourth grade), and so on. I also began to look people in the eyes for the "peace" stuff, and it freaked them out. I haven't been to church since... last Christmas Eve, and that was the only time for about over a year. I still took Communion to please my parents, but if I have to go again this upcoming year I will not. Or maybe I will, and send it to PZ for a Christmas present...

I hope I will not have to go to a funeral for a while, and the weddings I went to this summer I did the same thing as for normal mass.
We live fairly far from our families, so it's easy enough to avoid certain things (invitations to midnight mass at Xmas is the one thing that still freaks me out).

But when we do go, I just don't say anything. I give the appearance of bowing my head, more out of politeness than anything else. But no, I don't join in at all.
I take the silent approach too. If I have to attend the ceremony, as was the case on my parents' 25th wedding anniversary, I will do so but any involvement in strictly religious rituals is not part of the deal.
I have spent most of my life around religious people and ceremonies. As a former believer, I am sensitive to appearing hypocritical or insincere. I now approach religious functions like an anthropologist: I stay out of the way, don't interfere, but try to observe everything that goes on.

I'll be attending a big family wedding in an evangelical church next month (so no booze). I plan to pretend I am Jane Goodall.




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