Atheists: Stop Making a Big Deal Out of Nothing

An atheist recently wrote in to Dear Abby to ask for advice. Was his family rejecting him for not believing in God? Was his partner leaving him because of irreconcilable religious differences? Was he the victim of workplace discrimination?

Nope.

Someone said “Have a blessed day” to him and he couldn’t deal with it.

Dear Abby: Several salespersons recently have ended our transaction by saying, “Have a blessed day.” The last two times it happened, I stopped and asked, “What do you mean by that?” Both of them stammered and didn’t know what to say.

One said, “I’m sort of religious.” I replied that I’m atheist. I don’t think these folks realize what they’re saying. The next time it happens, I plan to respond by asking Zeus to bestow blessings upon them as well.

Why do people feel they have a right to force their religious beliefs on customers? — Annoyed Atheist In Texas

… seriously?

The correct response to this would be, “Stop being a dick. They’re just trying to be nice. It’s a figure of speech. Get over it.” (Throw in a rolling of the eyes, a sigh of exasperation, and a note to self to never again associate with this person.)

Abby’s response is essentially the same thing, though not quite as blunt:

I seriously doubt they are trying to proselytize… If you wish to invoke the blessings of Zeus upon them, feel free to do so. But don’t be surprised if you have a heck of a time getting waited on the next time you visit the establishment.”

You gotta let some things slide.

If someone wishes you “Merry Christmas” when you go holiday shopping or says “God bless you” after you sneeze, it’s not the time to raise your defenses and call the atheist authorities.

Breathe out. Relax. Everything will be okay.

(image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Amakudari

    At least this comes more from the religious side of the aisle, to be fair. When I worked at a grocery store in high school, I got my share of snarky, culture war responses when I wished folks “happy holidays.” “Hmph, we celebrate Christmas.” As though I were a mindreader.

    Still, all of us could do with taking a breath and choosing our battles wisely.

    • Don Gwinn

      “Oh, I apologize!  I didn’t mean any offense, madam.  I thought Christmas was one of the major holidays.” :)

      • Amakudari

        I might just be doing a poor job of conveying the situation, but it’s usually said with an air that Christianity should be the default assumption. That is, it’s not that Christmas isn’t a major holiday, but that it’s the only holiday worth mentioning.

    • amycas

      At my job, I don’t even mention the holidays or Christmas unless the guest brings it up. If they do, I just say “you too”

      • Amakudari

        That’s far more appropriate, although unfortunately not applicable to where I worked.

        We actually had “secret shoppers” during the holiday season that would assess us (and thereby impact our hours) if, among many other things, we didn’t give holiday greetings first during holiday seasons. IMO this “friendliness” clearly annoyed certain shoppers, but hey, it was high school wage work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    I still don’t see Christmas as christian any more than I see Thursday as Norse. 

    • Negathle

      How many people see Thursday as Norse verses the number of people that view Xmas as Xian?   That argument always failed to resonate with me for this reason.

      • ortcutt

        Christmas is a day off from work.  I’m OK with anyone wishing me a happy day off from work. 

        • Randy

          Yes, but it’s a very specific date on the calendar, and yet we hear it for months. Should I be wishing my US friends Happy Thanksgiving already?  That’s a day (or two) off work as well.

          • ortcutt

             Anyone who wishes you a Merry Christmas more than a week before Dec. 25 deserves to be mocked.  Same goes for Thanksgiving and any other holiday. 

            • amycas

               On the other hand, Halloween should be celebrated throughout October, because it’s awesome.

              • ortcutt

                Halloween, Fall-style decorations are fine through October, but if someone says “Happy Halloween” more than a week before Halloween, they have problems dealing with reality.

                • Denise

                  Or maybe, like me, it’s their favorite Holiday and they’re just really excited.

      • Patterrssonn

        It’s the principle of the thing, they’re trying to take the Thor out of Thursday!

        • Negathle

          Thor hasn’t been in Thursday for… how long now in our culture?  Ever? :P

          • Rory

             Speak for yourself. When I was in college I always used to get hammered on Thursday nights (weekend eve!)

            • Negathle

              *smash* Another!

            • Heidi

              As did I. /nod

          • Patterrssonn

            Sacrilege! Next you’ll be telling me that people no longer think of Frige on Friday!

            • Negathle

              And a good chunk of them are likely praising the wrong entity responsible for their creation on Sundays, as well!  They also have the audacity to celebrate Christ’s Mass on Christmas!  It’s like December 25th *means* something to them…

              • Michael

                The strange thing is the number who seem to think Christ’s Mass is when he was born, yet none of them seem to think St Michael was born on Michaelmas.

            • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

              Here I thought you misspelled “Fringe” and thought, “but that’s when it airs!”

  • Tanstaafl28

    So where/when should an atheist draw the line?

    • Secular Planet

      When the other side attacks you for not saying it like them.

      • Brian Macker

        … but it is a shibboleth intended to invoke a reciprocal, “and bless you too.”. If you clam up you are outed, and shunned.

    • fin312

      They shouldn’t, it is called freedom of speech.

  • Stephen Minhinnick

    I think asking the sales assistants “What do you mean by that?” was an *excellent* idea!  If they didn’t know themselves what they meant, why did they say it?  Steady persistent atheist push-back is a good thing, everyday and in every way!  You have to challenge people’s ideas directly if you want to change society, even for the little things.

    • Michael

      “A blessed … day? What an interesting concept. Does it run from midnight to midnight or just while the sun is up do you think? Hmm…” *grins and leaves*

      Yeah, that ought to work, as long as you can seem genuinely amused.

      • Secular Planet

        Would you ask the same thing of someone who said, “Have a nice day”? I doubt it.

        • Michael

          Because nice is down to your perception, as is the concept of a day. Blessing is external.

      • Weeliljessi

        I’m not even sure what a blessed day would be. Is it different from your average day? Is it extraordinarily lucky, or are you just walking up in the morning, breathing God’s air, and going “Wow! I have been endowed with sentience! Wheee! This is GREAT!!!”

    • JD

      It’s an avenue for mirth. “Happy wishful thinking to you!”

    • Jon Peterson

      Agreed! But being bothered by it… I seriously doubt they mean anything besides “have a good day!” and they’re just using the term that comes naturally to them without thinking into it any farther.

      I certainly agree with Hemant that this was a lame complaint. I do wonder though, if it was a Poe? Maybe one of the clerks who encountered this person was offended that (s)he didn’t just accept the gesture, and decided to Poe it up against atheists in general out of spite.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      Disagree.
      I don’t know where he was shopping, but if it was at a busy store, those people are stressed.
      One of the worst parts of my day is when a customer is rude or pestering me about something and I know that I can only say so much or else I’ll be in trouble. And yeah, obviously these cashiers started it, but if I said Merry Christmas to a customer on accident (because you hear it all the time around Christmas and it’s easy to slip up) someone could make a big deal out of it and say “What do you mean? How do you know I’m a Christian?” All that accomplishes is annoying me and stressing me out.

      So if someone says have a blessed day, maybe just say “I don’t believe in blessings, but you have a nice day, too.” And then *leave.* Don’t try to get into an argument about it. That gives them enough to think about and it’s still polite and non-confrontational.

      • allein

        Agreed. I worked retail for years and the last thing I needed was someone arguing with me over what kind of greeting/send-off I gave them. Not that I would ever have said that; I didn’t even give holiday greetings at all, most of the time, unless the person said it first or if they were wearing something to indicate they celebrate it. The most I would usually say unprompted is have a good holiday if it was the day of or the day before, but for the most part I just stuck with Have a good day/night, year-round. I’ve never had anyone complain about that. (Most of the time I was on auto-pilot anyway and didn’t really think much about it.)

        I have had customers say have a blessed day, and I would simply say Thank you, have a good day/night or whatever. Not worth arguing over it. (And that was before I even really started thinking about what it is I do or don’t believe.)

      • thebigJ_A

        “by” accident

    • Brian Macker

      I suggest that on occasion we point out that “you just told me to go to hell if that is your God’s blessings for nonbelivers in your religion”. “Does your religion teach that Mormons, Jews, Muslims, or Hindus are bound for he’ll? If so perhaps you should refrain from wishing them God’s blessings also.”

      You can ignore future blessing or just give them a cockeyed grin after that, and you can even say “have a nice day”. No need to ever act offended. Plus they will start getting upset over being told “Have a nice day” at various stores, which if they are the tiniest bit aware will make them realize they are hypocrites.

  • Jacob

    “I don’t share your belief that days can be cursed or blessed, but thank you for the sentiment.”

  • George Wiman

    The concept of blessing is not necessarily supernatural.

    • Brian Macker

      It is unless they delusionally believe they have a secret power to grant prosperity and happiness. Which, wait a second, also means they believe in some supernatural effect.

      “Hope you well today” seems more appropriate. “Have a nice day” sounds more like a command, and does actually convey wishes, now that I thing about it harder. So I retract this suggestion from another comment.

      • allein

        Didn’t George Carlin do a bit on “Have a nice day”?

        • fin312

          And see how nice he did it. He said ” thank you but I’ve had 73 nice days in a row and well I’m ready for a crappy day, but thank you anyway. See how easy that was people.

        • TychaBrahe

          The one I remember is “Fare thee well, go with God, and don’t take any wooden nickels.” 

          This was after his bit on greetings that included, “Good morning, your eminence, how hangs the hammer?”

  • Guest

    I guess the correct thing to say to the atheist should have been, ‘May blessings go to all but you.’

    • Don Gwinn

      Actually, I can imagine that conversation.
      “Thanks, sir.  Hope you enjoy that computer, and have a blessed day!”
      “Oh, uh, this is awkward, but I’m an atheist.  I don’t believe in blessings from magical sky fairies.”
      “Oh, I apologize, sir.  I don’t have a lot of time right now, but I’m making a note here.  This evening before bed I’ll be sure to put in a formal prayer to remove any blessing from you.  Have a neutrally pleasant day in an offhand sort of way, my friend.”

      • Brian Macker

        Actually, no, you cannot imagine the conversation because it is quite clear you are not a mind reader and are clueless as to how an atheist or theist would respond, except for you. Thing is that you are at an atheist site so there is no need to guess at what the response would be. My response to the person who obviously was aware of my lack of belief would be, “Thanks for being honest about the ill will inherent to your religion, fortunately my beliefs don’t assume that a good is bestowed solely on those who conform to my beliefs, or I’d return the favor.”

        • amycas

           I thought the comment was just a joke, and I thought it was pretty funny. But to each his own, I guess.

        • fin312

          I know when I walk down the street I’m aware of everyones beliefs or lack of. You are pathetic!

      • Brian Macker

        Oh, and don’t bother responding to my last comment claiming that it it false that there is inherent ill will in the persons religion, because the person speaking certainly has religious beliefs that espouse such. Most religions I am familiar with are defamatory towards non-believers in the first place, in both their living doctrine and historical texts, so a person verbalizing such is hardly unorthodox.

        Sorry but I also don’t buy the notion that praying for conversion, and hoping, and even working towards my salvation is evidence of any proper concern for my well being. That’s like being concerned about false rumors your best friend is a slut and your first response after being told the rumors are false to suggest they stop sleeping around and BTW get tested for STDs.

    • Brian Macker

      That’s what they actually are communicating. The blessing is condition on belief in God, and worse you don’t just get left alone but are actually tortured forever according to the person doing the supposed blessing. In fact, such prayers and blessing are usually directed at the atheists in the hopes they convert for their own good.

      • Ben English

        Yeah, it’s a well known fact that every religion in the world teaches that the non-believer will suffer eternal torture, and all religions that use phrases like ‘Blessed be’ are hegemonic and powerful.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    Reply with: May his noodliness touch your balls with his divine appendages

    • Brian Macker

      Meatballs, you blasphemer!

      • CelticWhisper

         SEASONED meatballs, heretic!

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

          everyone knows truly progressive pastafarians use TVP balls in their pasta. ramen. 

          • CelticWhisper

             Pssh.  What are you, some kind of seitan-ist?

      • Defiantnonbeliever

        I didn’t want to assume they weren’t vegetarian.  Perhaps, ‘noodlie balls to you too’, for short.

  • Ohnhai

    If someone says happy christmass to me I smile and respond with “and happy Newtonmass to you”

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      “Happy Chrismahaunnakwanzicka!” is my go-to. Most people just laugh when I add, “I’ve found it safer to just mash ‘em all together. Try not to leave too many out this holiday season.” It’s all about the tone, delivery, and a smile.

    • AxeGrrl

      “and Happy Festivus to the rest of us!”

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Huh. I didn’t know atoms were Catholic…

  • Doomedd

    Since
    this is is related to language, I feel the need to mention that,
    where I live, french is the main language.

    Greetings
    and politeness formulas are almost entirely about politeness. Where I
    live, we use something that could be translated as “If you want”
    instead of please. Fact is, when I say it, I rarely care about the
    person whom I speak to. I could say, do you bleaping job and it would
    be more accurate but far least polite.

    Wishing
    “good luck ” is rarely about conjuring good luck, is about
    being polite and show you care, even when you don’t.

    • Brian Macker

      I thing please is more accurate. You are begging regardless of the persons actual desires. If they wanted to do it by themselves then they likely would have. The implicit quid quo pro of please is in the future. Of course, one could implicitly assume that the “if you want” has some implicit payback, but it could equally be inferred there is a threat, as in, “if you want [me not to fuck you over when you need something later then] …”. Funny thing is the context matters like when customer service fucks you over and then says, “Have a nice day.” Which means, “Fuck you”, and can even mean that in a dispute where you were actually in the wrong but they refused to compile with an unreasonable request.

  • Levon Mkrtchyan

    I agree with Hemant.  This sounds to me like just another way of saying “have a good day”.  It’s not even clear what religion the people who way “have a blessed day” are.

    Also, I sometimes still say “bless you” to people who sneeze, even though I’ve been trying to get in the habit of saying “gesundheit” instead.   It’s just difficult to break some habits sometimes.

  • Stev84

    Normal people just say “Have a nice day”. What’s wrong with that?

    • Brian Macker

      When it first started there were many that objected that: 1) It was started by businesses and forced on employees, which made it meaningless. 2) It is stated as a command. 3) It is inappropriate to use in circumstances where the person is not likely to have a nice day and there is no way to discern that with strangers, nor in other situations.

      What’s appropriate to say to some strange who’s kid is just on life support from an accident, or an unsatisfied customer? Certainly not “Have a nice day”

      • Stev84

        A simple “Goodbye” then, but at some point that wasn’t ‘friendly’ enough anymore.  Some other languages have an advantage here with sayings like “See you again”

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      The local turn of phrase here is “Have a good one!” PA isn’t a godless haven, but I’ve only heard the “blessed day” thing when I got below the Mason-Dixson.

      • Patterrssonn

        I like have a good one. It’s nice and vague, and a much more achievable goal than a nice, or worse, a great day.

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          Yep. Covers everything from a good day to a good bowel movement. :D

          • Patterrssonn

            That’s hilarious, that’s exactly what I was thinking.

  • Davegagner866

    Amen Brother! :)

  • LesterBallard

    Should have asked blessed by who or what.

  • Linda Turnipseed

    My response – “You have a nice day, too!”

  • Patterrssonn

    “Breathe out, relax” Good advice, but for those of us who are platitude phobic (DSM) not always easy. Especially as you followed with a platitude.

    Shopping can be very difficult these days for those of us with PP (imagine if you were arachnophobic and someone tossed a spider in your bag with every purchase). I tell people that i dont shop at walmart for political reasons but really it’s the greeters.

    Unfortunately retail platitudes are escalating. It’s bad enough being told to have a “nice” day, now it’s expected to be “great!” I can’t imagine what it’s like to be told to have a “blessed” day.

    So cut AA some slack, support your local PP foundation, and please don’t ask someone how they are doing if you really don’t want to know.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      In defense of cashiers, it feels really weird to just say “hi” and “bye.” And if it makes you feel better, we don’t really notice or care if a customer doesn’t respond with anything. We also have secret shoppers and we’re rated on our friendliness, so we’re just trying to do our job.
      Greeters have no excuse though. That’s just annoying.

      • http://twitter.com/cr0sh Andrew Ayers

         Why not “Thank you for your business, come and see us again!”…? Or is that just too many words?

        • JohnnieCanuck

          Ah yes. Brings back memories. I was at the first McDonalds to open in Canada. After a couple of months, a corporate directive came down that every customer must be greeted first with some phrase I can’t remember and then sent off with another very like that one you suggest.

          Now picture eight or more kids serving eight lines of customers standing more than twelve deep at peak times. Each customer gets to overhear more or less the same phrases maybe one hundred times in about ten minutes from someone who has said it every few minutes for an hour, if the directive is taken to heart.

          Maybe it was just that we were introverted Canadians but we couldn’t manage to make it sound sincere. Hardly any of us could do it consistently let alone well and it soon faded away.

      • Patterrssonn

        I often find that if you smile and make eye contact and are polite, it seems to head off the have a great day business. Also I think, here in Canada, retail platitudes are a more recent phenomenon, and not terribly widespread, and so there’s the extra irritation of US style corporatization of simple human interactions.

  • Don Gwinn

    If it helps, keep in mind that most of them don’t really believe in the blessing they’re calling down upon you, either.  For most of them, it’s a reflexive figure of speech no different than when an avowed atheist says “Jesus Christ, did you see that?!”  More common for me is “Hey, I can’t believe what Local Baseball Team did the other night!” or “Man, I’m getting killed in my Technically-Illegal College Sports Betting Tournament.  How you doin’?”  I don’t watch baseball and I don’t “take a bracket” during March Madness.  But these people aren’t trying to offend me, they’re just using a conversation starter that works on most people.  

    I just try to take people at face value.  If she’s smiling and we just had a productive conversation, I figure that whatever I think of the effectiveness, her intention is simply to be friendly.  I’m OK with that.

    One more thing to keep in mind is that, just like the religious, we have a right not to be mistreated, not a right never to feel offended. If you’re offended that that they believe in a god who they think will pass out blessings on command, you have every right to feel that way, but it doesn’t actually create a duty for them to stop believing it or saying it.  In the same way, if a theist is offended that you don’t believe in gods, they have every right to feel that way, but it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to shut up or to change your belief to suit them.

    • Brian Macker

      Yet, my Christian friends make a point of correcting me for phrases like “Oh, my god” or “Jesus H. Christ”. I think it funny they think I should purge it from my vocabulary. I see it as more like saying the archaic “Jumping Jehoshaphat”, or “Heavens to Betsy”, or mockingly using some valley girl phrase. When I’m I’m really pissed or surprised I use the ubiquitous and ambidextrous word “FUCK!”

      • amycas

        One day at work (lots of work stories tonight), I was rounding a corner and another server almost bumped into me and I blurted out “Cheeze-its!” He thought I had said “Jesus!” So later he questioned me about why I would say that if I’m an atheist. I just told him that no, I said Cheeze-its because I think it’s funny that a common snack food sounds like the name of the suppose savior. I also told him, in so many words, that saying “Jesus” when surprised isn’t indicative of some underlying belief, but indicative of the fact that I live in a culture in which such an exclamation is common. He seemed really serious about the whole thing, and I couldn’t understand why he would think my saying “Jesus” would actually mean anything other than “Holy shit, I almost just dropped an entire tray!”

        • Robster

          I’m rather fondeau of Cheesus, specially when he’s on a stick.

  • Good and Godless

    Where a society tolerates a bad behavior – like religion – the lack of confrontation allows emboldened actions which builds to and then beyond the indiscriminate blessing of customers.  Nip it in the bud in its earliest form or future generations will find themselves in untenable situations.

    • swaan

      “Nip it in the bud in its earliest form…”

      I think that horse has left the barn.

      • Good and Godless

        Agreed. Now is the time to prevent the “untenable” at the next stage of the timeline.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Just over the past month or two I have heard the same phrase very often. It’s either wishing someone a blessed day or when someone asks how you are doing the person responds that they are having a blessed day.

    Personally, I do think it is a very mild form of proselytizing.

    Even more so, it is using codewords (extremely thinly veiled) to tell the other person that you are religious and then to start a religious dialogue between them. I have seen this occur dozens of times in the last few months.

    For example, after wishing someone a blessed day were telling them that you are having a blessed day, the other person in the conversation often responds withsome reference to God or Jesus, or how God doesn’t give us a burden greater than we can handle, or God has given us also many blessings, yada yada yada. Next, the conversation turns to what church they attend, etc., all on work time.

    The codeword thing is sort of like when President Bush would talk about having the United States be a “culture of life”, and the anti–abortion people knew what he was referring to.

    • Matt O’Neal

       I emphatically agree- this is a more recent phenomena where I am and is indeed a subtle form of proselytising. I live and work in the beltway area (Wash. DC) and have been seeing it more and more often said in recent years, particularly in the service industry.

      When a clerk used to say, “Thanks,” or “Have a nice day,” or “Come back and see us,” more and more are saying, “Have a blessed day.” Around here, this is not a culture thing. These guys did not grow up saying this. They are making a conscious effort to let the other person know that *they* are godly. I don’t think they are necessarily trying to open a conversation or start a religious dialogue, but they are making a statement. And it is a religious statement.

      I don’t think it’s the same thing as the ubiquitous “Bless you” after a sneeze. This has been around as long as I can remember. Saying “Have a blessed day” has not. (From my experience and opinion only.)

      It would be nice to have a clever retort, but I just don’t see one that isn’t overly rude. I guess we could respond with, “I’m an atheist, but thanks and you have a nice day too.” I don’t think many would know how to respond to this, or even need to. And if we were very polite, it might give them cause to think, wow, that was an atheist and he was nice. Maybe all of them don’t worship the devil and eat babies.

      So in the real world, how have I been responding when someone tells me to have a blessed day? I take the easy, nice-guy, non-confrontational way out and simply say, “Thanks, you too.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.kaszycki Bill Kaszycki

        This is not just proselytizing – this is deliberately shoving their religion in your face. And my response is the same as when somebody says “Bless You”. I respond with “No thank you”, the same as if someone offered me a beverage that I did not want. Frankly, I am sick and tired of the arrogance of faithheads that: a) I may have the same irrational delusions that they do; or, b) that their nonsense is in the least bit admirable; or, c) that their delusions entitle them to a special place of privilege.

        • Katharine Klevinskas

           ”faithheads”  perfect!

        • Shuteme

          I totally agree. I do not take kindly to being insulted with their ignorance, why an I required to respond politely to it?

          • Slan21

            If atheism was an organization, i’d be ashamed of you.

            When you despise someone saying “Have a blessed day”, you’re being the intolerant one. Seriously…

            • thebigJ_A

              Good thing it’s not an organization, I suppose, though I don’t see what that’s got to do with anything.

              I also fail to see any intolerance here. Care to elaborate? 

            • TychaBrahe

              “No, thank you,” is a perfectly polite response when being offered something you do not want. 

              It’s not like he’s saying, “Fuck you and your faith, bitch.”

        • Patterrssonn

          Yes, faithheads is great. Keep in mind though that some of the clerks/cashiers may be obligated to say it by the store.

        • No

          Deliberately shoving their religion in your face? That’s hilarious! It’s a salutation is all; a pleasantry. You (the general atheist population, no one specific) claim Christians are the one’s who are running around getting all wound up (I’ve seen the words butt-hurt used many times on this board) over what you claim is no big deal. 

          This whole topic is the same thing, just the reverse side of the coin. I thought this board was called “The Friendly Atheist.” It’s weird that I’ve yet to meet one of these so-called friendly atheists still :/

      • C Peterson

        It would be nice to have a clever retort, but I just don’t see one that isn’t overly rude.

        How about “Thanks… I don’t really know what that means, but I’ll assume it’s a nice sentiment.” Not rude in the slightest, and it might just stimulate the greeter’s little gray cells just a bit.

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        I usually just respond with a smile and say “I don’t do the whole god thing, but I thank you and hope your day is great too.” Never had more than a mildly confused look come back at me. Most usually just smile back. A lot of it is tone and a smile. Hard to get angry at someone smiling and wishing you well in return.

        • Weeliljessi

          The first time someone said this to me I was a little thrown off because it was so weird sounding. I just said something like, “uh, okeedokee” and left.  I still react that way sometimes, because it just feels bizarre.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

         I take the easy, nice-guy, non-confrontational way out and simply say, “Thanks, you too.”

        and advance their religion while you’re at it. normalizing superstition in public settings, ‘going along’ with the assumption that ‘everyone’ believes in the mythological concept of “blessing” as if it were real, helping them enforce religious conformity… it’s not *just* them being smug and self satisfied by proclaiming their religion in a setting where doing so it completely unneeded and borderline rude. it’s denying to some of us, bringing up religion is JUST as offensive as bringing up lynching to black customers, or if one were to remind a Latin customer they need to show ID for any transaction because ‘everyone knows most Hispanic people are born here’ or other such offensive nonsense. 

        • Matt O’Neal

           I see you point. I really do. And I actually agree with what you are saying.

          But here’s another thought. I never signed up to be an atheist. I just am one. To become an atheist activist, one has to make a conscious decision. I know many on this board are taking on this role, and I applaud you all for it. But for reasons many of you would understand if I stated them, I am simply not an activist right now.

          A quick example- say I’m at a lunch inside the beltway with a couple of other suit-wearing government guys. These guys, some directly and some indirectly, have an impact on my continued employment in my profession. When our waiter bids farewell by saying “Have a blessed day.” It would be great to say, “I don’t do the god thing, but you have a nice day too.” But the potential negative impact that would have on me is simply not worth trying to change the mindset of one waiter.

          So am I advancing their religion by normalizing it? Maybe a little. But I’m not actively derailing my own career by admitting my atheism in front of people who would potentially hold it against me. That’s sad, I know, but it’s also real life.

      • Heidi

        How about responding with “what? Oh, you man in case I sneeze? Thanks.”

    • Brian Macker

      There is a hidden meaning they are not aware of. If they are a member of a religion or sect that believes that God’s blessings for the non-member of their religion or sect is an eternity in he’ll. I get a kick out of Baptists and Mormons wishing each other God’s blessings because, in effect, they are telling each other to go to hell.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

        I’ll be the first to agree with you that the religious folks often ignore that they have conflicting, mutually-exclusive, religious beliefs. The Judeo-Christian god Yahweh supposedly created the universe, whereas the Mormon god (heavenly father) was just a human raised to godlike status and then he just populated a planet and sent us his son Jesus. 

        But, to your point about Hell, I don’t think Mormons have a hell. I could be wrong about this, but I think they have 3 levels of heaven, but no hell. Ex-mormons can chime in to clarify this point. 

        But to your broader point, I certainly agree that religious greeters are not even believers in the same gods/theology/etc.

        • Lindsey

          From what my LDS friends have told me, there are three levels of heaven, the clestial, telestial, and terrestrial. None of them are bad, but the lower levels are just less good than the other ones. And then there’s the outer darkness where you’re cut off completely from God, but that’s only for people who still reject Jesus even after they die and meet him. Or something like that. My understanding is far fronm complete.

        • amycas

           There is a mormon hell, but it’s incredibly difficult to get in there. You have to be a “son of perdition” aka an apostate. I don’t think anything else would get you in there though.

    • gigigirl

      May the force be with you is my reply if I am feeling they won’t be offended. Otherwise  just let it go.

      • gigigirl

        By “offended” I mean engage me in some nonsense talk and witness to me, not so much being personally insulted. :) And I meant I just let it go, but the I didn’t type in and I can’t find the edit feature.

    • amycas

       As to sneezing: I just don’t say anything anymore. I don’t see the point. You’re supposed to excuse yourself in regards to all other bodily functions, so I don’t see why I should say something when somebody sneezes. If a good friend says bless you or something when I sneeze, I respond with “I excuse my own bodily functions, thank you.” It’s more of an inside joke so I only say that with friends.

      • thebigJ_A

        I generally say “gesundheit”, which is just as normal after a sneeze, and merely means “health”. wishing someone health after they sneeze (a possible sign of illness) seems benign enough to me.

        Every so often I do say “god bless you” from early childhood habit (even then, when ostensibly a Catholic, it never actually *meant* “blessings of Yahweh/Jesus unto you”, but was just traditional noise like a laugh), though it sounds, even in my head, more like “bl’shoo” with now associated meaning or distinguishable words. That happens less and less these days.

        • Baal

           Blessing folks for sneezing was a side effect of the demon theory of disease.  When you sneezed, you were expelling demons so a blessing would be needed to protect you from the now rampant demons…I heard this somewhere.  I think it was from a medievalist.

          • TychaBrahe

            Actually, when you sneeze you are supposedly expelling your own soul, and are then subject to being taken over by demons.  Hence the blessings, which prevent your body from becoming a host to demons.

      • Gringa

         I say “salud” for the same reason as the German below – it just means health.  My 2-yr-old also says it sometimes now. 

  • noyourgod

    Many years ago I would take offense at “have a blessed day” – internally griping about “that damned bundle.”. Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that the speaker was just being nice in their own, harmless way – almost on par with the post-sneeze ‘gbu’…

    I do avoid what would be a hypocritical “thank you – and you too” response, but the simple, equally well-intentioned “have a nice day” suffices.

  • Daniel

    While I agree with Hemant’s response, I also note the author of the Dear Abby letter is in Texas… which reminds me of all the passive aggressive “You’d better be Christian” crap that I encountered there in the three miserable years I lived in the state.

    My response on the days I was feeling tetchy was usually more along the lines of, “and may Apollo ensure that your day is bright” than grumpy letters.

  • http://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

    I don’t care when someone says it, BUT it puts me in an awkward position, because I don’t want to say, “you too” since I do not share the sentiment.    I suppose I can use some more syllables and say, “Have a good one!” or something of that nature.   Awkward conversation and small talk just bugs me anyway (yes yes, have a look at the moniker.)

    This is just going to get worse as we step into the holiday season with the “Happy Holidays” crap.   When I worked as a teller people would actually comment.  No it was NOT an order from management to say it.  It is what I was comfortable with.  Being that you say it from Thanksgiving thru New Years, it is nearly impossible to pinpoint WHICH holiday you even mean, so I have a hard time understanding why people get bent out of shape.

    • swaan

      I have been told “Bless you” at partings a lot over the years, and it would always put me in a bind as to a response.  Finally, I started to say “Thank you” or “Thanks, goodbye” and leave it at that.  It signals to the person that you’re not someone who blesses people, while acknowledging their attempt at saying something nice.

      Because that’s what they’re trying to do – be nice.  If you say something snarky back, then you’re just confirming to them that atheists are assholes.

      • Justin

        You know that “goodbye” is etymologically grounded in the phrase, “God be with ye,” right?

        • jeffj900

          If someone says “good bye”, we could say “sorry, I’d rather go alone”, or “I’d rather not be followed around, thank you”.

  • jose

    When people sneeze we say “Jesús!” or even “Jesús, María y José!” I think it’s cute and peculiar.

    There are things you can decide not to be offended by.

  • Ben Johnson

    I think asking somebody why they say bless you after they sneeze is a good idea. They may not even realize why they do it or one of its many possible pre-scientific origins. It may get them to question why they don’t say it after somebody coughs or yawns, It may get them thinking about what other aspects of their life they are not being skeptical about. I don’t think you need to be a dick about it, or get your underwear in a bunch thought.

    As for have a blessed day, I think that somebody saying that takes a bit more thought than somebody saying  bless you.  In my opinion there is a religious agenda behind that statement.

    I myself feel no need to say anything when somebody sneezes and I have had people get upset at me for not being polite — go figure

    • Birdie1986

      The thing is, in Texas, and a lot of other places, particularly in the South, they DO assume that everyone believes in their God, and, if you don’t, they cannot believe it because they are so insular in their culture and beliefs. That being said, living here, I am told to Have a Blessed Day at least once or twice a day, and I just ignore it because nothing I say is going to make them change. It is so ingrained. I can’t blame them. I have known I am an atheist for many years, but when someone sneezes, the words “Bless you” just automatically come out of my mouth. I don’t mean “his noodle appendage bless you.” It is a hangover from my childhood that I really don’t feel the need to spend the energy to stop. So, I say let it go with people you don’t really know, and save your atheist “proselytizing” for people with whom you can sit down and really have a good conversation.

      • pRinzler

        Jerry Seinfeld’s solution was to say, “You’re SO good-looking” instead of “Bless You” when someone sneezes.  My wife has said that so much that we are now both out of the “Bless You” habit for good.

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          Hubby’s grandma is German so he grew up with Guzunteit(sp?) instead of “bless you.” It’s helped me get out of the habit a bit.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            “gesundheit”

            • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

              Thanks! It’s irritating to check it from my phone to make sure it’s spelled correctly. :)

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          Hubby’s grandma is German so he grew up with Guzunteit(sp?) instead of “bless you.” It’s helped me get out of the habit a bit.

    • coyotenose

       On a tangent, people are so used to hearing “Bless you!” or “Gesundheit!” after a sneeze that they assume that they hear it even when they don’t. I say “Pikachu!” or “Fu Manchu!” and they always, ALWAYS respond with a “thank you” before catching it. Sometimes they don’t catch it at all.

      • Patterrssonn

        I am definitely ripping that off.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    I disagree with you on this one Hemant. Obviously religious believers don’t mean anything by this, but the fact is that they haven’t thought about it either. They just assume that everyone they meet believes in a God. I would even go as far to say that they assume that everyone they meet believes in their God. With that said, I think it is important to remind them that not everyone does believe in a deity. It is important to let them know that by making such an assumption, they are actually being rude even if that was not their intent. Humor is a great way of doing this. So invoking Zeus with a smile would be a good way to get that message across. They are the ones being dicks, but they don’t realize it and so we have to let them know. I would probably just let them know that I appreciate the sentiment, but that I am an atheist. This would be polite and get the message across that what they are doing is not acceptable. It will make them think. 

  • C Peterson

    “Have a blessed day” is, to me, a pretty unpleasant sounding greeting, which I’d rather not receive- regardless of the intent of the greeter. To most greetings I say “thank you”, “same to you”, or something of the sort. For this one I think the best I could manage would be a nod of response… which I think would be acceptably polite.

    There are greetings which I respond to with alternate greetings, but this would not be one of those. (When people offer “Merry Christmas” I often respond with “and a happy solstice to you, as well”- not with any intent to be provocative, but an honest greeting based on the holiday my family celebrates.)

    • http://atheistslut.com/ Atheist Slut

      I agree. Its slightly off putting that this person, who doesn’t even know you, is making a faith statement as a greeting. And its even more disconcerting that replying in kind is considered impertinent. 

    • Negathle

      At the register of my grocery store, there was a cashier that would finish every transaction with “God Bless”.  The first time I passed through his line, I could only go wide-eyed at his remark and walk on.  The second time, I said “No, thanks.”

      Indeed, I’ve always thought it a measure of egotism to make the assumption that everyone is of the same belief structure or celebrating the same event during a period of mixed celebrations throughout the American culture.  Inclusive statements offend nobody, unless they are out to be offended.

      (We respond with “Happy Solstice” to someone offering “Merry Christmas”, also.)

    • amycas

       I’m going to start saying “and a festivus for the rest of us,” or “happy solstice” since those are the holidays I plan to celebrate from now on. If they ask about it, I’ll simply say that those are the holidays that I celebrate. If they can tell me to enjoy their holiday, isn’t it ok for me to tell them to enjoy mine?

    • Blacksheep

      Do you say “Good Bye”? It’s short for “God be with you.”

      • Alejandro César Cervantes

        And? It’s been stripped of its meaning by culture. I don’t think that calling the fourth day of the work week Thursday means that I’m a pagan, does it?

  • pamsfriend

    I mildly disagree Hemant..  I wouldn’t just walk away.  i would say “May reason bless you.”  Because that’s what I really want for my fellow human…that reason wake them the f9#$ up.

    • Brian Macker

      “May you be blessed with reason” is the veiled implication. Why not be less sneaky if you are out to offend? My goal would to be to make them understand a different perspective and I’m nit sure that this does it. It actually sounds like an ill willed insult in response to good if misguided intentions. If that is your goal, why not just “Fuck you”?

      Note: My goal in responding is not to establish some uniform proper atheist response.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

        you realize this is exactly what militant atheists are saying about religious types who can’t not “bless” us and everyone else they come across. if what you just wrote describes offensive atheists, then you are agreeing that the religious who act in the same way are equally offensive. 

        • brianmacker

          Huh? Give me some context here because I’m having trouble deciphering what “this” refers to.

          Also I disagree that offending and being offensive are identical. Mixed couples that kiss in front of racists on purpose are out to offend, but that doesn’t mean they are acting offensive.

          Of course, pointing out to some ignorant Christian that they aren’t blessed with reason is going to offend them. Just like if some other Christian were to retort to their blessing, “I hope you are blessed with good looks some day.”

          Of course, I would agree if a religious person were to act the same way to an atheist knowing they were an atheist it would be intended to offend. If you say, ” God bless you” to an atheist that implies you think the atheist is not blessed, but carries a paradoxical insult. The atheist agrees that he is not blessed, but realizes that their is a bigoted message therein. Like a racist telling a black man, “You ain’t white”.

          I’m giving the Christian person the benefit of the doubt here as to knowledge and motive. Pamsfriend’s comments had no such ambiguity. They knew religious orientation, and actually communicated the intent to at least wake the Christian the fuck up. If you will also notice I phrased my comment as a question because I’m not fully aware of Pamfriend’s intent.

      • fin312

        Just your own pre-biased  moronic opinion.

  • A3Kr0n

    I might not say anything if someone blesses me, but I’m sure thinking “fuck your religion”. And Dear Abby’s response “…But don’t be surprised if you have a heck of a time getting waited on the next time you visit the establishment.” makes me wonder if I should start verbalizing my thoughts in the future.

  • Tomboylynn

    I reply ” Have a thoughtful, reason filled day”

  • jeffj900

    I mostly agree with your point; the letter writer is being too intolerant, to uptight. When I was younger more things annoyed me. I had a problem with road rage for a while, thinking it was my responsibility to let other drivers know when they were driving like total idiots. Nothing to do with religion. Part of what is going on here is this; the atheist who wrote to Abbey is expressing some anger or impatience that just happens to attach to this religious frame.

    Sometimes I even say bless you when someone sneezes. It’s reflexive politeness learned at an early age, nothing more. Likewise when I say goddammit. It’s not a prayer.

    If someone is fortunate we can say they are blessed by nature. It’s a metaphor for the richness of the natural resources we have available to us to live fulfilling and prosperous lives. There are also metaphorical uses of ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ that aren’t religious.

    Certainly it’s not hard to ignore being told to have a blessed day. Having said that, there truly is a sense in which this is “witnessing for The Lord”, which is a form of marketing. Should there be a polite form of atheist response to this kind of thing, or do we ignore it?

    Should we say “if conditions are in my favor”? Or “if the odds are willing”? Perhaps there is a set of polite phrases that could be developed and widely used that will indicate “I’m an atheist” without getting rudely explicit about it.

    If someone blesses us we could say “how very human of you”, meaning good will is common humanistic morality, independent of anything supernatural.

    Maybe “thanks, I’ll wait to see what happens”, “May reason guide you”, “we take life as it happens”, “be free”, “life is free”, “all is well”, “may nature smile on you”, “live and let live”, “we make it happen”, “it’s up to us”…

    I know some of these sound corny. Just brainstorming. It’s something to consider.

  • Olivier Bruchez

    I’m an atheist, but still use expressions such as “my god”, etc. regularly (in French). No big deal. They’re just that. Expressions.

    • brianmacker

      The funny thing here is that their are overly religious refuse to use the words God or Jesus in such cases. The movie “Misery” has a character, Annie, played by Kathy Bates, who does this. She uses euphemisms to express her anger and frustrations, like “jumping Jehoshaphat”, and “Oh my goodness”.

      I’ve got no problem using religious figures as swear words, pagan or otherwise. It shows disrespect for their religion, even when they do it. I usually utter “My God” when something is unbelievable, or mildly surprising, like if we found out that any god, let alone one of an atheist actually existed. So I think that appropriate to.

      I’m not even sure what a Christian means by “Oh my god” in the first place. I’ll have to look around some Christians sites. I’m back. Seems like I’m using it like any good heathen should. It’s actually the god fearing that need to avoid the phrase, like Annie. Here’s a link: http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/faq/is_saying_oh_my_god_a_sin.shtml

  • http://mittenatheist.blogspot.com/ Kari Lynn

    I really think that Dear Abby makes stuff up. This is not the first letter of hers that I find a little difficult to believe.

    • Artor

      Possibly, but I imagine she gets a ton of letters and hardly needs to make shit up. Her readers can do that for her.

  • Brian Macker

    {sarcasm} Yep, no worse than “Nice tits” which is also an attempt to “be nice” for the clueless. When a woman then asks, “What did you mean by that?”, and gets the response, “Well, I am sort of a man” and she replies “I’m a feminist”, then the correct response would be “Stop being a cunt”?{/sarcasm}

    Saying, happy holidays instead of merry Christmas is a way of acknowledging to a stranger, coworker, or acquaintance you do not know their religious beliefs, while merry Christmas is a way of advertising your own beliefs if you have no knowledge of theirs. Of course, atheists would be branded dicks for going around wishing Joyful Saturnalia even if they did celebrate it.

    No reason they can’t say “gesundheit” or “health” if they wish not to accidentally offend the touchier atheist by giving concern in a way that is conditional on them being religious. The Christian God’s blessings for the atheist is an eternity in he’ll which is hardly a sign of good will.

  • Livingnoz

    How about responding “no thank you”? :-D

  • machintelligence

    How about, as a response: “Thanks, and may peace be upon you” . It certainly isn’t overtly religious (although it sounds possibly Muslim), and one can’t argue with the sentiment expressed.

    • brianmacker

      I’m not some parasite pacifist, you trying to jinx my mojo?

  • ortcutt

    I’m sorry, but saying “Have a blessed day” is weird and indicates a pervasive religious privilege where it is assumed that everyone is religious.  I’ve lived in the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and California, and in any of those places, people would look at you like you escaped from the loony bin if you said that.  I just think it shows how weird some parts of this country (Texas in this case) are.  

    • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

      “I’ve lived in the Mid-Atlantic”

      On a boat?

    • brianmacker

      Holy cow people, stop using privilege like leftist ideologues unless you are one. Assuming everyone is religious might be an ignorant assumption but it isn’t an example of privilege. By the definition used by leftists in those places where everyone looks at you like a looney for saying “have a blessed day” it would be the atheists who are “privileged”. Funny I don’t feel like I’m receiving special and unfair advantages, aka privileges, and I live in one of those places. That’s because I don’t. I used to live in a predominantly black neighborhood at one time, and in no sense were they privileged over me just because they were in the majority, and didn’t bother following my cultural norms.

      • ortcutt

        You’re confusing an atheist society with a secular society.  A society where everyone says “Have a nice day” isn’t a society with atheist privilege.   A society with atheist privilege would be one where everyone says “Have a godless day.”  I would find that just as insane and repulsive as “Have a blessed day”.   A secular society is one where there is recognition that there is religious pluralism and no religious status is privileged over any other one.  I don’t know what you think is “leftist” about this idea or even about the idea of social privileges.  Recognizing religious privilege is just a straightforward sociological observation.  Opposing religious privilege is a liberal idea.  Our Founders opposes religious privilege with the Religious Test Clause and the First Amendment clauses.

        • brianmacker

          I’m not confused. The examples and definitions are, and because the people who are attracted to such beliefs are poor reasoners. These lists of examples are laughable.

          • ortcutt

            Do you have any specific points to make or are you just going to stick with vague generalities?

            • brianmacker

              I already gave three specific examples. How about you read them? The first reply would be a good start.

      • amycas

         Having the ability to assume that the people around all share the same beliefs as you is a form of privilege.

        • brianmacker

          No it isn’t, and if it were actually scientific then it could be falsified and proponents would drop the nonsense, but they don’t. Prison inmates are surrounded by people who share the same beliefs and the guards are NOT surrounded by people who share their beliefs. Prisoners are NOT privileged over guards. Black slaves outnumbered whites in the south, also in the Caribbean, and elsewhere. It’s ridiculous to believe Haitian slaves were privileged over whites because they were able to assume all the people around them shared their beliefs.

    • allein

      I live in the Mid-Atlantic region; I’ve gotten “Have a blessed day” from customers when I worked retail. Always little old lady-types.

  • IndyFitz

    A big deal out of nothing?  Seriously?  How about we consider an alternate scenario.  Imagine if THIS letter were written to Dear Abby:

    “Dear Abby: I am religious. At a store the other day, the checkout person said, “Have an atheistic day!” I’m offended and very upset that someone at a store would say this to me. What should I do to respond? -Serving God in Arizona”

    I suspect Abby would respond with something like this:

    “Dear Serving God: This is inappropriate behavior, and you’re right to be upset. You should ask to speak to the store manager and complain, because the workplace isn’t the place for it, and the customers aren’t the people you should risk saying it to.”

    This should be the appropriate response when ANY employee makes ANY comment about religion or non-religion to a customer.  It wouldn’t be allowed to happen at my business.

    The example the atheist wrote Abby about IS preaching, and ISN’T appropriate, and this atheist is NOT making a big deal out of nothing. Stomping our feet to distance ourselves from THAT kind of atheist who makes big deals out of allegedly NOTHING is ridiculous.  What’s next — we should smile and take Chick tracts from street preachers instead of telling them you have no interest, or not asking Jehovah’s Witnesses to stop coming to your house?

    If someone in a public scenario wishes to wish me a blessed day, I’ll certainly respond that I’m not religious and won’t. And I have. Usually, they’re stopped in stunned surprise, because it seems that people who do that sort of thing don’t really believe other people wouldn’t POSSIBLY share their beliefs.  Occasionally one then tries to argue with me, in which case the game has officially started.

    If someone feels the need to say something like “Have a blessed day,” then he should be prepared for a response that might not agree with him. Let it slide?  Hell, no.  Take the opportunity to let him know that not everyone believes in this stuff, and not everyone is going to clam up and let religious people inject their faith into other people’s lives without being called out on it from time to time.

    • Slan21

       Relax and have a blessed day ! :-)

      • IndyFitz

        I worship Lucifer. Bless this!

    • http://twitter.com/cr0sh Andrew Ayers

      You make a point, but I think you may have chose the wrong “letter format” to illustrate it. A better format might read something like:

      “Dear Abby: I am religious. At a store the other day, the checkout person said,
      “Happy Holidays!” I’m offended and very upset that someone at a store would say this to me. What should I do to respond? -Serving God in Arizona”

      I have no idea how Abby would respond, nor do I intend to guess – but we both know that a similar sentiment has been expressed in the past. Could this not simply the same thing, from the non-believer side?

      • brianmacker

        Not analogous. The analogous letter from the atheist would be to complain about “Happy Holidays” during an atheist holiday. Of, course there are no atheist holidays, it’s impossible to match your analogy. As a side note, some jerk not knowing I was an atheist and trying to be friendly told me a joke where April Fools was the atheist holiday. I didn’t laugh.

    • Randomfactor

       ”Thanks.  May the Goddess bless you too.”

      • IndyFitz

        I’ll bless your goddess. She can get on her knees.

  • IndyFitz

     Excellent!  Simple, direct, to the point.

  • RebeccaSparks

    Everyone has their own pet peeves, and everyone has their own way to be subversive.

    While I think that people who say, “have a blessed day” mean well and it’s not a big deal in the scheme of things, I don’t think that means you can’t push back… gently.  By saying, ”(bless) you too,”  you’re adding to the illusion of a Christian nation–and generally you can reject it by returning a different sentiment.  You can say, “Have a nice day,” “Aloha, ” or “Live long and prosper.”  As long as you’re friendly people understand your well wishes and you can feel like you’re being true to yourself.

  • Valerie

    When they push your elementary school daughter in the mud and tell her she should commit suicide. That is the time to be outraged. When they try to take science out of schools by all means get out the picked signs. When someone is wishing you well the best way they know how shut the fuck up or say thank you! Seriously!!!

    • brianmacker

      Ok, so if the best way some ignorant well meaning southerner knows how to wish someone well is to say, “You be good, boy” then some black man should just shut the fuck up and say thank you? You do realize that one option is to educate the ignoramus, right? Like the guy writing the letter.

      • fin312

        You are comparing apples and oranges. Very of base analogy.

        • brianmacker

          Not at all. You probably are not aware of it but many southerners are kindly well meaning racists. They can wish a black person well and mean it. “Boy” can be a habit they use with everyone, and ignorant and clueless of how it sounds to a black.

          Not much different in other ways either. Bringing an atheist boyfriend home or worst marrying him is frowned upon. Atheists are considered inferior. Etc.

  • Mdwelch27

    I don’t get upset.  I understand the positive intent.  but I do say something that makes it clear that your non-existant god has nothing to do with how my day goes, or my sneeze, or the winter solstice.  I do try to make my statement just as nice, in tone, as the original platitude – with a nice big smile.

    You have to take every little opportunity to turn the unthinking tide – but you can’t let silly little people control your emotional state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706781030 Barry St. Denis

    Water down a duck’s back, people.  Let’s be adult about the little things.  I have been an atheist most of my life but the first to say “Merry Christmas”.  Christmas to me is a cultural event and I love it!!!  If someone wishes me a “blessed day”, my brain interprets it as “have a good day” and  I say “the same to you.” I am an atheist but also a polite, tolerant adult.

    • Slan21

       Thank you, i’ve been astonished by most of the comments here.

    • Weeliljessi

      Even though I was raised atheist, my parents still did Christmas because they thought it was just an important aspect of childhood. Though they left all the Jesus stuff out of it, my mom saw no harm in letting me believe in Santa. 
      In fact, the story I got was that Christmas was really Santa’s birthday, but because he is he spirit of kindness and generosity, instead he gives everyone in the world a present to celebrate

    • ortcutt

      “Merry Christmas” recognizes a holiday that we all receive regardless of whether we celebrate it in a religious way or not.  I don’t have a problem with people wishing me a pleasant weekend either.  What bothers me about “Have a blessed day” is that it’s a neologism and an aggressively anti-secularist one.  It’s a response to the perception of secularization (“Religion is being driven from the public square!”) and an assertion that everyone is going to be blessed whether they like it or not.  I think a polite, “No, thank you.  I’m not religious” is appropriate.  I might also consider shopping at a different store.

    • fin312

      I like your thinking as far as your interpretations. It would be nice if most of your faction thought like that. I disagree with your interpretation of Christmas. I don’t care what it use to be(that was then,this is now). It now is a day that worships a deity and for you to take part is mockery and hypocriticle.

  • MG

    Well, I hope you have a blast today, too!

  • Lagalmor

    I celebrate Christmas, and I’m an atheist. Christmas has become a holiday that has gone beyond Christianity, something that can be celebrated by most people as just a time for family and squishy warm feelings. Do some people celebrate it more religiously than others? Sure, and I’m fine with that. It doesn’t impact my ability to celebrate Christmas in an entirely secular way.

    • brianmacker

      Well considering it was a pagan holiday at one point it has also gone past paganism. I celebrate it too, all year long, my Xmas lights are on right now.

  • Marc

    This does not account for the underlying issue, which is that Christians have gotten their way for so long, they live under the presumption that everyone else shares their delusion.

    First, it’s an expression of superstitious idiocy. I don’t really give a damn what they mean by it or what their good intentions are. There is a multitude of means to express benevolence, yet they choose the most exclusionary. Making apologetic excuses for a longstanding habit or tradition is little more than sweeping an issue under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist.

    Next, their double standard will quickly become apparent if these Christians are blessed under the standard of a god other than their own. Everything is just hunky-dory, as long as we all follow the Christian standard. It is bullshit. I refuse to play by someone else’s rules of conduct, especially when their rules demand that no one rocks the boat by straying from their criteria.

  • Willy Occam

    This is a very interesting thread!  I am really torn about this issue myself: yes, there are definitely bigger fish to fry and it seems petty on one hand; but on the other hand it is kind of annoying.  And it is awkward to respond to “have a blessed day” without either feeling like a hypocrite or coming off like a dick. 

    Recently, my wife and I were on a flight from Boston to Dallas when the captain came on the intercom for his customary greeting and flight itinerary, which he ended with “have a blessed flight.”  As usual, I was only half-listening to the announcement, but my wife and I looked at each other thinking “did he say what I think he said?”  Half a dozen more times throughout the flight, the captain addressed us over the intercom, each time ending with “have a blessed flight” (except for the final announcement when we arrived in Dallas, which he ended with “have a blessed day”).  I must say, it was kind of a weird feeling being held captive on a flight and being forced to hear that phrase repeated every time the captain addressed us, and I have to wonder how his supervisors at American Airlines would feel about it.  On the other hand, they are based in Dallas, so perhaps using this phrase is a requirement for their crew.

    • Antinomian

      I would be concerned about the pilot’s skill level if he truly expected the blessing of a deity to safely complete the flight.

      • Willy Occam

        That thought did cross my mind.  I’d hate to think of some kind of in-flight emergency, and the captain coming over the intercom saying:

        “Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to be experiencing some difficulties with our engines at this time, and our landing gear is not responding; but my co-pilot and I are praying right now for a miracle emergency landing.  However, if that’s not possible, then it must be God’s will for us all to die in a fiery crash.  Which will be fine for all of the believers on board, who will be in a better place afterward.  Oh… and have a blessed flight.”

    • fin312

      Just like Jennifer Brooks above said  SFW!!!

    • brianmacker

      You are supposed to feel like a dick. Just like you are supposed to feel like a dick when you don’t provide sacrifice to keep the crops watered. They are playing the same game when the have rules where they get offended if you cook bacon where the can smell it, or draw cartoons, etc. Wouldn’t you feel like a dick if you went to a Muslim country and wanted to do many ofmthe things you take for granted, like kiss someone? Wouldn’t you feel like an intruder, for exercising your rights.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

    Im more on the side that this *is* a form of proselytization, because when I first moved to Louisiana and started hearing this (grew up in Texas, but never heard it there, but the San Antonio areas pretty relaxed) I asked the person about it (it was not terribly busy so I didnt feel bad taking 20 second of their time) and they essentially said if I believed in Jesus then they hoped I would be blessed with a good day, and if I didnt that they hoped they had gotten me to think about it and hoped I would be blessed by coming to the truth.  

    Now when I hear it I tell them “And may Odin bless you with wisdom”.  Maybe its a little snarky, but I dont find it any more rude than their original comment, and maybe itll get them to think about those of other/no faith and how we feel (I know it probably wolnt but w/e).  Its better when the rune tattoo on my arm is showing though :-D

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

      I should clarify though that I dont see this as enough of an annoyance to write a Dear Abby letter.  Does kinda seem likely it could be a poe from a Christian who got an unsettling response from someone who didnt like their “have a blessed day” comment.

      • brianmacker

        I think he wrote Dear Abby hoping to save others the cumulative annoyance. It was an altruistic act.

  • Sven

    “Unpleasant-sounding”?  “Proselytizing”?  ”Code-words”?  Come on now.

    They are wishing you a nice day, in the nicest way they know how to express it, from their Christian-centric worldview.  Shortsighted maybe, but not sinister.  Rather than balk and reject it, just return the courtesy in the same kindness it was given.  Is that so hard?  Be the bigger man/woman, don’t be petty.

    An anecdote: One time my boss sneezed, and I said “Gesundheit”.
    “What the heck does that mean?”
    “It’s an old German expression.  It means something like ‘here’s to your health’.”
    “Yeah, well I’m Italian.  And when an Italian sneezes you say ‘God bless you’.”

    I got a laugh out of it.

    • brianmacker

      So is your boss being petty in asking “What does that mean” and pointing out he was Italian? That’s precisely what this atheist did, and it is almost word for word.

  • Antinomian

    Living among the Floridiots, I hear this all the time. Really, I don’t care one way or the other. I think that people are just trying to be pleasant in their own way.

    My response is “thank you, live long and prosper my friend”. It will always get a smile and the gracious dork factor.

  • http://twitter.com/emilyhasbooks Emily Dietle

    Hailing from Texas, myself, I can understand why he might of written in. Flabbergasted and without a network of fellow freethinkers to unload your frustrations to in real life over a good brew, where the nature of your daily environment consists of churches on every block, religious postcards tacked to walls in post offices & doctor’s offices…it gets, well, irritating & easy to overreact to the minor stuff that most would just brush off. After a while, it’s too much.

  • jeffj900

    I remember in the late sixties or early seventies, as a young Californian, I learned that New Yorkers thought it was odd for a stranger to say “have a nice day”. That may have changed; it seems more widespread now. Back then people thought it was insincere, and pushy to use the imperative. Apparently Groucho Marx was known for saying “I’ll have any kind of day I like”.

    “Have a blessed day”, if anything is far more insinuating, and seems more recent than “have a nice day”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Have_a_nice_day

    • Stev84

      With cashiers most of it is really just company policy and they must say these lines. They’re trained to act all nice and friendly and that also includes standardized greetings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrs.schaarschmidt Barb Schaarschmidt

    I come across the “have a blessed day” thing sometimes, usually when I am dealing with customers from the South. You don’t hear it too much here in Pennsylvania. When someone tells me to have a blessed day, I brightly say “you have a great day too”. It’s polite, it’s not hypocritical, it acknowledges that they were being nice without feeling like I’m accepting a religious sentiment that I don’t want. Pretty much all bases covered without making a big deal about something that really isn’t.

    • brianmacker

      I figure if it shouldn’t be a big deal for me then it shouldn’t for them to deal with the embarrassment of misidentification when I reply, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in your power to bless people. Best wishes on your day though.”

      It’s sorta like when someone wishes a fat lady or someone with a tumor good luck on the pregnancy. Nice sentiment, and good intentions, but if you assume then you make an ass out of you not me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cameron-Willadsen/550975056 Cameron Willadsen

    the only time it bothered me was while living in the Memphis,Tn as it was part of a greater social pressure. Though ironically the way it was often said, they might as well have been saying “f*^$ you.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBVOVG4GFQ7AY22NLJFRKI7X5I Ann

    How would you feel if someone said “May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you”? Would you question them or correct them or just say thanks and not make a big deal out of it? Be honest… It would make you uncomfortable and you know it. 

    • brianmacker

      That would be hilarious and especially if you pretend you though they were Muslim. Something like “Thank you for Allah’s blessings” or “May Allah shower his blessings on you too for spreading his message”, or “Thank you for spreading Allah’s message”. I think trial and error would be called for to see which irks the most.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000872559122 Alex Summers

    Out of curiosity as to why I should be “offended” by this choice of wording, I looked up the etymology for the word “bless”. 

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bless&allowed_in_frame=0
     from P.Gmc. *blodison ”hallow with blood, mark with blood,” Originally a blood sprinkling on pagan altars.
    So really, it’s another Christian rip off word. Might be fun to point that out to them rather than get offended. 

    Personally, I rather pick my battle over “I’ll pray for you” or maybe even “God bless you”. As the latter would somewhat signify whatever God to spray blood on me *eeek* 

    • brianmacker

      Is there some resource conservation issue here I am unaware of that requires one to pick battles? Seems like all battles can be fought at once, and especially since ther are many atheists.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000872559122 Alex Summers

        Well sure, but do we really want to start a world war? It sure would lend credence to their consistent whining about how the world will end. Not sure I’m up to that sort of credo.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    It’s odd to see just counts as “forcing” someone’s beliefs on you these days.

  • Ms Cori

    I think it rude to have to always be “blessed” and told “bless you” in public everytime I sneeze.  This is the problem!  Society needs to wake up.  I don’t want to be blessed in public.  Leave me alone.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PWUAB6VWGQWUV4GQTMTPBBU33Q JessicaR

    I hear”Have a blessed day” every time I leave the supermarket. Big whoop. Some people really need to find their big boy panties and learn how to wear them.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

    way late to this party, but i don’t agree. sorry, it’s like saying that if a Klan employee wanted to end our transaction (me not know he was a klan member, of course, i don’t assume all white people are)  by saying “White Power forever!”
    r
    when i’m paid to do a job, i do my job. nothing more, nothing less. i serve/assist/guide/provide all people  work for, with and who patronize my business equally. neutrally. without interjecting my opinions and beliefs. it’s rude, no matter what the topic of personal concern. i don’t like it when pharmacists claim they don’t have to serve me reproductive products, or when Jews say that they have some sort of exception to serving in their nation’s mandatory military service that everyone else has to do, or countless other examples of people who just can’t seem to accept that “your favorite religious belief” makes you special and gives you the right to impose certain conditions on everyone else. 

    shorter me: save that shit for church. and read your damn holy books, most of them agree there’s a time and a place for it and work is not that place. 

  • fin312

    How nice and polite it would be

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000054504246 Jenifer Amanda Brooks

    To quote Stephen Fry:

    It’s now very common to hear people say ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights; it’s actually nothing more…it’s simply a whine. ‘I find that offensive,’ it has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I’m offended by that,’ well so fucking what?

    • brianmacker

      He said he was annoyed, not offended, and he claimed no rights.

      I’m not sure how you got your interpretation out of what I just read. I sometimes think I have properly discerned the meanings of words I’ve rarely heard or used from context, but when I look them up I find that I was mistaken. Is that what happened here? Maybe you trusted someone else’s interpretation, and didn’t read his actual letter? Something else.

      I’m not a big fan of Fry as a representative of clear thought. He is funny sometime however. How exactly does he come to the conclusion that the sentence has no meaning, purpose, or reason to be respected. I can think of plenty of contexts where it has all three. I can also think of contexts where no right is claimed by the phrase, and it is not a whine.

      Fry’s entire line of thought is a deepity, a phrase that is true and trivial in one sense, false and would have profound implications if true in the other. Actually he has coined several deepities, one for each of his claims about offense.

      I’m pretty sure that when a woman at a bar says, “I’m rather offended by that” to the comment “Nice tits” she is in fact not claiming any rights. She communicating meaning ( she finds your abrupt advance undesirable), and has a purpose (to tell you you’ve just diminished your chances with her), and should be respected (if you wish to get closer to the objects of your admiration the next time you hit on a girl).

  • fin312

    What would be so hard about saying, ” thank you but i don’t practice any religion but you also have a nice day” instead of whining like a child. Grow up!!!! there are more importants things to worry about now than this. Enough of the politically correct bullshit!!!

    • brianmacker

      He didn’t whine like a child. He asked them a valid question because he didn’t want to assume their motives for them, and didn’t know why the asked. Quite mature. If they refrained from responding to the question he dropped the subject, because he’d know they had probably figured out their motive was inappropriate. Again mature. If they told him they were Christian he responded that he was an atheist. Again mature.

      If I went up to a Christian and said, “You have a nice Hanukkah” he would likely respond with something similar to “What do you mean by that?”. He’d be expecting me to answer something like, “I thought you were Jewish” or “I’m Jewish”. He’d probably be insulted either way.

  • Phred

    “Happy god-free day to you too!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

    Usually well wishing of this sort are not intended as proselytizing. It is their version of good will.

    I like it when people are friendly enough to say “Merry Christmas” to me in the winter. Depending on my mood, I might return the favor. It’s not like they are saying “Believe in God or burn in hell you heathen!”. They think they are saying “Have a wonderful holiday!”

    For a while I was mildly annoyed by such things. I just associate such a reaction with being new to atheism. When you first decide you are part of a movement and feel the righteous outrage, it is often difficult to contain and quite often, I end up being pretty extreme.

    • brianmacker

      No, they are saying, “Have MY wonderful holiday”. I actually say “Merry Christmas” to people I know are Christian, BTW. I avoid doing that to Jews, and instead say, “Happy Hanukkah”.

      • JasonM

         I’m not a Christian, but Christmas is my holiday, too.

        • brianmacker

          They don’t see it that way. I’ve been mocked on several occasions for celebrating it, but only once per mocker, and only by those who are clueless that their holidays were “stolen” from pagans.

  • Earl G.

    I wonder if this letter was a prank or a reverse-Poe of some sort.

  • HughInAz

    If you lived in the buybull belt, being told “have a blessed day” by every random stranger you have any dealings with would wear anyone down eventually… it just reeks of christian presumptiveness and privilege. I might answer “may the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch you with his noodly appendage”, but I know they would never get it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elly.pemberton.3 Elly Pemberton

    I totally disagree with your response to this one, for once. I’m a sales clerk and customers tell me to have a blessed day pretty frequently. It is NOT equivocal to saying ‘Have a good day.’

    I think it’s inappropriate for the employees to say it because while you’re on the clock, you’re supposed to be representing your company and providing a service. Your religion should not come into play at work unless you do specifically religious (or irreligious) work.

    Often I wish that people would keep their damn mouths shut and not throw their religion into casual conversation flippantly. It’s such a privileged thing to do.

  • http://fivedollardayblog.blogspot.com/ Ruby Leigh

    Totally agree

  • Randy

    I disagree, at least in cases where the businesses present themselves as open to all.

    This is the sort of thing that needs to be pushed back.  Consider that if I accept a “blessed day”, then I am unavoidably accepting their God which in His Holy Book condemns me to Hell on a number of occasions.  They believe He’s real.  They typically believe Hell is real, and if anyone’s going to Hell, it’s an atheist who publicly denies the Holy Spirit, as I do.  So, yeah, it’s a pretty offensive thing to say to an atheist, “dickish” you might call it, if you had something against male parts.

    Second (and this is what Abby REALLY doesn’t get) pushing back on this enlightens the other person that in fact, not everyone who looks like me is a Christian, not even in a mall.  The default assumption (in my area) is that unless you’re wearing explicitly religious dress of another religion, you’re Christian.  But atheist dollars and purchases count as much as anyone else’s, still we never get a customized greeting.  If we asked for one, we wouldn’t get it.  But why not?  We should be treated with equal respect.

    Third, as a modification of the whole “have a nice day” phenomenon, it is absurd.  I have no control over past events.  I have little control over future events.  And if they’re bad, I don’t want to be told that it’s “nice” or “blessed”.  I can figure that out on my own.  And I know the salesperson doesn’t (and can’t) really care. 

    I don’t really need to be told anything, upon leaving a salesperson, other than “Bye”.  But some acceptable alternatives might be “It was nice talking with you”, or “I hope we can be of service to you in the future”.   If something else just has to be said, I’d prefer “good luck” as it embraces chance, doesn’t tell me what to do, and is only two syllables long.  Luck has both supernatural and non-supernatural interpretations, so it should satisfy everyone.

    (“never again associate with this person.’ — again, who’s being the “dick” here?)

  • John of Indiana

    Back in the late 70′s when the “Have a Nice Day” kick was going on, there was this middle-aged hippie-chick woman who worked at the drug store down the street who always told everyone to “Have a Nice DAY!”.

    So one day, when she told me to “Have a Nice Day!” I looked at her and wrinkled my brow and said “Oh, but I had a nice day yesterday. Can I have just an ordinary day today? I don’t want to be greedy…”

    She looked back at me and I could see the wheels turning then she smiled and said “Well, if you really want to, OK!”

    She got me back a few weeks later when I was buying a package of  Four-X condoms and she said “Have a Nice NIGHT!”…

  • amycas

    A guest at work the other day very pointedly told me to have a blessed day (in a not so nice tone) after I told her to have a great night. It was weird because she waited for the rest of her party to leave before she looked back at me and blurted it out. 

  • Tak

    Haven’t read all comments but I have to say my first thought on reading this complaint is, “how totally unprofessional!” Most stores have policies regarding the things staff say to customers and “have a blessed day” is completely inappropriate! Forget whether or not the customer is theistic or not – the fact remains that this supposed harmless saying is not okay and unprofessional regardless of the speakers intent. This sort of thing is why they say “happy holidays” in many retail stores. If anyone gave this much thought they’d see that this blessed day saying is an insidious step in the wrong direction.

    Why this guy didn’t take it up with the management is beyond me. They should be aware of how off putting such a ‘harmless’ little saying can be.

    This isn’t about rights or taking offence as much as it is raising awareness that some people are non theists and don’t appreciate explicitly theistic send offs from total strangers. Business owners Do care about public relations and training staff not to make customers feel uncomfortable is part of public relations.

  • http://twitter.com/darwins66 Dave Shores

    I don’t remember hearing “Have a blessed day” five years ago.  This is a recent phenomenon in my experience.  People I’ve known for 40 years are suddenly using this phrase.  It is definitely code for “I’m a Christian”.  I, personally, think the evangelicals have a newsletter encouraging this.  

    To me it’s the Tim Tebowization of the language.  It screams “Look at me!  Look at me!!  I’m a Christian!!!!”  

    One off occurrences don’t bother me much, but letting folks you deal with regularly know you don’t share the sentiment is fine.  (I like the “may the blessings of Allah be upon you too!” comeback!  Might have to steal that one!)

  • Junk

    I’m a theist (should I admit to that here?) and I think it’s completely within reason to feel uncomfortable, even offended by “Have a blessed day.” It’s leveraging cultural privilege. This person has the privilege of being in the majority, of having most media messages, political rhetoric, etc. pointed at their particular belief system. They get away with (most of the time) walking around assuming that everyone else shares their point of view. They don’t realize how much cultural privilege is embedded in telling someone else to “have a blessed day.” They’re so used to it that they feel threatened or confused when their cultural privilege is made salient to them. It’s never happened to me, but I’d feel weird if somebody told me to have “a blessed day,” as if they could just safely assume something about me, or the universality of their beliefs.

  • thebigJ_A

    This. It’s not some ancient, old as dirt saying like “bless you” after a sneeze. It’s a new phenomenon, at the ver least in extent since it’s being said in places where it never was before. It’s a reaction against their slow loss of dominance.
    Even though the person saying it may or may not realize this, allowing it to become an accepted-without-comment saying is yielding the field. Politeness always, but not cowardice or apathy.

  • thebigJ_A

    double post

  • thebigJ_A

    This. It’s not some thoughtless old-as-dirt expression, it’s a new phenomenon. It’s a response to their slow loss of majority, to the threat they see in secularization. Certainly many of the people saying it may not realize this, but to simply allow it to stand, to become accepted and (worse) default, is yielding the field.
    Politeness and friendliness in one’s response, always, but no cowardly retreat or apathy, thank you very much.

  • Tony Sidaway

    That atheist’s complaint strikes me as a perfect mirror of the religious people who are offended if a store clerk wishes them “Happy Holiday”. So religious people may have dopey beliefs? Well yes, they do. Get over it, and try not to be an asshat when they’re wishing you well.

  • Thankthesnake

    Well clearly, you are noone to ask for advice on such a subject. So I’ll try to help this person.

    Should he relax…? Maybe. Clearly to him it is a real concern. And this is something that I myself have dealt with. If he finds the wish for blessings disturbing or offensive then he is entitled. I don’t think he is being in anyway unreasonable and to have his feelings so casually discarded by anyone is unfair. Try wishing the blessings of Satan or any other imaginary deity on an evangelical xian or a catholic and see what comes back.

    Here is a simple solution. Just simply say… “No thank you”. It works for me. It has left some perplexed while others have asked “why?” I’ve had some great conversations about religious ritual and belief or the lack there of come occasionally out of my response.

    Now I for one am an outspoken atheist. Even at work if approached. I’m fairly well read, as many of us tend to be, and have been sought out or asked to join in conversations with and by theists. I like when people ask questions and of me, they do. Some people are genuinely curious. And I haven’t had a hardcore theist meets hardcore atheist rumble in a long time. Being polite is easy because I’m comfortable and feel unthreatened in my atheism. It’s easy when you understand that you’re dealing with fairy tales. 

    We have come into a new age as atheists. An age where we need to be seen and are. Where we need to be heard and are. Where we need to be vocal and are. Maybe it’s easier for me as an outspoken older gay man who also happens to be black. If a person hides who they are or remains silent, they will never be seen or respected. They will never change the world. Refusing a god’s blessing is a perfect opportunity to let others know in a polite and reasonable way, that there are people whom do not share their superstitions or their religion. And more importantly, that their religious beliefs no longer control the conversation or the whole society. Bravo to the person who wrote the Dear Abby letter. I hope he reads this.
       

  • Mairianna

    I always respond to the unwelcome “blessings” with, “No, Bless you!”  I figure it’s like me saying, ” no thanks, you can have it, I don’t want it!”  Personally, I think many people say it because it makes them feel like they are better than you or it makes them feel important, like they have a very special role to play for Jeebus. 

  • fin312

    They would respond with “sorry I’m catholic or Lutheran etc.etc.”,but thank you anyway and happy holidays to you also. We’re not petty and anal like you all.
     Way to many other things to worry about in this world than ” oh geeze they said “have a blessed day” now I’m a gonna die” please!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

    It’s something.

    On the other hand, it’s a pretty small thing. My suspicion is that making a big fuss is unlikely to result in changes proportional to the effort, particularly as it’s easily dismissed by theists with the “hypersensitive atheist” stereotype — strengthening the stereotype.

    If just ignoring this sort of thing is just too grating, finding one of the assorted pieces of snark suggested below seems a proportionate response. Or better yet, take the occasion of hearing one to spend a few minutes thinking up a suitable piece of snark for future responses to the same thing; it’s a good exercise in creativity. Some criteria I’d suggest for “better” would include not easily bolstering any “angry atheist” stereotype; being sufficiently unusual to tend to provoke surprise, cognitive dissonance, and possibly reflective thought; brief; and unlikely to trigger physical violence nor legal action.

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    I always wondered what to say when an atheist sneezes. Now what do atheists say when they . . . you know . . . reach that climax?

    • brianmacker

      Fuuuuuuck!
      Unuugh!
      I’m cumming!

      What did you expect?

      What I always wondered is how Christians can climax with god watching, plus all their dead relatives. You guys do talk about daddy or mommy watching from heaven.

      Also why say “Oh God” during climax? Isn’t it only polite to invite voyuers to join in prior to the finale?

    • Thankthesnake

      Well, when I hear a theist sneeze, assuming that I could know such and if everyone is intent upon keeping demons from crawling into his/her nose by invoking their god’s blessing; I just wish them good health. If you hear an atheist sneeze, it is perfectly acceptable for you to say nothing at all. In other words, you are invited to keep your mouth… shut. I think that “brainmacker” has done an outstanding  job of covering the second part of your inquiery. 

  • http://twitter.com/Rhino1515 Rhino1515

    I’m not so sure the holier-than-thou tone I usually hear this phrase uttered in is clear to everyone. This is NOT a standard, US English greeting. This is something recently being promoted and spread mostly by Southern US evangelicals. It is not a simple “Have a nice day!” It is actually a not-so-subtle way of turning what should be a quick, simple closing to a superficial business transaction into a chance to promote their religion. It’s not appropriate, in my eyes. We have several non-religious phrases to finish a business transaction — no need to add a new one with religious overtones.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    This deserves the Jesus facepalm, just to cause more butthurt.
    http://danielstreett.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/jesus-facepalm.jpg?w=640 

    My barber is a fundamentalist and always gives me a blessing when she cuts my hair. She’s very sweet about it, and gives me a nice shampoo sampler along with her tract. It does not offend. 

  • Fuck You

    Fuck you, special snowflake. Don’t tell other people how to feel.

  • bettyobrien8@gmail.com

    People have many problems today, and they blame it on people, you should not get offended because they wish you happy thoughts. is it there fault that there happy, And another thing Santa Clause, easter bunny, are not real. Jesus Christ and the devil are real its up to you who you want, I hope you read about Jesus Christ first.

  • Alejandro César Cervantes

    But, Hemant, isn’t it problematic that someone would be laughed at or persecuted for wishing Zeus’ blessings on a person as opposed to Jesus’ blessings? I think that represents centuries of “Christ, the Hegemon” — and thus I don’t think it’s “making a big deal out of nothing” when an atheist is angry that believers are (maybe not intentionally) forcing their beliefs on him (or at least perpetuating their dominance). It’s sort of like saying, “Well, he’s had you pinned down for five minutes now, but stop getting mad at him for kissing your cheek. It’s a nice thing to do.”

    Yeah, sure, kisses are nice, but I’m mad that the guy’s got me pinned, and people are defending the kisses! (Yes, I know it’s a goofy metaphor, but it functions.)

    What I’m saying, Hemant, is that most atheists aren’t making a big deal out of nothing; they’re reacting to their frustration at living in a society wherein people can express belief in the supernatural, ignore science, and call blind faith a virtue, when at the same time atheists can’t hold their head up high and proclaim freedom from religion without the fear of persecution. Why is it okay to minimize the pain of a systematically oppressed atheist who is upset about the symptoms of religious hegemony when you claim to be a champion of secular values?

  • Jimmy Lin

    If anyone says have a blessed days, I would pretend to suffer and die like a vampire or something, just for laughs. Add a little hard to understand humor in your actions to make your point, but no need to assert yourself or take any of them seriously.

    Since I don’t care what non-sense they want to believe in, I’ll just lightly ridicule them without getting all worked up.