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Etiquette-praying at a non-religious meeting

  1. Georzetta profile image83
    Georzettaposted 8 years ago

    I'm looking at a potentially sticky situation next week.  I am president of the Board of Directors of the small nonprofit that is focused on connecting people with disabilities to the services and agencies that can assist them.

    We have invited a local minister to attend a meeting of our board with the intention of him becoming a board member.  His reputation is quite good. He could be of tremendous value to our organization, connecting us with an underserved portion of the population that we have not been able to access.

    I have never met this man and know nothing of him personally.

    The person who recommended him to our board also mentioned that he might want to pray with us as a group.

    I have no idea about the faith or personal beliefs of most of the members of my board.  We work and interact with regard to the board's mission.

    I am very uncomfortable with the idea of a common prayer in one of our meetings.

    Personally, I would not be able to participate. I don't know about the others.

    There is also a legal question of our being a government funded and civic organization.

    I do not want to offend this gentlemam but I also feel strongly about this.

    Can anyone suggest a tactful and respectful way to decline an offer of a public prayer?

    Thank you.

    1. profile image0
      sandra rinckposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      LoL, do what I do.  Put your head down and wait for them to finish.  Or if the pressure is on, ask if you can lead the prayer.  It goes something like this...

      Hey, God?  Me again, yeah... um... and... well you know already so okay, bye.  Amen.

      I doubt anyone will say anything to you because it's 'religious'. lol  big_smile  good luck with that.

      1. Georzetta profile image83
        Georzettaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        That's the problem.I don't "do" god.

        1. profile image0
          sandra rinckposted 8 years agoin reply to this

          just humoring...

          1. Georzetta profile image83
            Georzettaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

            I know what you meant and I agree with you most of the time. (I didn't mean for my reply to sound snotty.)  I've been "humoring" some relatives for years.

            But just reading over what you said made me think about "humoring." I've done it to save myself from the crap I would have to put up with if I told the truth. However, on some level, isn't "humoring" the same as disrespect?

            I know an argument can be made that a little white lie to save ourselves from those around us who see no viewpoint but their own is justified.  I have done it many a time.  I want to be honest with people but at the same time I don't want to waste a lot of my energy trying to explain something to someone who will never hear me.

            Well, that was a complete change Of subject.

            1. profile image0
              sandra rinckposted 8 years agoin reply to this

              I understand you dilemma. I suppose if you really want his support, you might just have to humor it.  Or do like Cole said and just tell him how you feel but is it worth it to you to lose the contacts you need over a prayer from a harmless individual or does pride (not that you shouldn't stand up for yourself) mean more to you at the moment then getting to help the people in need? 

              To me, it seems that pride can take a back seat when the real objective is to help.  wink

              1. Georzetta profile image83
                Georzettaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

                Yes, that is the heart of it.  My sensibilities may very well have to take a back seat.

                This burns me no end as I prefer the illusion that the universe revolves around me!

    2. blackjava profile image60
      blackjavaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I don't care if he is a minister or not. To me it would be absolute arrogance if he expected the group to pray. He is being invited to a board meeting, not a prayer meeting.

      If the subject comes up I would tell him that.

    3. Rhianni32 profile image69
      Rhianni32posted 8 years agoin reply to this

      As much as nonbelievers say that believers need to respect their views it goes both ways. Lets not instantly assume he is going to take over and start preaching.
      Talk to him. If he is as well respected as you have said I am sure you two can come to an understanding especially since it sounds like this board is to help those in need and not preach.

  2. Colebabie profile image59
    Colebabieposted 8 years ago

    If it really worries you I would just speak to him ahead of time. Say exactly what you told us.

    "We really appreciate your interest in joining our board. We believe that you will be a positive contribution and will help us reach out to even more under served people. Our meetings typically include...(XYZ). Because I don't know the religious affiliations of our members I don't want to offend anyone by leading the group in a prayer. Do you have any suggestions as to get the message across while still keeping everyone's personal beliefs in mind? Maybe just by making it a speech at the beginning? What are your thoughts?"

    That way he gets to say what he thinks and it isn't just you telling him not to do something. I'm sure he will more than understand.

    1. Georzetta profile image83
      Georzettaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      My other big concern is that I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. This is an educated man who has done community advocacy work.

      I just want to be prepared in case the issue comes up.

      I do like the idea of "not offending anyone."  Good idea.

    2. EmpressFelicity profile image74
      EmpressFelicityposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      What she said.  smile

  3. wyanjen profile image81
    wyanjenposted 8 years ago

    Let him do it once, if he wants to. He will be an asset to your board.

    Explain that your group is not faith-based. Let him know that not all of your members are religious. Make sure it is clear that the prayer is voluntary. And keep it very short. smile

    I don't do god either but as a humanist, I have a lot of respect for community support and aid that religious groups can offer.
    In this situation, I would not feel uncomfortable if I'm not expected to join in. I wouldn't want to exclude his beliefs as long as my beliefs are respected as well.

    Ministers pray - that's what they do for a living. Most folks understand that I think. If it was a lay-person you are talking about, then I would have a different answer here. smile

    1. Georzetta profile image83
      Georzettaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Good point. I hadn't considered that perspective.

      (I have always wanted to have a bumper sticker that said "Honk if you're secular humanist."  However, living in this part of the country makes me a bit nervous about being quite so open.)

      1. wyanjen profile image81
        wyanjenposted 8 years agoin reply to this


        The words sound scary if you don't know what they mean I think. People's eyes get suspicious when I try to explain it LOL
        Secular? Humanist? those words are confusing. It must be something evil. lol
        If you are diplomatic enough, you could make it seem that your group is SO open minded that you allow people to pray!! You might even get a thank you from the minister.

        Really though, in the context of community aid, I would allow the minister to say a few words. smile

      2. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        Just ask him not to pray.

        If he is a reasonable man - he will listen to your plea for a non religious meeting with no prayer to the invisible super being.

        If he refuses - you know he is another political religionist and can live without his money.

        1. Georzetta profile image83
          Georzettaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

          You haven't seen our budget. That brings up a good point.  Where is the line?  Greater good and all that.  Compromise is in the air.

  4. Georzetta profile image83
    Georzettaposted 8 years ago

    I want to thank everyone here for helping me think through a difficult issue.

    There may be more responses and I will read them all but this  has just  been  so very liberating.

    What a gift to be able to consider these issues frankly. 

    Be well.

  5. WriteAngled profile image84
    WriteAngledposted 8 years ago

    You also need to consider how much support/finance you might lose from supporters who will be offended if someone tries to ram an alien divinity down their throats.

  6. wyanjen profile image81
    wyanjenposted 8 years ago

    You're welcome smile

  7. Lady_E profile image77
    Lady_Eposted 8 years ago

    A very tough call for you...

  8. aware profile image69
    awareposted 8 years ago

    my idea of god does not want us on our knees

  9. Randy Godwin profile image93
    Randy Godwinposted 8 years ago

    Just tell him if he feels he has to pray Mark Knowles will want equal time!