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Pray, tell

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 4, 2007 09:37 AM

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Most awesome Unitarian blogger PeaceBang wrote a fabulous and thoughtful post in response to the responses to my response to the person who wrote in annoyed that a born-again co-worker says "I'll pray for you." The B.A.C.W. isn't praying for the letter-writer to be saved, you understand--according to the letter, she only says this "any time she hears I'm having a problem."

Which just isn't a big deal, which is what I said. If she were praying for conversion, that would be a different matter, and Rev. PeaceBang pulls out her theological chops quite nicely on that issue:

By all means, tell those who are praying for you to "find Jesus" that you don't appreciate those sentiments, and that you hope they will grow in faith enough to stop praying in public like the hypocrites Jesus derided in Matthew 6:5.

But praying for your sprained ankle to get better? Who's that hurting? As one of my friends, who himself is a fairly militant atheist of the Dawkins variety, put it, "If someone says they'll pray for you every time you complain to them about something, stop whining to them! It's a win-win all around."

Many of the negative letters I received were far less civil than those printed in the Globe. A number of them referred to the B.A.C.W.'s activity as "religious harassment," suggesting an extreme lack of perspective and ignorance of history. Several suggested that the letter-writer should take the case to the company's human-resources department, an action that has all the maturity of "Mom! Make him quit looking at me!" to it. And my all-time favorite, from a man who referred to religion as a "superstitious and hateful activity" (unlike his own reasoned and compassionate attitude, presumably), wrote this (spelling and punctuation corrected from the original):

May every Mormon mercenary out to earn his angel wings team up with every Moonie passing out flowers, every Muslim looking to convert Christians, every Jehovah's Witness looking to stuff a Watchtower down your throat, converge on your home for a good old-fashioned religious save-Robin-Abrahams's-[expletive] revival.

Clearly, this man knows nothing of the psychology of writers. There's not a religious system in the world that I find so noxious that I wouldn't welcome the chance to discuss it as a distraction from working.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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