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How do you handle religious strangers in public?

OK Atheists! I have a problem and need your help!

I live in SC and I have cashiers telling me all the time to, "Have a Blessed Day!" (It's spookie, I know!) I need to have a good comeback ready for them... What do you say when this happens to you?

Also, do you have a retort to, "Merry Christmas"? I don't really want to do battle on that one... in fact, I do get into the Xmas spirit and even decorate my house. (I like Santa, but no religious artifacts.) Shame on me! But seriously folks, I am curious about how y'all handle yourselves in public with the religiously inclined.

Thanks Guys and Gals! (Merry F'n Xmas! ha, ha)

Big Al

By Alw3144
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I had a regular customer who always gave me a hard candy along with his blessed day and his pamphlet...
"You as well Mr. Green!"
Yeah, I sell out for candy.

AmiSue Level 8 Dec 7, 2018


1) I don't understand your remark about "Mr. Green".
2) But are they passing out candy with a religious pamphlet? (That's dirty pool!)


Big Al

@Alw314 Mr. Green was his name, regular customer. An older gentleman, southern, inexplicably calling Connecticut home these past years.


Say "thank you" and go about your day.
No need to be a dick.


I have no problem with folks being friendly. I am not militant about my beliefs.

Sticks48 Level 9 Dec 7, 2018

Since interactions with sttrangers are typically figurative, or can be viewed as such, and positive in nature (from your examples,) I would pass them off as the innocuous utterances they are. In brief, I would just "Thanks," "you too," or "Happy Holidays!"

"Have a blessed day!" May be a viewed as a regional form of. "Have a good day!" Similarly, "Merry Christmas!" Can just mean "Happy Holidays!" Because these exchanges are with unimportant people in your life, why make them more important than they are? Save explaining your beliefes for duscussions with people who are important to you.

Hellas Level 6 Dec 13, 2018

I celebrate the holidays and will say “happy holidays.” If someone says merry xmas or the blessed day BS, I’ll just nod my head in acknowledgment or say thanks... I’m not confrontational. It’s not worth it to me.. my kids kinda snicker though.

Hi Green!

Thank you! All the responses I got were all so nice!

I love you guys, and I'm sure you are all right about how to handle the, "Blessed Day BS". However, my only thought is that I feel like we are, in some way, capitulating to their religiosity by going along with it. By capitulating, it is as if to say... "Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK, ... You have your neurosis, and I'll have mine!" ha, ha, ha!!!!

BTW, tell your kids I love them for their "Snicker"!!! How old are they?

Big Al

@Alw314 they’re 12&15. I agree with your point however I think people do it out of habit and not malice. As my boys are usually with me, I want to show them how to be kind even when we have different beliefs. Being in the south, it’s kinda baked into the cake.

@Green_eyes "Baked into the cake???" You are too funny!!! Well, I have a few questions for you. Do you think we Atheists should try to eliminate religion? After all, don't you think that religious differences cause a lot of anguish and suffering around the world? (9/11 is a perfect example!)

But if we Atheists and Agnostics are the antidote to a religious world, how can we best get the message across in a gentle way? I will start another post with this question!

Big Al

@Alw314 religion may be the cause of a lot of problems but as a health care professional I cannot ignore the physiological strength I can bring to some. We cannot put ourselves in a position of judge, it makes us no better than they are when they persecute others for having different beliefs... it’s not just about 9/11.. what about that idiot missionary that endangered a whole community to “spread the word”. There’s fanatics in all faiths.
We do know agnosticism is growing slowly as the world becomes a more scientific place. Will it ever go away completely.. who knows??

@Green_eyes I have "faith" that reason will prevail in the long run. That, and a good sense of humor keeps me going and somewhat sane (in this insane world).

But believe it or not, you guys, all of you on this web site, are a breath of fresh air and y'all give me renewed hope in the future of men and women everywhere.

I am a retired Telecomm Support Engineer. What do you do in the Medical Industry?

Big Al


Usually, I just say thank you. Their words don't have be my belief, and I know it is said with good intentions, so I don't take offense. I believe you can be 'blessed' by many things other than religion - it's very nice (and not a gift from god) have a day when things go well, enjoy a nice meal or a great shopping experience.

I agree


I just smile and nod... maybe say thank you.
This stuff never has bothered me. It's not like they're trying to lay a curse on you or anything.

OMG! Like a curse!?!!??

Just imagine a world where words actually had power (as if prayers really worked). And if someone said, "Have a Blessed Day" to you, that it was magical, and everything suddenly started going your way!"

Once people figured it out, everyone would be wishing (each other) to have a Blessed Day, and they would all win at Black Jack and the slot machines would soon empty!!! Las Vegas and Atlantic City would go broke! Sounds like a good plot for a feel good movie! But would such a movie encourage religiosity? I wonder.

Thanks BPB!

Big Al

I've a good friend who's a senior exec at Sony Pictures. I'll run this by him.

They're trying...

@Alw314 Words do have power. That’s how a lot of stupid shit gets started. Like from the tweets of Individual 1. I think that is why Mueller, a wise and sane man, is systematically discovering and documenting the truth, and is determined to hold the whole crew responsible for their words and actions.


I just say “thanks.”

sfvpool Level 7 Dec 7, 2018

I sometimes respond with "No, thanks", or "May the Force be with you". Occasionally I use "Hail, Satan".

For a non-offensive response I use "Happy Holidays", or "Merry Solstice".

ldheinz Level 7 Dec 21, 2018

I just take it as a meaningless pleasantry and say 'thank you'.


Many people have already expressed the feeling I have about it, which is to respond with a thank you.

Bobbyzen Level 7 Dec 7, 2018

The same as if they werent religious


I tend to ignore religious people unless they are proselyting and inflict themselves on me in public, then they get both barrels.
If some one says have a blessed day to me, I usually say something like, cheers, or stay safe, reciprocating the sentiment without identifying with any religious connotations.
Merry Christmas is something I say in the same way I say good morning. The Christ in Christmas means on more than the Thor in Thursday.


"Same to you" is a polite and simple exit from either of those situations. Doesn't cost you anything but buys a lot more peace than anything snarky.

Byrdsfan Level 8 Dec 19, 2018

As long as no one is in a missionary mode I greet and reply to everyone with the same respect and kindness I always do. And if someone do, I explain them friendly that I am a not religious and don‘t have any interest into it. I believe in goodness, and practice my ideals as best as I can just for myself, and that‘s all.

A friend of mine invite them in his home, but they moved fast. All his apartment was full with inverted crosses, pentagrams and skulls.

Yucel Level 3 Dec 11, 2018

To "have a good day," I respond, "thank you, but I have other plans," or alternates, " I already have." and my best is, " you have a great life." followed by their embarrassed giggle...why throw away the wish for one day ? And one day I was having a day where MORMON missionaries, darkening my door, and absolutely devoted to ruining my life...when one asked, what he could do to help me...I asked if he would suck my dick....for some reason they have NEVER RETURNED !

JimPlatt2 Level 5 Dec 11, 2018

When I was in my teens, whenever JWs came to my door, I used to be polite and decline their overtures. If my Mom answered, she would slam the door in their faces as hard as she could. However, they kept coming back. Then one time, when they asked if I was christian, I said no, and they asked, why not? I said that religion is a mechanism for social control and went on to expound on my theories. Dumbfounded, they left and never came back. I learned that having confidence in one's ideas pays dividends.

@elperroloco Thanks for the story! That was fun!
Whenever I had JWs at my house I would engage them in rational arguments of all kinds, that is, if I had the time. My goal was not to convert them (as much as I would like that) but just to crack open the door to their closed minds if possible. You never know. If presented with reason often enough, they just may begin to doubt their insane beliefs and quit the church at some point in the distant future.

The last time I engaged a few on my front porch it was a beautiful spring day and I asked them if my Shitzhu dog, named "Tutu" was going to heaven. Of course they said no. And I asked, "Why not?" And they said Tutu did not have a soul. And again, I said, why not? And they said my dog does not have emotions! Obviously, they never owned a cat or a dog!!!

I think pets are all about love! They love you, and you love them back (or visa versa). I always liked the idea that all dogs go to heaven. Of course, being an atheist, I don't really believe in heaven, but it is such a nice idea because our pets are so good to us. I really did love Tutu. She was such a good dog!

R. Allan Worrell


I ignore as much religious reference as possible, otherwise, I try to be polite.


I'm polite except to the homeless people that say "God Bless You" after I have just given them a food handout.I usually say something like - I don't believe in God but appreciate your thank you. You are more important to me than a non-existent God.

Lorajay Level 7 Dec 7, 2018

I think it is important, particularly when we are charitable, to let the recipient know we are not doing it because we are religious. Why? It restores a person's belief in his fellow man, apart from religion. In other words, you are showing you can be good (and have compassion) without religion!!! If the recipient has half a brain, they will get the message, and you have helped to lay the foundation for all of us!

Thank you!

Big Al


Yeah it’s best just to avoid the situation, say thank you and move on unless you’re ready to have a full on religious debate with someone who will never change their mind.


A good comeback to both “Have a blessed day” and “Merry Christmas” is “Thank you”


I just say, "Thank you" and just take it as someone saying, "have a pleasant day". I didn't hear this till I moved to NC about 5 years ago.

Pamscwf1 Level 6 Dec 13, 2018

Hi Pam -

Where did you move from?

Since you are now in NC, be prepared to hear it a lot! I'm really just an easy, out-going guy who is super friendly to all stripes of people from every corner of the globe. But I have had the, "Have a Blessed Day" thrown at me so much here in both NC and SC that it has turned me into a Militant Atheist !!!

I know they mean well, but it just shows me how many people are incapable of thinking for themselves! A Blessed Day??? Really? Who is going to bless it? People are so brainwashed by their religion it gives me the creeps!

I sometimes feel it is my moral and civic duty to "push back" in a polite way, just to let them know that not everyone is brainwashed. Maybe, just maybe, it will give them pause the next time they start to say, "Have a blessed day." and continue to perpetuate the lie.

Big Al

@Alw314 I grew up in Mass and raised my family in NH. Here in NC was the first time I heard " have a blessed day", it was the asst. principal of the school I worked at when I first moved here. I was shocked as in Mass growning up in the 70's we didn't say the pledge "under one god" portion in my public school. The religious can make you crazy.


And you have a damned good one yourself!


I don't handle religious stuff normally. If someone says 'Bless you' I don't reply but my think bubble says 'Whatever'. If I'm approached by a Jovo for example then I just tell them we have nothing in common, if they ask why then I tell them I'm an atheist, that ends the conversation.

The Christmas thing has nothing to do with any god, religion or anything else supernatural (Other than flying reindeer) so it's just about family, friends, food and specifically chocolate for me and I'll dish out Merry Christmasses to naybody that wants one smile001.gif

PS Merry Fucking Christmas to you too. Ho Ho Ho smile001.gif

ipdg77 Level 8 Dec 10, 2018

Nothing to do with religion? It's called Christ mas!


A thank you. They are just being nice. If someone asks me if l know Jesus l tell them no, because he has been FUCKING DEAD FOR TWO THOUSAND YEARS!

Sticks48 Level 9 Dec 10, 2018

You are SO fucking polite to everyone!


You don’t need a “come back”... just smile and take your change. I am regularly in the same situation and while I don’t think delusion is the way to go at least it’s not our delusionsmile001.gif

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