Should I have to pray before dinner at my religious friend’s house?

A teenager has asked if she was wrong for not praying before her meal with her friend’s family. Picture: Rodnae Productions/Pexels

A teenager has asked if she was wrong for not praying before her meal with her friend’s family. Picture: Rodnae Productions/Pexels

Published Apr 14, 2023


A teenager appears to have lost a friend after not joining her family in prayer while having dinner at their house this week.

The 16-year-olds have been friends for seven years; one of the girls is an atheist while the other has religious beliefs.

“This has never affected our friendship thus far, because it never really mattered,” the girl, who we will name Ellis, says in an AITA Reddit post.

Despite their long-standing friendship, she says they have “somehow never never” had supper at each other’s houses before.

“I knew that ‘Raina’ and her family prayed before every meal, but I never have. When we sat down to eat supper, her family prayed (obviously) but I just kinda sat there until they finished.”

She says “everyone acted fine” about it, but that, after the meal, she went to her friend’s bedroom with her and was met with anger.

“She (Raina) said that in her house, you have to pray before eating and I was really disrespectful. I asked her why it was disrespectful, and she said it was like I threw her beliefs aside and just sat there doing nothing, and I was ‘supposed’ to pray with her family, even if I didn’t believe the same thing.”

Ellis responded by asking her friend whether, if the situation was reversed and she was having dinner at her family’s home, she would not pray before her meal in accordance with their beliefs. But Raina said that she would still pray because “it wasn’t the same thing”.

The Reddit user is now wondering whether she is an “AH” (a**hole).

“Raina seems really offended and isn’t speaking to me since after I left.”

Other Redditors weighed in on the issue, and do not believe that Ellis was in the wrong.

“Sitting quietly while others do their religious observance is the respectful thing to do. Her trying to make you pray is an infringement of your beliefs and is DISrespectful. If she's going to be tyrannical with her beliefs, perhaps not talking to you is doing you a favour,” writes user International-Aside.

RainbowCrane agrees: “Disrespectful would be striking up a conversation while they’re trying to pray, or loudly snarfing down food or something. Sitting there quietly while they carry out their observance is very respectful. If they feel the need for everyone to participate in the ritual it would be expected for them to let you know that with an invitation before the meal...”

And even then, Notthesharpestmarble says Ellis “would be well within bounds to decline”.

“Allowing them their observances does not require participation.”

ThrowAwayJudge810 believes that Ellis “respectfully” took a moment of silence while Raina and her family prayed, and that, as a Christian, “that is the most you can hope for from someone you know doesn't share your views”.

“I wouldn't expect someone who doesn't pray to pray out loud with the group, and some denominations have specific prayers before eating that I don't even know the words to. Idk [I don’t know[...but maybe she's afraid her parents will disapprove of your friendship/influence once they realise that you are an atheist.”

Also a Christian, Jessicamorrel says it is not disrespectful to not pray if you don't believe in the same creator.

“It was fine that you just sat there. It would have been disrespectful if you made inappropriate comments though.”

A more humorous response was given by gimmetots123: “How did Raina know? Aren’t you supposed to close your eyes when praying? No cheating!”

An article on cites Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven...If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The article then interprets the verse, saying that it “puts so much emphasis on loving our enemies”.

“And while other people who do not believe in Christ may or may not be our enemies, it boils down to the fact that it is specifically stated in the Bible that we should never let hatred brew in our hearts because of others — even if they hate us for what we believe in.”