Sharing a common approach to life, humanists face some common situations. In this series, we invite humanists to offer their suggestions for handling those situations.

Question:  What do you say when someone says, “bless you” or “have a blessed day”? How do you respond to “I’ll pray for you”?

Community Responses


-Jamie Nichols

To “I’ll pray for you,” I respond “thank you, I’m sure you are.” With “bless you,” this phrase in my opinion is harmless, so I simply say, “thanks.”

I just let it pass. At least they are not saying “kiss my behind.”

-Stan Bradley

Responding to “bless you,” you could say, “I don’t need to be blessed” if you wanted to be rude, or if someone says, “have a blessed day,” you could say, “you have a good day too.” You could also say, “I don’t believe in any religion, so I’m just going to say thank you.” If someone says, “I’ll pray for you, I might say ‘thank you,’ but I’m not religious.”

-Avery Winston


-John Sterling

To “bless you” or “have a blessed day,” I say nothing really. I interpret it as “have a nice day.” To “I’ll pray for you,” I say, “Thank you, I’ll think for you.”


I usually just smile and say “thanks.” It’s an honest intention. But if I sneeze more than once and people continue to say, “bless you,” I mention that I’m an atheist and they could respond with “gesundheit” which means “good health.”

It doesn’t mean anything to me. I notice, but ignore it.

I say “thanks.” They mean well. While praying for me may not help, I do not think it will cause me harm.

What Would Your Answer Be?

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