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Strategies for Humanist Living: Responses to Blessings and Prayers

by | May 9, 2018 | Humanist Living | 8 comments

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?

We’d still like to hear from you. If you have a response to our question above please feel free to leave it in the comments section below.

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  1. Malcolm Kennedy

    New to the community. Do you have regular meetings each month? If so, where. I’m currently a member of the American Humanist Association as well as the Humanist Club in The Villages, FL.

      • Griffin

        Hey I have been researching humanism for school and I have some questions about humanism I would like to have a talk would a seasoned humanist, so just give me an email if you feel like chatting.

  2. Griffin

    I have been researching humanism for school and would like to have a conversation with a seasoned humanist, if you would like to chat about humanism please email me.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Thanks Griffin, I’m happy to talk. I’ve gone ahead and emailed you.

  3. Gary Lusson

    Just saying “thanks” or “you too” merely emboldens–if not enables– these folks, as it reinforces their notion that EVERYONE is religious and accepts religion as a normal, healthy part of everyday life. It’s also a cop-out, perhaps from fear of confrontation or that well-known atheist’s feeling of “Oh, what’s the use?”

    Yes, an alternative-to-what-they’re-accustomed-to-hearing reply takes time and may have consequences, but it’s important. At the very least, stop, look at the person directly, and say in a calm, clear, friendly voice, “I appreciate your intention but I’m not religious (or better, “I’m an atheist”). You have a good day also.” Or something to that effect that leaves no doubt as to your intention.

    My favorite and oft-heard response to my answer is,”Well, god/the lord/Jesus bless you anyway.” To which I always respond, “And may the tooth fairy and Paul Bunyan bless you!”

    • Derrick

      Thank you for your comments, Gary. We have many other blog posts where you could share experiences and thoughtful advice.


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