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Prayer at a working lunch?

I recently ran into a situation I was entirely unprepared for, and I would like to see how others may react in a similar circumstance. As way of background, I am a long time atheist living in the Western US who is very open about my irreligious views in my personal life but very closeted about them in my professional life. Even those people that have worked with me for upwards of 10 years have no idea how I lay out with respect to religion. I often struggle with the decision to stay quiet, but at this point, I'm not willing to find out how going public with my atheism may affect my career (suffice it to say I have enough reason to believe it would not be a career booster).

In any case, just last week I went out to lunch with a potential supplier. We met, exchanged pleasantries, and discussed business over a couple of iced teas. When the meal came, the supplier looked at me and asked if I would mind if he said a blessing. I reflexively responded with a "be my guest" and sat silently as he praised Jesus for the meal and the conversation. I was truly dumbfounded that someone would do this in a work setting where they were trying to win business. Perhaps my acquiescence emboldened him, or maybe he would do this no matter what, but I endured several more instances of listening to his Christian world views throughout the rest of the meal. My response to each occurrence was similar, ignore the statements and let them pass by with no comment one way or another. I would think most people would have gotten the hint.

After the meal was over, I spent a good deal of time reflecting on what happened. I was surprised about how offended I was, though truth be told, a lot of that offense was inwardly directed at my desire to remain quiet. The question is, how should I have handled this situation, particularly considering that I have no desire to "be outed" in my professional circumstances? Is there a solution, or did I already make the best decision available?

Although I'm sure it is tempting to make this a discussion about the merits of open atheism, I'm really much more interested in handling this within the confines of my current desire to remain silent on the matter for the foreseeable future.


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