Religion Etiquette: The Case of the Christian Coworker

Plus: Jewish naming ceremonies, Hindu funerals, and Protestant weddings in Catholic churches

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In Debbie's defense, many evangelicals feel God's presence strongly in their lives and want to proclaim that. To some, it's as natural to say "the Lord took care of me" as it would be for others to say "I lucked out." So don't assume that every reference Debbie makes to the Lord is a covert attempt to proselytize.

You have several options at lunch. You could, of course, just throw Emily Post out the window and dig in. On the politer end of the spectrum, it might be easiest to wait out the grace, as you've been doing. A solution inspired by the decorous ladies of the South might be to excuse yourself to wash your hands or "get another napkin" while Debbie prays. And if that little devil on your shoulder gets the best of you, you could implement a 60-second rule whereby you sneak a few fries once her praying has lasted more than a minute.

The father of a Jewish friend of mine is being buried today. This evening several of us are going to his home for a supportive visit. What is appropriate to bring as a gift/food item? They are Reform Jews. --David

Alice Chasan responds:

It is always appropriate to bring non-perishable, well-packaged foods, such as dried fruit and nuts, candies, and cookies or crackers. Traditionally, people bring or send gift baskets, which are often prepared by local food shops for such occasions. They can be kept on hand, sealed, until the grieving family is ready to use or serve them. If you are able to speak to someone who is helping the family during the bereavement period, you can also get more specific information about foods that might be needed by the family for more immediate use--for example, a cake from a bakery, breads, bagels, or fresh fruit. But too much perishable food just winds up being thrown away, so consult with friends and family if you can.


My fiancé and I are planning our wedding. He was brought up Catholic, and I was brought up Presbyterian. We'd like to have a Presbyterian minister officiate at the wedding, but in a Catholic church. Is this possible, or will we just offend everyone involved by asking? Our families are totally okay with it -- I'm just wondering about the church and minister. We know the minister personally -- but we do not have a connection to the Catholic church we had in mind. Any advice about how to approach this delicately would be greatly appreciated! --Ms. WH

Laura Sheahen responds:

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