DEAR ABBY: I could not disagree more with your advice to "Ticked Off in San Diego" (Aug. 18), whose mother forced her and her siblings to attend a church service before they could celebrate Father's Day. You implied that "Ticked" should acquiesce to her emotional blackmail and just go to church. Not only does that endorse the hateful, overbearing crone ramming her religious beliefs down everyone's throats, but it doesn't take into account the whole point of attending church.
People go to church to express their worship and have an uplifting, meaningful experience -- not just sit there because some domineering old woman forces them to.
At 50 years old, "Ticked" is entitled to make her own choices. Her right to not participate in organized religion should be respected and takes precedence over a selfish family member browbeating everyone into submitting to her childish demands. One of the most dangerous and distasteful things about modern society is how free people feel to force their religious beliefs on others. -- RELIGION-FREE IN PHOENIX
DEAR RELIGION-FREE: I advised "Ticked Off" to offer to pick up her parents after church to take them out to celebrate, rather than going to their home to share a meal. I added that if her mother refused, "Ticked" may have to "bite the bullet," sit through the service, and ultimately have fewer regrets when her parents are gone.
I was impressed by the many thoughtful and spirited responses I received from readers citing personal experiences to support their views -- which, by the way, differ greatly from yours. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Shouting, "You can't tell me what to do!" sounds more like 15 than 50. It's time to grow up, "Ticked." Your parents are in their 80s. If you haven't persuaded them to change their views in the last 30 years or so, you're not likely to do so now.
A church service lasts an hour. So suck it up, put a smile on your face, and go to please your parents. Putting someone else's pleasure ahead of your own for a few minutes won't kill you, and there may not be all that many more opportunities for you to be together. Don't waste these being petty and standing on what you perceive to be "principle." -- KAREN IN ERIEVILLE, N.Y.
DEAR ABBY: For a senior citizen who is active in church, this may be his or her main social circle. My guess is that Mom wants the "kids" to join her in church so she can introduce them to all her friends. She is probably proud of their accomplishments and wants to show them off. Many churches also have special recognition for families in attendance, and Mom doesn't want to be left out.
Spend every minute you can with your parents. Mine passed away when I was in my teens. Trust me -- church is a far better place than the ICU for bonding with Mom and Dad. -- JO IN FRANKLIN, TENN.
DEAR ABBY: I am an atheist, but I go to Christmas Mass every year with my grandmother. It is what she wants for Christmas and an easy enough request for me to fulfill. What harm is there in attending a church service to make a loved one happy? Although I am not converted afterward, she is thrilled with the fact that I attended.
By the way, at last year's Mass, I was the only one who offered to give up his seat to a little old lady who was limping up the aisle with a cane. My grandmother said, "Well, at least you ACT like a Christian," and we both laughed. -- MORAL ATHEIST IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR ABBY: My mom died when I was 12. My dad died when I was 29. Some people don't know when they are lucky. I wish I had the chance to be around cranky old parents. -- BOB IN ALPHARETTA, GA.