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In a previous question I asked about eating food from a mosque, and the answer seemed to be a general "no". Is the context different if it is a church. In this case, my mother not only patronizes a mosque for samosas, but an orthodox Ukranian church for cabbage rolls and other church bakesales. I know her intentions are kindness, although I am dismayed by my family's inability to judge religion by it's essentials, as opposed to things like how friendly and nice the people are. It seems ridiculous, though, to create tension in my relationship with my parents over an issue that is (unless I can see otherwise, concretely), inconsequential---e.g. accepting food from religious sources.

asked Jun 04 '11 at 09:40

Andrew's gravatar image


The central ethical issue in the question is whether or not "to create tension in my relationship with my parents" by not "accepting food [which they buy] from religious sources."

The questioner also reports being "dismayed by my family's inability to judge religion by it's essentials, as opposed to things like how friendly and nice the people are."

I wonder if the parents in this question care about the questioner's personal beliefs and value choices in life, or if they are merely trying to extract from him the superficial (concrete) appearance of acquiescence in support for religion. If they care about what he thinks and what he regards as good or bad, then he should certainly let them know, if he hasn't already, that he prefers not to contribute in any way to the financial support of religion, especially if he is a grown adult living in his own home independently of his parents, and they are visiting him in his home.

If all they want is his superficial appearance of support for religion, without any depth of intellectual commitment, then he might want to try asking them explicitly not to bring food from religious sources into his home. If they are actually a little tentative in their own acceptance of religious ideas and are looking to their child for reassurance for themselves, the adult child can certainly indicate to them, in an appropriately tactful way, that he opposes religious faith and upholds reason.

It all comes down to what the parents' motives (and knowledge) are, which the questioner will need to judge for himself. (Again, I'm assuming here that the questioner is an adult living on his own, in his own home, independently of any on-going financial support from his parents.)

There are undoubtedly a great many instances where the parents of an adult offspring do not conform to the offspring's own ethical standards and life choices. So what should the offspring do about it? It's not his responsibility to reform his parents (and wouldn't even be appropriate for him to try, since it is they who raised him, not vice versa), but if they don't respect his adult independence and capacity to think for himself, then perhaps some reduction in family "closeness" would be entirely appropriate.

On the other hand, if the parents are genuinely too concrete-bound to see religion in terms of its fundamental tenets, their conflict with reason, and the importance of reason in human life, then the questioner may still have an opening to "nudge" them from time to time, whenever the moment is ripe, to understand the larger picture of religion's long-term anti-rational effects on human life more clearly. The result may well be "tension," but a little measured, purposeful tension from time to time can often be very beneficial for all concerned, especially if the alternative is increasingly unbearable inner tension in oneself. The issue of whether or not a food source is church owned is certainly far less consequential than the issue of faith versus reason in human life.

answered Jun 04 '11 at 17:20

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

Buying food from a church is a form of supporting what that church is doing. So, if you have a deep philosophical disagreement with the church's activities, then it would not be proper to buy food from them.

However, if someone else buys food from a church and then gives it to you, then your actions are not supporting the church. In that case, it would be fine to accept and eat the food, provided you don't also say things like "please do that again," or otherwise encourage or support similar actions by the buyer in the future, and if the food wasn't purchased specifically for you. The action of eating is not supporting the church; the action of buying is.

You say your mother's intentions are kindness -- but kindness to who? If you don't support churches, and told her that buying food from them bothered you, would she see it as a kindness to you to stop? Are you more important to her than strangers are?

answered Aug 03 '11 at 10:04

Rick's gravatar image

Rick ♦

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Asked: Jun 04 '11 at 09:40

Seen: 1,497 times

Last updated: Aug 03 '11 at 10:04