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When is it Appropriate to Send Religious Greeting Cards?

Condolence cards might include an invitation to a church service.
Generic Christmas cards might be better than for some people than those with religious themes.
Cards are often sent to commemorate the birth of Christ.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Sending religious cards to non-religious friends may be potentially insulting. Worse is sending a religious card to a friend of a different religion, say an overtly Christian card to a Jewish friend. If cards are meant to offer salutations, thanks, sympathies, or to wish someone a good holiday season, then the card is also meant to be a personal gesture of good will. Sending overtly religious cards to those with a different belief system tends to pervert the intent of thoughtfulness implied by sending a card.

Religious cards are meant to be shared by people of the same central religions. The most common examples of overtly religious cards are religious cards sent at Christmas. If one wants to send religious cards at Christmas, consider relying on an address list consisting of only other Christian friends.

Some see the sending of religious cards during Christmas as a way to proselytize and witness the birth of Christ. The same people might find themselves somewhat offended if they received Hanukkah or Kwanzaa cards. Yet by their own logic, a Jewish person, or a person celebrating Kwanzaa would be justified in using religious cards to preach their religion as well. For the person celebrating Kwanzaa, this might be either Christianity or Islam.

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Thus it is often considered polite to send a more generic card for holidays so as not to offend the religions of others. This is particularly true for business associates, or new acquaintances. Sending religious cards to those you know will appreciate them is another matter. If concerned over card cost, consider writing a brief quote from scripture in the cards for friends who share one’s religious beliefs.

Condolence cards are often religious in nature. Yet the last thing a person in grief needs is to be the object of someone else’s religious views. If one wants to help a person by offering them a spiritual path, consider inviting them to a church service, rather than preaching through religious cards. Sometimes people find great comfort in a new religion after suffering a loss.

At other times, they may be most angry with the Divine for taking away a loved one. Consider the intent behind sending the card, and do not make the mistake of believing that scripture or Kuran (also known as the Qur’an) passages will provide comfort to a person who is non-religious. In fact, it may fuel their anger.

Instead send cards that honor the deceased and express sympathy to the survivors that does not dwell on religious explanations. It may be okay to write that a grieving person is in one’s thoughts and prayers. One's personal beliefs of predestination or God’s purpose may not be comforting to that person, so it is always best to consider the recipient. People must come to their own understanding of why a death occurred through time and healing, which may not necessarily be gained through a religious card.

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anon136950
Post 4

Agreed anon18077: I'm Christian yet I'm not offended when wished Happy Chanukah -- I'm even blessed! Why on earth would anyone be offended by a sincere wish coming from a good place? We need to stop looking for reasons to be offended.

anon20779
Post 3

I have to say, I'm inclined to agree that it's not fair to send overtly religious greeting cards to someone else, unless they share your faith. Just who are you buying the card for, yourself or someone else?? If you want to use a card to preach at someone, then you're not thinking of them, you're fulfilling your own agenda.

But I don't think it's wrong to say in a personal message that you're praying for someone or even just thinking of them, which is what praying is to a degree. I would note too that some people who are religious don't accept prayers from people of other denominations. Long story short, I have a relative who is a strong evangelical. She refused to call relatives during her recent labor that was very complicated because they were not "saved" and their prayers would be useless. Instead she would only call church members. None of her family knew that she was in terrible trouble, but our prayers wouldn't have counted anyway, because according to her we are all going to H*ll, even though we're all Christians.

anon20612
Post 2

I found this site because I recently received a religious (Christian) birthday card and wasn't sure how to respond. Under the circumstances, I do feel like my values are being disregarded by the sender, and on my birthday no less. I suppose I will take the high road and avoid saying anything that will stir things up; but I wish the sender had been more considerate of my feelings.

When I pick cards, I do so with the sender in mind. It's not about what message I want to send them, but what message I know they will appreciate.

I suppose what is offensive is not the religion, but the pushy manner in which some people share their every viewpoint--including religion.

anon18077
Post 1

The Christians I know would not be offended at receiving a religious card from a Jew or friend of any other religion. The faith may not be valued by the receiver but the card says what the sender actually wanted to say! There is nothing in the Christian way that suggests it would offend - unless it said "my god is better than yours" or something similar!

The word "Christmas" is clearly Christian and it should be understood that a Christian may choose to send clearly Christian cards at this special time. What is "offensive" is when people suggest there's something wrong with sharing a heartfelt wish at an appropriate time.

Your article sweepingly suggests that sending Christian cards to non-Christians is a thoughtless act that can't possibly be appreciated. On the contrary, many non-Christians would understand that people have different views. They may not accept the same view but a "thoughtful" recipient would realize that it is more meaningful to receive a card that says what the sender wants to say than one which expresses little or nothing of the sender's thoughts - and prayers!

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