Secular response to a sneeze.

I once replied 'Bless You' to my born-again, right-wing, guns-and-ammo-obsessed co-worker (he's a nice guy, though, just scary sometimes with his views) and his reply to me was that 'We have not been given the power by God to bless anyone. Only God can do that." Okaaaaaay... So other than ignoring their sneeze(s), is there a polite response that indicates our joy that their heart did not stop during the event. Somehow 'Nice sneeze' or "Good one" don't seem sincere enough. Or... do we really need to say anything at all? It's just that we (I) was brought up to acknowledge a sneeze with a 'God Bless You'. I feel awkward not saying anything.
Atheist Answer: 

Your co-worker took what you said too literally. As you say, "bless you" in this context is actually short for "God bless you" which is a request for God to do the blessing rather than a blessing in and of itself. Perhaps if you reinserted "God" the next time someone sneezes around this guy...

The tradition of acknowledging a sneeze is spread worldwide, but not all of the international sayings are religious. The most famous secular response, and the one I use, is the German version "gesundheit". It literally wishes the sneezer "good health".

- SmartLX


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And then if he doesn't

And then if he doesn't respond well to the "God bless you" version, after that just say, "Gross, take is elsewhere please." Lol The guy's probably just all around anal.

My wife and I have taken to

My wife and I have taken to say "hope you don't die" when somebody sneezes... that is after all what you actually mean when you say 'bless you'.

Not to be forward, but I'm

Not to be forward, but I'm thinking that might make people uncomfortable (the, I hope you don't die line). Unless that's what you're after, you could go this route ... I was not sure how to spell it, so found an exerpt in Wikpidia: "Gesundheit is the German and Yiddish word for health. When a person sneezes, German, Yiddish, and North American English speakers typically say Gesundheit! to wish them good health, serving much the same purpose as "bless you" in English ... " I think most people don't think much about the actual meaning, so it likely would go over ok.