It's not every day that we get the chance to mess with religion. Oh, who am I kidding? This happens all the time, and in today's world, where -- according to the Pew Research Center -- roughly 16% of the population identifies itself as religiously unaffiliated, religion is becoming increasingly marginal in people's lives. That's not to say that people are becoming a bunch of degenerate non-believers; we'll leave such talk to the fanatics. However, it is telling that when I did a simple online search for "people take religion seriously" I came up with multiple hits decrying the lunacy of faith in a supreme almighty being, a plethora of forum posts ridiculing the faithful, and several articles admonishing young people to reconsider their faithlessness or lamenting the same.

But this article isn't about religion. I'm not here to take sides in what is often a heated debate. What I am here to do, given the rare intersection of holidays this year, is to provide a small guide for those who want to have a fun April Fools' Day and still be on speaking terms with the Christians in their lives come April 2.

A rare opportunity

This year Easter Sunday falls on April 1, a coincidence that last occurred in 1956 and will not happen again until 2029, once more in 2040, and that will be it until 2108. Since the holiday is tied to the lunar calendar, the date changes each year, and the added factor of leap years means that Easter Fools' Day happens three or four times a century. As such, this coming Easter Sunday is a once- (or, technically, thrice)-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But be careful -- pulling the wrong prank on the wrong person may result in some long-term tension and grudges, and some less-than-pleasant date nights or family dinners for years to come. If you'd like the people you love to still love you back when the April Fools' dust settles, read on for some tips on how to avoid offending your loved ones' religious sensibilities.

A guide to not offending the faithful

If you don't want to lose the favor or affection of the Christians in your life, these are probably pranks you should avoid. If you don't care, then have at it.

1. Avoid any prank that involves crucifying. This includes nailing people's photos, clothing, favorite teddy bear, or your annoying kid sister to anything resembling a cross.

2. Stay away from messianic miracles. If grandma is the kind of person who would believe that a pie in the shape of the Virgin Mary is a sign of the Second Coming, don't give grandma a pie in the shape of the Virgin Mary.

3. Don't troll the faithful. People will be posting congratulatory messages to each other on social media. It would be wise to not comment on each one of those posts with "Just kidding" or "Haha, good one" or anything else along those lines.

4. Save the Jesus costume for Halloween. Especially if it's a zombie Jesus costume. While the story of the resurrection of Christ might be a tempting outlet, dressing up as the Son of God and going around yelling, "I'm back, y'all!" may not be the best idea.

And, finally,

5. Under no circumstances should you pull any pranks during religious services. This applies to all of the previously mentioned pranks, as well as: placing raw eggs on people's seats when they rise and/or kneel, sticking a "kick me" sign on the priest's back, coming to mass dressed as a bunny, decorating the head of the bald guy in front of you like an Easter egg, and pointing to the front of the room and yelling, "Jesus Christ!" Such pranks may result in you, yourself, being crucified, and that would be counter-productive.

Follow these simple steps and the devoutly faithful in your life will have no reason to shun, loathe, or -- worst of all -- unfriend you.