It Must Be Worse in the Deep South… April 9, 2011

It Must Be Worse in the Deep South…

Maggie Flynn reminds atheists about the perils of dating in a conservative city like Nashville:

The wine arrived. As if to demonstrate how moderation worked, Matthew poured me half a glass, which I definitely saw as half-empty.

“Are you religious?” he asked.

“Not really.”

“But you believe in God?”

I drained my wine glass and reached across the table for the bottle. I gave him an honest answer, though I suspected I would never see Matthew again. I said that I really wasn’t sure. I certainly didn’t believe that the Bible was the literal word of God, nor did I buy into stories about building giant arks and visiting whale’s bellies…

Matthew listened carefully and nodded, conceding my logic, if not my position. Maybe he was an OK guy after all.

“Can I ask you a question?” he said.


“What do you have against God?”

Flynn also mentions that she worked at a Christian publishing company (to make ends meet) where the conversations were even more disturbing:

One morning, a bubbly blonde from marketing visited editorial, raving about the date she’d had the night before.

“Is he cute?” I asked.

The junior editor reprimanded me gently: “I think the more important question would be, is he saved?”

And that’s what it always came down to for my co-workers and those good Christians I inexplicably found myself dating. It didn’t matter that I was kind, considerate and possessed a good sense of humor. All that mattered was whether I was on board with Jesus…


I know some of you have dated super religious people in the past or you were that religious person yourself.

What are your best stories about dating someone super-religious?

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  • Shawn

    I was 17 at the time, and dating a girl who wasn’t particularly religious, but her mother was a diehard catholic. Being young and what we considered to be in love, things were starting to get heavy when we thought we were alone, little did I know her hyper religious mother was hiding in the closet of the basement we were in, to jump out and start screaming about how I was a great defiler and an agent of satan. She then blocked my exit and read scripture to me for something like twenty minutes before I just made a dash for the stairs and to my car. Left my gameboy color there. Never looked back. We broke up a week later.

  • KerouacCat

    I haven’t dated (or tried to) any super-religious people, but now that you brought it up, I was thinking of how funny it would be to have someone go on blind dates with uber-Christians and say that they’re Christian too, and then later off-handedly mention that they do some awful stuff. Stuff that wouldn’t get you in jail, but would normally get people to stay away from you. It’d be interesting (And funny) to see how they react.

  • mai

    I met a guy at a student party. We went out once or twice and I invited him to my place. That evening he told me that he’s not going to have sex until marriage. (I honestly don’t remember how that came up.)

    I never saw him again… He did invite me to his church group (on the biggest student party night of the year) but I politely refused.

  • Julie_JJ

    It is worse in the deep South. I have relatives in South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama. Granted I never dated anyone who resides in any of these states, I do have 24 cousins (yes, 24, soldiers for jeebus!) who I’ve watched grow up, date, some went on to marry, etc. The thing that NEVER failed in all of their relationships was the role that the notion of forgiveness played. All of them had pre-marital sex, but it was okay because “I just ask for forgiveness!” There are so many things they have done that go against their religion — Southern Baptist — but because they live their lives with the notion that WHATEVER they do will be forgiven if they just ask god, they do them anyways. Epic cop out if you ask me.

  • Muxika

    Oh, this is a good one! I’m Latino and dated my first African American woman last summer. We have many things in common (music, movies, moral beliefs, etc.). She is very affectionate and loved to kiss. We fell in love with one another in just a week’s time. I felt that we were lovers despite many differences: cultural, racial, social. We successfully breached that interracial gap.

    On the eighth day, though, a Sunday, she asked me if I went to church. I said no, to which she asked if I believed in God. I said I didn’t know if anything was out there and I was okay with that–she definitely was not.

    “Honey, no, that’s a deal-breaker,” she told me. We had a horrible, tear-soaked break-up that night. But that wasn’t the end of it.

    We had an off-again-on-again relationship for many months after that, breaking up three times in total. My lack of religious conviction “got in our way” the first time we broke up (she said I needed to know that God loved her because she was made in his image). The last time, she said something that shot off like a red flag: I told her that her touch could heal cancer; she said no, that her prayers do. When we broke up, she said she was “disappointed,” as if she expected me to turn around for her. I sure didn’t expect her to go faithless for me, and I think that’s the major difference. You should love someone for who they are, not for who you want them to be.

  • shady lady

    I dated a xian when I was a teen. He didn’t want to do the “dirty poodle” because he was a xian, but he wasn’t opposed to shoplifting cigarettes from the grocery store. I saw him stealing and said, “That’s not a very xian thing to do.” He got really mad. That was the last date.

  • Heidi

    Shawn, I don’t even… *shudder*

  • Muxika

    @Shawn That’s freaking heavy, man. That’s a worst-case scenario if I ever read one.

    @shady lady Bravo, stick it to those hypocrites.

  • I dated this chick who called herself “super christian” and everytime i talked about religions other than chrisitanity she flipped shit at me

  • Katie

    Poor Shawn. Most people check the closets for boogeymen. Now Shawn checks them for Christians.

  • xiphas

    Having lived in Nashville for 4 years now, it is definitely very possible to avoid all the religious stuff here. However, being a grad student at Vanderbilt helps out a lot, as most of my friends are similarly non-religious.

    My biggest beef is with the blue laws still on the books that ban liquor sales all day and beer sales before Noon on Sundays.

  • LG

    I went to dinner with my (now ex-) boyfriend and his parents. The topic of gay marriage/adoption came up and they made it clear that they were against it because the children of adoptive gay parents would undoubtedly be screwed up for life. I told them that evidence shows quite the opposite and provided evidence that points to positive outcomes for children of gay parents.

    Me: “…and they tend to be more tolerant of oth-”
    Bf’s Mom: “more tolerant of what, SIN??”

    Yes, this was in the deep south.

  • Jon Peterson

    Heh… with my ex, she ended up ceasing going to church, which was fine with me… but it caused her mother to ask no less than five people at our wedding to try to talk her out of it.

    I mean while we were at the altar. We specifically had to ask the pastor (father of a school friend, because nobody else would do the ceremony) to skip asking if anyone had any objections because of the mother-in-law to-be. xP

  • Julie_JJ

    “Left my gameboy color there. Never looked back.”

    Lol! That is cute, sad and scary all at the same time. 🙂

  • Allecher

    I never had a date with a fundamental Christian because in my circle of friends in the deep south one of the first questions when you meet anyone is about which church they attend. If one of my friends or co-workers had wanted to set me up on a date, the co-worker would have already known that I didn’t attend the “right” (or any) church.

  • I didn’t date one…I was MARRIED to one. He wasn’t that way when we got married. He got born again afterwards.

    We divorced about 20 years ago (my doing), and I have only recently remembered some of the things that happened and were said. I had no idea that I had repressed some of that stuff. Probably the wildest thing was when he told me he thought I was possessed by a demon.

    One thing I never forgot, though, was hearing a woman from his church say, “I’m glad I have God to make decisions for me, so I don’t have to make them myself!”

  • asonge

    What sucks is even if you date ex-christians, people still have the same hangups. A few months ago a girl hit me up on OkCupid (where I’m listed explicitly as an atheist and I mention heading up an atheist group). Despite not being a Christian or believing in God, she was scared about anything that had to do with her morality. She was particularly defensive about justifying her sex life.

    It was really obvious that she loved sex, despite the way she said “I’m just not a very sexual person.” And she also insisted that she “only had sex with people she was in a long-term relationship with.” This girl was obviously sex-negative and just had huge hangups about being viewed (or viewing herself?) as a slut. The entire thing was just some cage she built in her mind.

  • asonge

    @Beth: I hope that was after sex. That could turn into the biggest ego booster ever if it was.

  • treedweller

    not quite but almost on topic:

    A friend in college was not just atheist, but actively and vocally anti-Christian, as only the young and indignant can be. A mutual friend met with her to announce her engagement. After the immediate exchange of congrats and whatnot, J rather sheepishly admitted her fiance was a christian, bracing against K’s response. Surprisingly, K just said, “Oh, well, that’s fine if it works for him. At least he’s not a mormon!”


  • keystothekid

    Shawn! I’m so sorry! Not the gameboy color! 🙁

  • In Canada I’d say it’s the complete opposite. If you want to date a Christian, you pretty much have to meet them at church. And considering the church is something like 70% women and is mostly over 50, that usually leaves an average of about one single guy of datable age (I’m 23 and most of my friends are in the similar 20-25 range). I’ve had a few female friends complain quite a bit about the challenge of it.

  • Militant Maggie

    Man oh man. I dated a very conservative Christian for about three months about two years ago. I immediately thought it wouldn’t work out when I found out he was believed the Bible was the literal recreation of how the world was made, and he found out I was a die-hard evolutionist. But yet, we kept dating. He was fine doing all sorts of, well, dirty things, but the idea of having sex before marriage scared the hell out of him. I never understood that. I think the absolute scariest part was why we broke up. These words actually came out of his mouth: “I love you, but I think you’re going to hell.” WTF?

  • I’ve lived in Nashville for four years and counting, and I haven’t ran into many “devout” at all. Although we do have Lifeway here, which is a Christian publishing company and a huge employer. But then again, most of my peers are fellow freethinkers and college-aged adults.

  • brad

    I grew up in NE Texas – here are my two favorites. (and I am now married to a christian.)

    at the age of 17, a girl I had dated for 2 months or so…”So come to church with me. what church do you go to, anyway?”

    “None – I’m an atheist.”

    (silence for about 10 seconds. she looks around and says “OH MY GOD. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SAID THAT OUT LOUD.”

    I say “why is that?”

    she says “Well, aren’t you ashamed or embarrased for people to know that?”

    and when I was 21…”Are you a christian?”

    “No, I’m an atheist.”

    “WOW. You’re a satanist?”

    “No, I’m an atheist.”

    “Well, that’s the same thing, right?”

  • Rob

    I dated a pastor’s daughter in college. I’ll never forget the time that we hung out with her friends from class (a Jewish girl and a Muslim girl) and afterward she whispered to me how sad she was that they were going to hell.

    Also she had an unfortunate combination of a strong sex drive and shame issues. Which meant that we would fool around on Saturday nights but then she’d go into a shame spiral and spend the rest of the week repenting.

  • Kari

    I went out with a guy I worked with who was “saved.” At the time I liked to think that I was Pagan. He broke up with me and proceeded to tell everyone at work who asked why he broke up with me (at work) that I was a Satanist and that I wouldn’t sleep with him. It was a good thing that most of the people that I worked with liked me and thought that he was a jerk for breaking up with me because I wouldn’t sleep with him!

  • MammaG

    I think I’ll start calling it the “Ignorance Belt.”

  • I was fortunate – my ex- was a believer (not a church-goer), but like me did not require that they be surrounded by folks just like them. I respected her for her belief system, and she did the same for me.

    In fact, she got pissed once when she saw a sign in front of a church that said “a dead atheist is someone all dressed up with no place to go”. That was the moment I realized she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with! (“The rest of my life” in this particular situation was 3 more years, at which point she said she was no longer in love…)

    Although it has been a few (cough-15-cough) years since, I have not really dated, but living in NC it is easy to see the religion thing getting in the way of love…

  • The only overtly religious person I’ve dated was actually a Scientologist, when I was 20. This was long before Tom Cruise was jumping on couches or John Travolta even considered playing a goofy-looking alien in Battlefield Earth, and I was intrigued by the whole idea. After reading the copy of Dianetics that he loaned me, however, I couldn’t understand why Scientology Guy was so negative about psychology when he fully subscribed to this bullshit version of it without anything but Hubbard’s say-so. It was like being with someone who not only subscribed whole-heartedly to astrology but rejected astronomy altogether. The story would be more interesting if he had tried to sue me or something, but we just quietly broke up with me thinking he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the world.

  • Alice

    Gave my first boy friend blue balls after spending a day with him and his younger siblings doing such racey activities as playing with goats and playing Mario kart.

  • JD

    At least they’re trying to be somewhat consistent. There is at least one passage that says Christians should not marry non-Christians, and many of them feel that dating and romantic relationships are supposed to be to find a marriage mate.

    And frankly, I think atheists would generally save themselves trouble if they can avoid dating religious people.

  • JJR

    My ex-wife. I don’t feel up to re-telling that one today, though. Just glad to be free of that mentally abusive relationship.

    Just let my experience serve as a warning about dating moderate-or-flagging Xtians; they can get “on fire” for Jesus without warning and suddenly your atheism will become THE issue for them.

  • Ed

    I dated a beautiful (virgin ) nurse .We got along great and I was falling for her .One night she asked me to stay over her friends house with her .Well We made out pretty hot and heavy ,which led to her first 69 experience .We fell over exhausted and hugged each other until morning .Shortly after she told me she felt so guilty ,that she confessed to a priest and shortly broke off with me .I still care for her til this day

  • I flirted with a pretty nurse at this young adult ministry at a church I am observing. I’m seeing her again tonight at the worship service. Just kind of seeing where this bumpy road leads even though I see the Grand Canyon up in the horizon.

  • I’m gay. I had a couple dates with a mormon guy once. If that isn’t weird enough to begin with, he was a real true believer, really involved in the church… knew the head of the church personally and everything.

    While we had two dates, at no time did he touch me in any way. He explained that he’d decided it was okay for him to date guys as long as he didn’t get physical with them, and he wouldn’t kiss a guy or anything unless he knew it was the guy he would spend the rest of his life with, because it’d have to be a guy worth going to hell for.

    And he meant it.

  • e-man

    I met a high school cutie at our 20th reunion- she was lovely and we danced all night – we were passionate and excited for two years until I got tired of the way she made no room for believing different then her – so I said I want to support you in everything including what you believe but I want room to believe what I believe – and she said no.
    We were both broken hearted and reached out for several reconciliation attempts but ultimately she had to keep asking If I’d converted and I had to keep saying no.

  • A true and touching dating story:
    Once upon a time I was dating a confused girl who was considering entering the novitiate to become a Catholic nun. She was Irish-Italian from an insanely hardcore Catholic family.
    She had done the whole sleepover thing at the convent several times and was undergoing counseling, etc. to see if this was the right thing for her.
    The Mother Superior begged to her stay away from me as she was sure that I was Satan tempting her.
    She was a virgin when we met. Was.
    Then heaven and earth were torn asunder as the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary and Lord Jesus wept at what I had done.
    Afterward, I retired before a crackling fire to a pipe and brandy. (Okay, I made that last shit up.)
    The end.

  • I’m in the heart of mormon country and amazingly enough I’ve never had any dates that have been horrendous like that…fortunately cause some mormons are just as bad as people in the buybull belt. If you don’t believe in their jebus you’re pretty much akin to a satanist

  • Nordog

    When I was an agnostic I went out with a woman who told me that she wanted to be married and would only marry a pastor of a church.

    I asked her, “What the heck are you doing here with me?”

    She said something about being bored.

  • I’m in South Carolina.

    Boy: I really think we should go out, I don’t even mind that you’re an atheist.
    Me: You’re Christian?
    Boy: Yeah, but not like too hardcore Christian to date a cute atheist.
    Me: I have a hard time seeing myself dating a Christian. Tell me, do you have a problem with the gays?
    Boy: I think it’s a sin. But it’s no worse than murder.

    Hairdresser: You found a church?
    Me: I’m an atheist.
    Hairdresser: *bursts into tears* Don’t you ever want to have children?!

  • Annie

    I had a boyfriend in HS who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian family. His parents told him he was going against his family, his church and his god by dating me. Funniest part of the story, though, is that they didn’t know I was an atheist… they assumed I was Catholic because I was attending a catholic high school. We didn’t last long… not because of his parents, but because me being such a bad influence was the most exciting part of our relationship.

  • First off, I’ll go with I’m gay. And I’ve been out for a good long time. Thusly, I have run into some religiously conflicted people on dates.
    When I was 18, I dated a wonderful, intelligent, beautiful rich girl. Unfortunately, she was an observant Italian Catholic and broke up with me after a few dates/rolls in the hay because she was petrified of pissing off God and her overbearing parents. She came out for real a few years later.

    A couple of years later, I dated a girl who incidentally had the same name as the first. (and the same name as me, as a matter of fact) This lady was older than me, tall, and decidedly butch. We had a few dates and she invited me out for what I thought was another. It was an Exodus group. I sat with all of these butch women who were discussing all of these men in the group. It was all very contrived and based in christianity. Me, being a very out agnostiJew tried to suppress my utter bewilderment.
    Needless to say, I didn’t call the lady back.

  • I went out with a girl who was into EST (the Forum) which is very culty, but doesn’t have a god – more of a self immprovement through neurosis kinda thing.

  • Noble 6

    I met this girl at a party and we proceeded to talk. She had a tattoo in some foreign language so I asked her what it said. She said that it meant “In God’s arm’s”. I smiled and said “That’s nice.”

    She then asked me if I believed in God and I said no.

    She looked offended and asked huffily, “Well what do you really think of my tattoo?”

    I said that I could appreciate it on a metaphorical level which is absolutely true.

    The next thing I know was that she was in the restroom crying her eyes out. Alcohol was probably as big mitigating factor here, but it was still pretty stupid for her to get so offended.

  • fanis

    The worst thing I’ve ever been told was from a 20 year old girl:
    “You can’t be an atheist, you claim that just to impress people”!

    (she couldn’t imagine that she was ever going to meet an atheist in her life!)

    cheers from Greece

  • SH

    As a sophomore in high school, I asked a friend of mine to go to winter formal with me. She and I had the same circle of friends and always got along and yes I found her attractive. So I asked her. At the time I was forming ideas around agnosticism and pantheism.

    She kindly turned me down citing the reason was she was a Christian and I was, as I always made clear in my religious town, not a Christian. She claimed her parents wouldn’t like it, and it was at a school dance that her brother met his wife. She was genuinely concerned that we could possibly wind up together in the end.

    It was my first bout of being turned away for how I thought, though thankfully later relationships weren’t affected by that fact. Still, it was a strange new thing to feel discriminated against.

  • Jalyth

    I left my religion at age 21 — I didn’t date before that. I knew I couldn’t handle the no-sex-before-marriage thing. Plus, I wasn’t the “normal” kind of girl that all the boys wanted, so I got only leftover pickings of boys in that church. I was friends with ’em, but couldn’t date them. I knew how it would go, also apparently I was always a lesbian but didn’t know it.

    My friends of the time, including my siblings, all got married too young. They don’t “believe” in divorce, so no matter how crazy (possibly in a technical way) my in-laws are, they won’t be leaving them. Frankly this subject makes me sad.

  • NotYou007

    WOW!!! Some crazy ass stories. Not that long ago I had an affair with a woman who is pretty much a fundie. She is married, I am not but she knew I was an atheist and had no problem with it. We never even discussed religion when we where together because we where to busy doing other things.

    I’ve not seen her in sometime but I’m pretty sure she asked her god for forgiveness and I know her husband has no clue either. He is a good friend of mine.

    Yes, I’m scum but to be honest, he hates his wife and he cheated on her first. Gotta love fundies. They will preach and preach but they will also cheat and cheat some more.

  • PaleBlueDot5

    I dated a very religious Christian guy (who was basically a fundamentalist) during the end of my freshman year/beginning of my sophomore year of college. We had a lot of things in common- we were both nerds, we both had a strange sense of humor, etc. There were lots of red flags that I stupidly ignored because I liked the guy so much. Before we even officially started dating, he told me that he would never marry me because I wasn’t a Christian. That didn’t bug me too much. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to get married. After we had dated for a few months, he told me that when he first met me, he thought God was calling him to save me. Looking back on that conversation, I realize that I should have dumped him right then. Alas, I didn’t.
    I went to his church with him several times. It was the typical fundie church that had rock music and a younger pastor to make it look “hip”. The sermons were often about how nonbelievers couldn’t have meaningful lives and that women were supposed to obey EVERYTHING that men told them to do. I often burst into tears after those services out of sheer anger.
    My ex’s family definitely disliked me. His dad told him that he needed to convert me or else we had to stop dating. Amazingly, I didn’t get too freaked out until my ex wanted me to read “Case for the Creator” and a Christian dating book. Both were so rage-provoking that I still can’t think of a coherent response to them. After 6 months of dating, we had a nasty break up after he told me that he had never really liked me that much.
    (This occurred in SC)

  • I haven’t ever commented here (I believe I need to be approved?), but I am a long time reader.

    Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, my favorite was always the people who tried to convert someone by dating them. That always cracked me up.

  • Lost In The Bible Belt

    Speaking from 50 yrs of experience of being lost in the bible belt, specifically the “buckle of the bible belt” aka Nashville, TN. There are a surprising number of atheists out there but most are “in the closet”. If you come out of that closet you risk being ostrisized(sp) by friends, family and even risk your job if your employer discovers your view(s) as many employers in the area are connected to christian music/literary publishing. I have even experienced a co-worker expressing her request to have the department pray for a family member and then have the dept manager lead the dept in prayer! I have been at family dinners where the local high school football team was given 5 minutes in prayer for victory! I could go on but it makes my head spin just thinking about it.
    But…as I inch my way out of the closet and see many in a younger generation being more questioning and less accepting there is a little hope.
    I do not aspire to “de-convert” anyone. All I want is my right respected to believe anything I want to believe just as I try to respect others’ right to freedom of and from religion.

  • Indigo

    Reflective of the society in which I live, I’ve never had to defend myself against a date for not being Christian. I have, however, had a very weird and rambling evening in the company of a young man who asked me very seriously if I believed in fate, since he was “feeling really strongly” that that was what had brought us together (yes, two single young people in a backpacker’s hostel, how astonishing). He wanted to know if I felt the same and was aghast when I said, “Well…I believe in a deterministic universe, so kinda?”
    It’s a shame. He was cute.

  • Angel

    The very first time I said something about the way that the churchgoers gossip about one another *right after* having heard sermons about treating one another with respect my relationship began to crumble. Not because of the guy I was involved with, but because of his mother. It was a horrific process, and one that would take ages to document, but it involved an attempted intervention/exorcism.

    Canadian crazy religious nutjobs are just as insane as their American counterparts.

  • Josh

    As an agnostic, and junior in college, in GA. – It is really difficult to find females that are not religious, but that is sincere and knowledgeable as well. You can find people that don’t give a crap about it because that’s not their prerogative and are too busy partying. You know in the long run after college they will rethink and say to themselves “Oh well I was in a christian family, might as well raise my family that way too – I asked for forgiveness for my college days so I’m all good.” It’s hard to find someone that knows about religion and reasons to turn it down. I asked a girl out in my class and she said “I cant date you because you have ear-rings and the bible bans cutting your body in Leviticus” uh….what? I love living in this as MammaG so well puts it “The ignorance belt”.

    Where are all the reasonable females at here? haha. I read all these stories of girls dating guys that are Christians but not vice-versa. I’ve yet to meet these women!

  • Kelly

    I briefly dated a Christian once. He was friends with my cousin and had a huge crush on me so we had a drunken one night stand after which he wanted to date me but do nothing physical beyond kissing, because he thought that sex was reserved for marriage and we shouldn’t have done that before. He also thought I should regret every guy I had ever slept with before as well, and I was new enough as an atheist that I couldn’t stand up for myself. Any time we drank together I ended up crying.

    Then I moved for a 3 month internship and he stopped calling me (it was daily before that) and didn’t return my calls. I later found out he was already dating someone else (this after he told me he was getting his life back on track and shouldn’t really be dating anybody, but he’d make an exception for me. I feel “blessed” (haha) that my internship got me out of that relationship before it was too late.

    Oh, and his biggest reason for believing in god had something to do with rainbows and sunrises.

  • Jim [the other Jim]

    These stories make me so glad to live in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of religious freakazoids [especially here in Alberta, Canada’s Texas] but they seem more sane somehow. Canada seem to be a much more secular country but riddle me this, we DON’T have separation of church and state in our constitution. Go figure.

  • Jalyth

    Josh, is it possible for you to date the non-religious partiers and help them change their minds? In a non creepy way, of course.

    My friend’s husband asked her one pointed question while they were first dating, and she’s an atheist now. Presumably it isn’t quite this easy, but she is a minister’s daughter who attended a xtian college.

    *anecdotal and perhaps apocryphal, but maybe inspiring of hope?

  • Rich Wilson

    We’ve seen Tim Minchin’s Storm?

  • gsw

    “What do you have against God?”

    In a very long life, I have only been asked this question twice (actually once it was “Why do you hate god?”) – my standard answer is: “Which one?”

    If the say “But there is only one, true god” the reply “that’s just your opinion” usually closes the conversation. Really nasty people can say instead: “What do you have against all the others?”

  • chicago dyke

    sorry, but this is why i don’t live in the South. and never will. being queer and black, i don’t need this sort of shit.

  • AxeGrrl

    Angel wrote:

    The very first time I said something about the way that the churchgoers gossip about one another *right after* having heard sermons about treating one another with respect my relationship began to crumble. Not because of the guy I was involved with, but because of his mother. It was a horrific process, and one that would take ages to document, but it involved an attempted intervention/exorcism.

    Canadian crazy religious nutjobs are just as insane as their American counterparts.

    Being a Canadian in Southern Ontario and having met/known only one CRN (crazy religious nutjob), I’m very curious to know where you are….

    If it’s not too personal, what province are you in?

  • AxeGrrl

    Jim [the other Jim] wrote:

    These stories make me so glad to live in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of religious freakazoids [especially here in Alberta, Canada’s Texas] but they seem more sane somehow. Canada seem to be a much more secular country but riddle me this, we DON’T have separation of church and state in our constitution. Go figure

    It’s interesting that the same situation seems to exist in most European countries (not having separation of church and state, but being significantly less ‘religious’)

    The most striking difference between the U.S. and Canada (when it comes to religious affiliation) can be seen in the political arena…..

    If any of the candidates in the current election campaign made religion an issue in ANY way, they would alienate so many people, they’d have no hope of getting elected.

    Mike Huckabee would be laughed/mocked/unequivocally rejected here in Canada……

    That’s something I take great comfort in right now:)

  • todwith1d

    I really wanted a good story here. I’m a life long atheist from Georgia.

    I’ve racked my brain for an instance where religion precipitated a fight or breakup in my life. It never has.

    The current me says it was the lower level of religiosity in the early 80’s.

    The highschool me says because talking about god never got you laid.

  • ATL-Apostate

    Former fundy super Christian here:

    I remember telling a girl that I was quite in love with that she would “always be #2 in my life because Jesus was #1.”

    What a douche thing to say! For some reason, my fundamentalist mind didn’t pick up on the homosexual undertones of that sentiment. Good thing b/c if it had, the cognitive dissonance might have ‘sploded my brains.

    I have many such recollections, and I’m not proud of any of them.

  • Bethany

    I am a Christian in a long-term, very very wonderful relationship with a (insert whatever title he prefers today) non-believer. Well, I’m not even quite sure if that’s right now–it certainly was two years ago when we started dating in an agonizing 2-month long display of love/guilt/excitement/fear. Since then, here is what has changed: we have each grown incredibly as spiritual people. He has started to recognize and find beauty in his own (still non-Christian) spiritual journey, and I have found incredible connection with God and the universe through openness to non-Christian ideas. We have each become much more humble about our beliefs, knowing that no argument, no matter how clever, will convert the other. A few weeks ago we almost broke up; I found that I had been censoring my own (very real) religious life in order to keep him from being uncomfortable. Since then, and our decision to give it another shot, we’ve started sharing more openly about our spiritual and non-rational lives, and found new depths in our relationship with each other and in our own existential journeys. We’re both changing, becoming more open, both to each other and to God/the universe/beauty/Truth. No doubt its hard; some days it feels like we’re totally crazy and will never succeed; but I can credit so much growth in my journey with God to my beautiful, non-believing, open-minded, compassionate lover.

  • Cat

    When i was 15 I started dating a very religious guy. I dated him for about a year, and he would always try and talk to me about religion, every time I called him when I was having a bad day (I was really depressed in high school) he would tell me how much better my life would be if I let god in. Finally he tried to convert me on my birthday by giving me a lovely book called The Shack. I broke up with him the next day.

  • DicePlayGod

    “Do you believe in the Easter Bunny?”

    “Of course not!”

    “What do you have against the Easter Bunny?”

  • HMB

    I know exactly how she feels. I live in Hendersonville ,about 20min north of Nashville and it is terrible hear to. I’ve lost friends because i don’t share their beliefs. On a positive note I started dating this girl and she had no idea what i believed for a while. Well that got her to like me and not my beliefs. I came out told her i was an atheist and shortly after she became one too.(after long and thought out conversations)Prior to this she was a Baptist… She was all about Gods word. So there is hope in the South. Just get out their and love someone for them and not their religion

  • fiddler

    I married one…
    Had to leave topics like “evilution” alone and avoid discussing many other scientific advancements.
    Her family would “cast out demons” on me whenever my back was turned. They also burned well over a decades worth of my writing and stories, some that were due for submitting.
    She had a deep issue with my not being christian, yet she had no problem cheating on me with my married best friend… and a random guy at the lake… and whoever a friend set her up with…

  • When my wife and I met (in church) we were both pretty religious. Some years later I decided the god theory didn’t fit with reality and became an atheist. However I continued to ‘play church’ so as to not offend my wife and thereby risk damage to an otherwise great marriage (and relationship to her amazing family). This went on for a couple years until one night my my disbelief came to light during a conversation with her. I was absolutely floored when she told me she had been an atheist LONGER and was afraid to tell me for fear of offense!
     We still ‘play church’ when family are watching. It’s uncomfortable, but necessary to keep drama at bay. It is really nice to have someone close who thinks in terms of reality. It’s a great respite to come home to a level (and beautiful) head devoid of mush and wishful thinking.

     Not quite the story you’re looking for I’m sure, but a story none the less. We live in the deep south if there are any points awarded for that 😉

  • Rob

    Palebluedot5 wrote:

    I went to his church with him several times. It was the typical fundie church that had rock music and a younger pastor to make it look “hip”. The sermons were often about how nonbelievers couldn’t have meaningful lives and that women were supposed to obey EVERYTHING that men told them to do. I often burst into tears after those services out of sheer anger.

    YES. I went to the same kind of church with my ex several times. One time they had a Muslim convert talk about how sad she is that her parents are going to hell. The other time they screened a short film about an “average non-Christian’s life” and ended with a fade to black with the words “Isn’t something missing?” on it. I was appalled beyond belief.

  • YES. I went to the same kind of church with my ex several times. One time they had a Muslim convert talk about how sad she is that her parents are going to hell. The other time they screened a short film about an “average non-Christian’s life” and ended with a fade to black with the words “Isn’t something missing?” on it. I was appalled beyond belief.

    Shameless plug: this is the life of the average non-Christian.
    Make that into a made-for-church movie!

  • I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments. I have dated MANY religious people ….and the most religious when I live in NC of course! Now I am married to an nonreligious man from a very Catholic family. It is nice that he is not ‘into it’ for sure. The in-laws would love us to become interested in going to church especially now with children. With our first child I was worried that they would sneak baptize him while they watched him because she did say if something happened to him he would go to hell. I asked my husband once if his mother would be interested to know why I am not interested in Catholicism (the short version) and that being I don’t believe Jesus is the son of god. He though I shouldn’t go out of my way to upset her. At least she isn’t aggressive about it most of the time but Easter is very important to the family and it can get tough then.

  • This link. Oops!

  • I grew up Southern Baptist in Mississippi. I refused to date any one who smoked, drank, or was not a virgin.

    Once I left home, all that changed.

  • I’m from Mississippi and live right outside Memphis so this could happen to me. I have never dated anyone mostly because I could never find anyone who I really cared about. I was too interested in learning about things and playing video games. Plus, most people around here(religious or not) are too interested in celebrity gossip, and listen to the music from the top 40 boards. I’m interested in social issues and listen to punk rock and death metal. They bore me to death. I don’t care who your best friend is dating or who beat up who.

  • Amphigorey

    I dated a Libertarian once. Does that count?

    He was painfully naive. I hadn’t had much interaction with Libertarians before, so I didn’t realize the extent of his naivete until we’d been dating for several months. The extent to which he believed in theory and had no understanding of reality was astonishing. He was seriously privileged and he just had no idea.

    His religion was weird too – he believed in a 1970s invention called Eckankar, which is full of woo. I’d never heard of it before I met him, and I found it baffling. The other woman he was dating also found it baffling; we couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I couldn’t understand why someone who was otherwise rational (other than the Libertarian thing, which I realize is a big “other”) would go for something as obviously fake as Eckankar. The best we ever got out of him was that he believed it because he thought it was pretty. I think he also liked it for the social aspect; he went to Eck conventions and made lots of friends there, and he’s a big extrovert, so that was a big draw for him.

    The happy ending is that his other girlfriend and I are now great friends, and we’d never have met if not for him.

  • Angel

    @AxeGrrl – I live in Alberta. Shocker, right? I actually did a quite phone around to my pals and most of them had multiple stories of dating CRNs, but most of the people grew up in small towns and migrated to the big city somewhere along the way.

  • Okay so I normally save this for 2 beer gone, bar conversation but I think it should be added here. Premise, High school, I was still faithful, though not religious, and this was in a city in Alberta. I hung out with this girl and her friends for a couple of days trying to get to know her, and the courage to ask her out. They asked me all kinds of philosophy questions, and in the end I received a letter. 2 pages of dribble came down to one sentence

    “You are not in love with the same god I am”

    So yea, CRN’s are all over.

  • After reading all of the above (if anyone is still checking in on this thread) thank you. Wow there are some great stories here, and Hemant, thanks for asking.

    @Axegrrl – read Aramgeddon factor, then rethink that Mike Huckabee comment. Yes he would be mostly ignored, but the people that would listen most are in politics.

    @Opus – Just awesome, see what happens when you talk with your loved one openly.

  • Tez

    Luckily for me, I met my wife of 10 years in N. Carolina. She is very accepting and understanding of my atheism (but her family, not so much). She was raised Baptist but is now self defined as “Not Baptist, and not sure.”. NC is nice, but we moved away after about 3yrs, that culture now is almost intolerable to me. I dodged a bullet with her, she is a great mother/wife and I was not filtering for extreme religiousness (sp?) when we met, so for me to find her in that mass of religious girls in NC must have been god’s plan… ;]

  • Candide

    I’m currently in a relationship (almost 6 months now) with a Christian fundie girl. She’s 19 and I just turned 22, and we both go to the same college and work in the same building.

    I always had a thing for her, but on our first ‘date’ she called herself a ‘Biblicist’ — she believes in a literal, six-day creation, that the Bible is the “inerrant Word of God” even if not all of it makes sense (!?). She’s from an IFB/homeschooling/reconstructionist family, which if you don’t know, is about [ ] this close to America’s Christian version of the Taliban.

    I was (and still am) so head-over-heels for her that I did *try* to convert. I honestly, really tried — but I cannot turn my brain off like she can (she’s otherwise VERY smart — with a 3.7GPA in one of the toughest nursing programs in the country.)

    I haven’t told her that I’ve lapsed back into atheism, and I don’t know how I’m going to tell her without breaking her heart. She’s put a lot on the line with her crazy fundie family to see me, and she has finally started differentiating her beliefs from that of her parents (she no longer believes in only homeschooling, or family-integrated churches, and I can see her begin to question things a little bit more day by day.)

    I was going to break the news to her tomorrow, and if she still wants to be with me, then I know that she loves me for *me* and not simply because I go to church and say the right things. If not, then I hope she doesn’t run back into the darkness, at least.

  • Late to the party, but wanted to share:

    My senior year of high school I dated a very Christian guy. I told him I was an atheist during our 3rd date, and later that night he kissed me for the first time, so I thought that maybe it would work out.

    I made a point early on of telling him about times people had told me they would pray for me, and how insulting it was. He said he wouldn’t do that, but later admitted that he did pray for me.

    Sex was what really got to him. He subscribed to a version of religion that said that thinking lustful thoughts was the same as having sex in your heart…or whatever. He was fine with making out and dry humping with clothes on, but he would not touch my breasts, even through clothes. It made him super uncomfortable. The night before we broke up, we’d been fooling around at my house and he actually got up and left without saying a thing. I had to chase him down in my car once I’d figured out that he he had headed home on foot. When I caught up with him we had a conversation about god where I thought we saw eye to eye, but he broke up with me the next day.

    He was a good person, though. Ended up going to a pretty liberal college; I think he’s still religious but I hope he’s relaxed a bit.

  • Sinfanti

    Back in my last year of university when I still identified myself as a non-practicing Catholic I dated a great girl who was Protestant. I had visited her small hometown and met her parents, who seemed really great. I even went to their church, because I’m a curious and open-minded kind of guy. All seemed well and we got pretty serious. After graduation I took a job abroad but we decided to keep things going. Well, I was only gone a fortnight when her mother sat her down and said, “You’re not thinking of marrying him, are you?” To which she replied, “Well yes, actually I am?” She was met with a disapproving, “You can’t do that. He’s not Christian like us.” We still ended up dating for about another year before the distance got the better of us.

    Not as bad as jumping out of closet unexpectedly (sorry Shawn), but I was really hurt by the two-faced-ness. I have no idea what happened to that girl, but I do realize that I dodged a bullet by not marrying her.

    I’ve also dated Jewish, Mormon and Buddhist girls but never had any problems like I did with that Protestant. Ironic given that it was probably the most similar background to my Catholic upbringing.

  • My wife was more religious when I met her, but she’s become a lot more liberal in the 16 years since we married. She’s still a believer, but she doesn’t attend church, and she is a lot more liberal than I am. She even supports the decriminalization of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.

  • Matt H

    My first serious girlfriend when I was 21 was a Baptist. I was still exploring agnosticism and figuring my beliefs out. I attended church with her family to be open-minded, and it was really freaky. This guy would frantically shout “amen” after every few phrases said by the pastor. I later mentioned it to my (then) g/f and said it was like the guy was insane.

    She eventually broke up with me completely out of nowhere. I never got an explanation, but I assume it was due to my lack of faith. She later married a pastor and had tons of kids.

    Silly thing was… If you discount religion, we had almost everything in common. It took me a long time to get over her. She was the only girl that ever broke up with me. I don’t date religious girls anymore.

  • Joseph Caine

    I am from Alberta, Canada, which is the Canadian equivalent of Texas (Oil and Farming, Conservative Politics, and Old Tyme Relijun). Luckily for us, one can usually spot the really bad fundies a mile away, because they are all wearing crosses and WWJD apparel.

    However there are all sorts of in-betweeners here, who are very similar to the cousins Julie_JJ describes in her post. They follow whichever parts of the Conservative/Religious zeitgeist they want and ignore the parts they don’t.

    It’s funny how I look back at my teen years and see things through new eyes. My first girlfriend told me that her Daddy sent an angel from heaven to make sure I’d be with her. At first I thought it was cute, but then a few weeks later I realized the exact magnitude of the statement. Since then, I’ve mostly dated non-religious people, mostly because the things I was attracted to in a woman (Skepticism, Independence, Outspoken) were the things that religious women were indoctrinated that they should not be to attract a mate.

    Of course, these are all personal experiences, so your mileage may vary.

  • Michelle Boatright

    I was 15 at the time, boyfriend was 16 (hormones and all!) And I remember his mother being a die-hard bible thumper. Grant it, she had been married 7 times, but that was ok I guess.
    I can’t remember all the details, but I think she caught us ‘making out’ in the living room, she barged in yelling, turned off the tv, and sat us down by her fireplace. She then proceeded to read scripture to us, and tell us that we were evil, etc etc. I just remember everytime she would take a breathe I would ask some absurb question she couldnt answer. Three hours later *sigh* she finally gave up. He wasn’t allowed at my house for dinner because we didnt pray before meals…
    I also dated another guy who was christian, but open to anything, who’s mother said he couldn’t date me because I had a ‘Darwin fish’ on my car, and I didnt know enough to be dating….
    *sigh* these are the benefits of living in the southern bible belt..

  • JSug

    I was raised in a non-religious household. I occasionally went to church with friends or extended family (my father’s family are fundamentalist Baptists), but didn’t ever really have a strong exposure to religion in general, and certainly not to the specifics of any particular group.

    So fast forward to my junior year of high school when I had my first real relationship with a girl. I didn’t really bat an eye when she told me she was a devout Mormon, because I honestly didn’t know what that meant. She seemed to like me a lot, and we had a lot in common, so I didn’t put much thought into it. But it quickly became clear that her dating me was causing a lot of mental conflict (and possibly interpersonal conflict with church members). She really did like (love?) me, and wanted to be with me, but she also wanted to be dating a member of the church.

    So she asked if I would come to her church. I did, a couple times. I seriously considered joining. I even read through the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, I think this had the opposite of her intended effect. I started asking questions. Questions she couldn’t answer. Questions the youth pastors couldn’t answer. Questions the church elders couldn’t answer.

    She stopped asking me to come to church. Eventually, I had to break up with her because it was clear to me that the guilt cycle of us being together was eating her alive.

  • Candide

    How sad is it that so many otherwise normal people are caught up in this nonsense? How many truly wonderful relationships have been ruined (or simply never came into existence) over books as stupid as the Bible or Qu’ran?

  • JimG

    Went to high school in Nashville. Took a Church of Christ girl to prom. She was fine with going, and I knew nothing of Church of Christ doctrines.

    Reading about them years later, I finally realized that’s why she adamantly refused to dance. At the time she wouldn’t tell me anything. Didn’t get a kiss, either, but that may have been about me rather than Jesus.

  • saltyestelle

    Candide, how did your talk with your gf go?

  • Tekla

    I may not live in the deep south, but conservative Carroll County Maryland is almost as backwards a place as I’ve ever been. Going to high school with the scores of teenage born-again christians who somehow find a way to reference God in just about everything they say is agravating. I feel as though having faith is a nice enough thing that I wasn’t raised with, but I have never EVER enjoyed having other people try and shove their religion in my face. I admit, I might be a little pushy on my end as well, but it fascinates me that well educated students in upper level science classes can still take the bible at face value rather than as a set of guiding principles and creation stories, a mythology of sorts.

  • Citadel Blue

    Well, I’m a bit late to the party but I think my stories fit in here.

    I grew up in Carrollton, Texas; it’s a sizable suburb of Dallas the Dallas Morning News dubbed “Little Pakistan” for its high population of Middle-Easterners. In high school, a Muslim friend of mine introduced me to one of her friends. I grew very close to this astoundingly gorgeous Pakistani girl (a model now,) whose parents wouldn’t let her hang out with a white boy, let alone date one. That didn’t stop us from picking each other for lab partners for 3 years, arranging to meet before or after school to “work on a project” or “go over our notes,” which we used as excuses to hang out/go out for coffee/flirt. Although we had our own relationships over those few years, we would always talk to each other about what we wanted in relationships, what was missing in ours, and would give each other support/guidance/advice. We plainly both knew that there was something simply unapproachable between us which we could only gaze upon and wonder. We still talk, occasionally–even though I’ve since moved to Charleston and she’s now engaged to a Muslim man her parents set her up with. She’s happy, but she sometimes wistfully brings up the times I’d asked her out, to dances or to movies or to functions her family wouldn’t allow her to attend.

    At 18, I graduated high school and moved to Charleston, SC, the Holy City, for college. Somehow, I got into a relationship with a cute girl from a nearby school whose father happened to be the minister of a Southern Baptist church–the type that has maybe 30, 40 attendees on a good week. She was a sweetheart, but literally had been raised to believe that dinosaur fossils were instruments of Satan planted to divert Man from believing the Earth was only 5,000 years old. I attended church with her a few times–I’m secure enough in my lack-of-faith to know I wasn’t going to be swayed–where her father, the minister, constantly called for those new members of the church (i.e., just me,) to come up and repent, accept Jesus, and pray for salvation. It didn’t happen.

    I know what you’re all thinking; I must have turned tail and beat cheeks out the door. That relationship actually lasted 16 months, before we parted fairly amicably. In the end, it was a relationship worth engaging in, but we understood it didn’t have a long-term future. We never agreed on certain major issues, like evilution, abortion, or pre-marital sex (although, to be frank, I apparently won that last argument…)

    Interfaith relationships don’t have to be impossible, or even inflammatory, but are a lot of work. They require more compromise than we Freethinkers are used to giving. I know it’s a little out-of-line to accuse US of all people of being closed-minded, but it’s very simple to see the world in black and white. We have the comfort of knowing we’re right about our faith (or lack thereof) because it’s set in the foundation of logic and reason. However, we cannot forget that persons of other faiths believe just as strongly in their convictions. If you can each just find ways to give ground (in the form of mutual respect,) you can draw many good things from even the most mismatched relationships. Just be sure you balance the benefits of the relationship with its realistic viability: don’t anticipate the other changing their whole life for you, just as you would’t suddenly adopt God for them.

  • Jen

    I have lived in the south (several parts of VA and NC) my entire life and get tired of having to constantly defend it and myself from overblown stereotypes. Yes, there are many religious people here, a church on every corner it sometimes seems…but there are plenty of non-religious, too. In my personal experience…I have done a lot of dating and never found a shortage of atheists or agnostics to go out with.

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