I am “not from around here,” the not-so-subtle term the more closed-minded of Texans and Southerners like to use to disguise their Yankee-hating. Where I was raised, there are certain things one does not discuss in public: sex, politics, and religion. You do not discuss these things at least partly because they tend to lead to discord, which is not something one particularly wants in one’s ordinary social discourse. Come to find out that down here, religion is not only not taboo, it is apparently everyone’s favorite topic of discussion.
I don’t have religion. I don’t want religion. I don’t care if you have it, more power to you if you worship a god and that fulfills your life. I do not nor am I interested in learning how to. Thanks anyway, b’bye. Can we please change the subject now?
I suppose part of the reason it’s ok to discuss religion down here is that, apparently, everyone is on the same page. Everyone worships “God” by that name, everyone reads the Bible, and everyone practices one or another subset of Christianity. You aren’t asked “What religion are you,” but “What do you claim,” which seems to mean"which denomination are you." Every single one of my coworkers is Christian, and they talk about it all the time.
This is starting to make me feel oppressed. This is a new feeling for me - religion, as I said, never came up back home for me to discover whether or not I was the only atheist in my acquaintance - and I don’t particularly like it.
I could deal with it if they didn’t start moving from the “Let’s talk about how much we love Jesus” part of religious discussion and into the “Let’s talk about how much we hate people who don’t love Jesus” part of religious discussion. I go to work in order to complete my job and earn a paycheck. I do not go to work in order to listen to my coworkers talk about how much they hate gay people because they are an abomination before the Lord and God talks about how much he hates them in His Book and how homosexuality is the sort of thing you turn to when you don’t have a loving relationship with God, which is, by the way, also the reason that so many marriages fail - it’s all because of atheism, because marriage is impossible if you don’t spend every Sunday at church together staring at a cross with a fake dead guy on it. Did you also know that atheists are the reason this country is going to pot and the leading percentage of people on welfare and other public assistance and a thousand times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and commit crimes because they don’t know the love of God which makes everyone perfect?
And then they turn to me and ask “What do you claim?” To which I answer “Nothing at all, and I’m doing quite well without a soul, thank you.” And they have no answer, and go right back to discussing how much they hate gays.
Is there anyplace with a warm climate, mild winters and readily-available Dr Pepper that isn’t in the Bible Belt? Because I’ve only been here for three months and I’m already just about ready to shove that buckle right down their ever-loving throats.