My husband got off the phone with his mom. We rarely see his mom because we’re in the Midwest and she’s in California. I asked how the call was. He stared blankly. “My mom is concerned with what we’re teaching *Goober about religion.”
“What? What did you tell her?”
“I explained that I’m a believer, that you’re an atheist and we’re raising Goober to make her own choices. You know, I told her we’re going to educate her on different world religions and what we personally believe. Then she said she was worried we’re teaching her that god doesn’t exist. I think she genuinely believes you and Goober are going to hell.”
At this point, I was indignant, but not surprised. Ever since my MIL married a conservative Southern Baptist man a couple years ago, she’s been extremely vocal about her newfound salvation and political views. Only recently did she stop sending me cheesy/alarmist chain emails, which I think was in response to a passive aggressive Facebook status I posted about “knowing your audience” when you spam your friends and family.
I won’t lie – I’m happy that my MIL lives far away, because I’m not sure how I would deal with our differences if she were a regular part of our lives. It’s not that I hate religious people, or that I was deeply wronged by some Christian pervert in the past, or that I’m on a crusade to convert believers into heathens like me. I don’t dislike my MIL. She’s boisterous, a little over-the-top, but she’s not a bad person. And, like so many other people, she literally believes that if Goober doesn’t accept Jesus Christ into her soul that she’s going to burn in hell. So I get that her intentions are good, and that she’s seriously concerned about my daughter’s fate, and my own.
It’s just that I’m tired. I am so, so, so fucking tired of this sort of thing.
Religion has drawn an invisible wedge between me and my own mother, me and everyone on my mom’s side of the family, and many people on my dad’s side of the family. I come from a long line of Southern Baptists, many of them loving, many of them bigots. It’s not uncommon for my relatives to proselytize at family reunions, or to tell stories of the lost souls they’re trying to convert. Everything good that happens involves the word “blessed.” Everything bad invokes a prayer.
Both of my grandfathers have stood up and made forceful religious statements in waiting rooms and other public places. It’s abrasive, it’s inconsiderate and it does nothing to warm the hearts of the very people they’re trying to reach. Yet, as a Southern Baptist, as a Christian who takes The Great Commission seriously, it’s what you’re supposed to do.