My husband got off the phone with his mom. We rarely see his mom because weâre in the Midwest and sheâs in California. I asked how the call was. He stared blankly. âMy mom is concerned with what weâre teaching *Goober about religion.â
âWhat? What did you tell her?â
âI explained that Iâm a believer, that youâre an atheist and weâre raising Goober to make her own choices. You know, I told her weâre going to educate her on different world religions and what we personally believe. Then she said she was worried weâre teaching her that god doesnât exist. I think she genuinely believes you and Goober are going to hell.â
At this point, I was indignant, but not surprised. Ever since my MIL married a conservative Southern Baptist man a couple years ago, sheâs 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 âknowing your audienceâ when you spam your friends and family.
I wonât lie â Iâm happy that my MIL lives far away, because Iâm not sure how I would deal with our differences if she were a regular part of our lives. Itâs not that I hate religious people, or that I was deeply wronged by some Christian pervert in the past, or that Iâm on a crusade to convert believers into heathens like me. I donât dislike my MIL. Sheâs boisterous, a little over-the-top, but sheâs not a bad person. And, like so many other people, she literally believes that if Goober doesnât accept Jesus Christ into her soul that sheâs going to burn in hell. So I get that her intentions are good, and that sheâs seriously concerned about my daughterâs fate, and my own.
Itâs just that Iâm 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 momâs side of the family, and many people on my dadâs side of the family. I come from a long line of Southern Baptists, many of them loving, many of them bigots. Itâs not uncommon for my relatives to proselytize at family reunions, or to tell stories of the lost souls theyâre trying to convert. Everything good that happens involves the word âblessed.â Everything bad invokes a prayer.
Both of my grandfathers have stood up and made forceful religious statements in waiting rooms and other public places. Itâs abrasive, itâs inconsiderate and it does nothing to warm the hearts of the very people theyâre trying to reach. Yet, as a Southern Baptist, as a Christian who takes The Great Commission seriously, itâs what youâre supposed to do.