I would have said "the bible (or babble) belt" but they only have those in the US and Canada. But some European towns CAN be fairly religious.

Anyway, what's it like being an Atheist there?

I have only lived in California, Nevada, Oregon and Thailand - and most of those places were secular enough to live in a bubble.

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I live in a very religious town- Logan, UT.  It's not part of the bible belt, but rather a part of the SLC urban corridor, Mormon central.  I was raised Mormon as well, and I grew up very isolated from the fact of religous diversity.  I remember, as a kid of seven, boldly asserting to my cousins from SF that most people in the world were Mormon, and having to come to terms with their denial of this idea. 

As an athiest, however, I find that things are very different.  The idea of 'non-overlapping majesteria'  (which is believe is fakakta in it's original context, of science vs. religion) is a good descriptor of the lives of the religious and the non-religious here.  There is a crowd, a very tight and diverse crowd.  We go to a lot of the same concerts, frequent the same bars and coffee shops, and are just generally used to the idea of seeing each other in the same places, even if we have never spoken.  It is, of course, inevitable that we interact mostly with religious people, at school-work-play, and no one minds, but it is well-advised in these situations to keep one's athiesm a fairly quiet thing.  We avoid outrage here by a sort of DADT policy; we don't talk about it, and they don't listen when we do.  This sometimes leads to inordinate verbal gushing sessions when 2+ like-minded free-thinkers discover each other, which usually end with the strange phenomenon of 'shouting in agreement'. 

Also, the liqueor stores close early and beer is only 3.2%.  That, more than all other things, bites. 

I live in the deep south. I didn't know Nashville, TN WAS the deep south when I moved there for a job/school opportunity that could not be passed up. Having grown up in Indiana and traveling to Kentucky and TN several times in my youth, I knew it wouldn't be good - but I didn't know how much my dude and myself would hate it. We are both atheists and have moved (pretty much) into the gay community since it seems the only remotely decent place. He is the GM of a restaurant that is predominantly staffed with queer folk and at first patroned  by queers. Anyway, we moved to Nashville from Austin, TX. All the time people tell me, "Well you must like it here because Austin and Nashville are so alike!" No, they are both music cities. That is all. The first billboard we saw driving the uhaul into town was all black, white hand in the middle holding a little flame. It said, "What this country needs is an awakening to god." There is a church on every corner, all the nurses I work with are extremely religious, 4 of whom claim to be virgins waiting until they get married. It blows my mind that these are 22 and 23 year old women with bachelor's degrees and they have never had sex. All they talk about and stress about is meeting someone. Granted, I would also be concerned about meeting someone in TN, but for different reasons. My hospital is secular (which is quite the rarity) and goes to the extreme not to discriminate. I am still in DC after Reason Rally/AANC. I bought a couple small pins and a small letter A. I've already put the A on my badge and have decided to wear it. All the other girls have cross pins all over their badge and I am very out at work, often dropping the word atheist when relevant. ("Are you working Easter, Lisa?" "Well, I am an atheist, so yeah." "What. . . Huh?" "I volunteered to work Easter as one of my holidays because it doesn't matter to me and I know it's important to other people, so yes." "Hmmm. Well that's nice! Good. We're gonna have a pot luck.")

I learned very quickly that - at least in Nashville - people are so docile that I'm rarely afraid of reprisal. My dude thinks I should be more careful, but I refuse to live in fear. In Austin if you were a bad driver, everyone would honk and berate you when you did assinine shit. Here, I often felt guilty the first few times I honked at people, they would almost swerve off the road, often I'd see them bolt upright in their seat or even hit the brakes. The southern hospitality here is to the extreme where everyone is so uber polite. I have yet to get push back at work, but I do not talk about it with patients at all. If I did it would probably get ugly. I've had patients ask me if evolution is taught in medical school, if my RN necklace with the snake and sword symbol for medicine was the star of david. . . these crazy insane poor people with no education... Four more years until I'm done with school and then we are out of here. I think it comes up in our conversation daily.


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