My funny story on my way through Mobile Alabama 1975, on a Greyhound bus!
Sunday morning, I get on to start a nice sunny day. I notice that the bus is slowly being filled with black folks in their sunday finest.
I a young white guy, from Oregon, with no experience being a minority, this my wake up call.
About 45 mintes into the trip, I notice no one is sitting next to me, do I have cutties?
At the next stop another white kid gets on and sits next to me.
We are very quiet for about 30 minutes, then this fellow leans over and asks, 'are you Baptist?'
'No!', I say.
'Thank god!' he says
As the bus starts to clear out, one church after another, we keep talking. Doodle bugs in teachers desks, life, the universe, and everything. Sadly this dear fellow gets off, and I continue to finish my 4 weeks on the road!
I'm not Alabaman, but I've lived in the area. The surrounding states and all the way to the Atlantic coast seem similar to me, but the pervasiveness of religion still depends a lot more on city size. Generally speaking, the larger the city, the more cosmopolitan and "tolerant" they are. Yeah, country folk can be said to be more friendly and polite than city folk, but they're also more apt to ask a personal question, like what church do you go to. The question is not confrontational so much as trying to get to know you, or just to make conversation. A lot of people there rarely assume they're speaking to a real, live atheist.
I would just consider a trip there an interesting cultural experience. Say, have you ever watched Swamp People on TV? (Just kidding... you probably won't run into that culture. But if you do, make sure sure you try some of their BBQ, ya hear?! It's real good.)
Hey Josie. Like the others, not too sure why you would choose Alabama as your destination but you'll find it to be better than you think. I grew up in Vermont (random small state in the Northeastern US that is comparatively open-minded) with the same thoughts that you have about Alabama. I wasn't nervous about moving down here for grad school. Perhaps I should say I was more curious about how well I would fit in. The caveat is that with grad school, I have friends from all over the US and a few international friends as well with all different backgrounds, so I haven't been fully immersed in the Alabama experience. That being said, the native Alabamians I've talked to have been friendly and polite. Religion is huge around my area (Birmingham), and we even have one of those fabled mega-churches nearby. But as David mentioned, the most you're generally going to hear is "god bless you" or "have a blessed day". Your religious background most likely will not come up unless you volunteer that information. I know this isn't exactly new information from what the others have said, but hopefully will make you feel more confident that being an atheist in Alabama isn't all that problematic.