What's it like being an atheist in Mississippi? These answers might surprise you

Published 5:15 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Reddit user curious about what it’s like for Mississippians who don’t believe God exists took the question to the /r/mississippi community Sunday.
Several Mississippians chimed in about living in the core of the Bible Belt as atheists, resulting in a thoughtful, diverse discussion about navigating life in one of the most outwardly religious states in the nation.

“I don’t go around proclaiming to anyone who will listen that I’m atheist but I’ve never shied away from telling people who ask …”

I’ve had my daughter get told by someone that they didn’t want to play with her because she doesn’t go to church. … Mostly you just politely decline all the invites to attend someone’s church or bible camps. If you keep good company, most don’t pester you about it and are fairly accepting …”

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If you’re a college student, it’s a bit finicky. Mostly no one cares but a few people care too much and that’s annoying. Anytime an (older?) Adult talks to you about Jesus and whatnot you just smile and nod and hope they don’t see through you. Occasionally it leads to bigger problems like if your parents find out…it can be scary as heck.”

If you are a seeking easy, instant inclusion into a community then you will have a bad time.

“If you are seeking wisdom that only comes from being yourself in the face of adversity, allowing people the conversations and time to learn how to love you as you are, and as long as you are also willing to live way outside of your comfort zone for an undetermined amount of time, then you are in store for an amazing adventure. No one here really pushes their religion on you forcefully (outside of our elected officials) unless they believe you are their property. So as long as you’re not moving in with some loved one or family member that believes it is their duty to restore your faith, you will be mostly left alone about that.

“You will still get invited to church.

We are invited to church constantly…. We moved to a house in the ‘country’ and at least 4 of our neighbors invited us to their churches within a week. Then whenever we met new people they would invite us, we would politely decline but it’s always awkward.”

I’m in sales and often have to fake it or outright lie in order to make a sale. It sucks because I don’t hate religious people. I don’t think they’re stupid. I don’t go around trying to convince others to be atheists. But they really seem to hate me for not believing in god.”

I don’t advertise my lack of religion, but I don’t hide it either, and most of the people I work with directly know that I’m an atheist. No one cares. I’ve lived here my entire life (32), been some flavor of non-religious for at least half of it and, for the most part, have never felt the need to conceal it for any reason.”

People are more accepting of me being transgender than atheist.”

I’ve lived in Mississippi for most of my life, and somehow in middle school (6th or 7th grade) the fact that I wasn’t religious got around to a few people. Sometimes I would walk through the halls and a few kids would hold their arms out at me, make a cross with their fingers, and say s— like ‘the power of Christ compels you’ or something about me being a witch.”