Being nonreligious in the South
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Religion

What It's Like Being A Non-Religious Southern Girl, But Explained By Joey Tribbiani

What it's really like when you aren't religious in the Land of God, Family, and Football

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joey tribbiani

My brothers and I grew up with a combination of Catholicism, Judaism, and Christianity. As we got older, soccer practices and ballet classes started to conflict with the various services and eventually took precedence. Our parents were less concerned with what we believed in and more concerned with exposing us to the religions that made our family so unique.

I respect religion, and I love learning about it. I love talking to my friends about their beliefs and the discoveries they make about themselves through religion. Religion is capable of amazing things. But it is not something I choose to be a part of my own life. And yes, that is okay. We all make choices in our lives, and this is mine.

Back home, not identifying with a particular religion or any religion at all is perfectly normal. So is Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, etc. The South is a different story. After three years in the land of God, Family, and Football I have noticed some distinct differences between myself and those who grew up south of the Mason Dixon. I'll let Joey Tribbiani explain.

There's no good answer to "So where do you go to church?"

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You would think "I don't" is a suitable answer. But no matter what variation you use, they always look hurt and offended. It's a little weird apologizing for not going to church when you don't identify with religion at all...

When someone tells you "Bless your soul"

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When I told my mom I was going to Alabama, the first thing she told me was that this phrase is not a compliment. No matter how sweet they sound when they're saying it to you.

You accidentally say things you shouldn't

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My sense of humor does not always line up with what religion deems acceptable/polite/etc. It doesn't help that I don't know everything that is and isn't okay to say. Sometimes it can get ugly. I'm grateful I have such forgiving friends who elbow me in the ribs before I get the chance to put my foot in my mouth. Most of the time.

You're the odd one out at Sunday brunch

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Whenever I roll out of bed and over to brunch, I'm usually the last one there and far from presentable. Do you wear your comfy clothes, or do you pretend you had a reason to look presentable as well? There is no good in between...

Not knowing how to respond to "Pray for me, y'all!"

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People say this to me more often than I would expect, even if they know that I don't pray. I will send you lots of good thoughts, but it isn't something I do. It's not out of spite, it's just not an activity that I partake in. You make a choice to do so, I make a choice not to. But that doesn't mean I won't keep you in my thoughts and wish for the best for you. I'm just doing it in my own way.

Sometimes the FOMO is real

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Listening to my friends talk about their Bible study or the last service they went to makes me feel out of the loop. You're sitting there and twiddling your thumbs while your friends discuss a book that has had a huge impact on their lives but you don't relate to. I usually make an effort to try and understand on a basic level, because I really want to show my friends I care about them and what they are passionate about. But again, it's just not for me.

Struggling to keep certain thoughts to yourself

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If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. Or, if you don't know what's going on, just hope they change topics soon. Is there really no such thing as a dumb question? We will never know...

"So. What do you celebrate?"

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I celebrate my family and the people I care about.

Yes, I celebrate Christmas. No, I don't go to church. Christmas is when I drive hundreds of miles to spend quality time with my family and experience winter.

Yes, I celebrate Hanukkah. No, I don't do it for the extra eight nights of gifts. It's something my grandmother was passionate about, and it's another connection I have with my family.

People assume you have no morals

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I don't have a religion or a book guiding my actions, this is true. That doesn't mean I run around doing whatever I feel like. I had to come up with my own set of morals. No, I don't have Jesus, but I have my own beliefs.

At the end of the day, we're all people

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Religion is a powerful thing, and at the end of the day I respect it and what it does for the ones I love.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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