A similar question was posed on an atheist Facebook group a while ago and it has stuck with me since. An atheist man had recently begun dating a woman who is a Christian, but determines he is no longer able to be with her even though he still loves and cares for her. He feels dating a Christian is not best for his relationship, nor for his future children. It bothers him enough that he ends up calling the relationship off. He then turns to his atheist community, explaining his story, and looking for general support.
I was flabbergasted by the responses. Fellow atheists tore into the original poster, calling him selfish and closed-minded for rejecting her based on her faith. It was determined by many that “love is all that matters.” There were those who understood, but there seemed to be an overwhelming number of atheists who asserted that the religious beliefs of a partner do not, and should not, matter. I wondered if I was in the wrong group.
I love lots of people. I have plenty of friends both religious and non-religious. I don’t mind differing viewpoints and appreciate my friends who challenge me. However when it comes to sharing my life, living with someone, and raising children, I am a bit more selective than I am with my friends. I want someone who I can confide in who will understand my issues, who I don’t have to tiptoe around, and most importantly, who accepts and complements my lifestyle.
For Christians they may turn to ChristianMingle – a site specifically for helping Christians find other Christians – to find such people. This is where people with mentalities like my grandmother’s can go online to find their good Christian men and women. Some religions won’t even allow interfaith marriages, requiring conversions or extra paperwork before acknowledging their union as a couple. This is not a new subject, and the religious have a good argument to wanting to find someone who shares their faith: they know that person will support their faith, help it continue to grow, and eventually pass it on to their children. Why should atheists feel any differently? Religion, or lack thereof, is not just an indication of what time someone wakes up on Sunday; it’s a worldview. It’s how people derive meaning from their life, how they believe the world works or should work, and what they think happens after we close our eyes for the last time, and those things are incredibly important to me. I want someone who understands what not having religion is like and can see its influence on our world as an outsider, how it permeates our lives unknowingly. I need a partner who I know will help me figure this world out together, throwing away the lens of religion.
So I set out to find myself a good atheist man instead (or woman, but don’t tell grandma quite yet, she’s had enough for one day.)