How to Introduce Your Atheist Partner to Your Evangelical Parents
Your partner may be your soul mate, only your partner doesn’t believe in soul mates, because your partner doesn’t believe in souls. Atheism may be okay with you, but what about your evangelical folks? Oy vey!
Step 1: Assess partner's beliefs Clearly assess your partner’s beliefs or lack thereof. Atheists can fall anywhere along a continuum ranging from 'Wish there were a God but I need proof' to 'Existence would be much better without the silly notion of God.'
Step 2: Debrief your partner on evangelicals Debrief your partner on 'evangelicals.' Evangelicals believe in spreading the Gospel, but they’re not all fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists. Some may fall on the same side of many issues as your atheist partner—like the environment.
Step 3: Arrive early Arrive at the restaurant 15 minutes early. This gives you the high-ground position as the greeter and allows you time for a quick drink and a breath mint.
Step 4: Greet your parents warmly Greet your parents warmly upon their arrival. Avoid introductions such as, 'Mom, Dad, this is Jack, the atheist!'
Step 5: Sit at the table strategically Be sure to sit at the table strategically, in kicking distance of any leg. Wear soft shoes.
Step 6: Keep the dinner conversation light Having been careful to study the Sports and Entertainment sections of the morning paper, keep the dinner conversation light. Steer clear of politics at all costs.
Step 7: Say grace yourself When dinner arrives and your parents want to say grace, jump in and say it before they have a chance to ask your partner to lead them in the prayer.
TIP: Help your partner prepare explanations for atheism. Rework explanations that begin with, 'Around the time I realized there was no Santa Claus…'
Step 8: Act with integrity Discussing your partner’s beliefs may be inevitable even at the first meeting. Whatever happens, act with integrity. Your partner is an atheist—no sense pretending otherwise—and you must be supportive of this personal conviction even if you don’t agree with it.
Step 9: Accept goodwill gestures If your parents admire your partner’s integrity while still disapproving of the atheism, there is hope. They will probably offer to pray for you and your partner. Accept this as a goodwill gesture.
Step 10: Pay with a credit card Pay the check, preferably with a credit card because 'In God We Trust' is on all the cash.
FACT: Recent surveys have consistently found that about 10 to 15 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists.