…who is also a Husband, a talented writer, a math teacher and a fun guy!
As a follow up to today’s Ask Angela question about the LDS girl who is nervous about meeting her boyfriend’s atheist family, we interviewed a man named Hemant Mehta. Mehta, a math teacher in the Chicago Public School district and affectionately known on the internet as the “Friendly Atheist” offered some advice on how “The GF” might handle her dilemma. We also had some questions of our own.
Here’s are some of the highlights from our conversation:
Angela: First, why’d you settle on the name “The Friendly Atheist”
Hemant: ::Laughs:: In hindsight I probably should have just used my name. But for a while whenever I’d see an atheist talked about in the news it would have “angry” or “militant” as the qualifier, and I wasn’t either of those things. In fact, I think most people who would describe themselves as atheist aren’t either of those things. So I put the “friendly” there to address that straight on.
Angela: Let’s talk about the GF’s issue, do you think her concerns about visiting her BF’s family are legitimate?
Hemant: Well, look, there are of course some hardcore atheists who would think that she hasn’t thought things through when it comes to her religion. At worst they would say she’s been indoctrinated or something like that, I’m not going to lie to you. But if her boyfriend’s parents use her visit to their home during the holidays as a chance to criticize her for her beliefs, that’s their problem, not hers. Especially because it’s easy enough to stay away from the subject of religion. She can tell them their house is nice, they can tell her they’ve been waiting to meet her. The point is they probably will agree on 99% of what they talk about so why not just focus on those things? Especially for a first meeting.
Angela: What are some obstacles this religiously “mixed” couple may encounter in the future?
Hemant: Of course there is the issue of children, how will they be raised? There’s the issue of the wedding…will it be a religious ceremony? How will the two families feel about that? There are a lot of things to work out – but meeting for the holidays should not be an issue unless either party is looking to make it an issue.
I find that even with being very open and vocal about my belief system, I rarely get into fights with people about religion. I agree on social issues with many Christians and have found that even if our motivations are different, our goals are the same. Why battle when our goals are the same? Our combined efforts can improve society better than our fighting will.
I would advise “The GF” to look for common values with her boyfriend’s family because they are probably wanting to like her.
Angela: I think these thoughts will ease her mind very much! Thanks for taking time to talk about it!
There you have it! I hope the shared advice today and the conversation above help to ease this girl’s worries. Something Hemant also said, was that the boyfriend has the responsibility to help her feel comfortable, too. And I really hope that he’ll do that. I think everyone can agree that this couple (like all couples) will have some things to work out as they get more serious – but hopefully the ‘meet the parents’ this week will go well!