tw: this post probably isn’t for you if you’re a practicing Christian. If you are, I’m not judging you if you’re a good person - you do you. However, in this post there is some not-all-like-that stuff in here where I disparage your less-good-but-self-identified-Christian brethren.
I just found out that herr honk and I dodged a bullet at our wedding in May. We had a small (like, four person) civil ceremony at the city council offices on a Friday morning, then a posh lunch with our immediate families, followed by a giant outdoor party/reception on the Saturday afternoon. All good times.
Here’s the rub I just found out about. My parents were staying with a family friend and neighbor whose garden we had the giant party in, and who is like a mother to me. They told her they’d “prepared a few words” in case they were asked at the reception. I had been pretty clear that it was going to be non-ceremonial, since ritual is neither my nor herr honk’s jam, but I can see them wanting to be prepared anyway just in case. However, ALL of these prepared words were Bible/God/Jesus stuff, including a Bible reading from their own wedding. Not about herr honk and me, or funny stories about me as their daughter, or anything like that - it was all God bothering. (I should say that I wouldn’t necessarily have enjoyed a Toast About Our Daughter, but that seems to be a more standard topic for toasts, so I’m using it as a template. I’d have been happy with a toast about future happiness!)
This bothers me a lot. I knew my dad was religious, but I have always seen him as a genuine Christian - he’s virtually the only one in his church who drags people out the door to workers’ rights fundraising and organizing events, he’s come with me to a Planned Parenthood rally, he works in soup kitchens, bla bla bla. He hasn’t quite given up all of his earthly possessions, but he definitely walks the walk better than Republichristians, and I haven’t heard him proselytize me. So as long as he doesn’t rub it in my face, he gets a pass. As for my mom, I always thought she was just sort of along for the community and social comfort and ritual comfort, and that if you really pressed her, she’d admit that that was the root of her belief.
HOWEVER, they have both been 100% aware of my atheism/secular humanism for at least 20 years. I got in trouble for casually mentioning it as a teenager and got called obscene by my grandparents - you’d have thought I’d said I was a Satanic-panic-style Satanist from the way they reacted. Plus, my parents must be fully aware from my contemporary facebook feed - it’s full of Humanist UK likes, shared posts against religiously-segregated public schools, likes of Betty Bowers America’s Best Christian, shares about issues I view as various churches doing illegal stuff, Tim Minchin, etc. They’ve heard me tell laughing stories about herr honk and I in Temple Square being the two atheists unsuccessfully proselytized. They have NEVER heard me talk about church or anything biblical unless it was to roll my eyes at a political situation or espouse hypocrisy. And, I’m not shy about how much I think God is a dick, even if there is a God. None of this is any kind of shameful secret, I’m an open and happy atheist who thinks that fundamentally being a good person is fulfilling and way more important than ritual practice, and that ritual practices too often eclipse one’s real moral compass. My husband is exactly the same way, as are all of our friends here in Scotland. It is NOT AT ALL LIKE the States- being secular is a socially safe default, and a sizeable chunk of population views organized religion taken seriously as kinda weird. A Bible reading at a non-church wedding? Would be weird as fuck. My sister praying ostentatiously all over the joint? Weird as fuck. A god-bothery toast at a garden party wedding? AWKWARD AS ALL HELL.
So I guess what I’m now bummed about is that like, in spite of knowing all this, my parents were all set to, AT OUR WEDDING, in a SECULAR COUNTRY, in front of SECULAR FRIENDS, give a speech that was 99% about God. To me, that’s one of two things: either they are so heads-in-the-sand about knowing anything important about me that they have completely missed all the overt secularism, or they didn’t miss it and felt that their Jesus bullshit was more important to say. I can kind of give them a slight pass on their potential failure to read the room during a toast like that - they’re absolutely socially oblivious - but it’s just like, come on, guys. Proselytizing is deeply offensive to me even without it coming from my parents.