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Surprise! We are Happy in the Bible Belt!

Its funny, for all my worrying when we moved here, I have only ever been snubbed once (in public, by a stranger) for being pagan…  And that was in New England!  A few years ago we went to the local park on a week day morning and found that there were a whole bunch of kids running around the playground.  Which made me automatically think “homeschoolers”.

Hannah asked one of the little girls around her age and confirmed that they were indeed a homeschool group.

I went over to talk to the other moms and discovered that they all lived in our town and they met at the park every week! Then one mom mentioned that they were a christian homeschooling group.

I smiled when she told me, but inside I was already a little worried.  What would they say if they knew I was a witch?  I hoped that they would be cool, or at least tolerant since we had to share the same playground, but you never know how people are going to react.  So I didn’t say anything and we kept on chatting about curriculum choices, baby carriers and favorite healthy snacks.  It was quite pleasant until the head mom happened to glance down at my hand and saw my (tiny, silver wire) pentacle ring.  She made a face and looked at the other ladies as she said, “I think I am going to go get some sun.”  Then they ALL, as a group, walked quickly away from me without saying a word and formed a tight knot on the other side of the playground.  They stood (In the shade, mind you) and whispered, looking covertly at me over their shoulders.  They pulled their kids to the side one by one, and soon enough Hannah was playing alone.  Not one of them said another word to us while we were there  Not even a polite “goodbye” as we passed them on our way to the parking lot.

I felt so bad that day. I just didn’t understand why it is considered acceptable to shun and mock another person because they happen to believe differently than you do.  It has stuck with me ever since, and once we had decided to move to a state in the “bible belt” I started to worry that this sort of thing would start to happen to us more frequently.

I was so nervous about moving to Missouri.  I remember wondering what it would be like to be a pagan in the bible belt.   My apprehension increased when I saw the giant crosses visible from the highway and the multitude of billboards dedicated to Jesus.  Missouri IS very different than Rhode Island.  And there are lots of things I wish I could have back.  I miss my family and my friends.  I miss the ocean and Portuguese food and visiting my dad’s grave.  I miss the abundance of good seafood and the forests and Trader Joe’s.  But I am happier here than I have been anywhere else in a long time.

The reality is that despite my fears, Springfield is a pretty open-minded place.  In fact, I have felt more welcomed and accepted here than I ever did up North.  I have found a secular homeschool tribe.  My kids have friends so close they are more like siblings.  We are having another baby and *I* have friends that have offered to help me in the first weeks after the baby is born so this time I won’t have such a terrible struggle to do everything while I heal.  My husband has found a job he loves and we get to see him every day.  I get to sing with a band.  We have a big house and car that runs.

This town is a good place for us to be.

15 Responses to Surprise! We are Happy in the Bible Belt!

  1. I’m so glad to hear that! This state isn’t so bad. There are still plenty of ignorant people, but they are everywhere. There is really no escaping stupidity. My experience is that we are pretty laid back here. I am very glad you will have help in the weeks after your new baby arrives. It makes me hopeful in the event that we move to a different town.

  2. Glad to hear you’re doing well in that regard, Joni! My family was only openly rejected once because of religion, and that was over ten years ago in Virginia. Unfortunately, it was after friendships had already begun to form. We were newish homeschoolers and also new to the area (military), and I honestly didn’t expect that sort of thing (naive). Funny enough, we met that particular family at an event run by the inclusive group in the area!

  3. my mom taught me something – she said that most people think “i believe this, and I am right and good – therefor if you think differently, you must be wrong, and you must be evil.”

    i used to think that about attachment parenting – i believed it was for the best for all children, and those who did not were bad parents. i realize now that it isn’t the best for everyone, it was just the best for me. they are not evil or bad just because they think differently than i do. so we all fall prey to this thinking.

    so in the end, i understand more that people look at each other thru a very narrow lense. and i’ve been guilty of doing the same. we can just hope to find others who are willing to broaden their lense and realize that just because i am not a christian, does not automatically make me evil.

  4. After making my own cross country move early this year, I now firmly believe that some places pull us to them because they have gifts to give us. And if we just acknowledge our fear of change then take that plunge and trust that tug anyway we can find ourselves happier than we’d ever imagined – often in ways we’d never have planned before!

    I am so glad that’s how it’s turned out for you guys! Enjoy!

  5. It’s great to hear that this is all working out so well – since it all started with my posting about our house being so “cheap” compared to RI prices! It’s great that you’re going to have some help after the new baby arrives. Those first couple of weeks are CRITICAL to you and the baby! Perhaps Hannah will be able to help with cooking? Just a thought.

    I hope you still have our phone number – you can always call if there is anything we can help with! My wife’s brother lives in Springfield, and her mom is just up the road in Waynesville – so please don’t ever think we’re too far away!

  6. That’s so awesome that you are happy down here in the South! When we moved to Alabama from the Pacific NW, I wasn’t sure how’d I’d fit in. But people down here are just generally nicer. For the first few months I wanted out of here SO badly. But in the past few months, we’ve come to love the people we know and realized it would be too hard to leave them.
    I’m really happy that you found a secular homeschool group too; I know that must have been a little difficult, as there are Christian groups en masse down here. lol

  7. I wish that we lived closer to Springfield! The area in MO where we live is no where near as open minded as Springfield sounds. I have been here over a year and have only felt comfortable telling one person about my beliefs. Everyone else is so closed-minded and opposed to anything different. I’m happy that you found a place where you feel loved and accepted!! <3

  8. I’m glad you’re feeling accepted there. What a judgy little homeschool group that shut you out. Since I’ve moved to a different part of town, I’ve decided I won’t be hiding anything in the new neighborhood and will take whatever comes.

  9. We just moved to MO in October as well. I’m still trying to find like minded individuals in my area and was pleased to stumble onto your site. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  10. I enjoyed reading about blog! I’m glad you have found happiness in the bible belt. Our family moved here from California (to a small town in South Carolina) and I have not been happy. My two kids are homeschooled and we joined a local hs group, but were clearly not welcome when it became known that we are atheists. (In fact, they changed the name of the group officially to include the word “christian”!)
    The kids and I are so lonely and I can’t wait to get out of here. Worst mistake I ever made agreeing to come here. (maybe we should have gone to Springfield instead!!)

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