I did my best to start this subject off in a post called "Advice for Atheists New to Mississippi." Maybe we can use this thread to come up with other suggestions. Those of you who have been here awhile, what have you found helpful. Conversely, what mistakes have you made that others might learn from?

One of my mistakes was to assume that highly educated people would likely be atheists (or at least agnostics). This has been my experience in other regions of the country, however, I've learned that assuming it here can create awkward situations. Now I simply assume that everyone is a conservative Southern Baptist, and I seem to be right most of the time.

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Some good advice there, Myles. The part about education is really interesting and one I've encountered many times. It seems that education itself is frequently degraded around here, largely because of its association with secularism. In addition to basing most of their opinions on what they see on Fox "News," many Christians here seem to be highly suspicious of any sort of learning that does not have their church's stamp of approval. They don't understand that the education received at the local Baptist college is inferior to that offered at the state universities.
I agree. Because Mississippi does have a few highly educated people in it. A very few. But it seems that though they are educated, they are just short of the ... bravery? Intelligence? Chutzpah? Balls? Skepticism? Whatever? it takes to go one step further and truly EXAMINE everything in the world, which is what an education is meant for you to do, or am I completely missing something here???
ROFL!!! You are so right. I'm from Hattiesburg. I lived on the coast during high school and I had a discussion with my class at Pascagoula High. I basically told them I was an atheist and that it might not be a good idea for THEM to assume everyone is just like them. Let me tell you that did not make me very popular.
Thanks, Vjack for starting this group.

I do have some tips.

1. Decide right away whether you feel like being ostracized or not. If you don't care, go ahead and tell everyone you meet that you're an atheist.

2. Decide whether or not standing up for your non-religious life is worth lying about to keep the peace. If you don't mind lying, tell people you're a Unitarian when they ask which church you go to.

3. Prepare in advance a handy list of excuses to leave when someone tries to talk to you about Jesus. "Oh, I'd love to talk to you but right now I need to go to the restroom."

4. Be prepared if you tell people that you're an atheist that you will need to immediately follow that with "And I'm not a Satanist." Like someone else said, Atheism=Satanism. They won't believe you, but at least you will have said it.

5. Don't try to make friends right away. Mississippi is not the place for atheists who want close friends. Just don't expect it. In some rare cases, you will find an open mind. But try to be patient and let them come to you. Do not think that because someone is openly friendly that they will not burn your house down for being a satanist devil worshipper. At the very least, expect an invitation to bible study, to be put on a prayer list, or to be actively prayed over intervention style.

6. Mississippi Christians are ACTIVE in their faith. Expect for those who know about your non-belief to never, ever leave you alone about it. They won't. They won't be able to live with themselves if they don't try to bring you to Jesus. No matter how many times you explain, they will not understand.

Ok that's all I can think of. Although much of this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, all these things have actually happened to me or my friends in Mississippi. ~Born in Hattiesburg, Texas resident.



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