Atheists in Love

A couple of months ago, I was at brunch after the radio show. PZ and Mary Myers were in town on one of their many airport trips and joined us for the meal. Mary and I were having a fun chat about, among other things, her first few dates with PZ. (I’d be more specific, because there’s a great story there, but it isn’t mine to tell.)

Then someone new joined us and wanted Mary’s attention. I turned back to the conversation between PZ and the very earnest young man sitting across from me. He had come to atheism relatively recently and with great relief, and he wanted to give something back. He was shy, though, and diffident, and didn’t know what he could do to help. He asked PZ.

Now, I’m not a big talker. It takes some wind up for me to get to the point of even opening my mouth. However, this time, I interrupted before PZ could answer.

“Be happy.”

He looked confused.

“One of the best things you can do to promote a positive view of atheism is to live a happy, healthy life as an out atheist.”

I don’t know whether PZ agreed with me, or whether he was simply shocked that I wasn’t tiptoeing around the big-name local atheist. Either way, he didn’t disagree.

Of course, how could he? He was sitting there after taking one of his adult children to the airport to go do something fun and productive for the summer. He was having a pleasant breakfast with the woman he calls his trophy wife despite having been married to her for more than two decades. He was living my advice, whether he’d ever heard it before or not.

Since that brunch, it’s been heartening (and terribly, terribly sweet) to note how much atheist love is out there. I have been privileged to watch the developing romance of two of my favorite online people, DuWayne and Juniper. Their love is relatively new, but watching it grow from hints of respect and admiration to giddiness to that beautiful, simple confidence in one another has been an experience I treasure.

Jodi and Jason are a bit further along in their romance. Owning a house together, they were already committed to one another, but Jodi decided it was time to take things another step. So she delighted thousands of atheists and skeptics and science fans by proposing to Jason in an intricate online dance. He said, “Yes,” thousands rejoiced and a bunch of people started talking about how religion and tradition, though often mentioned in the same breath, don’t have to be associated.

Then there is the beautiful and funny wedding that happened this month at The Amaz!ing Meeting in Las Vegas. Skepchick Numero Uno, Rebecca Watson married her sweetheart Sid Rodrigues onstage in a surprise wedding ceremony during a recording of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast. Not only did they have an auditorium full of their skeptical friends to share the moment with them, but the ceremony was streamed live and is still available for viewing. What few dry eyes there are in the atheist blogosphere belong to people who haven’t watched the video or read Rebecca’s post about the wedding.

Minnesota Atheists’ own Bjorn and Jeanette didn’t get married online, but they still shared it with us. I wish I’d had access to their post on their humanist wedding ceremony when I got married, but it’s available for another generation planning their own weddings. And it seems to have worked, too. Bjorn and Jeanette are coming up very soon on their first anniversary. Congratulations, you two.

Greg and Amanda have just a little bit further to go to reach their third wedding anniversary. As they’re friends of mine and I’m privy to more than they might want to share, I won’t go into much detail, but the way they talk about each other is, frankly, not much different than the way Juniper and DuWayne talk. They may be a little quieter, but they are truly a conspiracy of two, which is what a married couple should be. And you should see them when someone brings up their newest conspiracy.

I could go on, of course. There are happy atheist couples around me in all stages of their relationships, and happy singles too. One of the most important parts of the recent shift to vocal atheism is the opportunity for everyone to see that happiness. It isn’t pushed in anyone’s face, but it can’t help but show through. And how can the myth of the dour, miserable atheist stand up against this much love?

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16 Responses to “Atheists in Love”

  1. July 17th, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Mike Haubrich says:

    Hey, I am working on it! (Kind of…)

    It is a testament to the value of humanism to see all of these happy atheist couples.

  2. July 17th, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Justin Chase says:

    I got married in May and our Celebrant was Humanist Bob Keim. I found him by going to this website:

    http://www.humanist-society.org/celebrants/celebrant.html#Minnesota

    Our wedding cake had zombies crawling up to get the bride and groom, it was great.

  3. July 17th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Greg Laden says:

    Atheists are happy because we a) know we are not going to hell and b) we hang out with people who do not think we are going to hell. Usually.

  4. July 17th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Jason Thibeault says:

    The provenance of this post could not be more wonderfully timed. A troll hit my blog yesterday (though I might have invited him/her accidentally, via a blog pingback) exclaiming that atheists are incapable of love.

    I watched Rebecca and Sam’s wedding and admit to tearing up a bit. It was sweet and heart-lifting and awesome at the same time. And nary an invisible man to be found. I am so glad to see so many happy couples out there, none of their emotions impinged upon by the prevalent belief in some deity that must consecrate or permit their love.

    By the way, we’re almost ready to launch our wedding blog. If I can manage, I have every intention of taping and posting the ceremony proper. We hope to make it as unceremonious as possible, though.

    Justin: that is fantastic! I would love to see pictures of your cake. That’s the type of thing that’ll get lots of link love on the blogosphere, I assure you.

  5. July 17th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Jason Thibeault says:

    Sid. Not Sam. Brain was elsehwere.

  6. July 17th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Crystal D. says:

    Thanks for the mention. :) We’re getting ready for our secular wedding. victorandcrystal.wordpress.com

    :) Also, we get to put our party up on Meet Up. Hell yeah. We’re not doing ANYTHING traditionally, just because for us personally we don’t see a need or reason for most of it.

  7. July 17th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    DuWayne says:

    Ahh, but I also scowl a lot and am prone to the occasional use of naughty words… Sometimes I even go off on people – in public.

    But usually I am a rather nice person and more often than not, when I am in public I smile. When I’m not, I am usually thinking and that usually lends a more pensive expression – except when I think about the most brilliant and beautiful women ever, or my kids…

    Oh, and my smile in public always grows, when someone mentions that I must have Christ in my heart, to be smiling like that. Because that my friends, that is an opening that cannot be ignored.

  8. July 17th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Jodi says:

    This is a lovely post Stephanie. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think of all the happy, loving non-theists around. I’m lucky that I have some local friends who share the same ideas and world views as Jason and I but unfortunately there just aren’t enough. That’s really good advice though, about staying happy, I think that’s what pisses off the religious folk the most!

  9. July 17th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Doug Alder says:

    Well said Stephanie and Greg I think you could add we’re happy because we know there is only this one plane of existence and we are determined to make the most of our brief time here :)

  10. July 17th, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Dorid says:

    Careful. If we’re all outed, sooner or later they’re going to come up with a proposition in CA banning Atheist marriage. Then the Mormon church will back it, and the next thing you know a constitutional amendment against Atheist marriage will be a prominent part of the Republican platform in ’12.

  11. July 17th, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Nathan Myers says:

    This post made me laugh so much. Thanks, Stephanie!

  12. July 17th, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Justin, I second the request for cake pics.

    Dorid, I’m more worried about the Scientologists, honestly. Of course, if we can’t get married, I don’t think living in “sin” will worry us all that much. Ooh, and imagine all the atheists who would come out when that was threatened.

  13. July 18th, 2009 at 1:26 am

    roddg says:

    You tiptoe around PZ?! Heh!

  14. July 18th, 2009 at 2:56 am

    JDHuey says:

    … Rebecca Watson married her sweetheart Sid Rodrigues onstage in a surprise wedding ceremony during a recording of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast.

    Was this a real wedding or was it a hoax? If NASA can fake the moon landing, this would be a walk in the park. What is your evidence? We need proof!!

  15. July 19th, 2009 at 7:13 am

    Jodi says:

    Has anyone seen the asshole Zdenny over on Jason’s blog? I want to punch him. Apparently we atheists can’t possibly love our children… or anyone else.
    He also can’t spell my name right, which really pisses me off. :P

  16. July 19th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    DuWayne says:

    Well, I have jumped into an interesting* discussion of atheism and love, with my post here…

    *In a “dealing with fucking morons” sort of interesting…

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