DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to support "Feeling Coerced in San Diego," who is uncomfortable attending church with her husband. I understand her feelings because I, too, am an atheist in a relationship with a religious man.
There is another option besides abstaining from church or attending only on major holidays, and that would be for "Coerced" and her husband to try a different church. One religion that embraces atheist church members is Unitarian Universalism.
UU congregations are often made up of people from different backgrounds. The focus of the sermons is on living a good life, treating other people and our planet with respect, and following one's own path to spiritual enlightenment. It's likely that "Coerced" and her husband could both feel at home in such a congregation.
- Chelsea in Wichita
DEAR CHELSEA: Thank you for your suggestion - it's one that was echoed by many other readers :
DEAR ABBY: I, too, am in a "mixed marriage." I'm religious and my husband is an atheist. "Coerced" is great for trying to accommodate her husband, but now that they see it didn't work, he should stop pressuring her.
She can refrain from going to services, but should consider attending the church's social events. Of course, this depends on the nature of the church. It's worth a try.
- Kathryn in Ottawa, Canada
DEAR ABBY: Maybe in the future "Coerced" could attend an event, like a church spaghetti dinner, something outside of services, and get to know the people her husband spends time with on Sunday. And he could spend a weekend doing a silent hiking retreat with his wife and her friends.
Respecting each other's spiritual path is a first step toward appreciating each other's differences and growing together.
- Blessed in Oregon