Now I understand why I don’t have a wife (PDF):
In contrast to the high rates of acceptance of marriage to those of a different racial or ethnic group, the majority of Americans affiliated with a religion would have a difficult time with a family member’s decision to marry someone who does not believe in God. Almost seven-in-ten of those associated with a religion say they would either not accept such a marriage (27%), or be bothered by it before coming to accept it (43%). Just 27% say they would be fine with a relative’s decision to marry someone who did not believe in God.
I would think the stats get even worse for atheists when the interfaith couple plans to have (or has) children.
I haven’t been in a position where a woman’s parents have judged me negatively for being an atheist, but at some point, their acceptance of your beliefs has to take a backseat to the relationship you have with the person you love.
Author Wendy Kaminer has an article at The Atlantic about this study and the general trend of discrimination against atheists. She writes that it’s nothing new, but it’s not as bad as it once was:
I don’t mean to set up any grievance competitions between historically maligned groups, much less suggest that being an atheist in America is harder than being gay. In general, closeting your lack of faith is probably easier and a lot less stressful than closeting your sexuality. Besides, no one can accuse the “new atheists” of being closeted, or otherwise shy in expressing their disdain for religion, as well as their own disbelief; and they don’t lack bully pulpits, which were harder to find a decade ago…
I especially love how Kaminer ends the piece, explaining why religious people have a good reason not to be against us:
… It’s an often overlooked irony that atheists who regard all religions with equal disrespect, favoring no one faith over another, are sometimes the most reliable defenders of equal religious rights. But you shouldn’t have to be irreligious to consider religious liberty transcendent.
Which is really just another way of saying your parents shouldn’t be afraid of me. So let’s get hitched.