Yesterday, something wonderful happened: I learned that one of my best friends from college has become a skepchick. My friend– we’ll call her Emma– is intelligent (Dartmouth and Harvard student), beautiful (slender with long black hair), incredibly thoughtful (she brought me a cool birthday gift), and a ton of fun (we ate at a neat restaurant, signed up for bellydance lessons, and went to a trivia night at a local pub). Until this past year, she was also a devout Catholic. Her mother’s family is Catholic, and Emma used to go to mass once or twice a week. She used to talk about waiting for sex until marriage and then having many children because she, as a Catholic, didn’t believe in birth control.
Because Emma was my friend, I never gave her a hard time about her beliefs. I respected them, and she in turn respected my atheism. While I never challenged her own beliefs, I was very clear about mine. I would say things such as, “Ten children? No way. I only want one or two myself.” Or: “I just can’t believe in a supernatural being.” Mostly, I made offhand comments that were not overly aggressive.
At dinner last night, Emma and I caught up on what had been happening the last few months. Emma recently became engaged, and I asked if she and her fiance were planning on a Catholic wedding. I was delighted when Emma replied, “Well, I’m not actually Catholic anymore. My mom is having a difficult time with it, but she’s trying to understand. I am not sure if I still believe in God or not, but in practice I’m basically a Humanist.”
This prompted a long conversation about the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, where Emma currently studies.
Eventually, I asked, “So, what about John [Emma’s fiance]? Does he want a Christian ceremony?”
Emma smiled and informed me, “Actually, John just came out as an atheist to his family. He also had a difficult time, but they’ve pretty much accepted it. I don’t think we’ll have a religious wedding.”
After Emma said this, I was so happy I leapt across the table, narrowly missing our dinners, and hugged her. One of my best friends, already wonderful in so many ways, is also now a skepchick. I couldn’t be happier for her. Hurray! Another skepchick!