I'm a mathematics major (pure) wrapping up my last semester, and my GF and I just moved to very rural Missouri, on a farm, with Amanda's grandma. (For reference, my first AN blog post suggests that grandma is a non-believer - but she is. It's my GF who's not.) So I'm going to use Atheist Nexus as my journo-blog and ventspace, and tell everyone my story, as it happens.
For background, I grew up in a pit-stop town in the mountains of northern Colorado surrounded by ranches almost as far as the eye could see - right up to the edge of the wilderness that surrounds North Park. Instead of North-VS-South, there we had East-VS-West, and it's the kind of homogenous white that blinds, and I'm not talking about the winters, which are brutal. None of the old rancor or old blood-feuds of the Mason-Dixon line. Just new rancor and new blood-feuds for dry, sad cattle plantations populated by a weirdly diverse bunch of old bigots. Barely a century old, and already the Colorado cattleman is a dying breed; how quickly he learned his trade from New Mexicans, and already he's losing the taste for cow shit. Tsk.
Consequently, I'm no stranger to bigots and country posers - goat-ropers, as't'were. But. Maybe it's the landscape that makes people feel small and puts all but the biggest egos in context, for some reason the religious nuts just don't taste the same in the Rockies.
For the last 12 years or so, I've been living in New Mexico - first Taos, then for the last couple years, Albuquerque. That introduced me to a far more visible form of religious observance, as Catholicism is the state sport, near as I can tell. Like Missouri, one sees lots of religious t-shirts, signage, and churches. Unlike Missouri, a lot of these Churches are centuries old. It drives folks who live in old (by U.S. standards) places Back East nuts to point it out, too. They'll tell you a building in Boston's been there since 1760, and you can say, "Yeah, well I lived in the corner of the fort that Cortez built when he mistook Taos Pueblo for the City of Gold." (Sorry: everything east of the Rockies is Back East, to a Westerner. We call Denver "Omaha with a view of the mountains" where I grew up.)
So maybe that's why I haven't been too nervous remaining out-of-the-closet as an atheist here in the middle of the Missouri woods, stomping around with the ghost of Tom Sawyer, who incidentally, has found physical manifestation in my GF's cousin. So far, so good. I mean it. So far, it's been fine. The only freak-outs have been mine own, and I'm adjusting to farm-life, as well. No fire and brimstone in sight.
I'll keep you updated, though, as events unfold.
Yep. Culture shock can and will happen, within the US. (I had more of it moving to Georgia from Texas than I did coming to Japan. LOL)