I don't know personally, but I wouldn't go near the bible-belt with a 10 ft. pole. It's bad enough here in the Midwest.
Memphis itself isn't bad. Headquarters for FedEx, and a lot of good music. I live about a 3 hour drive north of it, even though I'm still in Illinois. Like you said, it's another large city. I occasionally go down for a weened on Beale Street. And, Beale Street on the weekend can be a pretty cool place, with a number of clubs, great BBQ, and good blues music. A few miles south is Tunica, Mississippi. It's a collection of casinos and golf courses on the Mississippi River. Needless to say, to ameliorate the tourists, the Jesus BS is kept out of there. HOWEVER, go across the Miss. River to West Memphis, Arkansas, or east away from Memphis into the country in Tennessee, or outside of Tunica, in Miss., then it's a whole different world! In some places, it's not so bad, and there really are rational people out there. Then again, there are the stereotypical Billy Joe Bob rednecks who waive the Bible in the air while screaming at gays, and don't cotton to no "coloreds" in the White House. I actually drove outside of West Memphis once and saw a sign on the side of the road selling cut trees as fuel. "Fir Wud." I'd check it our before you invest in real estate.
I would say that to not believe in God or Jesus or christian mythology is kinda like not believing in Santa Claus...you don't have to argue with children about the existence of such folklore. Asking questions quite often has a more effective result. I love my southern friends and they wait for me to bless the food. It has the advantage of earthy appreciation for the food and for each other and I still put presents under the fake spruce tree for their children. I take no real pleasure in biting the head off the chocolate easter bunny. The chrisitian drug addicts do enough violence to cover all of us.
I also live in the bible belt. South Carolina has been called the "buckle" of the bible-belt. Anywho, there are plenty of those types here, and some do give out pamphlets while screaming "Good News, Good News", but that is few and far between. Even the "normal" christians think they are lunatics. You see it here and there, but it is not rampant and they are not all in-your-face..Some are, and can be avoided pretty easily. I have no interest in debating them as they are like talking to rocks anyway. I am in the consulting field (IT) and see/hear a lot of it in the offices I visit. It is their way and I do not let it bother me..no one tries to ask me about religion..if they did, I am sure I'd smile knowingly and move along.
I work with several bible thumping people who do not know I am an atheist, it doesnt come up. They can play their music and talk their talk when they want and I just steer clear.
I would seriously doubt you'd encounter anyone trying to exorcise the demons from your soul down here..the whole "birds of a feather thing.." you would probably go to places where those people would not be seen..
I did run into some guys preaching to people leaving a Metallica concert many years ago..that was kinda funny..
My relatives live just south of Greenville (the shiny Jebus fish on the buckle) in Fountain Inn. Fortunately the ones I always visit are all Atheist. Greenville is a nice city except in the summer when it's the sweaty armpit of the universe - early spring and late fall, however, is great . I'm pretty sure Memphis is also shitty in the summer .. but they do have to die for barbeque.
I don't see how you guys posting that living in the "bibble belch" is all so hunky-dory, that you hardly ever see the zealous, that peeps are pretty cool about their fraudulent belief system, etc, etc,.....
Do any of you ever leave the house? Tennessee...Gone wacky Says Cosmic Intelligences created Universe...The fuck what 350 years of science says. SC. Completely nuts. Virginia...shoving cold slivery dildos up va-j-j's without so much as a whimper of dissent. Some fucking culture of honor there, right? It's perfectly okay to let a strange man shove tools up your wife's vagina...just don't diss Jeebus! Fucking south...I am PRAYING for armeggedon every fucking day.
I can see a more secular lifestyle in the large metros like Memphis...but you cannot convince me that the folks in the "bibble-belch" are sane plain-truthers..Fucking evangelicals would just as soon kill you as save you from what I can see. Fuck em all!!!!
Atheists need to grow some balls.
Christians are like cats...they'd kill you and eat your eyeballs if they felt they could get away with it.
Read your fucking history books, dweebs. Start with Constantine and see if it gets any fucking better from there.
The south is not all bad. I grew up in Chicago area and now I live in N. Alabama and in a smaller type town is where I spend the majority of my time. The area is a very religious area and there is no pamphlet distribution that I have seen going on. As Moose said that is something that is looked at as nuts even by most religious down here. The most I have got was the typical "your an atheist" when they find out. Some look down their nose and some just talk behind your back about it however, I have not had any confrontational issues from it. From what I run into its also the stereotypical strong faith from what the pastor says and not actually knowing what is written.
So I would say if you want to live someplace beautiful that's not as cold as the north, come on down. Things move a little slower here, along with some of the peoples minds, however it can be entertaining in its own rite to watch. There is religion around every corner around here however 99% of the people I think are actually scared to confront someone of our position. Although I'm imagining that when the plates on the Mustang read ATH3IST in a couple weeks I might get some more questions.
Yes the BB can be a place of angst for atheist but Memphis has atheist and freethought groups.
You'll notice a difference between Boston & Memphis, particularly if you are outspoken. Outspokenness, on any subject, is barely tolerated in the US Southeast. I've split my life by bouncing between the High Rockies and my ancestral Appalachian home, and have never become comfortable with what I see as a disengenuous social attitude here in the South. It still turns my stomach to see the broad smile and hear the sing-song lilting accent saying something like "Well now y'all come visit just any old time", when I know damn well that's not what they really mean. Southern culture is a bit like Japanese culture in that most meaning is below the surface, communicated by vocal inflection and head tilt, and all very much context dependant. My brief experience with Boston culture suggests that it's more similar to the French, who just flat out say what they think and expect everyone else to be adult enough to deal with it.
In this day and time you'll likely just find yourself a bit lonely rather than actively opressed, and a city the size of Memphis almost certainly has groups of freethinkers needing just a lift of the blanket to find. There are still places where the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses to great cheering crowds, but these days they don't control much of public life, and mostly just occur in the more backward places, like Harmony, NC on 5/26/2012.
I survived the South of the 1960s; had a cross burned on my lawn and was nearly killed (still am half crippled) for being slightly different in a way that was never explained (maybe they just saw someone from Colorado as inherently Godless). While far from perfect, and still pretty damn bad in places, it's generally a lot better than that now.
Unless you find a like-minded community you probably won't be able to talk religion or lack thereof in any poductive way among random people. But it's not necessary to write off those who hold fundamentalist views, unless you just prefer being lonley. I find that intelligent people -- smarter than me -- tow the religion line because that's just what you do here if you intend to be socially effective. And most of them live as though they really believe it, though it seems to me more like the local sycophantic language pretention than firm belief.
Some of my Southern friends descend from families that have been here a dozen generations or more. Half of my family has been here for about a hundred. Those deep roots in a place mean something, and it's a hard task for reason alone to uproot them, and a fair question whether it should. My Cherokee Great Grandmother talked of a certain fever as derived from rabbits, while her Christian relatives invoked demons. It's likely that neither was completely right, and probable that one was more right than the other. But how things for the person with that fever worked out was usually more dependant on social norms than physical reality. I don't like it, but that doesn't make it less true. And I don't like Southern culture, but that doesn't make it less real. Ultimately, we have to figure out some good way of living where we are.
I just myself moved to Asheville NC and there's a church every other corner. If there's a holy war I think I'm screwed. :)
I'm an hour east of you. Heck, Asheville is the sort of place I go to get some distance from the crazy. I also saw my favorite Southern bumper sticker there; it read: "It's not the heat, it's the stupidity".