I moved to the Bible belt and had to laugh.
I laughed as I drove through the cotton fields, searching for a radio station that didn’t sing Christ praises over the airwaves. As if AM and FM frequencies are better methods for spreading the gospel than just letting that God tell us himself. It turns out self advertisement works better when the self part exists.
I laughed when I drove down a street with more churches than houses-A speckled string of multi-denominational worship. Forty-six buildings calming divine foundation, ignoring the obvious segregation. Forty-six ways to read the same damn book, to reach the same damn destination.
I laughed when I saw books of Christian propaganda on the shelves of public classrooms.
I laughed when I walked through the parking lot, seeing decals of a dead man with thorns on his brow tattooed on the backs of luxury sedans and rust-bucket pickups alike.
I laughed a little softer when they woke me up early on Sunday to play their word games in their church clothes, hoping I’d nod along to their pretentious little pamphlets. Then I watched their shiny shoes run away when I started talking back that day.
I laughed softer still when a child who used to greet me with a wave and a smile turned a cold shoulder upon learning I didn’t believe in the fairy tales she was raised to worship.
I laughed very little when the teacher told a student that snakes didn’t have legs because God was punishing them for the devil’s stunt in the garden. As if serpents committed the crime. As if God wouldn’t know that an ounce of prevention’s worth an eternity of punishment that can’t be cured-only treated by a steady diet of religious guilt tripping. “Just another dollar in the coffer, please.” They said.
I laughed most of all when a woman at a party told me humans didn’t come from monkeys because we still have monkeys today. I laughed heartily, impressed by her composure. My laughter faded when I understood she wasn’t joking.
I laughed because this little town with a temple for every one hundred citizens was a humorous parody-the perfect substance of a colossal joke. It wasn’t until I finally accepted that I was the only one who knew the punchline that I cried.