Should Religion Be a Deal-Breaker?

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Not long ago, I went out with a very cool guy who was a fellow writer. We had a fun, engaging conversation and at one point, he mentioned a relationship he'd had with a woman who wasn't much of a reader.

I said I could never date someone who wasn't into books, explaining my preference this way: "Reading helps us to understand the deep mysteries of life. Considering there is no God, I don't know how else we're supposed to guide ourselves in the ongoing task of trying to create meaning in our lives except through reading."

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(Before I go any farther, I'd like you to note that my father has read about 7 books in his entire life, and I have at least one close friend who hasn't read anything longer than a magazine article in about a decade. But I can't imagine myself with a partner who doesn't read.)

There was a long pause while I wiped the spittle off my mouth and smoothed back my wild hair. The dude was staring at me, a look of bemusement on his face. When he finally spoke, he said "What do you mean, 'There's no God'?"

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At that point, I was the one who was perplexed. I have never met a New York City writer who actually believes in God, so I just assumed my date didn't, either. Boy, was I wrong. He vehemently defended his viewpoint, talking about the elegant design of the universe and what he called every human's "libidinal urge to worship," while quoting Saint Thomas Aquinas. I talked about matter and anti-matter, human 's socialized compulsion to worship and referred to Nietzsche. It was an interesting discussion.

We continued to hang out for about an hour after that, before I had to take off to meet some friends. We hugged good-bye, and he said, "I really enjoyed talking with you." I responded, "I enjoyed talking to you, too--the whole God thing aside." He laughed.

I really like this guy and hope we can become friends. But I didn't feel the elusive bit of


with him, for whatever reason. The question is: Had I felt a spark, would "The God Thing" have killed it for me?

Admittedly, as far as I know, I have never dated anyone who believes in God. (Yes, I hang out with a bunch of ethical heathens.) And I don't think I could ever date someone who is religious--despite the fact that everyone else in my family takes Catholicism seriously.

Now, since most of the country--and the world--is religious, I fear your wrath on this one. But nonetheless, I ask you: Do you think that I have every right, as an atheist, to be interested only in my fellow atheists? Or do you think that's close-mindedness on my part? Am I engaging in religious discrimination, by thinking this way? Perhaps more importantly, might I be missing out on an opportunity to date a lovely God-fearing person?

I hope you guys are out there enjoying Memorial Day. I myself am very grateful to all the men and women, past and present, who have helped and are helping to keep us safe and sound. Or, in my case, unsound.