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How to be a Southern Mama – and not be Religious

I was born and raised in Florida. I grew up in a very religious (Christian faith-based) home. My family and I went to our place of worship three times a week, had family Bible study, and went out in the ministry weekly. It was a wonderful way to grow up. I learned so much about humanity and love and valuing relationships.

And while my life was lovely, I grew up very sheltered and in a very regimented, structured home. When you are a teenage girl this can be a good thing. However, there was a lot about life that I didn’t experience. Extracurricular activities, dances, class trips, dating – those things didn’t happen.

I never thought I would stray from that life. However, decades passed and as I approached 30 years old, I decided that I needed less structure, less judgement, and wanted to follow another kind of lifestyle that didn’t include any kind of religious activity.

Interestingly, I found my life to be enriched with a view that expanded beyond the horizons of the faith that I had followed in my younger years. I embraced people as individuals, not just as the faith they were. Sundays were spent waking up slowly and going to a brunch that included pitchers of mimosas. I also began practicing Yoga.

It was freeing.  

Then I had my daughter and we moved smack dab into the middle of Bible belt — South Carolina. The fact that every person I met when we arrived here started out with the question “So, where are you going to church?” made me lower my head in shame. My choice to embrace a different kind of spirituality clearly was not followed here. I told my husband, “What if we never find friends here?” Well, we didn’t … for almost two years. And then, lo and behold, we found fellow followers of the Church of Unconventionalism.  

How to be a Southern Mama - and not be Religious | Columbia SC Moms Blog

If you ever try to plan ANYTHING between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on a Sunday in this state, just expect that half of your invitees will decline attending. Church trumps all things social outside the fellowship hall.

I have yet to find a way to state, in a passing conversation, that I am not religious. I believe in God and love all different kinds of faiths and beliefs. But I don’t worship in a manner that would automatically classify me as “religious.”

I get a panic attack thinking of having to attend any kind of organized religious event. But on the flip side, I will donate to a good cause any time, anywhere. I want to support GOODNESS, not just a church made with brick and mortar.  

Some people who are reading this piece may be questioning how on earth I could be raising my children here in “God’s Country.” And the answer is that we are raising them the best way we know how.

We celebrate holidays with our own family traditions, rather than those dictated by religion. Our daycare mama is one of the few people I allow to educate my children about anything having to do with God, Jesus, and the like. She is a God-fearing woman who is actively involved in her church and is a person I believe wholeheartedly is conducting her ministry through raising other families’ little people. I appreciate that they get another perspective and view on the world through her eyes.  

I can guarantee that you won’t ever catch the Starbuck family at church on Sunday, but we love one another and we love brunch with a side of bacon. And bless our hearts, that is okay with us.     

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4 Responses to How to be a Southern Mama – and not be Religious

  1. Ana May 31, 2017 at 6:50 am #

    You are my spirit animal! Coming from upstate NY where religion did not play a role in my family growing up I relate to this so much. The question of “where are you attending church” confused me and made me feel like an outsider.

  2. Jenn weiler May 31, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    I completely understand where you are coming from!! My daughter is getting baptized this weekend and it’s been interesting getting to this point. It has kind of made me feel like I’ve been doing something wrong because I don’t attend church every Sunday though I did growing up. I too am living in northeast Columbia (originally from jersey) off killian exit. I have two girls. Oldest is almost 3 and youngest is 2 months. I would love to make a new friend!! 🙂

    • Brandi Starbuck June 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

      I would love that, Jenn!

  3. Kimberly June 14, 2017 at 12:51 am #

    You could be my twin right down to panicked thought of going in a church. I simply tell anyone who ask that we practice an unorganized religion and chose to worship and commune with God in our own way. Thank you for article it is always nice and refreshing to see you aren’t alone.

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