traveling in the us midwest
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03-06-2011, 01:27 AM
Question traveling in the us midwest
Hi, I'm new to the forums, although I have been a fan of TTA for quite some time.
I live in Canada and I will be heading on a road trip with my adult daughter in July. We plan to visit all the Little House on the Prairie museums and sites (kind of a bucket list trip that I promised when she was little). This will take us through a lot of small towns and rural areas in ND, SD, KS, NB, MO, IA, MN, and WI. In most stopovers we will be staying in tiny hotels or B & B's. The only actual cities we will be in are Fargo, Topeka, Springfield (MO), and the Minneapolis area.
Which brings me to my question. I have never done much traveling in the US. However, I follow many of the well known atheist bloggers and sites (Friendly Atheist, Blag Hag, Atheist Resource, FFRF, etc) and related news items, and I hear and read a lot about the "bible belt", and how difficult it is to be "out" as an atheist down there. So how bad is it? Do I dare wear my TTA "I Believe" T shirt, or my Richard Dawkins "God Delusion" T shirt, or my "scarlet A" pendant? What kind of reception will I likely get if I do? Are there specific situations or areas to watch out for? Part of me is a bit scared to cause a scene (not that I want to deliberately offend people). I am also armed with nontracts and bible warning stickers to leave in hotel rooms. Big Grin
I would appreciate hearing comments from anyone who lives or travels in this region. And PS - are there any must-see sites in these states (the Creation Museum is a bit too far off our path.... next trip!)
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03-06-2011, 01:38 AM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
There's a creation museum about 3 hours from Springlfield, forgot the exact town. It's near Branson. You're staying too far away for me to offer a guest room. As far as Missouri you'll mainly get weird looks in small towns. They generally get more aggressive in bars and at night.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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[+] 1 user Likes Lilith Pride's post
03-06-2011, 03:47 AM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
Thanks Lilith.... you are right. There is a brand new Creation Museum of the Ozarks, in Strafford MO, just outside Springfield. Now the bad news, it is only open Fridays and Saturdays - not the days we will be passing throughSadSad Rats!!!
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03-06-2011, 05:29 AM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
Aww that sucks, though I'm never stepping foot in one of those things. Well Branson itself is a big Jesus celebration area for Missouri. If you want to see more of the nutty it's a good small side trip. Though most everywhere is predominantly one thing or another. St. Louis (where I live) has very sectioned off living spaces for the different races along with of course the economic classes. Will you be passing our giant cross on the way to or from Missouri? If you want to look at religious attractions that's one of the bigger ones. I've never had an express interest in looking at religious attractions. I also suggest that you guys eat at a cracker barrel at least once while down in the Midwest. They have a neat display of vintage things along with little christian themed gift shops in the front. And you'll get a bit more of the religious atmosphere in there than you might elsewhere. Missouri is a very private state. The people's attitudes tend to be on the lines of correct anything being shown, because nothing should be talked about. The oppression here is often in the form of suppression, except that people never seem to stand up when someone is going around preaching. As long as it's christian they'll let it be.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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03-06-2011, 07:19 AM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
Lilith

I did not realize you lived in St. Louis. For some reason I thought you lived on the SW part of the state. I've spent some time in STL the last few years meeting with cucstomers (although none in in the past 9 months and I won't be back any time soon). Most of my trips were 2 days, 3 max, but I've mad a dozen or so of them. Probably not enough to get a real feel for the people but the people I did work with out there did not seem to be over-the-top religious to me. Obviously visiting on short business trips is much different than living there but I just did not think it was all that nutty. I know more than a few people born and raised in STL and they don't generally seem to be overly religious, at least no more so than what I encounter here in the northeast.

I always figured the further you got from the main city the worse it got.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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03-06-2011, 10:59 AM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
Virgina and the Carolinas are the bad ones, but rural towns are pretty bad too. I would suggest keeping your atheism to yourself, no need to ruin your vacation.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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03-06-2011, 04:48 PM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
Like I said before St. Louis is a very divided community, but being openly non religious in St. Louis will get you into a lot of preaching anywhere. St. Louis has very judgmental and rude people. sometimes you'll notice when visiting but generally you won't. It's been one of the worst areas I've been to so far in the form of people constantly judging everyone they see. Like I said previously there's a lot of hush hush in Missouri in general so often times a tourist won't realize what is being avoided. If you start running into the religious stuff it all the sudden shows up everywhere. A bunch of boiling pots steeping until someone contradicts their belief.

And I'll hang out with anyone coming to St. Louis. Just in case something comes up =p

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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03-06-2011, 06:07 PM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
I dare you to introduce your daughter not as your daughter, but as your spawn, and see what happens. Bwhahaha!

I am from Canada too, but I am taking a golden coast road trip this summer. I prefer wine over creation museums. Big Grin
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04-06-2011, 07:45 AM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
thanks everyone, my daughter was over last night and we talked about it. She travels a lot on business and she said Mom I know what Kansas is like Dodgy She's an atheist, too, and can be quite "in your face" if she wants, but in business she has learned to cover it up for the sake of sales.
I think I'll compromise.... not to ruin my vacation is probably good advice. But that little rebellious part of me from the 70's WANTS to test the waters and see what the reaction is. So I think I'll play it safe when I'm in a B & B - which is, after all, someone's home. I won't lie if they ask me though. And I'll wear the shirts when in larger urban public areas, like shopping malls and restaurants.
I should point out that we have an evangelical right wing in Canada, too, but from what I hear and read, I don't think their numbers are anywhere near as high, or the social costs of being out as an atheist as severe, as down south. Which is why I want to see for myself.

Two hands working accomplish more than a thousand clasped in prayer.
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09-08-2011, 06:52 PM
RE: traveling in the us midwest
just an update since we got back from our trip. I ended up not wearing my atheist t-shirts for most of the time, just because we were going to touristy-type places. I dressed more in brightly colored shirts without logos or writing so they will look good in photos.
Once we were done with the sight-seeing, i did wear my shirts. No one ever commented on either of them.
But in other news: I now have a better idea of what the bible belt is like. We noticed the road signs everywhere with bible verses and pro-life messages, not just in fields and private property, but even on welcome-to-our-town signs on government property. I ran into a man wearing a tshirt with a picture of jesus on the cross and the caption "don't say no one ever did anything for you". I saw a number of tshirts with logos and captions indicating church groups/church camps and the like. At a B & B one morning, the family at the next table held hands and prayed before eating. I have never seen anything like it. It's not like we don't have people like this in Canada, just not so obvious or commonplace.
The weirdest thing: we unfortunately got into a car accident in a suburb of Minneapolis on the very last leg of our trip, literally heading home to Canada. No injuries but major damage to the front end of our brand new Equinox Sad There we were by the side of the freeway in 100+F heat with nowhere to go and an undriveable vehicle. My daughter was crying while we were standing there talking to the people we hit. They were really nice about it, and the lady tried to comfort my daughter saying " well thank god no one was hurt, there must have been an angel watching over you"..... yeah, right. I was wearing my God Delusion Tshirt - didn't she see it? Sure lady, if there really was an angel we wouldn't all be here, would we???? But the tow truck driver, the state trooper, and the collision repair centre guy were all really helpful, got us a place for the night, the car looked after, and arranged a rental to get us home. All while I was still wearing that shirt Smile

Two hands working accomplish more than a thousand clasped in prayer.
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