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May 1, 2014

Dear Abby: Couples find common ground on different spiritual paths

Dear Abby: I’m writing to support “Feeling Coerced in San Diego” (Feb. 14), who is uncomfortable attending church with her husband. I understand her feelings because I, too, am an atheist in a relationship with a religious man.

There is another option besides abstaining from church or attending only on major holidays, and that would be for “Coerced” and her husband to try a different church. One religion that embraces atheist church members is Unitarian Universalism.

UU congregations are often made up of people from different backgrounds — Christian, Jewish, atheist and more. The focus of the sermons is on living a good life, treating other people and our planet with respect, and following one’s own path to spiritual enlightenment. It’s likely that “Coerced” and her husband could both feel at home in such a congregation.

Chelsea In Wichita

Dear Chelsea: Thank you for your suggestion — it’s one that was echoed by many other readers. I have mentioned the Unitarian Universalist denomination and its website (uua.org) before in my column. Readers’ comments were enlightening:

Dear Abby: I, too, am in a “mixed marriage.” I’m religious and my husband is an atheist. We agree to disagree on the matter. Religion (or lack of it) is a very personal thing, and however we feel, we owe each other respect for our different views.

“Coerced” is great for trying to accommodate her husband, but now that they see it didn’t work, he should stop pressuring her. She can refrain from going to services, but should consider attending the church’s social events. This solution worked well for us. My husband and my church friends get along well.

Of course, this depends on the nature of the church. Mine happens to be one of the more progressive. It’s worth a try.

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