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by Abigail Van Buren

Religion Is Biggest Bump in Couple's Road to the Altar

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years. The one issue we argue about is religion. I am a Catholic and he's from another Christian denomination. I respect all religions and am open-minded.

However, after going to his church three times, I didn't like it at all. They have many strict rules which, if not obeyed, will result in a person being shunned. What kind of church does that? They compare Catholics to themselves and say everything Catholics do is wrong according to the Bible. I have never felt so unwelcome in my life.

My boyfriend's parents want me to convert, but I don't want to. Because of this, his relationship with his parents is being affected. He plans to quit his church and become an atheist. I don't know how to feel about this. It would be hard to convince him to join my church. We have had many fights over this, and I wonder if we should just break up. That way we wouldn't have to discuss who is converting or where we are going to marry. Please give me some advice. -- STRESSED IN THE ISLANDS

DEAR STRESSED: Considering the stance your boyfriend's family's religion has on marrying out of the faith, I'm surprised your relationship has made it this far. Fighting benefits neither of you. Talking about this calmly and rationally might bring you closer.

If he quits his church, his family and friends will make every effort to isolate and punish him. He may have to completely rebuild his social relationships. If he has any sort of religious inclination, rather than him overreacting by "becoming an (instant) atheist," the two of you might like to explore finding a denomination together that fills your needs. But be prepared for pushback because his parents (and possibly yours) are not going to like it.

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