DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Paul," and I have been together for five years. We want to get married, but his mother is Catholic and she doesn't approve because I am an Alaskan native, which from her perspective makes me a pagan.
Paul hasn't attended church or held any Catholic views for many years, but he won't tell his mother because he's afraid it would devastate her. She has told me we are living in sin, that our marriage could cause him to be excommunicated, and if we have children, they'll be bastards who will go to hell.
I am hurt and confused over this and don't know what to do or say about it. Every time I try to talk to her, she tries to persuade me to convert, which I don't want to do. I'd like to have a relationship with her, but I don't want to have to change who I am for her to approve of me or my future children. What advice can you give me to help me get through my situation? -- DOOMED TO HELL IN ALASKA
DEAR "DOOMED": Are you sure your boyfriend WANTS to be married? Your problem isn't his mother; it's that he can't find the backbone to tell her he plans to marry you with or without her approval.
Paul's mother's thinking is outdated. Non-Catholic Alaskan natives are not "pagan"; the majority are Christian. As for your future children being "bastards doomed to hell" -- she's repeating an ancient prejudice, and that's all it is. It is no longer the position of the Catholic Church to excommunicate people who marry out of the faith.
You asked my advice; here it is: The woman is a religious bigot. She's unlikely to ever approve of you or stop trying to convert you, and it has gone beyond the point of concern for your soul to just plain insulting. She isn't going to change, and as long as your boyfriend is afraid of "devastating" her, your situation won't change either. A marriage to him under these conditions won't be easy, so please think twice about it.