Tomorrow the Trimbles are holding a neighbourhood party for me and my son. So what great timing! Today Vern went too far.

I knew they were aiming to recruit us. The guy who owns the place called last week and warned me they were evangelicals. Nice people, he said, and good neighbors for purely practical reasons, but they do indeed want to bring people into the fold.

So today my son was out playing basketball and as Vern does every time, he came over to talk to the boy. He told him he watches him play basketball all the time — that’s not a weird thing to say to a 15-year-old boy, no, not at all. And then he asked him to come to church with him tomorrow morning. This is two weeks after he tried to get him to come to some other church event involving teenaged boys.

This bugs the shit out of me. I really find it intrusive and offensive. They haven’t asked me to come to church yet, and it bugs me that they’re approaching my son without discussing it with me. My son is totally weirded out by Vern in particular and I don’t blame him. But  I actually don’t know how to handle it.

My son didn’t know what to say and so told Vern he would ask me about church. And so I am now going to have to phone over, on the eve of a party they’re having for us, to say no, my son will not be coming to church with them tomorrow. These people are hard core, so there will be questions. And I need advice on what to say.

I thought of this: “Canadians aren’t big church-goers. We practise our religion privately and personally, and we’re not even really comfortable discussing it. We appreciate the offer, but it’s not something either one of us are interested in.” Anyone have anything better to say? I have managed not to mention here that I am an atheist. They’d probably burn the house down.

I was saying to my son that I wish, when Minnie asked me when I first moved in here if I was Jewish, that I’d said yes. But the other night one of the Orthodox Jews who lives down the street knocked on my door, told me he saw on the invitation that I was Jewish (Jewish last name, I guess, but we’re not Jewish), and asked if I wanted to come to the synagogue with them this week. I politely declined, explaining I was not Jewish, and thanked him.

Never in 44 years living in Canada did anyone try to get me to worship with them. This is a strangely American phenomenon that I don’t really understand. Isn’t religion, or even believing or not believing, a really personal thing? It seems to me something you don’t push upon people. If I was religious and wanted to tag along or know more about their places of worship, I would have asked.

It also burns my ass that you cannot be considered a person of ethics and integrity and responsibility unless you believe. I know extremely kind, ethical and charitable atheists (there’s lots of us in Canada), and I know some nasty, hateful, sleazy believers.

But that’s a whole other rant.