Heathen teens, like seventeen-year-old Portia Johnson of Nashville, Tennessee, are increasingly struggling to find appropriate expressions of shock and dismay since the standard go-tos, like “Oh my God!” and even “Holy shit!” just don't align with their beliefs – or lack thereof.
Portia, who was raised in the Christian AME church, explained, “Me, I always used to say, 'Holy Jesus!' But that doesn't work for me anymore. I'm no longer a Christian, and I don't believe anyone or anything is holy.”
Portia added, “Not to mention, I was never comfortable with taking the Lord's name in vain. And even though I'm no longer a believer, I still don't think that's cool. It's just not classy.”
Another non-believing teen, sixteen-year-old Clayshaun Roberts of Birmingham, Alabama, also wrestles with the “holy” part of many commonly used expressions of shock and dismay.
“I have no problem with profanity," stated Clayshaun, an ardent atheist, "but even 'holy moley' is too much for me." Clayshaun noted that he occasionally exclaims, “Holey Swiss!” - as in cheese – but people don't seem to get it.
“It just doesn't get the point across in the way I'd like,” he said, shaking his head ruefully.
And eighteen-year-old skeptic Sharrisse Washington of Charlotte, North Carolina, said that many of the expressions that served her very well growing up in the Mennonite Church, like “Dear Lord!” and “Good God!” - and even “What the hell?” are now, to her, uncomfortably theistic in their implications.
"I still think them sometimes," Sharisse confessed. "But I don't say them."
Sharrise says that she, like a number of others in her heathen circles, has reluctantly settled on “What the fuck?” as her expression of choice for conveying vehement shock and dismay.
“It's not perfect,” she acknowledged. “But it works in a pinch.”