Jen Fulwiler: The Atheist in the Bible Belt

“God has got a great sense of humor.” It’s a popular saying when something ironic or poetic happens in someone’s life. While it’s often said tongue-in-cheek, it is also a form of acknowledgment. It’s an admission that we as humans do not have control over everything in our lives. It’s a subtle submission of one’s will to the circumstantial hilarity that God may have temporarily set before us as a reminder.

For example, Catholic comedian Jen Fulwiler was a guest on The Cale Clarke Show this past week and she happens to be an only child who was born into an atheist family and lived most of her young life in the Bible Belt. God does have a great sense of humor.

The atheistic perspective was not a popular one in the region for obvious reasons and the clash over religious stances led to a conflict-filled social life for young Jen. These negative experiences with Christian acquaintances tainted her perspective of Christianity as a whole, and by the time she got to college she considered herself a “militant atheist.”

There was, Jen admitted unsurprisingly, a long journey from that identity as a staunch atheist to a devout Roman Catholic, but she brought up one event that she believes sparked her journey to Christianity: the birth of her first child. Both Jen and her husband were only children, had never anticipated having kids, and were perfectly content to maintain their individualistic worldviews. Jen said she had been involved in secular feminism for a while and had just assumed she would live a childless life. But the birth of her child had an incredible effect on her.

“I said, ‘You know, the love that I feel for this child, it seems to have a source outside of the atheist, materialist worldview. I don’t think I believe that the love that I feel for this child is purely a chemical reaction in the human brain.'” She began to question the idea that if you can’t prove it in a laboratory, then it can’t be true. Because how do you prove love? Maybe there are truths out there that don’t rely on the scientific method.

After this eye-opening experience, Jen started a blog to find people that she could discuss this with. She didn’t have a specific idea of what she was hoping to hear, only that she wanted answers to questions that were starting to occupy her mind. She had realized how alone that atheistic path had left her and although she had her growing family, she was left wanting. Soon after this discovery, Relevant Radio came to her hometown of Austin on 970 AM. Not Catholic and not even sure if she would become Catholic, Jen began putting her baby in the backseat for his nap and driving around the city for a couple of hours while listening to Relevant Radio, a “pivotal part” of her conversion.

Cale then asked her what types of reactions she got when she told people that she was becoming Catholic and she mentioned the incredulity and shock she would get from her friends. She joked at people’s responses, “They say, ‘Why would you leave the freedom of atheism for the Roman Catholic Church?’ And that’s just the Catholics.” But she also mentioned the way her father reacted, saying that he never intended to lock her into atheism and prohibit her from exploring other ideas. He had always raised her to seek the truth and upon hearing that she had found the truth in the Catholic Faith, he said that he didn’t understand it, but he supported it. Her father was present when both Jen and her husband Joe were baptized at Easter Vigil.

In eight years, Jen had six kids, believing that God was not calling her to do comedy, at least not yet. So she wrote for the National Catholic Register, blogged, and wrote a book with Ignatius Press, Something other than God, published in 2016. She also has two other books now, One Beautiful Dream (2018) and Your Blue Flame (2020). As her kids got older, Jen moved into Catholic Radio, but after a while, she once again felt the call to do stand-up comedy. So, against all logic, she quit her stable job — during the pandemic — to share her story and her life experiences through comedy.

“But my husband and I both really prayed about it. And oddly enough, we felt God telling us now is the time even though it makes zero sense on paper.” This event marked the epitome of Jen’s submission to God’s Divine Providence. It may seem crazy, but if this is God’s will, let it be done. And just recently, Jen was signed by United Talent, a top Hollywood agency that represents other comedians like Sebastian Maniscalco, Nate Bargatze, and Jeff Foxworthy.

Check out Jen’s Tour Info: https://jenniferfulwiler.com/tour/

And listen to the full interview at the link below:

https://relevantradio.com/2021/08/catholicism-and-comedy-w-jen-fulwiler/

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT

jen fulwiler
John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.