Monday, July 25, 2011

West Virginia: Not Just for Hillbillies Anymore

I drove home from my retreat yesterday and reached the West Virginia state line shortly after noon.  Since this was the first time I'd passed the brand new Welcome Center/Rest Area with a need to use the facilities since it opened earlier in the year, I took the exit and parked as close to a (very small) tree in the hopes that maybe I'd get a square inch or so of shade over the car and it wouldn't be six billion degrees in there when I finished my business inside.

I pulled open the door to the building, and what is the first thing I see?

Keep in mind that this is WEST VIRGINIA.  A state with a reputation for citizens whose educational level is somewhere between house plant and second grade, where persons from more economically-advantaged areas think no one wears shoes, everyone walks around with a chaw in their cheek, and outhouses and cars on cinder blocks are common sights.  Coal is King here, at least in the southern part of the state - in my neck of the woods it's natural gas (and Marcellus Shale gas at that, if we can ever get the dang permits to do the fracking so the gas will come out of the ground).

WEST VIRGINIA, where you are either a Mountaineer fan or you prefer the Thundering Herd (rarely neither, and never both).

When I walked through the door into the building at the Welcome Center/Rest Area, the first thing I saw was

Two women.  One in full black burqa, the other in jeans and tennis shoes, but wearing an abaya and hijab.

Just FYI, in the 2000 Census the population of this state was estimated at about 2 million people.  Of the 46% of people who listed a religious preference on the census forms, only a little over 1,500 self-identified as Muslim.  West Virginia has 100 times the number of Methodists as Muslims, and over 95 times the number of Catholics. 

I'd be interested to know what you, dear reader, thought I was going to tell you that I saw.

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