28 dates on 28 different dating sites. What could go wrong?

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28 Dates Later by Willard Foxton: Part Seventeen, the Devout Christian and the Sex-Devils

In which Willard gets saved.

He does, doesn't he? Photograph: Getty Images

Now, back when I was starting the blog, I was sent a huge amount of very strange dating sites by friends. Some of the most alarming ones came from from devoutly religious chums. They all thought it would be hilarious to hear an atheist's reaction to things like this -

...and came with stories about how their crazy cousin Edward had found his wife through them, and now the happy couple lived in a cult compound in the mountains of Nigeria. So, obviously, this was a rich mine of strangeness, and could prove hilarious to my readers, but I had kind of resolved not to do a religious one.

Why? Well, apart from the fact I can't really afford a plane ticket to Abujah, I'm an atheist, and in my opinion, the sort of person who was using a site like muslim&single (Tagline: "Find Allah's match for you") or christianmingle (tagline: "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalms 37:4") was probably on there specifically because they wanted to avoid dating someone like me.

Then again, at the same time, that sort of Thirty Years War attitude of "You are of one belief, I am of another, therefore we must be separate" (and fight with pikestaffs) never really sat right with me. Could I date with a religious person? My track record seemed to indicate "probably".

The last two serious relationships I had were with devout catholics; I had become quite adept at finding a nice coffee shop near the churches of their choice, and sitting reading a book while they made their observance. There are a lot of things that religious people like - things like tradition, the Chronicles of Narnia and close harmony singing - that I'm also a big fan of.

I was mulling it over, when a Christian friend recommended a "really good" christian singles speed dating night. On a boat. What can I say, I'm a sucker for hanging around on boats, so, I went along. I realise this wasn't online dating in the classic sense, but hey, it's quite modern, and I had to send some emails to get the tickets and things, SO IT TOTALLY COUNTS.

So, anyway, speed dating. For those of you who aren't familiar with the process, you sit and chat with a person for three minutes, then a bell rings, and you rotate around the room. At the end of the evening, you mark people you'd like to see again, and the organisers pass out the emails/phone numbers of people who both said they were up for meeting again.

That's the normal chain of events. This one however, started with a sermon from a Minister from "Kingdom of God International", which seemed to have more than a touch of the televangelist about it. The man had that sort of silver helmet of hair normally found only on Republican senators in the USA, and the sermon was very, ummm, enthusiastic. It was odd hearing a sermon like this delivered in a broad cockney accent. There was also a Powerpoint about "Dating for Jesus".

I felt I was not only going to be saved, but that I might get be offered a teasmaid at a bargain price, too. At the end of the pitch, they handed out a flyer for his next dating event. It all seems pretty normal, until you get down to point five.

Yup, had I been "visited in the night by sex devils?!" The answer, of course, was not nearly enough.

Anyway, the speed dating proceeded relatively normally, and most of the ladies I met seemed lovely. There was no demonic attack, that I could see. At the end of the evening, I walked away with a couple of phone numbers, and later arranged to meet the girl I liked the most for a couple of drinks. We met at a pub near her work. She's an accountant for a very big firm, seemed perfectly normal - smart, funny, interesting.

So, anyway, we go to a bar near her work in Farringdon, and sit there in modern, urban London. After about five minutes, I broached the sex demons point, hoping she would say "Yeah, that IS odd! Crazy Yanks, eh?" and we'd carry on chatting about 21st century stuff.

Oh no. She went on to tell me about how she had personally witnessed a child she was babysitting be possessed by the Devil himself while she was a teenager. I asked her how she could be sure it was actually the Prince of Lies himself, rather than some minor cacodemon, and she replied "If you had heard the sounds he made, you would know".

It was so bizarre, I asked her if it was an elaborate joke. But no, deadly serious. By the third drink, she was telling me about how 9/11 was an inside job and about her recent suicide attempt. She was very keen on "Missionary dating" - converting a non-believer to date, which was part of the reason she was dating me. There had, to be fair, been a slide about it in the Cockney preacher's Powerpoint.

Needless to say, I walked away a little shell shocked. I mean, I'd known she was religious, but I'd thought she was more "Fun" than "Fundamentalist". Indeed, she was, it must be said, quite heavy on the "mentalist". It wasn't the date I'd been expecting, and I think most of my religious friends would have been as incredulous as I was. I made a call to my Christian friend, explaining that what he'd delivered me to. He responded that he'd had no idea about the sex-devils thing, and he'd been recommended the speed dating event by several people.

I assume there were plenty of less, errm, "devout" folk at the event, and I know she's not representative of religious people in general - she's much more representative of my own supernatural ability to be put in a room with any number of women, and unerringly home in on the strangest one. Sometimes that's a blessing, sometimes it's a curse.

I still think I could date a religious person; just probably not someone so fundamentalist. So, anyway, needless to say, still a cold and blameless bed. Here's hoping for a visitation by the sex devils soon:)