It's true: me, the guy who bashes religion in every third post, has a bible-beating best friend. His name is Mike and he's like my brother. He is indeed my best (male) friend.
Mike loves religion and god. He carries a bible around with him and reads it whenever there's a lull in the action. If he has to wait ten minutes for a bus, he pulls his bible out. That's Mike. He also goes to a bible class once a week and I can tell it means the world to him.
So how can a militant atheist like me have this guy for a best friend? I don't know. It just happened. Mike is also the kindest guy imaginable, and that's a big part of our relationship. He listens to others and tries to learn from what they say. His impulses are all good ones. There isn't an evil bone in Mike's body.
See, that's what I go by when making friends: is this a good person? Or is he (or she) a walking weapon? If you're in the first camp, you'll find it very easy to become my friend. In fact, I have the kindest group of friends in the world. Every one of them would help anyone in need. That's what I base friendship on. I collect kind people.
There's more, of course. He's a bit younger than me and I do look on him as a younger brother. I try to help him through any crises in his life, try to be there when he needs someone to talk to. It's friendship, and that has nothing to do with religion. And in turn, I know he values my friendship. We are indeed best friends.
He gets something out of his religion, and I'm fine with that. When he visits, he knows not to bring jesus up with me. But with anyone else, he's spouting god stuff all the time. I know because people often tell me this. They say he can't shut up about jesus. But he doesn't do it with me. We suspend all that when we're together because we're friends, and that's the important thing.
Do I try to talk him out of believing in god? Sure. If he breaks the unspoken rules and brings god up with me, I try (in the kindest way I can) to tell him why what he's saying is nonsense. It never turns into an argument because it can't. Why? Because we're the closest friends imaginable. It's merely a difference between us, and we're okay with it.
Mike would not be upset if someone called him a jesus freak. He might even be a bit proud; I'm not sure. But I don't think of him that way. He's just my best friend. And that's that.