I agree with Sara.
Also you may find that, as with most things in life, people have their own "vocabulary" and context is everything.
I am also a ba'alas teshuva, meaning I am Jewish by birth and grew up in Reform Judaism, and am now a Torah-observant Jew ("frum" in Jew-speak
So while I have no experience with conversion, per se, I do get frequent questions about why I would consider doing something that would make my life more "difficult" or "anti feminist" or living an "archaic" lifestyle
Many times in the context of the Jewish community, when someone refers to a person being "religious" they are speaking specifically of where the person is holding on the spectrum of mitzva observance. It is not necessarily about how "spiritual" their life is. Are they shomer shabbos? Are they shomer kashrus? Are they keeping the laws of family purity (taharas hamishpacha)? Then they are "religious."
Not really an accurate term, per se. It would be much more accurate to say the person was mitzva observant in the following way: shomer shabbos, etc. But that is the lexicon. There is actually a book called "Frumspeak" which is a funny look at the vocab of the Orthodox Jewish communities.
Unfortunately when the term "religious" is used that way, it addresses NOT AT ALL where a person is holding on the spectrum of trying to achieve "dvaykus" with Hashem. well, maybe that's not true. Keeping mitzvos is a way of approaching Hashem -- that's why He gave them to us in the Torah. But on the other hand, there are lots of people on a journey to mitzva observance, and small steps are important (I became a veggie before I kept kosher, because I didn't know how to keep kosher...did that make me less religious? It made me not yet shomer kashrus really, but I felt that at that time, I was becoming closer to Hashem).
Did that make any sense at all? If not, sorry.
In any event, it's probably easier to understand those kinds of comments/questions when you get the context of the vocab. It also feels a lot less insulting
, at least that was the case for me.