Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What?! You got no religion?

Census taker came by this noon and I had to spend some ten minutes providing her the number of people in our household, birthdate, educational attainment, ethnicity, and religion. When she got to that latter item, I said I had no religion. With a quizzical look, she inquired, "What do you mean no religion?" Without hesitation I told her, "I'm an atheist." And she turned to her clipboard and started writing on the form. My eyesight is so bad I wasn't able to catch what she scribbled.

I gather that this particular individual (late 20s early 30s) has not come across a person who's answered "no religion" to her question. It's strange really that she wasn't prepared for such a reply. I'd like to think that the census office give their people enough training to expect the various possible answers before sending them off to collect data.

Today's experience shows me that there are some (as to the percentage I would say it's not insignificant) who still need consciousness raising. There are those who are still in that stage of innocence, assuming that everyone has a religion, in the same way that everyone has a birthdate and biological parents (even those who were conceived via IVF). Just as I had a rude awakening years ago that not every human on this planet celebrates Christmas and therefore not everyone would welcome or even understand being greeted "Merry Christmas", there are those who need to wake up to the reality that there are not a few who've never had a religion or been part of organized religion, or who were part of some tradition but have moved on and unfettered themselves from such belief systems.

Well, if anything, at least I may have nudged (I should hope jolted) this person out of her naivete.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I just filled out the census form and indicated No Religion on it.

Put it this way, here in the northeastern U.S. the overall rate for number of atheists is about 20% or 1 in 5.

Did have a census worker ring my bell about my upstairs neighbor though. Gave him as much info as I knew about them.