When form filling, how do atheists answer the question "what is your religion?" ?


When atheists are form filling, how do they answer the question "what is your religion?"? For most of my life I have written “No religion” or “Atheist”. But when I was a 17-year old schoolboy in the 1950s applying to get into St Peter’s College at Oxford University I encountered this question and I answered carefully by writing “C of E”. All the undergraduate colleges were nominally Christian with heads called Masters.

My response proved to be a useful device because everyone in England knows that C of E stands for the established Church of England---yet it was not what it meant to me.

For me it stood for Critic of the Establishment.

Phew. I can only add that by good fortune at the interviews I was never asked questions about religion. I had been so sheltered from religious practice that, as I recall, I was 15 before I saw the inside of a church, and only then because out of curiosity one day I went inside one just to see what the interior looked like. 

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"Orthodox," eh?  Not a Conservative Heathen or maybe a Reformed Heathen??? [chuckle!]  Wouldn't you just love to see a radio button on a form for ANY of those choices!

"None" unless Atheist is an option.


If there were some secularist organizations in my community that stand to get funds if I answer 'secular humanist', then I'd answer that.  But that's not my religion, it's my ethical / philosophical value system.

Like most here, I'd answer "None". That is generally because there is a list given to choose from and Atheist is not on that list..I guess because it is not a religion. If there is the ability to write in an answer, I generally say "None" or "Not Applicable"..I have also used the ever-popular "Nunya"..as in "Nunya Business".

Its a problem because I hate writing "Atheist" because atheism is not a religion, but in certain cases I want to make my position clear. Some write none just because they do not belong to a certain church but they are believers. When I am admitted to a hospital I want it to be known that me writing "none" doesn't mean that I'll accept any religious man to pray by my bed side.. So I have started writing "none, non believer" I feel that makes it clear without implying atheism is a religion. 

Thoughtful response.  Atheism is not a religion, so "none" is an honest and accurate answer to the question "what is your religion".

None or skip it all together

Order of preference if choices given: atheist, agnostic, freethinker, none, no preference. My favourite non answer is Jedi.

I will often leave it blank or put "none" in.

I did have a hospital that seemed to always change that to "Christian". That's even after my doctor had to tell the chaplains that coming into my room and preaching at me was having a detrimental effect on my health. On a subsequent admission, I put "Atheist" down in front of a witness who I brought with me, and told them if it gets changed back and preachers show up in my room, there was going to be a lawsuit - I was not going to the hospital for the opportunity for preachers to have a captive audience.

I have to wonder if that's part of how these various christian organizations get high numbers for people in the US who are "Christian" - just change the atheists, agnostics, deists, pagans, and "I don't cares" to Christians, and suddenly there's a vast majority.... (sigh).

Thank you for telling us this story Beth. 

I am appalled if not surprised at your experience, Beth.  It may not be especially polite, but sometimes letting the hospital know you have a figurative "round in the chamber" with the safety off is what it takes to keep them from subjecting you to unwanted proselytism.  That hospital staff is complicit in such actions makes it all the worse.  And, of course, this once again reminds me of a favorite quote:

"Mr. MacClure," Kiku said softly, "as a distinguished predecessor once said, in dealing with certain types you must step on their toes until they apologize."
-- Robert A. Heinlein, The Star Beast




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