What do you list under religious preference when asked to select from a list?

 

When registering for a test at the hospital, the woman asked for my religious preference. I asked if there was "atheist" (she was selecting on a list in her computer). The woman said not and laughed like she'd never heard of such a thing. Then trying to be helpful she said, "We do have Pagan." I said that's not the same thing. I asked if she had humanist. She said, "No, but we have Wiccan" (which she mispronounced). I said, "No." She said that she could put "unknown." Just annoying. I realize that atheism isn't a religion, but there must be something better to list under religious preference. If for no other reason, I want to stop people from coming in to try to pray with me (which happened in the hospital when I had my daughter). 

Tags: atheism, hospital, preference, religion, religious

Views: 501

Replies to This Discussion

When I was in the same situation, the person who was taking my information didn't ask me my religious preference. She TOLD me I was Catholic (probably because I look and am Italian--I don't have an Italian last name) and then said, "Right?"

 

I said, "I'm no religion" and she said, "I'll put down Catholic, OK? Right?"

 

Again I said, "No. I'm no religion." Finally she got it. She also had a bible on her desk. 

Wow, that was worse than what I just went through. That's CRAZY!!!
years and years ago, I had to have surgery at a Catholic hospital in northern NH.  I repeated to the intake person that I was a Buddhist (started out there because non-theist) and woke up to a bracelet that said 'protestant'  You were either Catholic or the other thing!  A priest would come into my room at 5 am, and the only English he seemed to speak was an amazed "You not cat-lick?"
There needs to be a "None" box. The blanket assumption that "EVERYBODY must have some higher power" is understandable from their side, but insulting to the 15% who claim no deities.

I also HATED that for military dog tags the closest they had was "No Preference." To get something else, you had to go to a store that could print anything on your tags. I don't know if that has changed, but I doubt it. 

 

I'd like something even more clear than "none." I worry that someone may still take that as just "no preference," not what I want to say - "I am an atheist and don't you dare come in and try to pray with me, pray for me, or tell me some platitude about god taking care of everything. Am I asking too much. 

WOW - there should at least be a "None" as a selection. So far at doctors offices I've only been asked this on written forms, and I write in "atheist". Wondering now if they changed that into some religion when they entered it into their computers.

A friend of mine was at an emergency room recently with a toddler. They asked the baby's religion. My friend, who is an atheist, was surprised at the way they asked the question and laughed, saying "he hasn't made up his mind yet."

I wonder what they put on the baby's form. 

 

I hope they didn't change your religion on the forms. Maybe it's better where you live. It may be that since I live in North Carolina they assume the choice is not what religion you are, but which branch of Christianity you follow. I went took my daughter to a family festival put on by our local inter-faith council. Other places I have seen that consists of at least Christians, Jews, & Muslims. However, in my area the inter-faith council consisted of Baptists, Methodists, and one other Protestant. They didn't even have catholics (and there is one in our county). I guess different Protestant groups is their idea of multiculturalism where I live now. 

 

I think that with as many religions as there are, in addition to a drop down menu (or instead), there should be a way to write in what the person says. So, that would not only keep from offending atheists, but also small religious branches. And it would be more accurate too. 

I'm a Humanist and a volunteer chaplain at my local hospital, and I feel your pain.  At least my hospital has the option of 'none' -not exact, but close and my colleagues always tell me those are my patients!

 

You could write the hospital and request Humanist or Atheist be added to their list. And it seems unfair to ask you to stand up to the chaplain and throw them out of your room - but a friend or a family member should certainly do that for you.  One way is to call the chaplaincy office (switchboard should have the number) and ask them to leave you alone.  If they still come in to pray or convert - well, maybe someone has a suggestion for filing a complaint.  I know I'd do it for you!

 

I've heard horror stories, usually from hospitals with a Clinical Pastoral Education program (and probably quotas for the CPE students), where someone would just barge into the room, start praying, and leave; every day.  No 'how are you' or any connection.  I thought of applying to a CPE program in Boston, but then heard that the students are required to be there when patients come in for day surgery at about 5:30am, and pray for each and every one of them - regardless.  Yikes!

 

 

 

 

Thanks. I think I will write the hospital and ask them to include more titles. I want it to be clear that I am not just "nondenominational" I want nothing to do with superstitious beliefs of any kind. 

 

Before I write the letter, does anyone else have any other suggestions of what to include in my request of other title? 

 

I actually felt a little sorry for the preacher who came in to pray "with" us. I know he was trying to do what he thought was helping. He was persistent and even when we told him we were atheists he kept trying to say "That 's OK, we can still pray." So I had to be pretty firm with him that I didn't want him praying with us, for us... over my daughter...etc.. When I was firm with him, he just looked so sad and dejected that I felt sorry for him. He left and didn't come back and I didn't have any other issues. But the worst part was it took away from the happy moment I was having with my husband and new baby. I felt annoyed that he kept wanting to pray "with" us and sorry that I made him so sad. I just had a hard time getting that joyful feeling back. Even now when I think of my daughter's birth, I bring up his dejected image. 

Although I'm sure it would work, but I don't think I could use those words. :) Laughing is a good idea. I don't know if I could actually do it though. It seems a little mean. 

 

What I might do though let my husband start asking them about their beliefs. He is a pretty good debater and usually knows more about their religion than they do. It might be entertaining. 

When I had to go in last spring for a ultrasound of my kidneys, I was asked what my religious preference was and I said "None."  The lady asked "No preference??"  I said politely no and showed her my "ATHEIST & PROUD OF IT" bracelet and The God Delusion which I was reading at the time  lol  She smiled and laughed :)

 

What's funny is that I don't remember being asked my religious preference when I was in the same hospital for minor surgery or cat-scans (ALL outpatient procedures) in the last couple of years......

It amazes me that we are such a minority hospital workers that fill out this kind of thing on people all day long, are shocked when they come across an atheist. 


I hate that when you say, "none" they think that's the same as "No preference" While I can see grammatically how that would make sense (religious preference - none = no preference) but what I really mean (and I suspect all of us here) is religious preference = no religion. I realize atheism isn't a religion but it would be more clear and less of a chance of getting prayed over. 

 

I wish there was a better way.  

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