Losing My Religion

There are two interesting thing that I have discovered since being here.  Well, there are far more than two, but these are the two that I will talk of now.  

The first is this.  Your religion matters here.  Even though 88% of the people are Muslim, one needs to proclaim this at very frequent and rather odd times.  Very foreign when coming from a country where one’s religion is often (should be?) none of anyone’s business.  

Where, you ask, does this matter?  Wherever your information is collected, that’s where.  Say, for instance, you’re buying a SIM card for your phone.  They ask your name, your address, your passport or ID number and then your religion.  

Or better yet, when you apply for a grocery store frequent buyer card.  I have no idea why it matters, but there it is on the form, right under D.O.B.  “What is your Religion?  They always have the same choices…. Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Other.  If I’m Hindu and I buy hamburger, will I be reported?  

What is even more amazing and perhaps a bit scary is this.  The everyday, run-of-the-mill, counter clerk has the ability to gaze into your soul and tell what your religion is without even asking.  

Because, despite the question being on the form, they never actually ask it.  They ask about the DOB and the ID number but when they come to the religion question, they pause, they lift pen from paper and briefly gaze at you and then tick off “Christian”  Just like that. It is like they can sense the tongue of flame that burns above my head.  It is remarkable.  

I am bound and determined, though to get asked formally. I’m going to tick “Other” and write in Pastafarian.  Just to see what happens.  Extra discount on semolina wheat products, perhaps?

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