Via François Tremblay‘s blog, I found this curious report about the striking numbers of people in Canada and the US who lie about how often they go to church. Here is a graph that illustrates how often people go (in gray) as opposed to how often they claim they do (in blue):
I am not surprised that people lie because being honest about not going to church often gets you practically bullied by those who like to engage in exhibits of showy religiosity. If this regularly happens to me, whose acquaintances are all academics, I can only imagine how often people in less progressive environments are persecuted by their churchified, self-righteous neighbors and colleagues.
I had a colleague in grad school who was dedicated to making her religiousness as widely known as possible. Once after I mentioned something about being Jewish in class, she approached me.
“So, Clarissa, I heard you were a Jew,” she said looking as grave as if she had heard I had a terminal disease.
“Yes, but we are a secular family,” I responded. “We haven’t practiced Judaism in over a century.”
“Oh, so you are a Christian!” she exclaimed with relief.
“No, we don’t practice Christianity either. We are a secular family,” I explained.
“So you are nobody?” she responded.
Another colleague at the same grad school kept exposing everybody in sight to passionate speeches about how it was extremely irresponsible for people from different religions and even from different denominations within the same religion to have children together.
“You aren’t a real family unless you can go to church on Sunday together. Nobody who loves their children would expose them to this kind of environment,” the colleague raved.
“Is it OK when neither parent goes to any Church then? Is my family real? Because that’s what we do,” I would respond.
“Well, you are from a different culture,” the colleague always responded self-righteously.
But all that was nothing compared to yet another colleague who stormed out on me yelling, “How dare you say that our Jesus was a Jew!”
I have many more stories about religious bullies. None of them made me invent non-existent trips to the church but I can understand the temptation.