Toilet Religion

I’m not sure if I told these stories on the blog, so I’ll share them anyways. They both happened when I was a PhD student at Yale and contributed to the culture shock I experienced because of moving to the US from Canada.

Once, I was studying at the Graduate Student Center. I’d had two cups of coffee which made me need to go to the bathroom. To pee. If you think this is a superfluous bit of information, wait until you hear the entire story.

So I go into the bathroom and I discover a group of women who are standing in a circle, holding hands with their eyes closed, and praying. Aloud. In the toilet.

So I went into a stall but the sounds of  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. . .” made it impossible for me to proceed with the business I came into the bathroom to do.

In case you are wondering, there were many places of worship on campus provided specifically to accommodate the needs of prayerful folks. There were also several churches surrounding the campus.

There was, however, only one ladies’ toilet at the Graduate Student Center.

The second story unfolded at a local restaurant where I went with my boyfriend. Once again, I entered the toilet and wanted to proceed with the task I came in to perform. Apparently, different people have different ideas of the purpose bathrooms serve. There was a Bible right next to the commode. And a stack of leaflets promoting a neighborhood church.

If you have any feelings at all towards the Bible, you will realize why I didn’t manage to do my business in the toilet yet again.

This is why when I went back home to Montreal, I told everybody I knew that I was living in the Bible Belt. Little did I know that the area where I lived was considered a hippy latte-drinking godless atheist East Coast.

The encounter with the real Bible Belt came later.


30 thoughts on “Toilet Religion

      1. Once you have a religion you really can’t complain about others having one too.

        I think this is what JC was alluding to when he said “Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone.”


  1. This reminded me of a clip from my favourite TV show, Daria, in which some of the students try to expel a ghost they thought was haunting the ladies room, and the teacher burst in: “Oh, excuse me for missing the sign reading ‘GIRLS EXORCISM ROOM!'”
    In all seriousness, I was weirded out by finding a bible in a hotel room for the first time. Running into one in a bathroom? Dear me.


    1. Nominatissima: Are you really 20 y/o? In class yesterday I mentioned Daria as being my favorite TV show when I was a teenager and nobody knew who Daria was. These students are 18-20 years old. I was troubled. Is it my students who lack popular culture or is Daria forgotten?

      I am still convinced that Daria’s writters and producers tailored the show based on my teenage experience. They only change the gender… and they kept the glasses.


      1. I don’t know who Daria is. 🙂 I find it harder and harder to find pop references that students would identify with.

        Last year, I had to explain who the Beatles are. I understand all about music fashion but the Beatles?? They are immortal! Or so I thought.


      2. Actually, I am really 22 years old. Daria premièred when I was about 8 years old, and I guess I had a really mature sense of humour for someone of my age, because I watched it religiously.
        Too bad about the cartoons thing, Clarissa, because Daria was quite amazing, and some identify her as being one of the first of the television aspies (Smart, sarcastic, monotone voice, prefers books over people)


  2. nominatissima :
    I was weirded out by finding a bible in a hotel room for the first time.

    The Gideons have been doing that for a long time. It isn’t actually a complete bible just the bits that they have decided are important. So you might say a half truth.


    1. I’m very young and haven’t done a lot of travelling, so it was a surprise to me when I was fourteen and helping my mother clean a hotel room, and found it there. 🙂
      It helped me understand that one Beatles song, Rocky Raccoon, a lot better though.


  3. bloggerclarissa :
    When did I complain about anybody having religion??? I complain about people praying in the toilet. Don’t you see a difference here?

    Yes I can see the difference. But you have to consider the extremal cases. Say your blogging on matters religious increases congestion on the internet just ever so slightly that one person notices a loss of functionality for them. Isn’t this just the same thing?

    I am hoping you are still tired as announced 🙂


  4. *The encounter with the real Bible Belt came later.*

    Will you post later about it? And what’s the difference if there are Bibles near bathrooms anyways?


      1. Isabel, do you mean milk is expensive, and therefore only a certain class of people can afford to drink lattes regularly?

        Now that you mention it, lattes make me slightly ill (as does more than one scoop of ice cream, or large milk-shakes) and I’m told this is because a great many Asians are lactose-intolerant.

        I wonder if we could make this a classist *and* a racist thing. Never miss an opportunity, is my motto 🙂


  5. Prayer circle in the bathroom – is just a little creepy, in my opinion.

    I’ve come across the leaflet campaigns in public washrooms – typically around Halloween, where the leaflet has some incoherent rant about the evils of celebrating Halloween. I generally take the entire stack and dispose of them. It’s hard enough being a Christian without providing such easy ammunition for the haters out there.


  6. llama :
    Once you have a religion you really can’t complain about others having one too.
    I think this is what JC was alluding to when he said “Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone.”

    So, you think it is wrong for Clarissa to judge someone, but it’s perfectly fine for you to make sweeping generalisations like “Religion is bad for you”?


  7. I’m speechless – I have no substantive comment AT ALL in response to this. Bibles in the bathroom? EEEEEEEEW – I’m not germphobic generally, but that really hits my ick meter.


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