There comes a point when ambiguity becomes annoying.
For most people who know me, they are aware that my religious affiliation is agnostic. I believe there is a god, a higher power, and I believe that it is our responsibility as human beings to be good people, to be good to each other and ourselves. I am against organized religion; I think that whatever higher power is out there, I doubt he/she/it/they really cares what we classify ourselves as, as long as we try to be good to each other.
My friends, acquaintances, and peers accept this. I’m more than happy to talk about it. It isn’t a taboo subject to me, and I’m not offended when I’m asked about it. It’s never been an object of contention.
But thanks to Scholarships.Com, it has become one.
Like most college students, I’m broke as a joke. I am relying on online scholarship sites to find some obscure scholarships (like ones for left-handers!). I went through the usual questions marked with a big red unfriendly “REQUIRED” — age, college rank, major, GPA, ACT/SAT scores, and then I came to…. RELIGION.
Okay. It’s required that I enter my religion. Now what?
Well, naturally I scan down the list for “agnostic.” Not seeing it… oh. There it is: in the grab bag response of “heathen” religions. To be exact, the choice that included agnosticism was labeled:
Excuse me? Because I refuse to claim one specific organized religion, I’m lumped in with atheists? I don’t have a problem with atheists – they have their beliefs, I have mine, and that’s fine. But the problem is this: atheists do not believe in a god. I believe in a god. They are two completely separate things, and yet, at the same time, I’m being forced to categorize myself with them?
I could just mark “Christian” and make it easier. I grew up in a Christian home and I guess if I had to pick the organized religion closest to my own personal mish-mash of beliefs, it would be that. But I’m not a Christian. And I shouldn’t have to “round up” to the closest religion just to avoid calling myself what I am, calling it what it is.
I’m agnostic. I am not atheist. I am not nonreligious; but yet I must classify myself as such in order to classify myself what I am.
And what’s more, I’m required to answer it! I cannot skip to the next question. So I have to suck it up and sit in the classification drawer with the atheists and nonreligious people, even though it’s not what I am.
Is it accurate? Nowhere near!
Is this fair? Of course not!
So in order to continue on to the next browser window, I am forced to answer inaccurately. I’m a bright girl and can get scholarships on merit of my academic and extracurricular performance, not my religion (or according to Scholarships.Com, my lack thereof). The problem is, it should never be an issue of contention. Just as an atheist would resent being categorized with someone who believes in a god (me), I resent being lumped in with someone whose fundamental beliefs are the polar opposite of mine.
* Sighs *
I guess there’s always grandma’s inheritance.