I had an odd encounter today.
While fixing a computer, I found myself physically in the middle of a conversation regarding politics and religion.
Three or four people began discussing how Barak Obama would never get elected President, simply based on his name. It then went to how Hilary Clinton was smirking during the State of the Union address, and to how the differences in Congressional reception to the address: Republicans standing and clapping, and Democrats sitting passively, how these differences were showing weakness to the world, and making us seem divided, and making fools of the American people. Then there was some discussion about how they couldn't believe that "liberals" believed as they did. All of this conversation transpired within just four minutes or so. I sat quietly, attempting (unsuccessfully) to add a Windows XP Home Edition workstation to our domain. I was unsuccessful in my technical effort, since XP Home Edition sucks and cannot be a part of a domain. However I did a stellar job of just staring at the screen and silently being horrified at the conversation. Finally it began winding down, they mentioned Obama being schooled at a Wahhabist muslim school, and how Wahhabism is the sect that all the terrorist have come from. And then quickly to "this country was founded as one nation under God!" (emphasis theirs) (btw I feel compelled to point out that this is incorrect *smug*). They bashed a little on Jehova's Witnesses, who refused to salute the flag, etc, etc. Suddenly I was noticed (sitting literally in the middle of the conversation, as the participants stood nearby or sat in their desk chairs), and someone observed that they didn't know what religion I was, and they might be "putting [their] foot in [their] mouth". Despite the obvious question in the air, I continued to silently glare at the computer, willing it to join the domain. The crowd then scattered, but the woman in the cube next to me went ahead and asked, "So what religion are you?".
Let me pause here. Without giving you a long, boring story about my religious upbringing and growth and eventually disillusionment, blah blah blah, I am an athiest from a strong christian background. I do not frequently discuss religion (or lack thereof). Even with close friends, we all know where each other is coming from, and we're all largely on the same page, or at least willing to respect each others opinions. But still, we generally don't talk faith. I certainly don't talk faith with either of my parents. My step-mother enjoys gospel music loud enough to hurt your ears, and I only barely turned my mother down to go with her to a Christmas Eve church service. Now that I think about it more, I'm perfectly content with my parents having false assumptions about my faith- at very least leaving it really vague.
Anyway, I told her that I abstained. "You what?", "I'm not really a church-going kind of guy." Yeah, okay, I was uncomfortable with the question. Which is totally weird, and I immediately thought of all the emails that my dad sends me, about how persecuted Christians are in the US of A. She asked if I was an athiest, and I responded that yes, I am an athiest. She nodded her head, and looked away from me, sortof toward her computer screen, and didn't look at me again, and told me that when she was serving in the Air Force in Iraq, how there was a guy she served with who was really nice, and super kind to everyone, and he'd revealed that he was an athiest, and how that didn't change her opinion of him, and how he had a moral code he lived by, and how she was cool with him being an athiest but that she'd pray for him, etc etc. Two things were really funny/weird to me, one was that she was obviously was uncomfortable with my lack of faith, and two was that I inferred from her conversation that she was shocked that a nice person was an athiest, and how would he function without a moral compass, but that he somehow managed to not kill babies anyway.
Then I came up with a work around for the domain issue, while she worked on her stuff, and we sat and worked silently. And that was it.
So it was just weird.