Square Pegs, Round People

Squander Two reminds us that in Northern Ireland you’ve got to be classified by the state in a certain way:

All companies with Northern Irish offices are obliged to keep a database of their employees’ “perceived religion”, and our database hasn’t been updated in a while, so our boss asked us all to drop him an email to let him know.

This being Northern Ireland, there are only two boxes to tick, and they perniciously ask for your “perceived” religion. What this means is that they don’t want you getting clever and claiming to be an atheist, even if you really are an atheist. As far as the government are concerned, everyone here slots into one of the boxes, and everyone knows which box they’re in. They want you to tell them which religion you’re a part of, and that has nothing to do with your religion.

There used to be a joke about a Mr Cohen of Belfast who, after being run over by a car, was asked what his religion was by a witness who thought he looked like he might soon need the services of a holy man. “I’m Jewish” said Cohen. “A Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew?” came the response.

Reasonably funny as the punchline of a gag. Less funny in reality:

My Muslim colleague reckons she must be a Protestant because she lives in Lisburn.