If There is No God, What Do I Scream During Sex?

Atheism and patriotism

(and do I have to move to Canada to scream it?)

I read the news sparingly. Reason? There’s enough doom and gloom in this world without my days being thrown out of whack by some plasticized TV journalist’s skewed view on all the happenings fit to broadcast. I don’t need to see a young luger’s tragic crash. I don’t need to see a killer whale indulge in a Sea World Staff Snack. My Google Readers suits me fine and I can click or skip as I please on a per-headline basis.

Hot out of the frying pan and into the brimstone and damnation fire this week is the current Presidential administration’s recent meeting with nonreligious advocacy groups on Washington’s sacred soil. White House Aides welcomed theSecular Coalition for America, a group comprised of “atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans,” to discuss the specific issues of child medical neglect, military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives. This is a Presidential administration’s first-ever meeting with a group of “nonbelievers.” Not surprising since such groups were mentioned in his inaugural address.

I started some click-digging across the interwebz, intrigued to learn more about the matter. I stumbled across a well-written article from my hometown publishing behemoth (The Houston Chronicle). Brief and concise, I found myself at the end of the article and face-first into the comments section.

Holy shit. And even shit that isn’t holy.

Texas is a Red State. I grew up there and the majority of my family still lives there. It’s three notches in the Bible Belt whereas every other state can only claim one. Here’s some of the intellectual input from readers on the above article:

Go figure this fake and useless president would meet with a bunch of fake and useless sinners on their way to Hell.

oslama the muslum (sic) lover meets with other atheists

It is my understanding that next week Obama meets with Lassie.

Why not meet with everyone? I mean he’s met with Republicans and they’ve proven themselves to be idiotic. He may as well meet with the rest.

What a waste of a Presidency this is turning into.

I can’t deny that there were some well thought-out retorts to the epic fucktardery above. What amazes me most, however, is that one’s religious preferences dictate patriotism.

It’s a not-so-slippery slope if you look at the matter from other behavioral practices:

  • If I am a man and have sex with other men, I am engaging in homosexual behavior.

  • If I am a woman and have sex with other women, I am engaging in lesbian behavior.

  • If I live in America and I don’t believe in the Christian ideal of God, then I am a bad American.

Sing with me, kids – “One of these things is not like the other…”

What is it with the evangelical Christian sect that feels the need to decimate, denigrate and otherwise demean those who don’t subscribe to their thought process?

Defining Religion

Not trusting myself to offer you a definition myself, the interwebz saved me again via Dictionary.com:

re·li·gion [ri-lij-uhn]


1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

Let’s pay particular attention to numbers 2 and 6…If we consider that atheists and nontheists are dedicated to following a life that needs no deity as a guide and that there are a number of persona who agree upon living their lives in the same manner, would that not mean that we could assert that both atheists and nontheists are practicing a religion?

A recent hullabaloo in Illinois got me thinking. This Republican dude (William J. Kelly – candidate for Comptroller) in Chicago got himself a personal escort off the grounds of the Illinois state capital building back in December for removing a sign posted on its lawn by an atheist group.  Incidentally, the group had gone through the proper petition procedures to have its sign placed on the capitol lawn adjacent to a nativity scene and this is the second year the sign has been lawfully displayed.

The exact verbiage on the sign reads: “At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Kelly states that the sign is “”hate speech,” saying it’s not right for a sign that “mocks” religion to be placed next to a Christmas tree and nativity scene.

Funny. He didn’t say anything about the aluminum Festivus pole also on display nearby on the Illinois State Capitol lawn.

I guess Mr. Kelly is against multiple ideologies being on display in one place. I’m betting he’d have a shit time at The Smithsonian.

All Sides Have Their Evangelists and I Don’t Like Penetration Toys

The hate (and ignorance) spewed in the quoted comments from the Houston Chronicle along with Mr. Kelly’s actions reinforce something I always knew: all sides have their evangelists. We’ve met the man-hating lesbian. The queen who can’t stand straight dudes. The Christian with the un-Christian lack of tolerance for other faiths. The Democrat who would skewer a Republican and vice-versa. We can’t even agree that sex is good on a universal scale because of the not-so-thin veil of shame afforded the issue by religion. I will say one thing, however:

You don’t see atheists and nontheists bombing abortion clinics and driving wars that last decades…centuries. And I’m not asserting that religion is bad. I’m stating that evangelism is one thing – the promotion and support of an idea set. However, zealotry is something else entirely. It’s driven by hate and fear. And it’s the zealots who speak the loudest (or at least get the most airtime due to their fanatical behaviors). I think it’s quite intriguing as well that here’s even news that’s linking atheism with IQ. Perhaps science has its place in the moral/sexual landscape more than the fundies would be comfortable believing.

What the current administration has done by meeting with nontheist and atheist groups is offer a different, more inclusive view of patriotism.

As we’re a nation filled with people with unlimited potential and the framework for people from many ways of life to ultimately succeed, the Obama administration has opened the doors of the nation’s capitol and offered a refuge for those who live well but don’t subscribe to the Christian ideal. Across all faiths (and lacks thereof) there are people who are infinitely comfortable in their own skin. It’s the lack of security in one’s own beliefs that drives people to lash-out at others for holding contradictory thought. I mean, hell – I’m not a fan of penetration toys but do I damn those who are to hell? (Straight to hell, no batteries included.)

Americans are Americans

Free speech – it’s protected. Whether you like the speech or not has no bearing on how protected it might be. As with the sign on the Illinois lawn, it’s bitch-slapping time: not everyone believes what you do. Thank. Fucking. God. And it has no bearing on how “American” we are. I asked my Twitter community: how do you feel patriotism and religion are intertwined?

“Personally, my beliefs or lack thereof have no bearing on my patriotism. I am a former United States Marine, proudly and honorably serving for 6 years during the Gulf War. (1989-2005) I served because I am a proud American, and I defended our rights as Americans to worship as we choose (or not) and to speak our minds freely.” – Tammy Colson @TLColson

“Well, we are a country founded on people who were fleeing religious persecution. Yet, we’ve become a nation of religious persecutors. Our laws are very similar to the Ten Commandments (don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t be a fucktard…). However, there is the whole separation of Church and State. Yet, the Pledge of Allegiance and all of our currency has “God” all over it. I think we are the best country to be a religious nut in, because you basically have the entire government backing you up. To be a religious nut, you are basically allowed to say, “God is responsible for man.” We send a guy to the electric chair with the idea that God will give him the real punishment. To be an atheist and say that “Man is responsible for man” would give the believers a fucking conniption.”  – Dave Pennington

“The only way my atheism affects my patriotism is how the vocal minority tells me I’m un-American for not being Christian. This has less to do with atheism and much more to do with Christian evangelists shunning not only non-believers, but different believers as well.”  – Grant Beery/@voteforgrant

I don’t feel that patriotism is aligned with Christianity or religious beliefs at all. There’s a beauty to the diverse beliefs that make this world a wonderful place and there’s a respect that comes along with both the right to believe and the right to not.

But it has me asking…

If There is No God, What Should I Yell Out During Sex?

Let’s recap what we’ve got so far:

  1. America is, currently (and on currency) “One Nation, Under God” as that’s the dude in which we trust.

  2. Those who don’t believe apparently have no place next to those who do according to some folks.

  3. Some equate a lack of faith in the Christian ideal with the labels “fake” and “useless” and have something against Lassie.

  4. Spelling is not protected under the U.S. Constitution, especially for those who feel that hate is an appropriate weapon to use against their fellow Americans who don’t believe as they do.

I’m not big into blasphemy and frequently use phrases like “goddammit” and “Jesus Fucking Christ” (strung together as one word in heated rage or moments of utter frustration). It’s simply because I don’t believe in the myth of Christianity and place little value on names. But since the zealots think that not following Christian faith is immediate cause for revocation of my American Card, I wonder where I can hold my beliefs and work towards living a good life without the ever-present influence of “you’re going to hell” looming over my red head. Canada, perhaps?

And since yelling, “Oh, dear GOD!” is apparently right out, what would we yell out into the pillow when our head is pressed down into it and we’re this close to (oh, you know)?

I offer some suggestions:

Ohhhhh, James Madison!” (via Martin Burns)

Ohhhh, Flying Spaghetti Monster!” (via Dave Pennington)

<bark> Oh, Dog!”

Did you register to vote, lovah?!”

Holy shit, if you’re Republican, I’m switching parties!”

But they just don’t have the impact of, “Oh, dear GOD!” do they?

If I can be tolerant enough to recognize that beauty comes in many forms and that every religion and mindset brings something of value to the table, why can’t others? We’re surrounded by intelligence and enlightenment from those who believe and chose not to and it has no affect on how they perceive their dedication to the place they call home. My other half was raised Catholic and still wears a St. Christopher medal around his neck with a scapular from his grandmother. Does it change the fact I love him? Not in the slightest. But he gets to see me at the rare moments I find religion.

End Note (and brilliantly stated)

I’m not anti-religion, personally, but I do get leery when people go on and on about how they believe in a giant man who grants wishes – to me, it’s the equivalent of people who think the Easter Bunny really does drop those Easter Baskets off.

I think of it as a lack of faith in each other – we refuse to believe that people can do great good on their own, and ignore history. Thing’s aren’t perfect, but I’d much rather be alive today than say the Dark Ages.” Martin Burns/@WriterMoe

Special thanks to @darkheath who contributed his thoughts to this week’s column as well.

Toy With Me About Toy With Me


  1. Dear Redhead says:

    @Martin: I just peed a little :) BWAH!
    @Trudy: Thanks for stopping by!
    @Ebby: It’s sad that the places where people once found comfort alienate them through the very unChristian practice of exclusion, no?
    @Wicked Shawn: You. Daughter. Is. Awesome. Thatisall.
    @Camille: Thanks for sharing and stopping by – glad I could prompt a giggle or two!!!
    @Katrina: Thanks for a great read to share with my audience! Yeeha

  2. Excellent post. Excellent. Keep on truckin’!

  3. The zealots you mentioned in this article are exactly the reason I left the Church in the first place. Ever since I was ten I felt there was something fishy going on and I slowly withdrew until I was only going on Christmas and Easter, but then one day when I was in the basement of the Church I saw a poster for ‘The March For Marriage’. What it was about was they were planning a protest at Parliament (the Canadian version of the White House maybe?) against allowing gay marriage and that just made me lose it. I told my father that I would not attend Church (or at least, not that one or any like it) until they smartened the hell up. I will still enter a Church for weddings and funerals, but I will not pray while I am there. If there IS a God, he/she/it shouldn’t need me to be in a building with a cross on it to hear me when I pray and I won’t pray in an institution that I don’t believe in. As I’ve tried to explain to my father, I’m not anti-God I’m anti-followers. The ever so enthusiastic condemning and converting of the seemingly typical Christian has done nothing but turn me more and more against them and I honestly can’t understand how this tactic of theirs works on anyone.

    Also, I tend to substitute ‘God’ for ‘Ra’ or ‘Goddess’ in my speech. As I fluctuate between atheist and agnostic, I feel better referring to the deity by a dead religion’s name or by a female title as ‘God’ has unfortunately become synonymous with ‘mindless sheep/lemmings’ in my mind. (And also, isn’t praying to a cross with or without a guy nailed to it idol worship? I could’ve sworn that was against the rules or something)

  4. There is a quote in urbandictionary.com under christian…….”a christian is someone who believes that jesus christ is the son of god and that he died for EVERYBODY’S sins. a REAL christian realizes that he/she is not perfect but tries to be more like jesus. a REAL christian wouldn’t try to force their beliefs on others” It was most likely placed there by a teenager, but it is rather simple and states what should be pointed out to some of the zealots who have become so vocal and so reviled.

    As a mom in a small town who doesn’t attend church and also allowed my children the freedom to decide whether they felt compelled toward a belief in a higher power (they did not), I am in a serious minority position locally, but I am never outwardly effected by it. My kids are only very occasionally questioned about it by their christian friends. We are comfortable with our decisions and positions, so we simply don’t allow people to put us in a defensive position.

    My daughter also just successfully won an argument with one of her teachers, who planned to give her a 0 for class participation because she refused to participate in a prayer session they held for the Haitian earthquake victims, even though she offered suggestions of fundraising efforts as alternatives. With no assistance from me, she took the teacher to the principal’s office and they discussed seperation of church and state, forced prayer in school and how he was singling her out and possibly subjecting her to ridicule.

    Majority or minority, quietly standing our ground, using our brains, living good lives and treating others and our world with respect is our best line of attack, as it always has been.

    PS….I just shout “More, oh yes, more” but that’s just me.

  5. Katrina says:

    Though long, this (http://goo.gl/UYkJ) is a fascinating commentary on the place of Christianity in American history and focuses on the influence of your lovely (which I mean with both honesty and deep sarcasm) state of Texas on American Public education curricula.

    It’s painfully frustrating that for most Americans being American and proud is necessarily linked with being Christian.

  6. I am digging this and sharing it widely. This post really is epic and speaks directly to me. Makes me a little sick – I am underrepresented in this nation despite being very politically active and a really big fan or AMERICA! I just don’t do god. Thank you for speaking so eloquently about this. And making me giggle a little.

  7. Sorry – can’t resist. You can _too_ fix stupid. Any veterinarian will do it for about 90 bucks…

  8. this post was epic. goddamn, you’re good. rock on obama!

    mommy wants vodka is my own personal jesus and i love this country. love it hard.

    i think god is in the O so it still works to scream OHMYFUCKINGGOD!

    ps: i loved the research indicating higher IQs are linked to aethists and liberals. you’d have to be a real dumbass to believe some of those tall tales organized religion feeds you.

  9. Dear Redhead says:

    @SkyddsDrake – Always wonderful to see you stop by. You make a great point about people seeing the “bigger picture” and that it’s an odd contradiction that people can’t be inspired by PEOPLE. Sad, really.
    @Tammy – Yup. Growing up in Houston, I was subject to the Bible Belt. It’s an odd notch of humanity and one of the most hypocritical. And no – not everyone from the South is ignorant. But there is a stupidity that comes with lashing-out against those who don’t believe as you do. And as Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.”
    @Martin – Thanks for drinking heavily 😉 Your words resonated with my audience and that’s something that a hate-mongering zealot’s words can never do…for anyone. Other than other zealots.
    @Catherine – You’re reminding me of a phrase something like, “Once I thought I was wrong – but I was mistaken.” A common approach for the radical religious community. Join us and be saved. Opposed and be damned…as they could never, EVER be in error. Thanks for stopping by!
    @Cherry – Thanks for the great link for our readership, and you can’t blame a girl for using a catchy post title, can ya? 😉 Always great to see you stop by.
    @Megan – Isn’t it odd how people “find God” and then leave others behind? They were the same people they loved not so long ago, but now they’re unworthy as they haven’t followed the same path. But I guess it’s the same with people who cut-out an addiction cold-turkey. Some people can’t stand to be around those who indulge in the bliss of free thought unbound by myth. And there are those who choose not to believe who can’t be around those who do. Strange, but it does swing both ways.

  10. Megan C says:

    @Toy With Me & @Dear Redhead – I found it frustrating that people would leave me behind to “find God” to the point that I was becoming one of the people I couldn’t stand, I was very intolerant of religion. Caught myself one day and now I work to make sure I don’t shut people out because of what they do or don’t believe. I’ve found I learn a lot more now, and find that religion is interesting if you can look at various practices from outside.
    @SkyddsDrake I can relate a lot to your story. I was also brought up Christian. I called myself one until high school, when I discovered other religions. After I got out of my blinders I’ve learned a lot, made mistakes, but I don’t fear them like I did when I was younger. I’ve learned to use them to make myself a better person. I’ve also learned to rely on myself, instead of some mysterious being that watches remotely from the sky. I feel much stronger for all of my experiences because of that.

    To everyone – Thanks again for making me feel not so alone in the world! It’s nice to have a safe place to discuss ideas.

  11. I was raised in a Christian family. As a child, I thought I was a Christian. Then, as I grew up, I realized that I wasn’t really a Christian. Rather, I was whatever I thought would make my family happy. And then I stopped trying to make my family happy and think for myself. I’ve taken flack for my spiritual stance for years. I can’t count the number of times people have assumed I’m a “good little Christian girl,” or how many times they tried to convert me when they realized they were wrong. At one point it made me mad. Almost militaristic in my adamant refusal to hear their words. Now, it just breaks my heart that they can’t see beyond themselves to a bigger picture. I can hear their stories of faith and feel uplifted. I pity them that they can’t be uplifted in turn by mine. It must be hard to live with those kind of blinders on…

  12. Dear Redhead says:

    Jennifer – thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You got to me before I could ping you that the post was up! Interested to hear your other half’s thoughts as well.

  13. ironkidd says:

    Great article! I dugg it and will also add you to my blogroll. Check us out if you get a chance… I think we may have very similar humorz. 😀 It’s always great to find some like-minded individuals out there!



  14. Erica – Thanks for closing with me (and the kudos – granted, I was drunk when I wrote it, so glad it came out coherently).

    I’m kidding. Maybe.

    I still like living here, but there are times when I wonder if having to sing “Oh Canada” (I mean, really? That’s your song??) would be too much to bear for a bit of general tolerance…

    • I can tell you that it would pretty much be political suicide for any politician in Canada to use religion to garner attention or votes. The Canadian public would not stand for it. That’s how we roll.

  15. @Jennifer Willis – Agreed. @Dear Redhead did a “bang up” job of expressing what “freedom of religion actually means (or should mean) in this country.”
    @ironkidd – Thanks for the blogroll add.
    @Megan C – Not only are you not alone but those who believe in freedom of religion are speaking out more and letting themselves be known despite the fact they may be shunned for voicing a difference of opinion and beliefs. What is disturbingly odd to me though is that “finding God” can destroy relationships. So much for love they neighbor.
    @Tammy Colson – Thanks for your comment & proving your point that not all people from the South are ignorant.
    @Cherry Woodburn – Thanks for sharing a great link.

  16. Catherine says:

    I self identify as a free thinker and an athiest, although I’ve been told that I’m not a true atheist as I believe that we each have an essence that makes us uniquely ourselves. That being said, I accidentally attended a catholic university for 4 years (thought that cardinal refereed to a red bird-oops.)

    The moral minority subscribes to a Henry Ford approach to belief and faith: you can believe whatever you like as long as you call yourself a Christian. As a parent, I take great exception to the assumption that my children have no moral foundation as a result of being raised without the superstition and hocus pocus found in religion.

    My particular favorite to shout when frustrated is jesusmonkeyfuckingchrist -added to the dictionary in my blackberry. As for yelling during sex, I stick to instructions: more, harder, again- and when it’s really good YES!

  17. You forgot “Hit me with your best shot, Gormagon.”

    Excellent post as usual, Red – this is the kind of shit that makes me want to make you scream out your stock positions at the top of your lungs . . .

    It fascinates me, and is appalling, that what made this country great – diversity – is now the platform of choice for a small but vocal minority that, instead of finding common ground, seek to harp on those things that are unchangeable (or at least not easily changed) and different in others. Take your pick: religion, race, gender (abortion), socio-economic class, etc. etc.

    People forget, or don’t know, that Abraham Lincoln on more than one occasion would wrestle and brawl with his political opponents. The critical difference is he fought to accomplish something, not to prevent something from being accomplished (which is, in fact, a VERY different sort of thing). Today there is little difference between the middle of either party, so the fringe shouts long and hard to prevent the other side from accomplishing anything – because for “the other side” to accomplish something for this country puts “your side” at risk of losing power.

    This is the game, and dumb fucktards who hate a religion they can’t spell buy into this crap because somehow by resembling those they keep in power, they feel some sort of self worth that I would guess they couldn’t find in a month of double shifts at the McDonald’s drive through window.

    Oh wait – did I hijack your blog there? Bad form, I know . . .


  18. Wow redhead, that was an excellent post, capturing so many of my own views. I almost wish you hadn’t chosen the very-catchy title you did because this post was a lot different than I expected and I think some people might not read it because of the title yet they definitely need the post. That being said it is a great title and I don’t know what I’d yell during sex without it either. Must say that I liked the TX comment about inviting Lassie because it’s so…I don’t know what. I just want to know his stream of consciousness. Here’s a link to Nicholas Kristof’s OpEd piece on religions that is also very good. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/opinion/28kristof.html Cherry

  19. And I’ll just add, the worst part is the assumption that I am a Christian in this country. And a certain TYPE of Christian at that. I routinely got a question years ago as a cradle Catholic… “Have you ever thought about becoming a Christian?”

    I mean, really? Google Protestant Reformation, and get back to me.

  20. Love the way you put all this together.
    I have been in human resources since I got out of the Corps, and was in the field before as well. I have juggled with religious diversity, religion exemption and accommodation regularly – including having to have interesting conversations with employers because they started making ME feel uncomfortable when they brought their faith into the workplace.

    If we can live our lives under the auspices of “no one knows for certain, so lets just accept that we all might be wrong” – then we could stop feeling uncomfortable about discussing our beliefs, or lack thereof, and start realizing that we all really want the same thing. To live our lives the way we choose to, without outside influence, or pressure to conform on issues that are intensely personal and private matters.

    And the hate stuff, that just makes folks look ignorant. Come on, I know we live in the south, but I swear some of us have brains.

  21. @Lawrence: I’m in central Colorado, small town with lots of churches. I’ve usually been pretty lucky in finding people similar, but had some of my best friends got really religious suddenly. I think that was the hardest part, they ‘found God’ and forgot about those of us who stood by them.

  22. Lawrence says:

    @Megan C: Wow, that sucks. Where are you located that you see that? I guess I am lucky in that most of my friends have similar views, as for my family, well they don’t care and we don’t discuss it.

  23. Love this article!
    I can’t tell you how much this has been coming up in conversations lately, and I can’t get people to see things this way. One classmate on Facebook has even gone as far as telling me I should leave the country for my beliefs, or lack thereof. (Unfriended quickly after that.) My friends treat me as a second class citizen because I don’t go to their church, or any church for that matter.
    The world can feel quite lonely for those of us who practice freedom of religion. Thanks for letting me know I’m not so alone in these thoughts!

  24. Lawrence says:

    Good article. You’ve nailed my thoughts on it regarding religion. It’s the zealotry that I do not like. I could care less if someone thinks there is some dude in a robe in the sky commanding things. Just don’t tell me that 1. I have to believe it 2. That I am evil/bad/eat babies/hate america because I believe differently.

    What I wish they would realize is that I am a human being like they are. I may be different, I may view the world in a slightly different lens but I am still the same basic thing they are. It’s their need, I think, to be right and to prove themselves to their God that mkes them be the way they are. Most people follow their faith and that is it. Others feel the need to prove more for whatever reason. Unfortunately their method of proof is not in good deeds but in control and forcing others down their own path. This dovetails nicely into exploiting them for political and personal gain that you often see.

    This country was founded on the idea of freedom in many, many forms. Religious was one of them. I grew up raised Catholic, even went to a Catholic school for 13 years – K through 12. It was a school run by Fransican monks and they always preached tolerance. It was something of a schock when I hit HS. The tone has changed in the last few years regarding it. There was a time when religious leaders understood that staying out of politics was good for them since it protected them. That changed in the 80s I think. Again, great article, it has made me think.

  25. I loved this post. I am going to share it with my other half as we have had a few conversations on religion. He is a believer and I am not. He does not understand why I don’t and we just keep going around (not arguing, but in circles) because I just don’t see things the way he does. I don’t know exactly where I stand with what I believe, but I do know that I find it impossible to believe in a being that is all powerful and omnicient, and gets all the credit for the good that people do, but none of the blame.

  26. Holy…! I loved this article. As a religious studies scholar — and a seminary-trained interfaith minister — I’ve taught courses on religious diversity and tolerance, and the growing and almost codified intolerance of the past decade often found me deep in grief and frustration.

    Thank you for writing so intelligently — and bit snarkily — on a topic that needs to be pushed even more into the mainstream: not the religiosity of sex, but what freedom of religion actually means (or should mean) in this country.