Different Thinking?

I’m just going to pass along this brief anecdote from The Amiable Atheist:

In Germany you are required to register in each town you live in.

One of the things they ask you is your religion.

They asked my boyfriend, and he told them he was atheist.

The woman wrote “VD”, and he asked, “What does that stand for?”

She replied “verschieden denkend”, which means different thinking.

“No,” he said, “normal denkend” (normal thinking).

:)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://www.scriptedfailures.com Jim

    Win. I wish I could think that fast.

  • http://atheistblogger.com Adrian Hayter

    Best. Reply. Ever.

  • Josh Spinks

    If they asked him his religion, why would he say he’s an atheist? How would they know he’s not a Buddhist?

  • http://www.tenthousandplaces.com Steve Heimler

    Clever for sure.

    Funny how “normal” is redefined through ages and cultures.

  • http://agersomnia.blogspot.com Agersomnia

    My dad always says there are two ways to do things on this life: The normal, and the miraculous.

    The normal starts by calling to God or Virgin Mary for help.

    The miraculous, is to do things by one-self.

  • Richard Wade

    A quick and excellent retort. It would be interesting to learn what the woman ended up writing on the form. Maybe in German that phrase translates more as “He’s different. He thinks!”

    I find the whole idea of having to register one’s religion as a new member of a town bizarre and sinister. Why the hell do they want to know, and why the hell do they need to know?

  • I like tea

    Haha. German society is pretty much secular, but they still cling to the trappings of religion. There are some unfortunate side-effects – for example, many of them revere Martin Luther and ignore what a morally repulsive man he was (granted, this is true of Americans as well, but Germans don’t have nearly the zealotry quotient of America’s Protestants, so they have no excuse).

    Another is this, I suppose. Belief in God in Germany is hardly the universal norm it is in America, but identifying with a particular religion is. So, despite there being plenty of atheists in Germany, they still get labeled as “VD.” Unfortunate, but not nearly as unfortunate as America’s religious mindset.

    In response to someone asking my religion, rather than saying atheist, I would say, “None.” But that’s just me. (I wonder if she would actually put “none” – well, “nichts,” I suppose – or if she would still put VD.)

    I find the whole idea of having to register one’s religion as a new member of a town bizarre and sinister. Why the hell do they want to know, and why the hell do they need to know?

    Oh please, don’t start down the “That’s Orwellian!” path. It’s for census purposes. Do you consider it sinister when the US government comes knocking on your door every 10 years and starts asking you a bunch of questions (including, incidentally, your religion)?

  • http://amiable-atheist.blogspot.com amiable

    like trublu said on my blog, it is because you are taxed if you claim a religious affiliation. the government collects the taxes for the church (mostly just catholic/protestant).

    you are all contributing to my boyfriend’s super ego. thanks! ;)

  • http://smartbykrae.com K.Rae

    I find the whole idea of having to register one’s religion as a new member of a town bizarre and sinister. Why the hell do they want to know, and why the hell do they need to know?

    Germany leverages a tax on those who register as a member of a particular church, which goes to funding the church’s operations.

    Knew that Business German class would come in handy one day…

  • Richard Wade

    Oh please, don’t start down the “That’s Orwellian!” path. It’s for census purposes. Do you consider it sinister when the US government comes knocking on your door every 10 years and starts asking you a bunch of questions (including, incidentally, your religion)?

    That’s not where I was going. I just consider my spiritual beliefs, my sex life and my bowel habits to be not for sharing with strangers. As for the U.S. census, that is entirely voluntary. I can choose to pass on all or any of the questions. I figured that the German policy was about census information, but what is not clear (and maybe you can answer this) is if a person wants to live in a town and politely declines to answer that question, is he still permitted to register and to live there legally?

  • J Sveda

    Richard Wade said:

    It would be interesting to learn what the woman ended up writing on the form. Maybe in German that phrase translates more as “He’s different. He thinks!”

    Looks like they have different common denominations and religious comunities like Catholics, Old Catholics, Evangelicals etc coded as two-letter codes. If you don’t fit any of them or you don’t have one, your denomination is VD.

    But nevertheless, interesting idea of yours :)

    I find the whole idea of having to register one’s religion as a new member of a town bizarre

    Not just that, you fill it in every tax / income declaration, at least in region of Brandenburg – here is a guide how to fill out an income declaration form and the denomination field is included.

    There’s a reason for this – in some European countries, including Germany, members of churches or other congregations pay a special tax, which form major part of the churches’ income.

  • I like tea

    if a person wants to live in a town and politely declines to answer that question, is he still permitted to register and to live there legally?

    If you want to keep your religious beliefs private, don’t register with a state-recognized church. There’s no penalty for it.

    Whether or not you can regularly attend a church without registering as a member is something I don’t explicitly know, but I would assume you can.


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