Aalif Surti and Aditi Shedde are making news because of the birth of their child.
The reason? According to Mohammed Wajihuddin of The Times of India, they refuse to list a religious identity for him:
It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. “A few months into my pregnancy, we had decided that we would not give our child any religious identity,” says Aditi. “We are not against religion, but who are we to choose a religion on our baby’s behalf? We will expose him to the values of different faiths and cultures, and when he grows up he will be free to follow any faith — or none if he wishes.”
Sounds perfectly sensible… but they’re getting shit for not labeling him. Indian birth certificates require you to list some form of religious identification:
The couple had almost hit a dead end. There were four choices on the form — Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Others. Aditi says she did not want any of them for her child, as even Others required them to identify the sect or community. She argued with the officer some more and finally agreed on Others, but without any identification. “Others is just to facilitate the generation of the certificate. We know our child has no religion,” she says.
They’ll have to deal with the issue later on, when the child enrolls in school or applies for a passport, but the couple says they’re prepared for the fight.
The upside to all this is that other Indian parents will be able to follow in their footsteps, perhaps with a little less hassle next time. With each set of parents who follows suit, this will become a non-issue over time.
The whole practice is ridiculous, though. This is precisely what Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Association are referring to with their “Don’t Label Me” campaign.
No children know what religion they want to follow (or whether they want to abandon it altogether) and it’s a form of brainwashing for any parents to stick a set of made-up beliefs onto a child who doesn’t know any better.