Are you an "other"?

By Leca
@lecanis (16664)
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
July 2, 2007 2:08pm CST
It seems that every time I fill out some kind of survey that relates to anything, there's a space somewhere for religion, with a limited number of options to choose from. I always look through the options and of course check "other" because my religion is never on the list. Now, those of you who know that I tend to refer to myself as a "Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan" are going to say "Of course that's not on the list, you dolt!" To be fair, I'm not expecting it to be. But I've also noticed that there is rarely even a "Pagan" or "Earth-based spirituality" or any of the other umbrella terms used to describe those types of religions. So I wonder who else out there always find themselves being an "other" on such surveys? Is it because you don't have a specific name for your path, or because you are "spiritual but not religious"? Is it because you are too specific to just check a general category within your type of religion? Or is your religion or category of religions simply never on the list? Do you mind being an other? I don't find most of the time that I particularly get upset or care when I don't see an applicable option on surveys, but it is something I've noticed apparently or I wouldn't be asking about it!
14 people like this
27 responses
@Ravenladyj (22937)
• United States
2 Jul 07
LOL I'm an "other" not only when it comes to religion but also when it comes to race too LOL cause you KNOW they dont have Polish/West Indian OR Mixed Race as options LOL
4 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2 Jul 07
You know, I didn't think about the "race" question, but I never know what to put there either. I look awfully white, but technically I'm just as much "American Indian". So I tend to just put one or the other, or "no answer". =p
3 people like this
@Galena (9123)
2 Jul 07
Scottish/Irish/Yorkshire/Spanish hehe. very pale, but olive based skin tone. hehe. they should have an option for Mongrel. hehe.
3 people like this
@Ravenladyj (22937)
• United States
3 Jul 07
Yea the race thing frustrates me at times becuase its on everything from online surveys and registrations or profile options to forms you fill out at the doctors office which is difficult enough since I KNOW when I do see the doctor I'll get the standard questions as to why I have nothing put down in family history, etc etc LOL online it doesnt really bug me since its online and really not important...when it comes to real life situations though I get a little ticked about it since in all reality (other than for medical reasons IMO) it shouldnt flippin matter what race I am...
3 people like this
@nonew3 (1941)
• United States
2 Jul 07
I am a Christian, but I really don't get along with a lot of Christians due to my type of thinking, and I have more of an environmental, harm-no-animals and harm-no-people spirituality in my Christianity. (I don't find very many certified-organic vegetarian environmentalist Christians in the churches here. I can't even eat at their potlucks or drink from their espresso bars. Their food banks are totally out of my reach, as no one thinks about donating organic food to them. The last time I went to a church party, someone there told me, "Go ahead and eat the food. It won't hurt you." She knew full well that I am certified-organic vegetarian. It's pretty pathetic how I feel like such an outsider.) I feel strange checking off "Christian" on surveys, yet it's not exactly an "other." It's more like a Christian: Other.
3 people like this
@Amstardam (1348)
• United States
3 Jul 07
I am the same way! I was raised Baptist (but I'm not Baptist myself) so of course telling my parents that I'm a vegetarian and the reasons why I don't eat meat, they flipped! They also think I'm weird because I don't take bags anytime I go shopping because I bring my own. You can get some great cheap bags from IKEA. Plastic is awful for the environment. My family told me I would be eating a lot of salad at the family reunion we have coming up early next month because everyone else in the family are heavy meat eaters. Excuse me, but we vegetarians eat more than just lettuce. I'm not a rabbit! In my opinion, as Christians, we are to take care of our environment! Excuse for trying to help in the little ways that I can. Grr!
1 person likes this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Both of you have brought up some excellent points here! There are times when even within your own religious group your ideals set you apart! I hadn't really been thinking along those lines when I started this discussion, and I'm really excited at where you have taken it! =) I would love to comment further, but with my health and online time being what it is, I'm trying rather hard to get caught up tonight while I'm feeling an iota better. But thanks so much for your contributions, and I'll try to get back to you!
@nonew3 (1941)
• United States
4 Jul 07
Yeah. I wish I could start a church just for those who are Christian organic vegetarian environmentalists. There would be recycling bins galore (the nearest church doesn't even have ONE recycling bin that I know of!). People would be required to bring their own mugs for the espresso stand. The espresso stand would serve only certified organic coffees, milk, soymilk, flavorings, etc. (to make happy both the organic vegetarians and the organic vegans). It would use fair-trade, bird friendly, organic stuff as much as possible. There would be sermons from time to time about getting closer to God by taking care of His creatures, mankind, and the earth. People would have to bring their own bags if they want food at the food bank. The food bank would only take and distribute organic vegetarian food, with special organic food for vegans. All of the cleaners and paper products in the church would be made from recycled paper, nontoxic stuff, and totally biodegradable stuff. And, the Bibles would not have leather covers. All genuine-leather-covered Bibles would be banned from church property. Smokers would not be able to smoke anywhere remotely close to church property. There would be no refined sugars, but only things like organic agave syrup, xylitol, and stevia for sweeteners for the organic coffees, teas, and whatnot. The chairs in the sanctuary would be made entirely of recycled stuff. Even the Bibles would be non-leather and made from 100% recycled materials. The lighting would be full-spectrum, reduced-energy bulbs. (Not fluorescent bulbs, as fluorescents give me headaches.) And, the church would be powered, as much as is possible, by wind energy (with a wind turbine right outside the building) and by solar-energy panels. There would be a special parking section close to the door for hybrid cars. How do I start a church like that? LOL! LOL! LOL!
1 person likes this
@Galena (9123)
2 Jul 07
Other. Paganism - Traditional Witchcraft doesn't show up on many forms.
3 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Yup, I would think not. =P
@Galena (9123)
4 Jul 07
rather than having the tick boxes, they should just have a blank for anyone to write in what they are.
1 person likes this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
That would be very useful, and then of course also come up with some very interesting results!
• Canada
3 Jul 07
Hi lecanis, I think this is a really qood question. I too am perplexed about what to answer under the religion catagory on questionaires and surveys. My hubby and I would come under the Pagan/Spirituality catagory...with some intermingling of Shamanism, Wicca, Celtic spirituality and of course Buddhist teachings as well. So our soul path explorations are rather multi-dimensional. We are always looking for the universality within teachings...anything that leads to unity within the Onesong works for us. When responding I am always concerned about the closet or (overt) radical/extremist religious types that have some warped ideas about Pagan, Wicca or anything else they have never opened their minds to learn about so I am cautious about what I check off and who might be forming judgments about my beliefs from some possibly narrow perpective. When you think about it was not that long ago that people who walked our path were burned at the stake. I know we have made inroads on the path of acceptance, honoring differences and so on...but we still have a way to go. I guess if it is a choice between 'other' and being judged by uninformed people for checking off Paganism, energy-based spirituality, Shamanism, Wicca or whatever else we are I think I will take the safer approach and check 'other.' Just for now though...I am with you and all the 'others' who are doing our best to assist the 'other-others' differentiate between spirituality and judgmental, bigoted religious dogma. Great discussion material!
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Hi! It sounds like you do follow a very interesting and varied spiritual path, and obviously from the way you describe it you are very happy it it! Thats so exciting to see, when people are finding the answers that work for them and expanding themselves in that way. =) You make some good points about judgements made based on religious labels. I learned a lot about that growing up in a place where since I was a very small child my religion was different from almost every around me. Now, as an adult, I often think long and hard about what I want to say about my religion to others... and yet I've also found that sometimes speaking up can be helpful, and actually change minds occasionally. (I now have several good friends who "had bad ideas about paganism" until they met me.) So it's an interesting line to have to walk! I'm glad you liked my discussion! =)
1 person likes this
• Canada
4 Jul 07
Life is interesting and ever-changing alright. Sometimes all it takes is some respectful dialogue for people to open their minds so they can see things differently. It sounds as though we both have learned to be cautious of 'appropriate disclosure' about our spiritual path. People with Pagan or other metaphysically based beliefs are still misunderstood by those who follow more orthadox religions. They are the ones I am most protective with...their judgments and self-rightousness are difficult to handle. I ususally pipe and quote the 'judge not lest you be judged' quote from the Bible and even if they do not agree they at settle down in my presence. I am sure they say lots more behind my back...but at this stage of life I really do not put much energy into those who spout bigotry and prejudice. The loud clunk you hear is the sound of their minds closing...so no point in wasting time there. I'd rather seek out open-minded people with divergent viewpoints who are willing to discuss things with dignity and respect for differences.
1 person likes this
@kamran12 (5555)
• Pakistan
3 Jul 07
Hello, lecanis!:-) You are lucky! sometimes I feel that I am represented and sometime there is nothing, I can identify myself. Sometimes, I find myself in others but most of the time I am not even in others as I am other than other. There is no option listed which says, "all of the above"! So you are lucky to find atleast one option for yourself.
3 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Oh, kamran, you just pointed out one that I didn't think of at all! "All of the above!" Thanks so much for that observation, it really got me thinking on a new track here, and you know how much I love that! =)
@susieq223 (3742)
• United States
2 Jul 07
Nope, I've never been an "other". Just a plain, everyday, same, boring category. Sometimes I think it would be nice to be an "other". I guess grass seems greener on the other side of the fence?
3 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Hehe, that's a good point! I hadn't looked at it in that way, that being an other could be nice! It must indeed just be that grass is greener on the other side of the fence! =p
• United States
2 Jul 07
You have posed quite a good question. It does get on my nerves occasionally; but lately I see that some sites are adding "Spiritual but Not Religious" as an option. That may not be exactly right but...cudos to them for trying ~donna
3 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
You're right, "spiritual but not religious" is a good option to have, even if it's not exactly right. That fits for a lot of people these days it seems. =) And yes, trying is the important part to me! I realize that it is unrealistic to expect everyone to always feel included, but an effort put forward is always appreciated.
@magikrose (5423)
• United States
2 Jul 07
For those who know me here on mylot they know I am Wiccan. I agree with you i am an other because Idont see Wiccan or Pagan listed at all. The only place I have foundit is on Myspace they do have Wiccan listed as a religin.
3 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2 Jul 07
Thanks for sharing, Majikrose! =) I don't know what I have on my myspace under religion, come to think of it. *scratches head* It's neat that they have Wiccan listed though!
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13145)
• United States
5 Jul 07
Oh I'm definitely an "other". I have now and then seen "Pagan/New Age" listed but it's rare. Usually it's the more standard religions up there. I don't mind that so much though. I can deal with it but what really irritates me is when people like at hospital admissions or what have you ask "What church do you prefer?". Now to me a church is a christian term and is very specific. There are many religions out there that do not use a church, they might use a temple or other form of building but not a church. I've gotten to the point where when they ask that I come back with "Baroque" or "Gothic" for my type of church.
7 Jul 07
LOL - fantastic!! I'll have to use this one myself if anyone asks me that :-)
2 people like this
@emeraldisle (13145)
• United States
8 Jul 07
Glad you like. I can't take full credit for it, my sister started it first and I got it from her. A few people don't seem to like it when you say it but it does make them think about the forms being used.
1 person likes this
8 Jul 07
Whether they like it or not, making people think is a good end in itself! All the best :-)
@missak (3311)
• Spain
2 Jul 07
I am also an "other"! I was amazed a few times to find "Yoruba" and "Voodoo", which are closely related to my religious concept, but since I take things from everything, I will have to be an "other" until they invent a "Randy's way/path" option lol! Well, I have been told that this idea of learning from everything and believing in the good parts of all is called "Heinzism", but I have never found this option and it doesn't sound too cool neither. Actually, I am proud to be an "other", so I don't get upset at all. I believe with my way I honour the differences that God (whoever One or maybe many) gave me, being original. At the same time, I don't like to give much information to surveys and such, so it is good to be an "other" since it is the same that telling them nothing.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2 Jul 07
Thanks for sharing, missak! =) I really like how you expressed yourself here! I always love to hear your ideas on religion and such topics!
2 people like this
@missak (3311)
• Spain
2 Jul 07
I hope nobody around get jealous but I would say it is a mutual feeling! lol
2 people like this
@Tetchie (2933)
• Australia
3 Jul 07
Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan - what I nice label you have there. I'm also an 'other' and loving it. I felt really disheartened when I found out that people put the word spirituality into the category of religion. I don't have belief's that come from a book, so no dogma involved so no religion. I'm more into experiential spirituality, so does that make me an experiential spiritualist. I'll have to get more creative with my own label. But I hate categories anyway and being labeled so I'm delighted to tick the 'other' box and not be a sheep.
2 people like this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Thanks, Tetchie! I put a lot of thought into what term I was going to use for myself, because my great-grandmother tended to merely say "Celtic" when she was teaching me things, but that encompasses a heritage as well as the religion, and I like the "Reconstructionist" part based on admitting that some parts of ancient practice simply do not translate to the modern world, as well as the challenges posed by imperfect religious records! It sounds like you've found something that really works for yourself, and I'm glad that you're so excited to be an "other!" Thanks for sharing with me! =)
@Malyck (3428)
• Australia
1 Sep 07
I'd go with being spiritual but not religious, and probably leaning towards some form of Paganism, which I was amazed to find in the myspace drop-down list of all places! I don't particularly mind being an 'other', I would imagine that's how most people would try to describe me as well, but I do always whine about such things, as I think it's rude to only list the 'main' religions, but not even something such as Paganism, the ancient 'religion' that it is.
1 person likes this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
1 Sep 07
Oh that's cool, that Pagan was in the myspace list. I'm impressed! =) Haha, that's kind of how I am. It's not something that really upsets me anymore, but I do think it's kind of rude and annoying. When I was a little kid though, I used to go OFF about this. There was a guy from a local university that my elementary school let come in and do a survey for research he was doing, and as soon as I saw the "religion" section with it's very small list of choices (all of which were Christian denominations), and not even an "other" available... I took the clipboard he gave out with the survey and went up to the desk and started beating him on the head with it screaming "NOT EVERYONE IS CHRISTIAN YOU NARROW-MINDED CREEP!". I couldn't have been more than 7 or so... boy was I an angry child. =P
@Malyck (3428)
• Australia
2 Sep 07
HA! That sounds scarily like me as a child. I was, and continue to be, opinionated (overly, according to some people), although I have slightly more control over myself these days as far as beating the 'narrow-minded creeps'... in any other way than verbally =P
1 person likes this
@angelicEmu (1311)
7 Jul 07
I tend to categorise myself as either Buddhist, or "other" on those forms (and in the UK on "equal opportunities" forms of which I find myself having to fill in more and more frequently). It all depends on how I feel on the day. Basically, my spiritual outlook has aspects of Buddhism, Daoism, and earth-based religions. So just to make it easier, I'll usually tick "Buddhism" if I'm feeling in a co-operative mood, or "other" if I'm feeling belligerent. The problem with these forms is that if you tick "other", you generally have to enter what that "other" is, and as I don't "follow" any pigeon-hole-able organised religion, I have to then decide how they're going to describe this pigeon-hole they're going to put me into. Did you know that in the UK, until recently (at least I think it's changed!) in censuses and other official forms, the only people who were given the option of registering themselves as "pagan" were people in jail!! I believe that's changed now though, as a couple of years ago, there was a surge of people who categorised themselves as belonging to the "Jedi" religion, which had only recently been invented. This was just for fun, and because they could for the first time. I do think that these "equal opportunities" questions tend to have the opposite effect. Why should it matter what religion if any, a person has?!
1 person likes this
@Galena (9123)
7 Jul 07
well obviously they should have that option in Jail, seeing as they're all criminals and that's where they belong ;p JOKE! Hehe.
2 people like this
8 Jul 07
LOL - yes I did know you were joking, but I understand why you clarified that - sometimes the English sense of humour goes over folks' heads :-) But you make an excellent point; it's odd how outmoded old attitudes, bigotry and stupid RC propoganda still exist in "the system" and in peoples' attitudes today. Unless people are confronted by these attitudes and where they come from, they don't even realise that they form a part of their outlook and psyche! I guess that some folks just go for the easiest "follow the concensus" attitude without questioning, as it's the easier path to take. *sigh* it's sad, but the sheep mentality does seem to be becoming more and more popular nowadays, thanks to Tony Blair's reign of terrorising the people into acceptance (I don't know about "war on terror", but he seemed to be milking the idea of fear making people more malleable and less likely to want to think for themselves and question things). Ah well, here's to using our brains, and not following the herd :-) All the best galena!
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
3 Jul 07
I"m often an other too and it doesn't bother me one bit. I guess if they were to list everything there would be huge, so they only list the main ones. INteresting that the main ones don't necessarily reflect the mainstreams of the present, but hey... being other makes me more original :):):)
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Hehe, being other can be fun! =p You have a good point about how long the list would have to be, and I do realize that is a factor. Though you also have a really good point about what the mainstreams of the present are... things seem to be shifting quite a bit these days!
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
4 Jul 07
From one "other" to another "other" I don't think they will "notice" that things are changing for quite some time, It's not convenient:) But things are indeed changing and shifting. Meanwhile we just keep being proud of our "other" status :)
1 person likes this
@Darkwing (21588)
3 Jul 07
Yes, I'm an "other". lol. Occasionally, Wicca will be listed, but not very often. But then, I'm not just any old Wiccan, am I, so what do I do? If it's on the list, I will generally check it, but as you know, my path differs slightly from general Wicca. It doesn't really bother me either, but just Pagan would do fine. I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I would like to be recognised as having a belief. After all, most of the old religions were here long before those listed. Brightest Blessings.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Haha, that's another good question, what to put for specific types of Wicca! I think not many people understand that there is more than one type of Wiccan, for that matter. (Thanks for your enlightening message recently! I'm still working on processing all the information you gave me, but I really appreciated it!) "I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I would like to be recognised as having a belief." I love the way you put that. My thinking on this matter is very much the same!
@Darkwing (21588)
7 Jul 07
You're quite welcome to the information, my friend. It's good for me to write about it, as I find it helps my understanding as well and there are not many people who actually show an interest so that I can talk about my beliefs. I believe you're right as to people's understandings of different types of Wicca and Witchcraft alike. They have no idea how many different paths there are; they just think "witch" and become afraid because of the old tales of witches. lol.
1 person likes this
@jennysp8 (855)
• United States
2 Sep 07
Even though alot of what I believe would have me saying "Christian"...in surveys and such, I often finding myself place "other" down for religion. Because simply when someone hears "Christian" they think all sorts of things that I am not or don't believe in. I don't agree with alot of the teachings in organized Christian Churches. I would rather place "other" for myself. And if anyone would ever ask me, I could further explain. I'm not sure there is a better term for me other then "other". lol But, it doesn't make me made because I know that what I believe - not many others do. Thanks for the discussion!!! By the way, I would be interested in checking out your myspace page if you have one. I'll admit - I'm behind the times...I just got myself a page...lol
1 person likes this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2 Sep 07
Thanks for your response! That's a very good point actually, that some people choose to be "other" even though something similar to or related to their belief is on there, because they don't agree with all the teachings. Very interesting point. Actually, I have a myspace page, technically, but I don't really go there, so it's kind of pointless. I started doing it because my coworkers were, and got bored of it within days. Right now I'm doing Yuwie actually, which is similar to myspace except it pays you.
• Canada
1 Sep 07
You know, being another isn't so bad in my eyes. I don't feel like I need to have the specifics of my spiritual beliefs on any form that some business or government reads. If I'm filling out a census form, however, I do try to be as specific as possible. The saddest experience I had with a non-inclusive form was at a hospital. I was being admitted and they were making me fill out their intake forms. When it came to the section on religion, the choices were something like "Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, None." I had to answer "None" because there wasn't an "Other" to choose! It actually made me sad that I had to say I had no religion because it didn't fit in a box on their form. I thought "If I die, I don't want it on some form that I have no religion!" So with that story told, I much prefer having the "Other" option to choose. At least that way they know I have a religion!
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2 Sep 07
*nods* Hospitals are always a problem for me too. And anything that doesn't have an "other" and just a "none". I think that's just ridiculous, like saying "These are the only religions that exist". *sighs* You're right though, it's not really anyone's business what your religion is. It's just something I've noticed a lot, and when I was younger I would get really annoyed by it. I guess then what bothered me is that I didn't understand why people didn't know about my religion when I knew about theirs. I mean, I've always been Pagan, and I knew other people had religions other than my own, and I learned about their religions, but they didn't learn about mine. And as a kid that was something that I just couldn't understand, why they would be that way.
• United States
4 Jul 07
I pick Catholic because I was married in the Caholic church and raised our children catholic. I am not catholic and have not joined the church. If my family and I go to a catholic function and there is communion my husband and daughter participate but I do not. I was baptized Southern Baptist and know about communion, but if you have not gone through catachism in the catholic religion then you are not allowed to take communion in the church. We are a big enough town no one would know but I do and I respect their beliefs. I do not practice any religion, but I am spirital. Our son dose not believe in God or any religion. He dose study religions, but he cannot understand why someone would pray to someone or something that you cannot see or feel.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Thanks for sharing your experience here, teapot! =) I can see the reasoning for making that choice, considering what you've said. I know many people who choose their own religious labels based upon factors like family! It sounds to me like you and your family have worked out the things that work for you, and that's great. I hope that my son will grow up to make his own decisions on such matters as well, and my husband (who is Christian) and I plan to help him explore many religions so that he can find what works for him!
@Denmarkguy (1845)
• United States
3 Jul 07
I am definitely an "other," closest to "spiritual but not religious," with overtones of "I really don't care." Earlier on my path it was "Scientific Pantheist" but that certainly wasn't ever one of the choices listed on the form. Ultimately, the question feels irrelevant to me because I follow more of a "personal life philosophy" than anything. I am also an "other" when it comes to "marital status," and "political affiliation." Oh, and usually my full legal name is too long to fit on any kind of ID/government forms, leading to some confusion in situations where "FULL name" must be given and match some computer record somewhere.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Hmmm, sounds like you get to have a lot of fun when filling things out, Denmarkguy! You're just an original all the way around! =) You konw, that's interesting what you said about the question being irrelevant. I'll have to give that one some thought now! That name thing must get really old. I know I have enough annoyances over people just adding an extra letter to my first name, and how much that messes stuff up that absoluately has to match! I can imagine that you go through a lot of headache!
3 Jul 07
I am proud to be called an *other* hun. :-) I have noticed than on a lot of forms these days virtually all the worlds religions are listed, except pagan, I wonder why
1 person likes this
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
4 Jul 07
Hehe, that can be something to be proud of! =P I have noticed the same thing, and it always puzzles me. Especially if it's a REALLY long list, I wonder why they couldn't have just tossed it in there!