Being in the Information Technology industry, I work with a good number of Indians. (The ones from India, not the ones native to America - or to be completely, blatantly, politically incorrect: Dot Indians, not Feather Indians.) As a matter of fact, more than half of our onshore project team is Indian.
So, last week, we all went out for a team dinner to an Indian restaurant (the type of restaurant we were at has nothing to do with the story). Anyway, we're all at dinner and the topic of conversation turns to religion.
India has some sort of caste/class system. I can't explain this system with the best, or even with little detail, but what I do know is that at least two of our team members are from India's priestly caste/class, one of the highest in their culture. One of the guys from the priestly caste/class has been taking intensive religious instruction for the last 3 years in order to…what…I don’t know, become an ordained Hindu minister or something? Again, not sure of all the details (did I mention I was drinking wine during dinner?). So, the other priestly caste/class Indian was joking with the guy taking the religious training saying that soon the guy getting all the training would have a glow around him, that he will be illuminated because he will become so enlightened through this religious training. Ha ha ha.
Of course, after a couple of glasses of wine, I chime in to this religious instruction conversation with my adopted philosophy of religion which is basically that I think religion itself is just red tape that people go through to become better people (Islamic jihadists excluded). Whether it's Christian-Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, Lutheran, Methodist, whatever, or Hindu, or Jewish, I think people are just trying to become better people and establish a relationship with or an understanding of a higher power.
To which my priestly caste/class Indian co-worker asked me, in the most serious of tones, "Are you an atheist?"
Oh my goodness. No, I don't think am an atheist. No, I'm definitely not. I was pretty much raised Baptist (or a variation of Baptist). So, I'm a Christian. I believe in God. I just don't practice a religion. In doing so, (or not doing so) am I being perceived as an atheist?