When I'm admitting a patient to the ward, one of the boxes I have to fill is 'religion'. The reason for having this box is to give us a heads up on any dietary requirements, or pastoral needs the patient may have. The hospital kitchen can supply halal, kosher, vegetarian and vegan meals, as long as they're given enough notice. The chaplaincy service can be contacted, if the patient requests it. And a priest can be summoned to perform the last rites if that were ever necessary. In an ophthalmic ward, it would be an absolute rarity.
Most often, when asked, people reply "Church of Scotland" which I write down as 'C of S'. Some just say "protestant." Occasionally, someone will tell me they: "Don't really have a religion." For that I put down 'none.' I have hardly ever had someone describe themselves as atheist. Yet I suspect that many of those C of S's are just giving me the church they were christened or married in, which they haven't been to for years. Agnosticism seems to rule in Scotland. True believers always describe themselves as "Christians."
Nobody has ever objected to being asked their religion, and I would be overjoyed to hear someone reply "Jedi", or "Reformed Odinist"
The dearth of atheists troubles me. I feel it wouldn't take much to herd these soft agnostics back into the fold of more evangelical churches if the right charismatic preacher came along. The only reason most people don't bother with church-going is the boredom factor. One hour of a typical presbyterian service is the most mind-numbing experience you can have in a week.
The traditional churches are dwindling as their aging congregation expires. Evangelical churches, on the other hand are gaining momentum and young converts to a hard core message that is fertile ground for intolerance against their three big bugbears: evolution, abortion and homosexuality.
The allegiance of the soft agnostics is the prize, and there are so few atheists, and so many evangelicals. The Culture War rages in America, and the storm is coming to Britain.
atheists of Britain arise! Your country needs you.