As a society, we usually categorize people with labels based off of their:
sexuality, style, grades, and religion.
Having unknown thoughts about a topic, such as religion, doesn’t seem to be accepting. Although labeling can sometimes make things simpler and more organized, is it truly necessary? For example, on college applications, there is a section to select what religion you are associated with, but why do people’s beliefs have to have an official label?
“Religious ‘nones’ – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population.” – Michael Lipka of Pew Research
Taking a closer approach to this topic, I spoke with Rev. Dr. Justin Allen to get his input about this section on college applications, SU’s to be specific. “Checking a denomination helps benefit the students so that we, as a University, can hopefully help connect them with other people of that religion or show them programs and clubs we offer that could interest them.”
For confirmation, I took my questions to the Admissions Office and spoke with Carly Scranton, an admissions counselor, and she agreed with Justin Allen’s statement. “It definitely is on there for the connection between students but it is also asked for the demographics purpose and data collecting. Like ‘What percentage of students who have applied here are Jewish?’ and so on.”
We focus so much on the classification that sometimes we lose the true meaning of that individual because they’ve been placed under a particular label. The “Labeling Theory” in the criminal justice system can even show a connection to this issue we’re facing. Once a person is seen under a certain light, it is difficult to shift that perception into a different perspective.
We judge, we shame, and we force our thoughts of religion to others instead of accepting their different outlook on the matter. Much like politics, religious views of an individual can often be out spoken and held to a extremely high standard.
In today’s society and our current generation, we are expected to hold ourselves to a certain standard. Applying for college is already stressful for prospective students, adding a question like, “What religion do you associate with (if any)?” can make the process more stressful and add more pressure.
Whether a person stands with a particular denomination or has their own beliefs without a title, religion will always be opinion based; there is not right or wrong answer, just YOUR answer.
No label needed.