• Daniel Mollenkamp

RE: "Someone is holding a gun to your head. They ask you your religion. What do you say?"

I have had this experience. In the Republic of South Sudan, I was grasped by a boorish bureaucrat and his AK47-wielding guard when word had gotten around I was a journalist. (There had been a crackdown on foreign journalists in the country— still is a crackdown, actually— and my visa didn’t mention anything about journalism.)

A friend had grabbed me to take me to the Rumbek Cultural Center for some sort of concert/demonstration. Needless to say, I wasn’t supposed to be there. And, people were suspicious of the American journalist.

This pudgy figure was doubly suspicious. “Why are you here?”;“What is your goal?”; etc.

Thankfully, my friend was a smooth enough talker to keep us from any of the darker paths that situation could have easily taken. But, before we could take off, he asked, “Are you a Christian?”

I said yes before I even realized what he had asked. (Years spent in religious areas, and suffering countless proselytization efforts, had, apparently, made this my reflexive response)

South Sudan, for those unaware, is a nominally Christian country in a decisively non-Christian area. American fundamentalists played a disproportionate role in the US’ decision to back the country’s separation from Sudan (a Muslim country). But religion has cleaved South Sudan from its neighbors since the British occupied the area, though it is not the only factor to do so. Extremists still cross these borders to kidnap and enslave people for at least pseudo-religious reasons (it can be damn hard to sort out ideological and economic motives in cases like these, but I think religion gets at least part of the blame).

Perhaps next time I’ll answer honestly —“No.”— and see what happens. Then again, that would be a bit ballsy and anarchic.

Original: https://www.quora.com/Someone-is-holding-a-gun-to-your-head-They-ask-you-your-religion-What-do-you-say/answer/Daniel-Mollenkamp-1

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