By Billy Goulston
Lauren Gaba â08 was raised Jewish. She received a Bat Mitzvah and infrequently attends temple. Despite her Jewish heritage, she has adopted a different religion to display on her Facebook profile: âPlanet Earth.â
No, sheâs not a tree-hugger who worships the ground we walk on. Instead, Gaba has fallen in love with her favorite television show, âPlanet Earth.â Like many other students, she has taken up the habit of swapping her actual religion for another, made-up religion. Among Harvard-Westlake students, this practice is particularly prevalent.
Facebook â where almost 60 million people are engaged in online social interaction â displays a profile for every member consisting of interests, activities and random information. Among the various tidbits shown on a personâs profile, several classifications are displayed at the top. Students can post their relationship statuses, their political views, whether theyâre looking for ârandom play,â âfriendshipâ or ânetworkingâ and, of course, their religious views.Â
Some students simply write one of their favorite quotations, which often pertain to religion holistically to display as their religious views. Leland Cox â09, who isnât very religious, has written a Karl Marx quote as his religious view because he doesnât âsubscribe to a single religion,â he said.
While his Facebook religion is âreligion is the opiate of the masses,â he doesnât follow or believe in Marxian doctrine, instead feeling that, in general terms, âreligion was used to pull a blanket over a lot of peopleâs heads.â
Rather than using their âReligious Viewsâ to make a personal statement or quote their favorite thinker or writer, many students who change their Facebook religion just do it to be funny.
Elliot Rosenberg â08, always quick to make a joke, has turned his religious views and the rest of his profile into his personalized comedy routine. In the past, Rosenberg had âJewish,â the true response, filled in as his religion; however, according to his Facebook profile, he has recently joined âThe Church of Gary Antonian Sheffield.â
Rosenberg is quick to elucidate his offbeat religious views, explaining that he âchose âThe Church of Gary Antonian Sheffieldâ as the response to the âReligious Viewsâ field on Facebook because it shows my idolization of him as a steroid-free baseball player and superhuman entity.â
The senior admits that he doesnât take religion seriously in general, only attending temple services occasionally.
Â Though students like Rosenberg use their âReligious Viewsâ in jest, the act of publicly discarding oneâs religion for a false one âcould have to do with ambivalent feelings about religion, theirs or religion in general,â upper school psychologist Sheila Siegel said.
While many religion-swappers are distinctly unserious in their motives, âwe often joke about things that are issues with us,â Siegel said.