I have a new job as a nurse on a telemetry floor, which explains why once again, I have been extremely busy and neglecting this blog. hopefully now I can make myself post on a more regular schedule. Also once again I've been intending to write this post for a little while.
At my new job, I had to go through a week long orientation session along with all the other new hires in the nursing services for the hospital I work for. During this orientation, we listened to a presentation by the spiritual services director which was essentially about how there are people who are available to come by and minister to the spiritual needs of the patients if they need. Keep in mind that this is not a religious hospital. Where it started to get interesting though was when he proudly presented the slides with the people who could come and offer spiritual assistance. It was made up almost exclusively by Christians, with the one exception being a Jewish Rabbi from a local synagog that they could contact to come and make calls to patients rooms on select days of the week. It then got somewhat more interesting as he proceeded to tell us that we have to be sensitive to the religious considerations of our patients, and that because we are going to be working with the public we should expect to interact with people of different faiths. This lead to him listing the different faiths our patients might have and how we should be sensitive to their beliefs. The part that was really interesting about that though, was that his list of faiths contained solely Christian denominations. At that, Mormons were also left off the list. While it would be hard for me to judge accurately since this group of orientees consisted of 70+ people, I would guess from knowing, talking to, and observing a fair number of them that about 95% were Christians.
This all lead me to wondering what it is that people here think diversity means. To be fair, there is a large population of black people in Shreveport, but its still pretty segregated in a lot of ways. There seem to be a fair number of Muslims, theres even a mosque in town apparently but I almost never see them outside of Walmart and the two or three families that live in the neighborhood behind my apartment. Similarly, you do not see many Asians around town. There are some Jewish people in town, but not very many, and their number is getting smaller.
So is the idea of diversity in Shreveport really that they have to interact with people who go to a church with a different take on Christianity than their own? It really seems like it. This is after all the 2nd most religious city in the US (http://rcms2010.org/), and it is also the city where a local buisiness was boycotted briefly because someone got a dollar bill with "in god we trust" crossed out as change on their purchase http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/12/07/when-godless-money-hurts-a-business/ (I couldn't find the newspaper story on it, but here's the Friendly Atheists take).
This has however given me an idea. I had been thinking about going to services at a couple of the local churches every so often and seeing what it was like to go as an out atheist, but now I think I might want to try going to the local mosque and meeting the people there. While obviously I woln't have much in common religiously with them, they are the next most hated minority in this town (and much more visibly so) so there might be some commonalities there. If this idea leads to fruition, it should make for an interesting story.