Someone asked me last week if I was Jewish.
I’d just finished giving a 30-minute talk at a huge business exhibition at Olympia for work and was hanging back, chatting to some of the people who kindly came to listen.
My seminar was pretty frank, the audience laughed in the right places (thank God) and I managed not to swear so I’d like to think that gave me a bit of approachability.
She had to have been taught to think like that by her parents, family or teachers, which is pretty unforgivable
But I must admit I was taken aback to be asked what religion I was by one of the audience.
I don’t know what physical, mental or olfactory characteristics made him think I was Jewish – I’m not – or what made him ask.
Being asked what religion I am has never been part of my upbringing.
Probably people assume that the white girl from the village was brought up CofE. They’d be right.
But it got me thinking.
My colleague Chloe is from Belfast. She says that, despite relative peace in Northern Ireland, she distinctly remembers as a child being asked by another child what religion she was.
She was so young at the time she didn’t know the answer and the other child wouldn’t play with her as a result.
The assumption there was that if Chloe had been the ‘wrong’ religion, the other girl wouldn’t be allowed to play with her.
How sad is that? And that’s not a behaviour that girl was born with.
She had to have been taught to think like that by her parents, family or teachers, which is pretty unforgivable.
Chloe’s only in her early 20s, so it’s not like that conversation happened way back in the mists of time.
You’d think we’d have all learned our lessons from Northern Ireland, from Henry VIII’s reformation, from Hitler....the list goes on.
But no, persecution of Catholics and Protestants and Jews still happens.
And I’m sure Islam and Syria are not far from our minds – Muslims are persecuted too.
I’m happy I’m allowed to play with who I like.
If only the rest of the world thought the same.