# Is there an option to specify your religious affiliation?

Can we have an optional description on our profile about personal religious affiliation? To specify our religious belief. For example, Lutheran Missouri Synod or Byzantine rite Catholic. People can leave this description empty, but those who might want to specify their religious affiliation can use this to specify theirs. If a person is an agnostic and want to be open about it s/he can specify that they're an agnostic.

EDIT: As it is now, users have the option to put whatever they want in that about me section but it only serve a descriptive text. A separate field, like religious affiliation can be an improvement over the about me section on the user profile page because it'll connect people with similar affiliation. For example if a person is a fundamentalist Mormon s/he will be able to be connected to other fLDS. It will work like a religious network. Because there are 24 Catholic rites a Byzantine rite can be connected to Melkite or Latin rite because we're in communion with one another. Similarly with Eastern Orthodox, Reformed Baptist, and/or any religious affiliation.

• How would this be an improvement over the "about me" section on the user profile page? As it is now, users have the option to put whatever they want in that section. How would a separate field, like the "location" field, for religious affiliation be an improvement? I think you need to spell that out. – 3961 Feb 16 '15 at 2:50
• @fredsbend I've updated my question. – Adithia Kusno Feb 16 '15 at 3:03
• Thank you for the update. That is much better. – 3961 Feb 16 '15 at 3:28

I think very few people would use such a feature.

I have mentioned my religious affiliation in a few answers, comments, and on chat , where it was relevant, and I know the religious affiliation of a few other site members by similar means.

But I would be very unlikely to mention my religious affiliation in a drop-down box, or similar, for a number of reasons:

1. It puts me in a box, where I don't fit.

I happen to be the member of a Mennonite church. I share many of their core doctrinal beliefs and goals, such as peace and justice, a slant toward pacifism, etc. But I don't agree with everything they say or teach, and I don't want anyone to assume that I do, simply because I check-marked 'Mennonite.'

For a period of 2 years I also attended a Presbyterian church, because I was living abroad, away from my home church. Should I check-mark Mennonite, or Presbyterian? They're both protestant, but as protestants go, they likely have more differences than similarities. Should we have two check-boxes (like many sites do for spoken languages)?

2. I don't want people to judge me, or my answers, by my denominational affiliation.

I have answered a few questions from a Mennonite perspective. But I've answered far more from a wide variety of other perspectives. I don't want everyone to assume that, because I answer a question from the perspective of Calvinists, that my question is less meaningful, or less "correct" because I'm not a Calvinist.

3. Denominations, generally, focus on differences rather than similarities

This might be good or bad, depending on your view, but in the context of our site, I think it's very bad. Whether you're a Mennonite, Presbyterian, Mormon, or atheist has practically nothing to do with your ability to ask or answer questions here. We should be focusing on content of questions, not the persons writing the content. This is a core belief of the SE staff, and it's one I share for the purpose of this site.

In some contexts, it can be very meaningful to know the belief systems of others with whom you interact. This isn't one of those contexts.

Naturally the difference in denominations is important for our questions and answers, but that is where the distinction belongs.

4. I believe it solves a problem that doesn't, or shouldn't exist

Your stated reason for wanting this feature is "because it'll connect people with similar affiliation." This may (or may not) be true. But why is it desired?

I'll admit, when I ran across another member of our site who happened to be a Mennonite, I got a warm fuzzy feeling in my insides. But I didn't "connect" with him in any way further than saying "oh, you're a Mennonite, too?" In fact, now I don't even remember who it was (except that he was a fairly prominent member, with whom I'm sure I interact somewhat regularly, even now).

I feel much more connected to others on this site whom I know do not share my religious affiliation. If I have "friends" here, my closest friends are Calvinists, Atheists, Agnostics, and I-have-no-idea-what-belief-system-they-subscribe-to-ists. And that's perfectly alright with me.

In fact, if I were to fill out 'Mennonite' (or 'Presbyterian', or 'unaffiliated', or whatever) on my profile, and somebody sent me a message on chat saying "Hey, I saw you're a Mennonite, too!" I'd probably block them as being too superficial for me to want to communicate with them.

5. And lastly, the ability already exists, to the extent that it probably should

As already discussed, people can already mention their religious affiliation in their profile, and many do--especially those with official positions within their church.

This should be enough for 99% of use cases, and the other 1% I suspect fall into the categories of either "not useful" or "harmful" for reasons I've outlined above.

• My thoughts exactly. I'd just add one more thing. The OP's focus on connecting seems misguided. This is not, nor is it intended to be a social networking site. Making connections is not one of the purposes of this site. – Steven Doggart Feb 19 '15 at 14:16
• Spot on. Even in the 1% of cases not already covered, this feature request would produce undesirable results more often than being useful. – Caleb Feb 20 '15 at 10:45

I don't see any harm in this, but I doubt the SE development team will go for it.

Stack Exchange is a network of over 100 sites and they all run on the same programming. Specific changes in the programming for any individual site need to be more than warranted. They need to be necessary for the site's success. For example, Math.SE has a special framework that allows the users to format formulas in a very pretty and readable way1. That is an obvious and probably necessary improvement for the site's success.

So SE would have to create a special field for our site that would hold this new data. They would weigh out the options and see if the work involved is worth the benefit the new, site specific feature would bring to the site and its community. They would very likely refuse this request citing that the "about me" section is sufficient for this and the new field offers no real improvement over it. An SE staff member will likely come in in the next week and say as much. I might be wrong. They might be willing to add it, so we'll just have to wait and see.

1. This:
vs. this: x = (-b ± sqrt(b^2 - 4ac)) / 2a
• I think this is a simple feature to be added because we can know how many religious affiliations in Christ.SE and be connected. – Adithia Kusno Feb 16 '15 at 3:44
• Mathjax is actually supported on a number of SE sites: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/216606/… – Ward - Reinstate Monica Feb 16 '15 at 3:52
• @Ward Yes, but not all. That is the point. It is a site specific function that is only offered on sites that would actually use it. – 3961 Feb 16 '15 at 3:55

You ask a yes/no question. So, I give you a yes/no answer.

## Is there an option to specify your religious affiliation?

No, there is not.

## Can you specify your religious affiliation?

Yes

How do you specify your religious affiliation?