As a New Zealander, I have become immersed in the culture where there are karakia, blessings and prayers said at hui, during funerals, weddings, and many other occasions, not least of which is when people offer prayers to friends in need, or even me. I respectfully wait for the moment to be over and always feel a bit remorseful for not having any faith to put trust into. I like the sentiments that are expressed but just don't get who they are saying them to.
I watched Graham Nortons's programme on TV recently when he was interviewing the star of The Office - Ricky Gervais and he had finished his hosting of the Oscars or some such other event by saying "....and I want to thank God for making me an atheist." which was pretty offensive to many Americans apparently because, as Johnny Depp said at the time, "God has a home in the American Mid-West." Apparently, about 90% of USA citizens are believers whereas it is more like 50% in Britain.
So I wondered what the percentage was like in New Zealand. I guess I could go to the government census statistics - the 2006 census showed about 66% believers ( on the decrease from the previous census). It will be interesting to see what happens in the next census (remembering we bypassed a census due to the Christchurch earthquake). Will there be a resurgence of religion due to human response to the disasters?
Its not that I wouldn't like to have faith, I just don't. It must be quite nice to have some hope for life after death, reassurance for people who want to see their loved ones again and all the other benefits that religion must bring to the psyche.
What do other (34%) of non-believing people do when all the karakia, prayers and blessings are on? I have never asked for fear of offending someone but I would quite like to know. Our politicians all seem to be able to offer prayers for in troubled times so it cant be them.