A religious lesson in a taxi

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 19 January 2005

I had a worrying conversation with my taxi driver to Paphos airport yesterday. I had been in the car for five or so minutes when he turned and asked me:

"What religion are you?"

"Sorry?", I replied

"What religion are you?"

"None", I answered.

"Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?", he continued.

"Well, my dad is Catholic, and my mum Protestant, but I am neither."

"You have no God? Why?"

It is actually a question that I have rarely, if ever, voiced the answer to. I didn't want to launch into a long discourse on science and history and cause offence to my driver, who, like most taxi drivers in Cyprus had religious icons on display on the dashboard.

"Well", I said, improvising, "I think to believe in God you have to feel it in your heart. And I do not feel it. You are Orthodox?"

"Yes, yes, all Greeks are Orthodox. But we all have one God. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Orthodox, we all come from one God."

"Erm....well....maybe."

"Not maybe. For sure, for sure. I am certain of it."

We passed the rest of the journey in silence.

What really concerned me was that it was only after he had established that there was very little possibility of divine intervention on my behalf that he suddenly put his seat-belt on.

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