Christian services are held here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday. None of these services conflict with my work schedule, so I am free to attend them anytime. The Buddhist meditation service is held on Thursday when I'm at work and requires that the chaplain here put me on a "Call Out" list so my supervisor knows that I haven't escaped when I'm not at work.
Over the last few months, I have requested to be on the Call Out list for the Buddhist service, and my name would show up for a few weeks, then disappear. So I would make the request again and the process would simply repeat itself. I finally asked even again, and received this reply from the chaplain:
"Policy states that you are allowed to be placed on callout 3 times if your request does not match your religious preference. You are listed as Protestant. If you desire to be on the callout to attend the Buddhist service, you will need to request a religious preference change to Buddhist."
Now I never saw that coming. It created quite a dilemma for a man who is still a boy from First Baptist Church Winnsboro, Louisiana. It seemed so "line in the sand", so un-American. I thought long and hard about what to do and finally wrote this reply:
"Since none of the Christian services conflict with my work schedule, please change my religious preference to Buddhist. I think Jesus will understand."
While I do think Jesus understands, some of my friends probably won't. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I need all the help I can get. Also if we're keeping score, could changing my religious preference on some random computer be any worse than being a convicted felon? Of course not! However, back home in Waco, doing this would have gotten me kicked off a few boards. Too bad I didn't think about that 20 years ago.
And in a fitting end to the above, after receiving confirmation from the chaplain of the change in my religious preference, I was still not on yesterday's Call Out list to attend the meditation service.