This misconception doesn’t really exist at Princeton (or amongst other parts of the educated world for that matter), but most of us still go through this conversation at least every few weeks:
Them: “Where do you go to school?”
Us: “New Jersey.”
Them: “What school?”
Us (modestly): “Princeton.”
Them: “Cool. What do you study?”
Us (proudly): “Religion.”
Them: “Oh, so you’re going to be a priest (/minister/rabbi/imam/other religious leader).”
Us: “No, actually I’m planning to become a lawyer (/doctor/teacher/investment banker/public relations specialist/management consultant/ski bum).”
That’s right. Most religion majors don’t choose a career that has much to do with religion. Like any other A.B. program at Princeton, the Department of Religion teaches us how to think critically and creatively. Once we learn to do that, we can do anything.
Some religion majors go into careers in academia, in religion or other humanities subjects (literary theory, political theory, anthropology, social sciences, history, anything). Plenty go off to more lucrative careers in law, consulting, banking, and business. Some are teachers, writers, publishers, artists, actors, and generally fascinating people. One now lives in a yurt (seriously).
Even our professors joke about what we're supposed to tell people when they ask us what we study, and we all have our own stories about how we convinced our parents that it was OK to major in religion. There are plenty of misconceptions, and plenty of different ways to answer the question. But most of us are so happy that we are majoring in religion that the real problem when we're asked what we study is getting us to stop smiling about it.
Another common misconception is that religion majors are either all intensely religious and dismissive of those who wish to ask the "hard questions" or all intensely atheistic and dismissive of those who are willing and eager to maintain their faith in this modern age. This is simply not true. In my experience, the religion department is composed of some of the most tolerant personalities on campus. From the students to the professors, personal religious beliefs are surprisingly varied (I've spoken to Buddhists and Christian Scientists) and seminars never feel like forums in which participants are unable to speak their minds. Open minds are not lacking in this department and, in fact, are the reason why it is so rewarding to be a Religion concentrator.