Ornery.org
  Front Page   |   About Ornery.org   |   World Watch   |   Guest Essays   |   Contact Us

The Ornery American Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Religion in the Workplace

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Religion in the Workplace
KnightEnder
unregistered


 - posted            Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My boss, a great guy (very religious, as is everybody I've met in this company so far. I fit perfect [Wink] ), asked that we pray before every meal. I said sure, and bowed my head as he did so.

Am I a hypocrite for bowing my head and not saying anything? I don't think so. And here is my reasoning: A)I believe in respecting other peoples customs and beliefs (I bow my head, and teach my boys to bow their heads at family get-togethers, even though my family knows my/our lack of belief). However: [/b]B) To be honest, I would have bowed my head no matter what, as I love and NEED this job.

(I would have cut the head off a live rooster if that was what it took to keep the job. Or to get a hit in a crucial at-bat. [Smile] ) (Bull Durham reference, for you neophytes. [Smile] )

Was he out of line?

Not going to raise a ruckus about it either way, just curious what y'all think? (Once again; he is really a great guy, and I really enjoyed working with him.)

But this is the kind of thing we atheist/agnostics face day in and day out. [Frown]

KE

[ March 29, 2007, 04:00 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
flydye45
unregistered


 - posted            Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Exactly how often do you eat with your boss?

It's inappropriate for him to ask others to do so, but not to ask if others mind while he and any other believers indulge.

You don't even need to bow your head. Keeping silent is all that should be required.

But having atheists bitch about other people with religious beliefs is something we tend to suffer every day [Wink]

IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TinMan
Member
Member # 960

 - posted      Profile for TinMan   Email TinMan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmmm,

If you are afraid that you will be fired if you, respectfully, discuss that your beliefs are not the same as his, then maybe your boss is not such a great guy after all....

Do you really get the sense that he would do so, just for having different beliefs? I would have a problem working for someone so closed minded, as I would have to doubt whether I could logically debate any projects he decided to put forth....

I hope you're in a better situation than what I am reading in to it.

Posts: 340 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KnightEnder
unregistered


 - posted            Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No, I don't think he would 'fire' me. But I think he would look down on me.

Fly, we were on the road together for four days, so three meals a day for four days.

Like I said: Not a biggie, but I think worth discussion, and am curious what you all think. Thanks Fly and Tin for weighing in so far.

KE

IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daruma28
Member
Member # 1388

 - posted      Profile for Daruma28   Email Daruma28   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What's the harm in respecting his religious practice that does not TRULY hurt or inconvenience you in any real way - yet generates real goodwill in his eyes towards you?

Of course, you could work for him awhile, than hire the ACLU to sue him on your behalf, claiming you felt religious intimidation because he is abusing his position of power and forcing you to worship a religion you do not believe in...

Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
caladbolg1125
Member
Member # 3666

 - posted      Profile for caladbolg1125   Email caladbolg1125   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Whenever I have dinner with my grandmother or my father's girlfriend, both of whom are very religious, I sit silently and respectfully while they pray. When I was younger I would mutter things that would have been considered very rude had I said them loud enough to be heard, and I do think that their beliefs are irrational and that while I'm open to talking about it, you should expect me to close up if prosyletizing begins.

I have since learned some respect for their irrational beliefs and now only roll my eyes at them in private. (Dishonest. I don't think so. They know where I stand and while they may wish I believed differently for the sake of my soul they know I'm an adult perfectly capable of making my own decisions.)

So, KE, I would've done the same thing and I think you handled it fine.

Posts: 615 | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Drake
Member
Member # 2128

 - posted      Profile for The Drake   Email The Drake   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Framing of the prayer is an important thing.


"Now we pray"
"I'd like to offer a prayer"
"Bow your heads before the Lord's word"
"I'd like you all to pray before we eat"

Some are over the line, some are perfectly reasonable.


As I've said before, I will bow my head in situations where I'm at a friend's wedding, and the celebrant asks people to do so. But to regularly be exposed to prayer, I wouldn't like that.

I might start bringing my lunch, or not attend dinners, if such a policy were put in place.

You should never feel required to say anything, but I wouldn't rule out having a private, respectful conversation IF it bothers you.

Or you could just keep inventing reasons to arrive late. [Smile]

Posts: 7707 | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Haggis
Member
Member # 2114

 - posted      Profile for Haggis   Email Haggis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
What's the harm in respecting his religious practice that does not TRULY hurt or inconvenience you in any real way - yet generates real goodwill in his eyes towards you?
Would it be okay with you if he were Muslim and asked you to pray to Allah 5 times a day?

I'd be willing to bet that some Christians would have a problem with that.

Posts: 1771 | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dave at Work
Member
Member # 1906

 - posted      Profile for Dave at Work   Email Dave at Work   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
KE,

The way I see it, and I know others opinions will vary, is that as long as you are doing it our of respect for others beliefs and not because you have to in order to keep your job then you are not a hypocrit. When I have been a guest at someone elses home I have always respected their customs, religious or otherwise, and that sounds more or less like reason A that you gave in your post.

In this case you simply waited silently while others prayed before eating thus rspecting their beliefs. On the other hand, if you were asked to lead the prayer before the meal, then you are being asked not only to respect others religious beliefs but also to actively participate. In that case then I think he would have stepped over the line.

I don't know anything about your employer, but I do know that values based leadership is always more successful than leadership that is not based on some kind of values. The particular values that the leadership is based on can vary, but should reflect the values of the leader and the goals of the organization. The leader should, of course, also respect the values of his employees, but not at the cost of sacraficing his own or his organizations values. Leading by example, in this case praying before a meal thus showing that following ones religious practices while in the work environment is a godd thing. On the other hand, if he takes it too far and make those with other beliefs feel uncomfortable perhaps giving the impression that Christian beliefs and practices are good but not others beliefs and practices, then he is defeating the purpose of his leadership by example.

Note that when I say value based leadership in this thread I am not specifically talking about religious based values. They could be of course, but the values a particular leader could base his leadership on could also be something more along the lines of duty, honor, and trust.

[ March 29, 2007, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: Dave at Work ]

Posts: 1928 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DonaldD
Member
Member # 1052

 - posted      Profile for DonaldD   Email DonaldD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Haggis: Yes, but KE is agnostic at best. Hopping on one foot while covering one eye and shaking his hair (putatively to honor the great flying spaghetti monster) in no way conflicts with his own religious affiliation, since he has none.

Whereas a Christian praying to what he might believe is a false God is inherently a no-no.

Posts: 10751 | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
caladbolg1125
Member
Member # 3666

 - posted      Profile for caladbolg1125   Email caladbolg1125   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Isn't the Muslim god and the Christian god the same thing? [Roll Eyes]
Posts: 615 | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daruma28
Member
Member # 1388

 - posted      Profile for Daruma28   Email Daruma28   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Haggis -
The proposition is that KE's boss offers a prayer before a meal - KE bowing his head out of respect is an entirely differnt thing than the boss asking KE to offer the prayer himself. If I had a muslim boss who required his employees to actively perform a prayer towards Mecca 5 times a day, I'd find a new boss. But if I only had to respectfully remain silent during my bosses daily prayers for a few moments...no I would not have a problem with that at all.

I would respect that person's religious belief - unless of course the guy proceeded to pray to Allah than try and kill me as an infidel or something.

Now maybe if this guy is saying a 20 minute prayer and your food got cold, I might find that a bit irritating and occasion for a little bit of religous disrespect.

Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dagon
Member
Member # 3945

 - posted      Profile for dagon   Email dagon       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Really want to know if your boss was out of line?

Next time it happens, offer a prayer yourself--to something...different.

A Satanic grace, a Wiccan one.

Say it just loud enough that you are heard.

Or offer it as 'the' prayer.

Chances are you'll never be asked to take part in worshiping your bosses god ever again.

Posts: 119 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
guinevererobin
Member
Member # 4024

 - posted      Profile for guinevererobin   Email guinevererobin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Haggis... I think there's a difference between respecting another's religion and mimicking it. My best friend/roommate in college was Muslim. I didn't eat in front of her during Ramadan and showed all the respect I could for her beliefs. She went to church with me on Easter because it was a meaningful day for me. And then we all sang kumbaya.

Point being, I think it's a reasonable expectation that people will allow you to practice your religious beliefs, and people should not be offended if they come into contact with them. At the same time, people have a reasonable expectation not to be pushed to practice a certain religion either. It's what constitutes "pushing" that becomes a catalyst for much hate and discontent.

In my opinion, it would have been more appropriate for the boss to have asked for silence while he prayed.

I think KE reacted in an appropriate fashion; it would be just as appropriate to simply remain quiet instead of bowing his head.

Posts: 463 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
guinevererobin
Member
Member # 4024

 - posted      Profile for guinevererobin   Email guinevererobin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
aaaaand of course while I was considering my response (and taking breaks for my actual day job) many others replied to Haggis and now I feel rather, well, late.

Must learn to write (think?) faster...

Posts: 463 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Carlotta
Member
Member # 3117

 - posted      Profile for Carlotta   Email Carlotta   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't think it's a problem that you bowed your head. If bowing your head truly conflicted with your beliefs, then you probably should have said something. And then knowing that he was asking you to do something that conflicted with your beliefs, your boss should have not asked you or made you feel in any way that there would be negative consequences to your not doing so. I'm not Muslim, and if I was asked to say a prayer that says Mohammed is God's prophet, I would not do so. But if I worked with Muslims and they were praying during work hours, I would certainly do whatever they asked to show respect for their prayer without actually joining in. I think it's a sign of respect for the other person's beliefs to bow your head.

edit: Wow, cool! Look at that! In the 20 minutes it took me to formulate my response, a couple other people also brought up the Muslim example!

[ March 29, 2007, 05:05 PM: Message edited by: Carlotta ]

Posts: 1318 | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sunshine
Member
Member # 2990

 - posted      Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I worked for a company that was quite religious as well. I consider myself agnostic, and when people prayed before meals I tipped my head a bit out of respect for their beliefs. However, when the boss bought an expensive table at an Pro-Life luncheon I declined the invite. When they asked why I told them the truth; I'm pro-choice. They were shocked and perhaps a little appalled, but the respect needs to go both ways.
Regarding ritualistic behavior and hypocrisy: I realize this is a different scenario, but I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical to act out rituals that don't hold meaning for you if they are intended to respect those who are present. My mini-research project was to observe the Sikh Temple down the street, and in addition to covering my hair I performed many bowing stances in the congregation room and didn't know what they meant. I also don't follow their religion, but not doing it would have been disrespectful. This is different than work, however, because I intentionally went to their place of worship. Work in the U.S. is designed to promote efficiency and the laws are in place to avoid discrimination.

Posts: 249 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DonaldD
Member
Member # 1052

 - posted      Profile for DonaldD   Email DonaldD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
caladbolg1125, there are some Christians that believe other self-proclaimed Christians are either a) not Christians or b) people who believe in another god entirely.

That's why I said "to what he might believe"

Posts: 10751 | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Haggis
Member
Member # 2114

 - posted      Profile for Haggis   Email Haggis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Judging from the response, I gather that people would not have a problem bowing their heads while someone else prayed to Allah. That's cool, but I don't think it's appropriate for a boss to make that request at work. And therein lies the crux.
Posts: 1771 | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sunshine
Member
Member # 2990

 - posted      Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Actually Haggis you make an extremely valid point, especially when you use the word 'boss'(i.e. boss to subordinate). There really is an underlying social understanding that he has the power to fire or hire; which is supposed to be balanced by laws, regulations, etc. to eliminate issues that should not be considered (such as religion, gender, etc.).
Posts: 249 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DonaldD
Member
Member # 1052

 - posted      Profile for DonaldD   Email DonaldD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, that goes almost without saying - it's bad form and arguably illegal what he did, in much the same way as suggestive sexual comments can be.

But in KE's context, and since this doesn't bring up a religious conflict (for him) it's undoubtedly not worth saying anything. Now, if these actions were just the tip of the iceberg...

Posts: 10751 | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Pixiest
Member
Member # 869

 - posted      Profile for The Pixiest     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
He is out of line.

But if you don't mind, does it really matter? If you like the guy and don't mind "going with the flow" then just keep going with the flow. I'm an atheist and I'd probably do the exact same thing as you.

But I WOULD object to even miming praying to allah. I am familiar and comfortable with both the Christian and Jewish versions of God. The muslim view of god doesn't seem quite so tolerant.

Posts: 385 | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
seekingprometheus
Member
Member # 3043

 - posted      Profile for seekingprometheus   Email seekingprometheus   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree with the posts that have questioned the degree of compulsion that exists here.

I don't think that there is any hypocrisy in acceding to a request to passively demonstrate respect for someone else's sacred beliefs.

But neither should there be any compulsion to conform to the sacral rituals of another individual, and if you are engaging in this behavior because you feel compelled to do so rather than because you are happy to have the opportunity to do a favor for someone you respect...well that may be a bit hypocritical for someone who so consistently champions the rights of secularists to not be cowed by religious influence. [Smile]

Another pertinent question has to do with the setting of these meals. Do these meals take place in a private or public setting? An individual has every right to seek "sanctuary" to perform sacred rituals--and if his "sanctuary" on the road is a shared hotel room (for example), his companions would be quite commendable for respecting his need for that sanctuary and extending their protection toward his need by engaging in behaviors that facilitate his sense of sanctuary. On the other hand--if he engages in these behaviors in public settings when it seems he could easily retreat to a personal setting, then there is a chance that his behaviors can be perceived as imposing his religious rituals upon others--particularly if he demands that his companions join him in the show.

[ March 29, 2007, 08:54 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

Posts: 3654 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
hobsen
Member
Member # 2923

 - posted      Profile for hobsen   Email hobsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What strikes me is that if KnightEnder had been the boss, and an employee asked whether they could pray before meals, he would certainly have agreed to it. Some Christians are accustomed to praying before meals, and it makes them uncomfortable not to do so. In this case the boss asked whether it was OK, which was all that was necessary. What was he supposed to do, avoid praying on the chance KnightEnder might object?

However, this situation could lead to illegal discrimination. Personally I would keep a diary of what happens, notes in a computer file, just as would be advised for someone experiencing what might turn into sexual harassment. If nothing develops, you throw it away. If someone does act improperly, however, you have a convincing record of events to nail them for it. But it sounds to me as if this boss understands his legal obligations.

Posts: 4387 | Registered: Jul 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Richard Dey
Member
Member # 1727

 - posted      Profile for Richard Dey   Email Richard Dey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A few years ago, I was a guest in the Adirondacks, and out comes the meal -- and I'm asked to say grace. Not in the sense of would I have liked to say grace but almost as if some impressario had walked out onto the world stage telling everybody that I was going to sing for my supper.

It is just this boundless presumption that makes me suspicious of religion's place in the public sphere altogether.

What if somebody grabbed the mike at a baseball game and said And now we will NOT play the national anthem because the bible says that pride is a sin -- and the 1st verse commits the sin of pride.

Of course it's inappropriate -- but insulting people by imposing their sensibilities on others isn't going to weigh heavy on a Christian conscience. They've been doing it for millennia.

Posts: 7866 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
hobsen
Member
Member # 2923

 - posted      Profile for hobsen   Email hobsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is simply culture shock - it is amazing what untravelled people will expect of a guest of honor. Be grateful they did not give you the head of a snake to eat, or a couple of virgins to impregnate. But what did you do?
Posts: 4387 | Registered: Jul 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RickyB
Member
Member # 1464

 - posted      Profile for RickyB   Email RickyB   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's a sort of pressure. It's not 100% ok, but it's not the end of the world wither - especially if it was a silent prayer where all you had to do was be quiet and look contemplative... If he had said "lets pray" and then launched into a specific religion's prayer ("our father who art in heaven", say, or "Ave Maria"), expecting everyone to "amen" that would be very wrong.

It would also be wrong if what happened to you happened at a public school. But you're an adult. You get less protection from peer pressure [Smile]

Posts: 19145 | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
caladbolg1125
Member
Member # 3666

 - posted      Profile for caladbolg1125   Email caladbolg1125   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
caladbolg1125, there are some Christians that believe other self-proclaimed Christians are either a) not Christians or b) people who believe in another god entirely.

That's why I said "to what he might believe"

Hence the stupid devisions over belief and practice and hence my eyeroll. [Cool]
Posts: 615 | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DonaldD
Member
Member # 1052

 - posted      Profile for DonaldD   Email DonaldD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ah, but not knowing whether you were one who believes there is no division, the eyeroll took on a whole other meaning...
Posts: 10751 | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
caladbolg1125
Member
Member # 3666

 - posted      Profile for caladbolg1125   Email caladbolg1125   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yeah I seem to have adopted a subtlety to my writing and speech that makes it difficult for others to tell exactly where I'm coming from. I apologize for any previous and future confusion I may cause and will try to be more clear in the future. It works well in my fiction to be subtle and ambivalent, but not so much in forum discussion. [Smile]
Posts: 615 | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zyne
Member
Member # 117

 - posted      Profile for Zyne   Email Zyne   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't see the harm to you in doing what you did / going along with him.

I think it's narrow of him to assume you believe like he does. But you can't expect him to know how you believe until you tell him.

I'm atheist. I tolerate a lot of behavior at work that I would not want to tolerate at home, or in my personal life. To me, asking me to join in prayer isn't any more offensive to me than sneezing into your hands and subsequently handing me some papers. In fact, I'd prefer to do the prayer.

Posts: 4003 | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Richard Dey
Member
Member # 1727

 - posted      Profile for Richard Dey   Email Richard Dey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
¶ Well, I wish I'd been as Ricky. I should have done a yoga squat on my chair and gone into a trance -- but I was really, really hungry so I sang for my supper. I managed to be thankful for good company if I can remember rightly. I praised them rather than their gods.

¶ But hey, talking about religion in the workplace, how does religion respond to the workplace in religion?

Maybe some prostitutes, professional of couse, should take some of their work to church on Sunday? How would a garrulous preacher like somebody running a jackhammer through his sermonette? How about a daycare lady changing a diaper on the altar?

You remember the juggler performing for the Virgin in lieu of coughing up the cash? I suppose that act never got papal approval.

Posts: 7866 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Ornery.org Front Page

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.1