Examples of Workplace Proselytization

I’ve written before about colleagues talking about religion in the workplace. It’s not always on purpose or because they want to proselytize. It’s not illegal, either — just a part of the conversation. They just assume everyone believes in a god.

Reader Anonymouse just sent along a few more examples that show how Godtalk at work can make atheists (and I presume plenty of other people) uncomfortable:

A coworker asked how I was doing, and I said I’d had a good day. I asked her the same question and she replied, “I had a god day.” I thought I heard wrong so I said, “Excuse me?” and she said “I had a GOD day. All of my traffic lights were green; it’s a nice day out.” Okay… I almost felt like I was being set up. What does a reasonable person even SAY to that? Why are they assuming that I’d be comfortable with that conversation?

A few months ago up north, a little girl fell from the third floor of a house. Two guys were outside — they didn’t know each other and they didn’t know the girl. Still, they were able to catch the girl and she was ok. Yes, it’s a great story and they are heroes, but the people at work started talking about it and it basically came down to this way of thinking: “God said ‘It isn’t your time yet’ and put those men there.” To which I said, “Then why didn’t he just shut the window?” I got a few looks for that one…

Another co-worker is always saying something about God or Jesus. She firmly believes God hand-selected her to solve a crime. So she stands there, points to the ceiling, and says, “There’s no parole up there, no mercy and no grace. That’s the ultimate judge up there,” to which another co-worker starts going on and on about how right she is and that “even if they don’t believe, they’re going to meet their maker.”

Do you have any other examples of religion in the workplace?

How do you handle it? When do you respond? Do you assert your atheism, or just smile and nod, or say something snarky in return?

  • http://None Sean

    Unless you are told that you are “sinning and going to hell” by cursing at your ancient work laptop, it would be silly to assert your atheism. Just let it go, this is a silly matter that really doesn’t need to be inflated.

  • Ian

    > There’s no parole up there, no mercy and no grace

    Wow, there’s no hope if you don’t even understand your own religion.

    > “I had a GOD day. All of my traffic lights were
    > green; it’s a nice day out.” …. Why are they
    > assuming that I’d be comfortable with that
    > conversation?
    Why do people assume they *should* be comfortable with every conversation? You’ve got to have a pretty flimsy psyche to be offended by somebody else having faith.

    > To which I said, “Then why didn’t he just shut
    > the window?” I got a few looks for that one…
    Sounds like a reasonable response.

    Why does everyone want to be so fake all the time? Say what you think, respectfully accept what other people say. Get on with life. Its not really so hard.

    If you have even a passing interest in somebody else, then you’ll be interested in what they believe. If you can’t bear to hear them discuss their faith, then don’t talk to them at all.

    All pretty basic social skills, IMHO.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Theist: “I had a GOD day.”
    Atheist: “Oh, I’m so sorry, you had a flood?”

    In the workplace people can hold whatever crazy views they want as long as it doesn’t impact on their work or the harmony of the workplace. That goes for both theists and atheists. As far as I’m concerned talk about gods is as relevant as talk about horoscopes or TV shows. You can talk about it but keep it to a minimum. If it interferes with your work, you’re fired.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    During last year’s “white elephant” gift exchange at our holiday party, someone gave the gift of a copy of Adam Sandler’s “Click” … and a bible.

    The same guy (I assume) uses business time to set up activities and reservations for his church.

  • Catherine

    We had a controversy here when a co-worker put on his email signature “have a blessed day”. Our regional manager complained and eventually he reluctantly changed it to “have an awesome day”.

  • Sarah

    I shared a cublicle with a Jehovah’s Witness.

    For 2 Years.

    It was everything you would imagine. I essentially sat there, doing my work and nodding uh-huh to whichever crackpot thing was coming out of his mouth that I was mostly ignoring. Finally I and another coworker had enough, spoke to our boss, and the coworker dialed it down to ostentatiously reading copies of the watchtower during his coffee break.

    As for me, I don’t get into religion in the workplace–it’s not germane to the task at hand. On the rare occasion it comes up (I’ve since moved on from the place with the apocolyptic colleague), I nod politely, then shift the subject to another topic.

  • Polly

    I don’t feel I have a right to be perennially “comfortable.”
    So, yes, I feel a little awkward when a person talks about having a “blessed” day or the “lord this…” or “the lord that…” but no worse than when people ask me about the Lakers or whatever and I end up informing them that I don’t follow hockey ;)

  • http://maxuincrazyland.blogspot.com/ Max U

    Over Christmas one of my coworkers took a kitsch Santa hat with “Santa is Coming” embroidered on it and taped “Jesus” over the “Santa”.

    I think she might have subtly missed the point…

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com Robert Madewell

    To me, all those examples are no big deal. I hear those kinds of things all the time. It’s not really prosyletizing. Besides, being an ex-fundamentalist, I expect to hear those kinds of conversations. I find them amusing, usually.

    However, I have been prosyletized to at work. Someone leaves chick tracts on my desk. A certain woman invites me constantly to go to her church, since she has heard that I’m an atheist. She will try to strike up conversations about hell and heaven and Jesus’s sacrifice. I just say that I’ve heard it all before. There’s not anything amusing about prosyletizing. But, The woman is a friend so I can put up with it.

    IMO, nobody should be offended by casual religious conversation. Like Hemant said,

    “It’s not illegal, either — just a part of the conversation. They just assume everyone believes in a god”.

    So, maybe when that happens we can gently inform the fundy mental that not everyone believes in God and that silly personal anectdotes do not count as evidence.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    I love being a university professor and being in a highly technical area (mathematics).

    Almost everyone I work with would find these examples hilarious. :)

  • Mathew Wilder

    The egoism of some religious people is astounding. God gives you green lights, but let’s 40,000 childen under the age of 5 die from preventable causes every day? Talk about fucked up priorities!

  • http://newref.blogspot.com James

    Those situations mentioned above are nothing compared to the ordeal of this woman, if the story is true: http://xr.com/lrj

  • http://gusonthought.blogspot.com Gustavo Keener

    I really like A’s note on miracles. Recently, a construction worker in a crane was pinned inside the crane by a falling 12″ pipe. The news on Asheville, NC’s WLOS-13 said, “It’s a miracle that they were able to get him out, after two hours of work,” to which I told my parents, “It’s also a miracle that the pipe fell on the guy in the first place.” People don’t like it when you point out the dark side of alleged “miracles,” but if we don’t point it out, who will?

  • Matto the Hun

    The egoism of some religious people is astounding. God gives you green lights, but let’s 40,000 childen under the age of 5 die from preventable causes every day? Talk about fucked up priorities!

    Well Duh! Where do you think Gawd gets the power to turn the traffic lights green!

    By killing impoverished 3rd world children!

    No more blood for Traffic Lights!

  • James H

    Count me among the people who finds Henant’s situations above a nonissue. If somebody’s just talking about having a great day because of God, or if somebody says “I think God was watching out for that little girl who was saved,” it’s just conversation, not proselytizing. Getting bent out of shape about this sort of thing — hell, even snarking unreasonably about this sort of thing — diminishes examples of true religious discrimination in the workplace.

  • Luther

    I treat them just the same as if they had told me that they were a secret agent and there are people hunting them down and they have to watch out etc.

    Creepy…I handle it as little as possible…give as wide a path as possible and try to avoid them…before they make up a story about me and come back with a gun to protect themselves.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    This isn’t really relevant to my current job, but in the past, I have always maintained workplace harmony by not talking about religion or politics! I would rather get along with my coworkers. None of those examples given seem to be inappropriate, though, and none of them are proselytizing. Seems like kind of a nonissue, actually.

  • SarahH

    Yeah, all of those are a bit annoying, but nothing I’d say anything about. I mean, I’d find it about equally irritating for my co-workers to talk about sports around me.

    Instances where actual proselytism happens in the workplace (or worse) are the ones worth speaking up about.

  • http://www.limetwists.com Cole

    My husband lost his job last month due to religion in the workplace, actually. His general foreman fancied himself a “preacher”, and would often proselytize on the job. He knew of my husband’s atheism because of a previous job they’d done together a few years prior. He was constantly making comments to my husband to the tune of “If I believed like you, I would be out here raping, murdering, and stealing just because I could.” and even once said “It’s a good thing you’re a firefighter. You’ll get plenty of practice of what hell’s going to be like before you actually get there.”

    Just two weeks before my husband was fired, he required to climb 60 foot into a tree that was overhanging power lines and remove several branches – while the wind was gusting at 30mph. When he touched ground after being in the tree, the first thing the GF said was “Do you believe in God now?” My husband answered no. A few days later he was demoted. And within a week he had been fired. When he was fired, he asked if it had to do with his being an atheist, and the GF replied “You’re a hard worker, you’re a good worker. You know what you’re doing. But I have no place on the job site for somebody who thinks like you.”

  • JG

    Okay, I think I generally agree with the assessment of people that you don’t have the right to always feel comfortable, but where I disagree with them is that this situation is that. I don’t think you felt uncomfortable because they were talking about religion, I think there was a discomfort due to the asymmetry of the criticism. If they’re to say, “even if you don’t believe, you’re going to hell”, that’s a pretty judgmental statement and it might be uncomfortable to work with a coworker who truly believed that you were destined for what he believes is the worst imaginable place.

    HOWEVER:
    I think the real issue is that you really could not in practice, mention the exact opposite, completely valid viewpoint that their entire time spent focusing on religion is a complete waste of time and that their beliefs are no more valid than the Easter Bunny or the Loch Ness monster. They can openly state their fairly offensive beliefs, but because of the BIGOTRY towards atheists in society, you don’t feel comfortable stating your possibly offensive, but likely very true beliefs yourself.

  • anonymouse

    Hey everyone! Anonymouse here-

    I really value everyone’s responses- some were very amusing (and some were terribly sad). Hemant had to edit my email to save space, but I would like to state that:

    I DID, in fact note that they have freedom of speech and that I didn’t want to violate their rights,

    AND that I wasn’t offended by the examples I gave, just the last one where a co worker said that everyone meets their maker, whether they believe or not, because they are bringing me into it at that point, and it’s really presumptuous to assume you know god. I do think that is inappropriate for the workplace, and I also don’t like the enthusiasm used when some Christians talk about non-Christians going to hell. It seems a little un Christ-like to me :)

    I was just giving examples of the inane, illogical stuff I hear every.single.time.

    Keep the responses and examples coming so I know I’m not alone!

  • anonymouse

    and Cole-

    I truly hope you and your husband file a hefty lawsuit. That is not only harassment, but extreme discrimination. What a truly horrible person to treat your husband like that, not even mentioning the underlying stress. As a firefighter, I assume you have to have a special bond with your fellow firefighters. To have that pervasive hostility when you are trying to save lives..had to be unbearable.

  • Derek

    Religion does come up at work often, and I typically don’t think it’s a big deal. The most anyone talks about is doing something for their church. However, during a meeting with my boss, she was telling me all this stuff about herself, and then she talked about what church she went to and all this stuff she volunteers for. Then she said she’s volunteers for a substance abuse program “kind of like AA but it doesn’t have the higher power stuff.” I thought to myself, “Cool, here I thought she was crazy but maybe…” and then she says, “It’s more Christ-Centered.” Sweet. That’s the only time I’ve really felt uncomfortable, because it was my boss and I didn’t feel I could be honest.

    And then of course there’s the time when my company broke the law. On Good Friday, they posted an official notice that on non-federal religious holidays, employees are allowed to take up to two hours off to attend religious services. I didn’t feel like I could say anything to anyone about how inappropriate that is. Maybe next year. I wanted to do the obvious thing and say that since FSM has his holy day on Friday, I need to take a couple hours off to go home and eat pasta every Friday.

  • VorlonGuyverOss

    I have had some bosses over me proselytize on the job but I never minded this. As annoying as this was, it was more annoying to the boss when I could quote different verses from the Bible, Koran, Torah, Buddha, Confucianism, Cherokee legends, Norse Poetic Edda, etc. and asked if he believed in them. I personally found it challenging. It took a while before this person stopped. I think being exposed to other points of view may have gotten to him.

    Cole: What state do you live in? If this situation happened to me and I had the documentation for the events you describe then I would sue for wrongful termination. It isn’t that hard to link a bosses proselytizing to firing a non-theist after a situation like that. By the way I have been in this situation and had been the recipient of great advice: “Documentation is the line that can save or hang you”. Because of the advice I won my case against an employer in a right-to-work state!

  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    Thankfully I work in an evolutionary genetics lab, so everyone there is either an atheist or extremely liberal about religion. More often we’re joking about silly creationists than anything.

  • Takma’rierah

    For me the biggest irritation isn’t the subject, it’s that they just sort of assume that I’m Christian, as if it’s a default–personally, I try to never assume that anyone is of any particular faith or lack thereof, or anything else that I can’t be sure about without asking, but it’s like those particular people who talk about religion off-hand just go ahead and figure that you’re Christian.

    I’ve had two different experiences–once with a religious conversation and once with out-and-out proselytizing.

    The religious conversation I actually brought about myself, although as people have mentioned the mere subject shouldn’t be offensive. Working in a restaurant as I do, I overhear a lot of people talking, and it’s surprising how much of that is about Christianity. One night after most of the people had left I was clearing a table with a waitress and I mentioned casually that I was always intrigued by the way people used religious phrases so much without thinking about it, and that they probably took it for granted that they could say such things without anyone looking at them weirdly since they were part of the majority. I also included that I found it a bit jarring sometimes since I didn’t myself have a religion. Much to my surprise, instead of agreeing that it was interesting or offering another view, she snapped at me “Well maybe you should get one!” and moved to another table.

    The other time, since I work with a bunch of highschoolers (who must not have learned by now not to do it), was when I was sorting silverware with a guy and we were talking about space; he had asked me if I believed in aliens and I said that I didn’t know, referencing the Drake equation, but that I was even less sure about interstellar travel. I was about to start talking about relativity and warping space-time when out of the blue he asked me “Do you believe in god?” and I kind of spluttered and was like, no, but not in a “there’s-absolutely-no-such-thing” kind of way, more in a “I’ve-seen-no-evidence-that-would-convince-me” kind of way. Then he asked me if I believed in evolution, so I said “of course” and he proceeded to proselytize at me and asked me to read Genesis as if I would magically convert, and then he brought over another girl who looked at me as if she was disappointed that I would believe in something like evolution, which was quite ironic. However neither of them managed to fare well against me, given that they were quite younger than I am, I’m fairly well-educated in such matters, and also I love to debate so I never give up. They’ve since never mentioned it again despite my saying that I wouldn’t mind continuing the conversation, I think because they’ve realized how pugnaciously stubborn I am and that I know my stuff. We’re still on good terms though.

    What struck me as odd was that they kept telling me that they respected my position even though they were basically implying that I was dumb the whole time.

    Oh, and also, the dinner-theater I work at is owned by pretty active Christians, so they have Christian concerts about five times a year. The other week I had to work during one and I overheard one guy who was either an influential customer or one of the people in charge of the show talking about how there wasn’t actually any such thing as an atheist since you first have to believe in god and how they were secretly just rebelling. Thankfully I didn’t have to talk to him–pugnaciously argumentative, remember–but I spoke to another coworker about it. They were thankfully understanding, despite presumably being Christian themselves (since I said before about assuming–she had said that she’d never met an atheist before and so that was the vibe I got), about the fact that, as I said to her, “Y’know, I’m not looking for people to become atheists or anything–but acknowledgment of my existence would be nice!”

    Oh, and now they’re putting on this religious trilogy, one part every year. Last time–during “the Rock and the Rabbi”–people would keep asking me if I’d seen it and when I said no and that it wasn’t my thing, they’d go, “Ooooh, but how can you not? It’s where it all began!” Then I would tell them that I wasn’t Christian and they’d suddenly go quiet and say “oh.” I’m very glad that I’ll be in Yellowstone for half of the second show.

  • Stephan

    I’m openly atheist at work, and happily the people don’t go into the god stuff much around me…except for my boss who is constantly saying things like “let’s just hope that baby Jesus makes sure this goes right.” I know he is religious, but I really take his statements as half joking so they don’t really bother me most of the time.

    The former lead of the Chemistry department though, I heard him trying to bring an ex-Catholic back into the fold (one of his employees nonetheless!) The guy is now UU, but he kept telling him is is “better to be Catholic”. He kept saying it over and over, I had to chime in just to get him to stop.

    I simply asked “why is it better to be Catholic? Do you get a special tax write-off I don’t know about?”

    That got the conversation onto politics, which from this guy, who is a strongly anti-Obama global warming denier, is just as bad. But I at least got him to stop talking about being Catholic.

    Oh, and I figured out the Catholic tax write-off: an ass-ton of children.

  • Stephan

    “work in an evolutionary genetics lab”

    I used to work in one, and I was always highly amused as many of the goings-on there. You know those little copies of the New Testament that people will give out on street corners? Well we used them to level our equipment and as a hard object to rub on the sticker covers for our 96-well PCR plates. We’d joke that “at least this book is being useful for once.”

    Ah, the good old days of being an “us” instead of a “them”.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    To expand on my previous comment: I work in a government research facility. We have very strict rules about what can and can’t be discussed. Had the bible not been given as a ‘secret santa’ sort of gift, the employee who gave it would likely have been reprimanded or fired.

  • Tim Stroud

    All my co-workers say “Thank God it’s Friday!”

    I hate that.

  • Pamela

    I agree with many of the comments. I don’t care about your religion and I especially don’t want to hear about it. It is kind of like sports. I don’t care about that either. If it comes up in polite conversation I smile and nod and change the subject while being considerate and empathetic. If I have questions about the topic being pursued, I’ll ask and then leave it at that. Treat it like any other topic in conversation. Unless, of course, it steps across some moral and ethical line then I become ‘opinionated’ as some would say.

    I had to politely tell one employer that I was a very liberal atheist so she would stop sharing her personal ‘opinionated’ stories that bordered on racism and bigotry that she wrapped in Christianity. I’ve never heard another peep from her thankfully. I’m also thankful she doesn’t represent the organization, which is much more liberal and broad minded.

    What was even more awkward was when a coworker saw me carrying a Dennett book and started trying to engage me in a religious debate in front of a roomful of coworkers including my boss and our biggest client. I politely told them I didn’t feel it was appropriate to talk about it at that venue with all eyes staring me down. I’m not one to debate period as I feel that belief or non belief is something that you have to seek out on your own privately unless, as I stated before, it steps over that moral and ethical line and intrudes on the rights of others.

    I live in the bible belt and have been prejudiced against many times for my atheism especially in the workplace. May years ago I was obsequious about it. Not anymore. Being outspoken is necessary especially when your rights are violated over and over again.

    I do have a problem with obstinate dogmatic proselytizing especially from friends and family members who until having heard that I was a non believer never practiced Christianity are now “lord this and lord that” all over my Facebook wall. It become bothersome enough till I deleted the comments, but then wondered if I was doing the right thing. I’m a firm believer of freedom of speech, but I got tired of looking at it on my Facebook wall knowing the history and ‘reasoning’ behind it. Besides I have other non believer friends that might find it bothersome as well and then others that might start an all out religious war on my Facebook wall. I’m a pretty compassionate understanding peaceful person, but get tired of the religious propaganda and proselytizing, but I also agree that we shouldn’t end the conversation. That would be something I would like to ask your readers about. If anyone has had those types of experiences on Facebook or other social media of that sort.

    Sorry for the digression.

  • http://brielle.sosdg.org brielle

    An observation, that seems to be happening more and more often, is that when I order something from eBay, not only do I get what I bid on, but a lovely leaflet or piece of paper that describes how Jesus will save my soul.

    Have to resist the urge to give them a negative rating for being insensitive.

  • http://www.myspace.com/misterjoeclassic TimothyJosephWood

    During an internship last year I was riding with another social worker and she felt the need to reassure me how ridiculous evolution was and that she believed that “In the beginning there was God.”

    Long story short, I wasn’t rude but matter of factly told her that I don’t “believe” in evolution… I just understood how overwhelming the evidence was.

    She was quite offended.

    Even more so when I told her I was an atheist.

    So I spent the rest of my time there going out of my way to be polite and as christ-like as possible to her. I get a kick out of it. It’s like being the guy with a 14 inch mohawk and studded leather who goes out of their way to open doors for old ladies.

  • http://www.myspace.com/misterjoeclassic TimothyJosephWood

    whoa… yeah… cole… damn…

  • Gabriel

    Wow, no nothing like that. I know that most of the people in my office are religious. They will bring in raffel tickets when their churches are having a fund raiser and leave them in the coffee room in case anyone wants to buy one but that is about as far as it goes. This is a really old fashioned and conservative firm. Politics and religion aren’t topics for polite conversation anymore than your sex life would be.

  • Efogoto

    The National Day of Prayer was observed on May 7. The Vice President of Human Resources sent round a note that included this line: “Please take the opportunity to pray, as you are led, to ask for God’s blessings and guidance for America.”

    I decided to take the instruction “as you are led” to mean “ignore this” and went on with my day.

  • http://www.myspace.com/reverendredmage Reverend Red Mage

    I think I should consider myself lucky.

    My supervisor is an atheist, and so am I… I’m just not nearly as aggressive as he is whenever our QA associate decides to lock us into religious debate.

    My boss is definitely a believer, but he’s fully aware that I’m an atheist and doesn’t give me any flack about it.

    I still have to work on a couple of my coworkers though… the QA guy I mentioned is a very strong believer, and although we’ve gotten into friendly debates on some Fridays, I don’t really think he accepts my position. A woman who recently moved into our department didn’t know what an atheist was… before I could calmly explain it to her, I overheard him telling her that it’s “someone who thinks they know everything”.

    One of the tech support ladies even said to me “I don’t think you’re really a non-believer.” Maybe because I wasn’t eating a baby or kicking a puppy at the time?

  • Cypress Green

    My situation is unique. I work in the cancer dept of a large hospital. I have co workers of all faiths and no faith, so usually there aren’t problems and most people are very accepting. My 3 best friends here are Hindu, christian and non-practicing christian. The physicists (surprise) are all mostly atheists.
    There were a few fundies who had it in for me for a while because I was Pagan at the time and they were telling people I and my religion were evil. One tried to get me written up over nothing.
    A couple of the nurses had their jaws dropped in disbelief at me once when they questioned me about Wicca and I said I didn’t believe Jesus ever existed due to a lack of evidence. They were just horrified. Now that I’m an atheist, they’re even more puzzled.
    I’d like to think I’m an example of how with an open mind your beliefs can ‘evolve’ over time. They all know I’m a heavy reader.
    For a few years I ran the reception desk, and saw 200+ patients and family members daily, many of them daily for 6 weeks. I have received TONS of tracts, rosaries, and any other christian gift imaginable. I had to accept them graciously and with a smile…it’s my duty to serve the patients and also so many are *really* relying heavily on God since they have cancer.
    But then and now, when I find bible or any other religious literature in the lobbys, they go quietly into the trash. Hospital policy is to not promote a religion.

  • Robin

    Weird. I usually get the people who quietly admit to me that they question. Sometimes they are pretty far along the path, sometimes just starting. I get the impression that they are looking for reassurance. The thing is though, I almost never mention that I am an atheist, don’t make comments or anything, but I must give off vibes. This happens to me fairly often.

  • GreyTheory

    Not completely in-line with the discussion line, but funny none the less. A well-meaning but ultimately misguided cousin presents me with a couple of evangelical books upon finding out I am an atheist (Case For Christ was one, can’t remember the either). I try reading them, but the silliness of their arguments makes it impossible.

    Now I am a true lover of books, and the idea of just “throwing them out” bothers me. I decide to give them to one of my co-workers.

    Chris seems to be the obvious choice. During the last election cycle, he plastered his cubicle and vehicle with “Yes On 8″ (California’s anti-gay marriage law) banners, stickers, and whatnot. His screensaver was “Protect Marriage” in full-screen bold type.

    When I go over to hand him the book he looks puzzled.

    “Why would I want this?” he asks.

    Now I’m the one with the confused look. “Well, with your ‘Pro 8′ banners and such, I just thought it would be something you’d like.”

    “But I’m agnostic,” Chris says.

    “So,.. you’re just an a**hole.” (Thankfully, my speech filter caught this before it was uttered).

  • Mathew Wilder

    I’d say that’s unfortunate, Grey.

    ;-D

  • Jen

    I have a co-worker who is a Seventh Day Adventist. Sometimes I ask her questions about her religion because I am bored and its not a religion I know a ton about. I also have a coworker with a Mormon sister, and if you ask her questions about it, she will talk on and on about her sister’s strange beliefs. Interestingly, no one has ever asked me about my religion, which is good, as I am not sure how I would respond.

  • Holly

    I’ve been dealing with some tough personal issues lately, and a week or so ago at work I started crying and wasn’t able to get away before a co-worker saw my distress. He asked if I wanted to take a walk and I agreed. He listened to my story and was offering very secular advice (none of that “god made me walk by your desk at just the right time” stuff). I had not previously had any discussions regarding religion with him. I was impressed that I had possibly found someone who could try to comfort me without “going there”, and suddenly he turned to me and asked, “Would you mind if I pray for you [now]?”. I said, “you should probably know I’m an atheist”, and without any hesitation said, “my god doesn’t care”. So I said to go ahead. He said some very nice things about me and basically wished me well; no comments about my separation from god or anything like that (it took about 5 minutes). I think I was so distracted by the sudden change in the situation that I stopped crying. He probably thought his prayer worked, and I was just happy to know a christian who could help me with my problem without making it into an overt opportunity to proselytize. Which is good because I see this person every day at work.

  • AnonyMouse

    FYI, this Anonymouse person and I are not related to or affiliated with each other in any way.

    As for workplace proselytizing, I’m afraid I have no stories to share. I do get well-meaning letters from people on YouTube, convinced that their personal story is the one that’s going to bring me to Jebus, but I’ve only got a couple of those and they weren’t obnoxious.

  • Mike

    -Cole
    Wow, that’s really disheartening. I’m going to school for a degree in firefighting/EMS.

    And please, for all of us — talk to a lawyer.

  • Ray

    I am so glad I live in Canada. I retired recently but in over 40 years of working not once did I see someone proselytize. I traveled a fair amount to the US for business conventions and meetings. Although I was never personally approached it was weird to see people saying grace in food courts and hotel restaurants.

  • Theophage

    My workplace is home to a breeding population of crucifixes – they seem to multiply every time I come back. From where I sit, I can see a cross pendant, two wooden depictions of Jesus on the cross with benedictine medals, 3 religious paintings, a ceramic statue of the virgin mary and a few other bits and pieces. I don’t mind, they make the owner of this place feel more secure in his business (and less likely to fire me). What I do mind is that if my boss knew I was an atheist, he’d fire me in a second. He always grumbles about how you can’t trust atheists (and mexicans, and black people, he’s a real winner) so I’ve kept my beliefs quiet and sat through rants about how people wasting waffles are throwing away the gifts of god and suchlike. It’s not a terribly hard situation I’m in, but it’s still somewhat ludicrous that I have to sit in this cross-festooned room and put up with crazy rantings just because my boss believes that godless folk would run off with his cash drawer.

  • John

    You piss in their corn flakes everyday.

  • Julie Marie

    I have a good story about fundies in the workplace. A co-worker is gay; she came out to several of us about a year ago. She works closely on a committee with a woman whose husband is a “dear-baby-Jesus-in-a-manger” pastor. My friend had danced around the “I hear you’ve got someone in your life” question for a year now, and finally told her that someone was a woman, not a man.

    The pastors wife was surprised and silenced initially, however, she wrote my friend a nice note saying how much she valued their friendship and hoped that didn’t change – in spite of their differences in belief.

    How cool is that?

  • Mike

    I am a firefighter, we went on a cardiac arrest while on shift. We do everything to this guy that we possibly could, sparing details. We get the guy back, the four of us working for 30 minutes from the time we got there till we had been at the hospital for 10 minutes. He walked out of the hospital fully recovered a few weeks later. But standing out in the bay of the hospital, covered in sweat and cleaning up the mess involved in such in endeavor. On of my partners says, “Thank God we saved him.” I turn to him and so “No Thanks Us.”
    That went over like a lead balloon. But now I don’t work with that person anymore, apparently I scared them.

  • damond

    I get this all the time. Im in the army and i work in a warehouse. People walk around with their bibles and so I brought the god delusion to work. They were saying that i was going to hell and that book was the devil. All kinds of things were said to me even though I didnt provoke any arguments. So i just simply asked them did they read the whole bible, and did they know what was in it. They had no clue. But everyday someone tells me that i need jesus. I just ask them what has jesus done for them that was so much life changing that they couldnt do for themselves. Then I just receive blank stares and no answers.

  • Gibbette

    My office mate leaves his Bible on his desk almost every day. A colleague across the hall prays for me and told me she was sad that I didn’t have God to “crawl up in his lap and let him wrap his loving arms around me” when I was going through difficult times. Religion is all around me. I try to ignore it.

  • http://atheistgravy.blogspot.com revatheist

    I work in a state disabled veterans’ home in rural Oklahoma (yes, the same Oklahoma whose legislature tried to have Richard Dawkins banned from speaking), and I have to deal with religion every day. There are quite a few religious newspapers and sayings on the walls and tables, but most of them have been put there by the residents, and honestly, I don’t begrudge them that: the facility is their home and they have a right to their religion. Luckily, I’ve never seen any of this material be specifically offensive about atheists so I just ignore it. There is even a church service (Christian of course) in the auditorium of the building, but I don’t have to go so I don’t really care.
    Once another employee who likes to email everyone an “inspirational” (read cliched kitsch) quote each day sent a religious one about how we should thank god for everything blah, blah, blah. I emailed her back and said that I understood that she likely meant no offense by the mail but to please take me off the email list for further religious messages as they offend me. She never responded, but there hasn’t been a religious email since.
    There is also an employee who finds it necessary to print off a Joel Osteen sermon everyday and hang it in the hall; this is pretty blantantly against policy, but none of the postings have been particularly nasty, so I’m saving that complaint for a later time when I need an ace in the hole.
    Also someone leaves tracts all over the facility (I’m not sure if its an employee, visitor, or resident), but I treat them like the litter they are and throw them away when I find them—if I’m ever told that I can’t throw them away I’m going to order some anti-tracts from the FFRF and tuck them inside the regular ones. ;-)


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