Church to Unemployed: We’ll Help You By Praying for Your Resumes!

I saw this headline the other day:

My first reaction was: “Well, this is silly. Of all the ways to *not* get a job, ‘getting your resume prayed for’ has to be at the top of the list.”

My second reaction was: “Wait, don’t people put their contact information on their resumes? IT’S A TRAP! This church just wants to pad its mailing list… ”

But now, I think the unemployed should take Father Bill Quinlivan up on his offer. If they don’t all get a job within the month, though, Quinlivan should have to admit that this was all a bogus idea that never had a chance of working. He also has to say he was just offering false hope and trying to get some attention.

Why do religious people do things like this? Mere delusion? Too easy. I think he’s just trying to insert an unnecessary “cause” into the mix so that he and his faith can take credit for it when these people eventually find some form of employment. Even if it happens years down the road, even if it’s a shitty job, Quinlivan will proudly proclaim that his god had something to do with it.

And if you don’t get a job? Well, that was just god’s will.

If you’re unemployed, prayer isn’t going to help you find work. You’re better off just staying home on Sunday morning and looking at job postings online.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • WebHybrid

    Why? Another way to entangle people – the name of the game.

  • http://twitter.com/m_ethaniel Mistletoe Ethaniel

    Also, isn’t it an “altar”?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      It is, indeed.

    • Puckishone

      I think that may have been a Freudian slip…you know, “alter” the resumes with prayer.  Or something.

  • http://twitter.com/olddaad Frank Key

    Catholics are all into the physical symbolism thing – rosaries; lighting candles; relics; statues – so this seems to fit within their modus operandi quite well. Although we are fairly certain nothing will come of it, the parishioner feels he’s done something – “can’t hurt – so why not?”

    • Nazani14

          I don’t think so.  To me it’s another case of Catholics acting like Baptists- IF it happened.  I grew up with the Catholic church, and it’s mind-boggling to think of placing ANYTHING on the altar that isn’t part of the service.    The few objects that are allowed on it are consecrated and serve specific ritual functions. 
           Frankly, I think this reporter must have gotten it wrong.  The only people who might go past the communion rail during a mass are the priest and the altar boys.  Even church elders reading from the Bible are in front of the rail.  I can envision the resumes being neatly, temporarily, stacked in front of the communion rail and a priest praying and casting holy water on them, but that’s it.  You can live your whole life in the Church and never go past that magic boundary- not when being baptised, not at your 1st communion,  or funeral.  Just possibly you might be allowed to kneel at some distance from the altar during weddings in larger churches.

  • Anonymous

    God doesn’t care about wars, natural disasters or diseases killing millions of people each year. But he will help you get a job

    • Anonymous

      Of course he cares. Wars, natural disasters, and diseases are all a part of his plan.

      • Adrian Slider

        But, being a mere mortal, you cannot possibly understand His will.  Unless you’re lecturing people on how He wants them to behave, in which case you are entirely qualified to interpret His Word.

  • Daniel

    My mother is Catholic and doesn’t believe in god, but she does believe that praying to St. Anthony will help you find things, including jobs.  Catholicism is a fascinating form of popular polytheism. 

    • Annie

      I still recite, “Tony, Tony look around, something’s lost and can’t be found” when I lose something.  I know it doesn’t do anything, but old habits die hard.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Please, St. Anthony, tell God I need my keys!

      • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

        Aahh, George Carlin, always topical.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          Ooh, good, someone caught the reference!

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

    “Even if it happens years down the road…”

    Ugh, exactly. Like with Perry and his rain dances. It’s basically impossible that it will never rain in Texas again, but since he did a rain dance, you can be sure that when it inevitably does, Perry will take all the credit. (He’ll make a show of “giving the credit to God,” but we know perfectly well what he’s really doing and why.) I have an interview this week, and if I land the position, I’m never gonna hear the end of it about how God answered my prayers. Surely it will have nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been studying for this sort of position for years… 

    • Anonymous

      Whats funny (and sad) is he prayed for rain and now his state is in flames.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheepmonkey Han Hills

    A shameless marketing ploy. I am sure church leaders across the nation are now adding this to their Sunday babbling with a smile and much rubbing of hands, their only regret that they didn’t think of it first.

  • fritzy

    What happens when they pray for two resumes from two people applying for the same job position?

    • Adrian Slider

      They BOTH get the job!  It’s a MIRACLE!

      See also:  BOTH teams winning the game, because their fans prayed for them!

  • Rich Wilson

    Perfect setup for confirmation bias.

  • Anonymous

    I’m as cynical as the next atheist, but one of the psychological underpinnings of religion is its ability to assuage anxiety in the face of perceived (or actual) helplessness. Of course the prayers won’t do anything towards getting anyone work, but it will lower the overall level of anxiety related to unemployment. That isn’t an argument in favor of doing it…I think there are other and better ways to deal with anxiety. But it does help explain why religious people do silly things like pray, read tarot cards, or practice candle magic….it helps them feel a sense of control when they are under pressure. Anxiety is certainly one of the grandfathers of religion.

    • Askance at Touchdown Jesus

      The first thing I thought of was ‘great, someone thought of a way to make someone else feel better.’  Maybe it was a nice thing to do for someone else.

    • Rozannef

      Just curious — where does an atheist derive hope and peace on a day like today, 10 years ago 9/11? or when awful things happen.  Seems to me believing in a God who has things under control even when my circumstances are out of control and that my life is part of a grander plan gives me a tremendous amound of hope.  Atheists like to talk about what Christians stand for or their failings, but what does an “Atheist” stand for.  Are they only about spending all their time tearing down something they don’t even believe exists?  Seems to me  if God doesn’t exist it is a huge wast of time. . . I agree with AshBowie that at least praying brings hope and asuages anxiety. To quote C.S. Lewis, “I pray because I can’t help myself.”  What does Atheism offer???  Please know I am not angry or upset.  I read this blog to keep a realistic perspective on my own life and how I may come across to others, but I truly am curious. 

      • Anonymous

        I’d rather deal with reality than delude myself with false hope.

      • Rich Wilson

        I have hope that just as children grow up and move out on their own, so too humanity will grow beyond the need of a father figure.  Sure, we want our kids to visit, and we want to visit them, but we expect them to live lives of their own.

        As for Christian failings, I don’t concern myself with the myriad of gods that I don’t think exist, or the many religions that have no affect on my life.  I do get defensive when religion approaches on my life.  I get defensive when someone assumes that without religion I must be amoral, or have no hope or purpose.

        To look at the stars, or ponder the vast array of life on this planet brings me joy.  Understanding how we discover the age of a  star, or the size of an electron excites me.  I can’t see how the last 14 billion years has been any kind of waste.

      • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

        Rozannef, consider this.
        Imagine you have been unemployed for a while and are strapped for cash. Your child is sick and requires a very expensive treatment in order to survive. Then, on the week when your house was to be foreclosed you win the jackpot in the lottery, or gain an inheritance from a long-lost relative, winning more than enough to cover your debts and secure your foreseeable future. That would feel great, wouldn’t it? All that joy you would feel is however dependent on you actually winning that lottery, or getting that inheritance.

        Now imagine that you hadn’t seen any such windfall, and imagine that I came to you on the day of that foreclosure and asked you “Why don’t you believe like me that you just won the lottery? It gives me a great sense of hope to know that I have a secure future for myself and my kids.” Do you think the feelings of security and hope you would get justify believing you have millions coming without any good reason to think so? Because this is how your question sounds to me.

        I do not work as an atheist, I don’t socialize as an atheist. I don’t help others as an atheist, I don’t give to charity as an atheist, I don’t love my family as an atheist and I don’t study the universe as an atheist. While I am still an atheist when I do all those things, I do all of them as a human being. My atheism is only pertinent when I discuss religion. Atheism is not proscriptive to my life, its not an axiom I base my reasoning and morality on, its a conclusion I arrived at by rational inquiry. 

      • Mihangel apYrs

        I’m sorry, but just what did god have under control 10 years ago as 3000+ lives were quenched and the towers fell?

        I prefer to put my trust in those I love to support me, and the disinterested love of firefighters, medics and paramedics, and all those others whose professional pride and honour support our lives.  As Humanity we are capable of the utmost charity and valour, as well as the basest acts of cruelty, but that is better than a crutch to take away our independance.

        Your god is a comfort blanket to allow you to feel safe, and a parent figure to take away responsibility.

        • Roznanef

          Yes my God is a comfort blanket for me that carries me on into eternity. The earthly love you talk about, which I also experience and hopefully give to the best of my ability,  stops in this life so I guess you don’t believe in an after life — I get that.  However, my God doesn’t take away my responsibility but calls me to be responsible to love my neighbor as myself.  He calls me to a life of morality and love for the sake of others. 

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F7WN2QHV3PXSDLJSROXLWWSVLM Hmmmmmmm

            Lol, quit pretending you know anything more than anyone else. All you’re doing is quipping ideologies that have probably been spoonfed to you from a very early age. No one knows what happens when we die, not you, not me, not your preacher. All you have are unverifiable claims you try to pass off as some kind of insightful truth, but I’ll call it for what it really is, BS.

      • Anonymous

        Hi Rozanne,

        First, it is an error to think of atheism as a system of thought or belief that can offer answers to complex questions; it merely describes a lack of belief in a deity. “Atheism” as such does not offer anything other than intellectual freedom from a particular brand of superstition.

        But with religion out of the way, an atheist can look to different systems of thought that can help provide inspiration, give guidance, and “stand for” something. A good example is humanism, although there are others.

        When you ask “What does Atheism offer?”, I think what you are asking is, “How can I have hope and feel safe without believing in a god?” There is no single answer for everyone, but I can tell you that many millions of people do it every day. Religious faith is not at all necessary to experience inspiration, optimism for the future, a sense of purpose, or even a transcendent awareness of our place within the enormous web of existence that is the universe. By giving up faith in a god and the supernatural, you gain a degree of clarity about the nature of reality…this, in turn, allows you to find solutions and build understanding grounded in reason. Being able to acknowledge what we know and don’t know (and can’t know) is liberating, and you can realize that we are each the authors of our own sense of meaning, fulfillment, and joy.

        • Roznanef

          Thanks, Ash.  I appreciate your response.  It helps me understand why you would still want to live in a way of benevolence to others.

          Does death become a very scary thing? or does the idea that our life ends when it ends asuage that?  I think my struggle to understand is that I don’t know very much about what atheists believe about the afterlife and eternity perhaps.

          Please forgive my ignornce.  You have been more than kind to help me understand.

          • Anonymous

            Roznanef, I’m happy to answer genuine questions…

            You write, “It helps me understand why you would still want to live in a way of benevolence to others.”

            Research has not shown any correlation between belief in a god and greater benevolence towards others. I am not kind *in spite* of my lack of faith, but because I am a human being, a social creature. As such, I don’t need a reason to be good to others…it comes naturally. Morality is an evolved function that we are all born with, although culture and experience shape it over time. Many atheists believe that, on the whole, religion shapes it far for the worse, and I share that view.

            “Does death become a very scary thing?”

            I am not at all afraid of being dead (fear of dying is a different story). I am no more afraid of my post-life non-existence than I am of thinking of my non-existence before birth. I did just fine not existing for 14 billion years, and I’ll be fine not existing for the rest of time.

            But the idea that my conscious personality ends at death makes life seem very precious. We only have one life, so it’s important that we make that life as meaningful, fulfilling, and joyous as possible. Not just for ourselves as individuals, but for as many people as we can. While not dogma, I think this general view is common among atheists.

          • Mike Pants

            Weighing on death from another atheist: It’s not something you’ll find a lot of us dwelling on since death just means the cessation of self. Naturally, I think all of us would choose existing over not, but once life ends, that’s it. It is final. There is nothing to be scared of there because I will have no consciousness to even realize I am no longer alive. It doesn’t seem any scarier to me than going to sleep or going under anesthesia.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Hope and peace? From our friends, our families, our pets. God has fuck-all to do with it.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F7WN2QHV3PXSDLJSROXLWWSVLM Hmmmmmmm

        Atheism offers freedom. My life is mine, I am not owned. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from dealing with reality on reality’s terms.

  • Erp

    A better way would be to have a group within the church critique the resumes to ensure they make the best impression possible. 

  • Sailor

    “you can be sure that when it inevitably does, Perry will take all the credit.”
    I would think that would be quite hard considering he had a huge meeting and prayed for rain, whereupon God almost instantly set his state on fire. Almost makes you want to believe!

  • zeus thor

    I really liked this analogy by Tracie Harris:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH6odvVY2HI
    clip from episode 678 of ”The Atheist Experience” TV show.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Will one copy suffice to bless all of someone’s resumes, or do job seekers have to use only the resumes that were actually on the altar/alter (sic)?  Are those copies the only ones charged with god-of-the-jobs magic? If so, that would mean if candidates are going to send out 50 resumes to 50 employers, they have to put a whole stack on the resume magic irradiating device.  I hope it’s a strong table, paper is heavy. What’s the shelf life of the blessing? Would it help to store these paper talismans in a cool, dark place, or wrap them in air-tight ziplock bags, or a lead-lined box, or refrigerate them? Would it help to bless the envelope and stamps too? What if you submit your resume by email? Do you have to bring in your whole computer to be bombarded with godatrons, or will blessing a thumb drive with your resume word file do?

    • Annie

      Important questions… perhaps they could just bring in their jump drives?  Once they plug them into their home computers, the job-finding blessings will seep out and bless even their facebook pages.  I mean, if a priest’s blessings can transform stale wafers into the body of their god, surely that kind of mojo could infiltrate a jump drive.

  • Alt+3

    TThis may actually help these people get a job. If others in the congregation are business owners or people who have hiring powers they may consider the resumes they see at church in higher regard than ones submitted through normal means. They may also see someone with skills related to their field and offer them at a job outright. It’s like a Catholic Craigslist.

    Make your own jokes.

  • Alt+3

    TThis may actually help these people get a job. If others in the congregation are business owners or people who have hiring powers they may consider the resumes they see at church in higher regard than ones submitted through normal means. They may also see someone with skills related to their field and offer them at a job outright. It’s like a Catholic Craigslist.

    Make your own jokes.

  • Karen

    This is BRILLIANT.
    People putting resumes out there will certainly find a job SOMETIME.
    PROOF positive of a god.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Instead of planting the resumes on an altar and praying over them, a more effective kind of help would have been to reproduce and distribute them to hiring companies in the community and for which any parishioners work. A church is in an unusually good position to disseminate resumes. Why did they not do that?

    (I know, I know, the answer is that companies are no longer hiring Americans for full-time work. They are, instead, off-shoring it, or parsing it out in infinitesimal snippets to part-timers, or they’re just letting the work not be done at all. Still … this church could have trafficked those resumes instead of praying over them, and it would have been FAR more helpful.)

  • Kamaka

    “Wait, don’t people put their contact information on their resumes?
    IT’S A TRAP! This church just wants to pad its mailing list… ”

    Bingo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1347812603 Kitty Rose Lovett

    I pray to Anoia when I lose things, am looking down the back of couches, my zipper is stuck, or, of course, there’s something stuck in a drawer. Does it work? Can’t say, usually it works out in the end, and most of my things smell like cigarette smoke sometimes anyway.

    “How can it close on the damned thing but not open with it? Who bought this? Do we ever use it?”

  • Ai~

    I agree with you on one thing: prayer alone won’t help — people have to work hard to find a job, too. But with all due respect, saying prayer won’t do a thing is just wrong. Offering things up to God can yield to many wondrous things, because He is the author of Life. I can’t convince you, of course, since you don’t believe in God (and faith is a gift), but I doubt Catholic churches would go to such lengths just to pad a mailing list. Anyway, this comment is not meant to start a debate – moreover, since I’m not from the US, the Catholic culture there might be different — but I do think that Catholics shouldn’t be silent when they encounter posts like this when their beliefs and practices are challenged. Thank you for your time.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      At most, prayer can lift the mental “burden” of a problem, because you convince yourself you’re not facing whatever-it-is alone. That’s it. It’s a psychological crutch.

  • Caffeine_stream

    What would be useful would be for someone to give their resumes a once over and give them a list of stuff to change.

    In my experience even well educated professionals have the ability to write crappy CVs

  • Anonymous

    With the resources that a typical church has, even if you just take the congregation into account,  surely they could set up a job club or employment bank and actually do something practical?  Too much work for God’s Botherers I expect.

  • Judith Bandsma

    I agree with a trap. My brother-in-law died in April of this year. (The family is Catholic). Less than 2 weeks after he was buried my sister got new tithing envelopes from the church…in HER name only. Read to me like “sorry he’s dead but that doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility of supporting us”.

    But I don’t think it’s a trap of padding a mailing list. For people to bring in the resumes, they probably belong to the church and either heard of it through an earlier service or through the mailed out newsletter. It does give that church the names of parishoners who are out of work and not adding to the collection plate, though. When one of those prayers is rewarded with a job the church can make sure it gets it share off the top.

    Sort of like a paid employment agency only without anyone doing any real work for their fee.

    • Alice

      That was my suspicion, too. The church can also probably count on a significant proportion of the unemployed to drop a dollar or two in the “poor box” to pad out their chances of landing a job.

  • Atoswald

    I live in the Buffalo area and hadn’t heard about this. I have, however, heard about the blessing of the backpacks for kids returning to school. One ad (I can’t remember which one) even encouraged families to bring the neighborhood kids to the service! Too bad the services are planned a full week after the kids have already returned to school. 

    http://www.welcomewny.org/

    The Buffalo community has a  large catholic presence, but it is religiously interesting and diverse. We even offer Prometheus Press and a local Center for Inquiry.


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