Are You a Victim of Atheist Discrimination?

A writer from BBC News is working on an article about atheist discrimination in the workplace and it’d be great to tell some of our stories in the hopes that other people will understand what some atheists have had to deal with:

I have seen a few stories on this site about people who felt excluded by their co-workers or even lost their job after expressing their beliefs. I would like to talk to people who have been through such an experience. You can contact me directly…

His contact information can be found here. In case you’re curious, the folks at Think Atheist have verified the posting — he is who he says he is.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/billyup Jesse Jones

    This needs to be done. The more stories written about this problem, the more people pay attention to it. Hell, I’m sure some people still don’t even realize it’s possible.

  • AbnormalWrench

    I was once dragged in the back and berated by management because I once suggested, in reference to a local person that went crazy and shot four people, that the warning sign was when he started claiming to hear the voice of Jesus in his head and Jesus was telling him to kill people.

    I was told I shouldn’t be so disrespectful of my fellow coworkers.  Little did I know, saying that people that hear voices in their head telling them to kill people should be locked up BEFORE they carry through with the suggestion….that is a controversial statement and disrespectful.  I have no doubt if the guy had hard Mohamed in his head instead of Jesus, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

  • Hazor

    I work at a Sam’s Club in Tennessee. My experience has been one where religion just doesn’t come up much. A few people wear their faith on their sleeve as it were, but no one is obnoxious about it. My supervisor, although probably somewhat religious, seems to be the type to whom it just isn’t a big deal. He doesn’t know of my atheism, but I doubt he’d really care beyond finding it a bit odd. The assistant manager over my department is from India, and thus I think religion is something altogether different to him than to most of my other coworkers. The general manager I don’t know – he only came to the store this year and I have not interacted with him much.

    A Christian (I assume not an employee) once put leaflets into the beer boxes and in the bathrooms, discussing much of fire and brimstone, and about fornicators and drunkards going to hell. I and three coworkers had a laugh about the absurdity of it all.All of that said, I can easily imagine there being conflict if a situation were to arise where peoples’ contrary philosophies were somehow relevant. Although I can’t guess at the scale of such conflict. None of the managers *seem* the sort to be particularly concerned with discontinuing the employment of people who disagree with them.On a related note: when tabling with my university’s SSA affiliate, we get all manner of odd glances (or glares) and variously disparaging comments. Perhaps if people were just focused on education instead of proselytizing, secularism-focused groups wouldn’t be so much a necessity as considered odd to the same degree that a, say, air breathing-focused group might be..

  • Anonymous

    I’d consider re-titling this post. It sounded to me like it was atheists doing the discrimination.

  • Anonymous

    Coming from England where religion isn’t of interest to many people I’ve never been discriminated against.  I do live in an officially Christian nation and not an officially secular one though.  Something seems a bit topsy turvy about that doesn’t it?

  • http://twitter.com/PolyAuteur Polly Auteur

    Even though I live deep in the heart of Texas, I’m fortunate to have a work environs where no one really cares. Wish I could say that about some of my friends and family who keep telling me “Its just a phase”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    I wouldn’t say I was the victim of discrimination, though once on a job my then boss, out of nowhere I might add, said the following;
    “I believe that the bible is the true, unerring, divine word of god.  Do you believe the bible is the true, unerring, divine word of god?”

    It was a weird and very uncomfortable moment.  Thought I don’t hide my Atheism, I don’t wave a flag, especially in a work environment.  I was also a little weirded out by what he said, not “Are you Christian” or “Do you believe in God” but that the “bible is the true, unerring, divine word of god”.

    Though I look forward to the final article, I think the writer is looking for actual discriminatory behavior, not my anecdotes.

  • Mordekaiser

    One of the workers at my store is mildly mentally handicapped and sometimes expresses her political and religious views in an awkward way during her breaks: calling gay people names (if it comes up in conversation or a magazine she is reading), telling everybody we need a new president, asking everyone if they go to church because they really should. When I replied that I wasn’t of that faith (I didn’t mention I was an atheist) she flipped out and told me I needed to go to mass because it was good and went on a bit of a rant in front of three or four associates. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know what she’s doing is wrong and is only parroting whatever her parents and clergy tell her, so everyone ignores it. It’s just awkward.

    Other than that, and one situation with tracts in the breakroom during Christmas I haven’t felt discriminated against, and having some background in fundamentalist Christianity I understand the fear that your family/friends/co-workers are going to hell is pretty mentally exhausting and I understand the need to save us from suffering. I don’t get angry any-more, I only feel pity.

  • State of Disbelief

    On a side note, I have found in the rare moments when someone comments, or questions my faith, they seem to be more upset that I don’t have a religious belief vs. what it is.   Anyone else have that observation?  Do they seem more ‘tolerant’ if you believe in a god in some capacity rather than not at all?

    • Anonymous

      Oh of course. A lot of people don’t care if you believe in a personal god, impersonal god, multiple gods (unless you say specifically you’re pagan, then they might freak. I’m thinking Hinduism), just as long as you believe in something supernatural they’re ok with you.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I currently work for a company were the management is Jewish so I am spared Christian proselytizing at work.

    I am, though, active in boy scouts and have to keep my atheism hidden among them because it is against the scouting by-laws for atheists to be amongst them. Just recently I had to give my kids (one boy-scout and one cub-scout) the speech that they need to keep it quiet among the scouts that daddy is an atheist because they might kick me out of my assistant scoutmaster and den leader positions. It’s sad to have to live a secret life. My older boy scout son (who is also an atheist) thought the whole situation was messed up. At least he is learning how the real world works and what religious privilege is all about.

    • MariaO

      The boy scouts started as an organisation for British child soldiers (boys too young to bear arms) for doing other war tasks (e.g. very dangerous message delivery) during the Boer war in South Africa. Thus the uniform, salute, oaths and other war-like paraphernalia. Today Baden-Powell’s boys army would be illegal. Adding religion to that does not help… I cannot understand why you would want to have your children in such an organisation.

  • Steve

    I work for my local council, therefore there are policies in place which prohibit any kind of discrimination. Frankly, nobody talks about their faith or lack of it, it’s no big issue here in the UK, I have Christian friends but again, they never try to proselytise, it’s a personal issue. I have noticed that it seems to be important in the US, being religious seems to be a bonus. As hoverFrog says, we are officially a Christian nation but I reckon there are more non believers than followers. 

  • http://thesauros-store.blogspot.com thesauros

    Oh, I thought you meant like the time my atheist boss told me, “As long as you hold to your Christian beliefs, you’ve received the last promotion you’ll get here.” 

  • Anonymous

    I certainly was, at ANU.  However in my case, and in what I imagine is far more frequent in general, I wasn’t blatantly told that I was being screwed because I was an atheist; rather, others who performed badly (and in one case, someone who deserved to be seriously reprimanded and possibly kicked out) were either immediately forgiven or even given legs up because they shared the supervisor’s Christianity.  While the end-effect is the same, of non-religious-Christians, and certainly atheists, being discriminated against, it probably wouldn’t be the kind of story they’d want, unfortunately.

  • Michelle Shuman

    am currently working in a buffet style restaurant owned by christian koreans. was told when i was hired that i would like them because they were “good christian people”. i didn’t reply t it in any way and not much was ever said about it. only occasional comments about everyone wants to go to heaven, or other little things like that. about 2 months ago they started having a christian singer perform every single night, and i never said anything(even though customers were actually giving this man most of our tip money) it is their place of business, but one night i was working with another woman that mentioned she did not like this guy singing here because she was not religious and i agreed with her but i also stated that this was their place of business and that all we could do was find somewhere else to work.(also some customers have walked out because of this christian music and said that was why they were leaving) that same night this co-worker went up to one of the owners and told him she found it offensive, and i think she also told him i did too. since then have had less and less shifts per week and can’t even pay my bills anymore, had to drop out of a program i was in since i could not pay the school anymore, am looking for another job. they claim they cut my hours because i could not work certain days because of my school schedule even though they never had a problem with it before and they cut shifts that had nothing to do with my schedule. looking for another job, hoping one comes through soon.  


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X