Mixing religion and work are not as uncommon as you might think, and many corporations are practicing a kind of watered down spirituality, and having speakers who mix spirituality in their management come and speak in order to help their employees increase their creativity. This kind of experience is not the problem, as often these spiritual gurus are teaching techniques that are not necessarily associated with any one religion. They are able to be used irregardless of what a person’s religious orientation is. The problem comes when you work for a company where those in power or even a group of fellow employees are of one particular religion, and they think it is their goal to convert all employees who are not of the same faith so everyone is in their minds on the same page religiously.
1. While we have freedom of religion in this country, just like church and state are supposed to be separate, church and company should be held separate as well. No one should be pressured about their religious beliefs while they are at work.
2. Sometimes even people of the same faith as their employer can be pressured into doing something they don’t want to. I have personally seen this happen where an employer forced an employee to do extra work without pay on the employee’s own time. It was implied to the employee that if he refused to do the extra work, he would lose his job.
3. It can foster feelings of not being a part of the team, and favoritism, especially in instances where it is obvious that an employer is giving the choice work and promotions to the others of his or her faith.
4. Some companies have employees who have bible studies and other religious meetings on company premises during company hours. This would be all fine and good except that when these meetings are taking place at lunch time in the only designated lunch room, it can make it very awkward and uncomfortable for others not of the same faith who simply want to eat their lunch in peace and maybe read their book.
5. There are fundamentalist Christians and others out there who feel it is their duty to combat what they think is the wrong kind of religion, meaning the watered down spirituality being practiced by many in upper management, by trying to force their religious views on fellow employees. This includes them harassing fellow employees about their religious preferences, or lack of religion, telling lies about employees’ religious beliefs or lack there of, and even going so far as to keep a rolodex with every employee’s name and religious affiliation, so they know who to harass.
6. Some companies have actually gone so far as to have in-house chaplains. This is going above and beyond it all when mixing religion with the workplace. Since not everyone is Christian, there are going to be those who are perhaps Jewish and wonder why there isn’t an in-house Rabbi for example. If you can have an in-house chaplain, and a rabbi then why not a religious head from other faiths that might exist in the company? The fact is you cannot accommodate everyone in this regard, so the best option is to not even start by having an in-house chaplain in the first place.
Being able to have a religious text on your desk, wearing particular clothing because of your religion, being excused for short periods of the day to go and follow a tenet of your religion such as muslims who pray 5 times a day for example is fine, even meeting with other employees off of company grounds for a bible study group is fine. We have the right to religious freedom in this country, and to practice our religion however we see fit, as long as it does not interfere with another employee’s religious rights. This is why religion should never be a factor in the workplace.