Friday, October 2, 2009
Religion in the Workplace?
Yesterday, one of my Religion 101 classes had a vigorous discussion of whether or not religion has a place in the workplace. About half the class of 40 students felt strongly that the separation of church and state should extend to one's work. They felt that meditating, praying or doing any other religious action that coworkers might see should be verboten.
The other half of the class felt that, within limits, religious expression in the workplace was OK. The litmus test to be applied was whether one's religious expression was offensive to coworkers. For example, it would OK to wear a cross, star of David, or other religious symbol, but not to talk about your religion (unless you were specifically asked).
My view is that we can't take out the religious part of us and leave it at the office door. Our religion is too deeply a part of who we are to be able to totally suppress it. However, we shouldn't impose our religious views on others uninvited. We should respect the religious diversity of where we work and not express our religion in ways that make others uncomfortable.
What I thought was interesting about the class discussion is how strongly the students defended their viewpoints. The discussion became pretty heated at some points. This shows that religious feelings are often deeply held and vigorously defended. What is your view on religion in the workplace?