Hi - I'm writing an article for the BBC News website on workplace discrimination against atheists. 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 - my email is brianwheelerbbc@gmail.com - or share your stories in this forum.

Brian Wheeler

BBC News, Washington


**Moderator's note: After our initial message of caution to all of you we've had an opportunity to confirm that Mr. Wheeler is indeed who he says he is. Knowing this, we'd like to encourage everyone to please share their stories of discrimination in the workplace with Mr. Wheeler. We shouldn't let the opportunity of a BBC News reporter telling the world the story of very real anti-atheist discrimination pass by! He is on a deadline so you must contact him as soon as you're able to.

(Anyone interested in confirming the legitimacy of this Moderator's note may contact Nelson either on TA or by email.)**

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Hi Brian, I was smart enough to keep my disbelief to myself throughout my working life.  When I retired 23 years ago I 'went public'.  Letters to the editor in many different papers, mostly in response to letters by zealots & clergy.  What a firestorm I created & FUN for me.  Through all of this I made many friends -& some enemies..  I cherish both.  Did this for a great many years.

I've always been the sort of non-believer who really doesn't rock the boat if it's in my benefit, so here are a few examples:

A former employer (major entertainment company) offered everyone a paid day out of the office if they'd lend their hands to Habitat For Humanity.  This offer was open to the entire company, and employees actually had to show up and sign in to get paid for the day.  After reviewing the HFH mission statement and hearing stories about bible presentations at the finished house ceremonies, I gave them two options:  I get the same day off to go fishing or I get loud. I won that one easily and got some fishing done.

An english teacher in high school started the first day by saying "I know it's not technically legal, but I will read a bible verse at the beginning of every class until someone comes in and takes this bible from my hands."  I was fine with it at the time because SHE knew that I knew that this was unacceptable, but I let it slide so I could breeze through the class.  One bad grade, and she was going down. It was a nice truce.

The only other run-in was at the above-mentioned hugeass music company where a rogue group of bible-thumpers (I think they worked in the travel department) mass-emailed the company saying they were starting a prayer group in the biggest conference room on Wednesday mornings before work, and we were all encouraged to join them.  I instantly forwarded that one to Human Resources with a note that read something like "Oh HELL no! Please shut this down immediately and make sure an apology follows."  It was fixed by noon with the apology.

At my current job, I really don't find any sort of religious influence particularly bothering, probably because I like all the people I work with.  Everyone's aware of my leanings, and I've never seen an ounce of animosity about it.  I hear about Jesus sometimes, but they hear "fuck" and "goddammit" out of my mouth a lot too, so all is well.  Amen.

Just wanted to share, but please don't use any of these stories to protect me professionally, thx.

Wow! You just gave me an idea! I sit around some seriously religious people at work. All day long I hear about Jesus and god but I keep my mouth shut. I try really hard not to swear in front of them too because I don't want to offend them. When I am with my other friends at work, we all swear freely. HA! I just happen to sit around very religious people. If I have to listen to their religious bs all day then why can't they hear me swear once in a while! Why am I the one who keeps my mouth shut and does not offend? Perhaps when they spout off about god this and god that, I will say fuck this and fuck that! Yeah that's right!



Being offensive may not be the best card to play in this instance. You could offer a truce and say I will refrain from swearing if you all agree to spare me the religious bs. If that doesn't fly put on your Sailor's cap.    : ^  )


Yeah Ed, you're probably right.  My point was that I'd worked in an environment before where I needed to be confrontational a couple of times.  And thus far, now my current gig doesn't require that and I haven't needed to do it.  I jumped out of corporate america to a situation where people are just people and friends are more important than causing a fiasco about religion and all that.  Lisa, drop that f-bomb whenever you want to if you're willing to back it up and lose your job for it, but don't get too confident and lose your gig over it or make enemies at work.  I've got massive respect for you whether you want to drop a "goddammit" bomb in the workplace and get fired for it or instead play along with the status quo.  

I run my life somewhere in the middle.  I'm eager to engage any coworker in a religious conversation if they REALLY want to have it, but I still take it easy with the conversation.  I preface the entire discussion with "I doubt there's any way to have this conversation with you without you disliking me on a profound level afterward, so we probably shouldn't get into it."  Throw the ball in their court... one-on-one.  If you've got a colleague who needs to get into a drunk rant about religion, DO IT!  But don't instigate, just lead the conversation that direction if you think someone needs help.

I think you should do whatever you think is right, and cause a stink if you need to.  I've done it before, but personally, I'm not the token atheist, so I've raised my hands a couple of times in my career, but I don't wear this on my sleeve because honestly, it's not that important to me.  

I guess what I'm saying is that there are times to Hitchslap and times to be a team player, and I have the ultimate respect for both ends of the spectrum.

@ED: I think it’s one thing to be offensive for the sake of being offensive, but to censor one’s self simply because one group may find otherwise mundane expressions to be offensive is kind of silly.


@Lisa: swear away! As long as it’s not directed at them, there’s no reason to shy away from being yourself and expressing your thoughts in any way that you see fit. If they approach you about it, THEN I would look into a truce. Until then: “To thine own self be true!”  

Forced to work on an assembly line between two born again christians, does that count?

Only if this was an attempt to convert you... :-)

I've worked for the "born again"... That was fun...

Keep a bible in plain sight.  Inside the cover, on the blank page print - in large letters - ONCE UPON A TIME....

I work as a graphic designer at a printhouse. A couple of months ago, an old family friend told me that he found my blog, which was anonymous, although if anyone knew my past (where I worked, etc), they would know it was my blog.  However, this old family friend told someone that I work with about my blog and that I was an atheist.  They attend church together.  This co-worker then told others at work and said to watch out for me; that I'm dangerous.  Now he won't talk to me anymore, he won't even approach me regarding work related issues without having the production manager in attendance. I feel very betrayed that this family friend would even do such a thing.

That sucks so bad! I am so sorry. That is just wrong! How dare him judge you and do this to you! This really upsets me. I'm sorry you have to go through this! How unfair! This is bullshit and you should not have to put up with this!


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