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

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**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.)**

Tags: discrimination, job, work

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I fabricate and install various types of counters.(kitchen, bathroom, bar, etc.)  Occasionally, when on an installation, the homeowner has asked what church I belong to.  I always respond with, "I don't."  Usually, the subject is dropped, but on occasion, it has led to a question of whether I have thought about joining a church, and, "you should come and join us at our church," sort of response.  If they keep pushing the subject, this is when I tell them I'm a non-believer.  Then, inevitably, upon completion of the job, the homeowners give me religious pamphlets, or, "tracts."  Now, I don't think this is discrimination, but it is aggravating.  I should point out that I live in Wilmington, NC, a notch in the bible belt.

Can't you just say "That's none of your business"? I find it incredibly rude to ask strangers such questions

When I'm asked I usually say my mother taught me never to discuss religion or politics with anyone if I wished them to remain my friends.

You need some of Dan Barkers 'non-tracts' available from FFRF.  (Freedom From Religion Foundation  at Madison, Wisconsin to exchange for the religious tracts.  I always keep a supply of them on hand.  They are GREAT !

Ooh, I've been looking for something like that!

Hi everyone,

Thanks for sharing your stories with me - it's given me a real flavour of what it's like to be an atheist in the workplace, which will hopefully inject a bit of life into the piece I'm writing. It should be live on the BBC website on Friday. Thanks again for your help. Brian.

I'm a US Army medic, and we are expected to work with the chaplains of our unit on mental health/"Spiritual Fitness" related issues that a soldier may have. Several times I was placed into the situation of being expected to refer a soldier to the unit chaplain (Southern Baptist) when I knew he had no desire to speak with a chaplain of a different faith from his own. When I attempted to find the soldier a chaplain of his faith, I was reprimanded for going outside of the unit.

In another situation, I and my platoon was ordered to receive a "post engagement de-stress" with our chaplain leading. Several times during the brief, the chaplain quoted The Bible, and ordered us to read along with the PowerPoint presentation containing further bible quotes and christian references.

Wow, that's disgusting!  For the entire 7-years, '65 - '72, I spent in the US Army Security Agency I was never exposed to any such crap.  There was always a chaplain available of course, but I never felt a need to contact him for any reason.  The extreme proselytizing about which I hear in today's US military is unconstitutional; however, I understand with the religious right's take-over of our military through what I read from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation it's an uphill fight to get anything done about it.  Mickey is succeeding her and there and that's encouraging at least.  Even the CIA is infected with that religious mental virus that's so hard to kill.

I've been lucky so far, I've not had much discrimination. Now, if we were talking about how we were treated in public school that'd be a different story!

I live in Alabama and am "out" at work. I wear a button that says "I'm an atheist" on my purse.

The only reaction I've gotten from coworkers has been shock, and "I'll pray for you."

 

I'm very lucky even if my job is poop. :)

I've experienced a hostile work environment due to religious reasons.  It wasn't even exactly for being an atheist (I was in the closet and let them believe I was Lutheran as my husband of the time happened to be) but for not being the right kind of Christian.  I once mentioned a discovery of ancient bones found at an archeological dig site which suggested that human beings and dogs have lived together a lot longer than had been previously thought.  My co-workers were talking about dogs at the time (I worked in a flower shop where a lot of conversations go on while work is being done with the hands) so it seemed like a perfectly fine thing to say.  However, my manager stopped what she was doing and walked right over in front of me looking all wild-eyed and said something wacky like, "That's evolution years!  You don't believe in that do you?"  I got the complete cold shoulder for about two weeks.  No one would take break in the break room while I did and they pretended not to hear anything I said unless it was about a customer needing assistance.  I believe it influenced how I was treated ever after.  I was suddenly given all of the dirty or boring jobs and any disgruntled customers.  My work load was increased while my time to complete the work was reduced.  Other employees were not experiencing the same phenomenon.  Before that incident, if I had an absence, my manager just trusted me.  Ever after, I had to have a doctor's note and she would still act as if it were fabricated.  When I was unfortunate enough to slip and fall and get a concussion and injure my hand within a week of having my car stolen she told me I was just trying to screw the shop over despite my doctor notes and police report.  She stated she thought I was an alcoholic, her evidence being that I went for coffee and dessert to Applebees with a friend the evening before a day I left early from work due to vomiting.  She immediately dwindled the hours I was scheduled from full time to nothing.

At the same shop, employees listened to the Savage Nation radio show so I had to bite my tongue and endure conversations the shows sparked such as how all atheists should be rounded up and either executed (they discussed methods), deported to Muslim countries, or imprisoned in concentration camps.  One co-worker supported options one and three, rounding up all atheists and putting them in concentration camps where they'd be experimented on and starved to death.  So you can probably see why I was in the closet. 

My co-workers were reluctant to set up weddings at non-CRC wedding venues.  They would openly mock the statues in the Catholic churches, all the while talking loudly about paganism on some innocent bride's wedding day, in front of early arriving guests and officiates.  Back at the shop, I had to be present for discussions about Catholics being Satan worshipers.  They would also discuss whether or not job applicants had gone to a "Christian" school with "Christian" school meaning specifically a Christian Reformed Church school.  I overheard one such discussion in which the manager loudly stated she wouldn't hire anyone who hadn't gone to a "Christian" school because "look what trouble that has been."  She clearly meant me, as I'd been hired by the previous shop owners who had looked at my resume and skills instead of my religion.  Every other employee was in the CRC.  I saw applications go right into the trash after they were handed to the manager.  I can't prove she threw them away based on whether or not the applicant had attended a CRC school but she was a slow reader and looked at the applications for under ten seconds each time before choosing a folder or the trash can.

I also had to endure vile conversations about customers my co-workers suspected were gay or non-Christian and about customers with adopted children who were African or Asian.

It was so demoralizing and sickening that, despite being in financial difficulty, I was actually a little relieved when my hours were finally dwindled to none. 

You poor thing!  Such wicked people.  I can't imagine working with them.

Im in the Army currently deployed, Im the lowest ranking guy in the team Im in & figured since Im out here why not catch up on some reading. I bought a few Atheist books, The Portable Atheist, God Hates You Hate Him Back, Biblical Nonsense & thought nothing of it. They got here & no one even noticed that I had gotten them till they saw me reading one. I was mocked automatically & of course being in the Army you have to have thick skin & all that BS, but this was something different cause its not like I can mock them back or speak up for myself since like I said the lowest ranking guy & everyone else is a Theist so I have no real backup. Not to mention Im Pro-Gay Marriage & all for repealing the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (I myself am straight) but it all goes back to being an Atheist for them, which I guess is true since I don't see any logic in the way they think believe in their homophobic god. I don't know if this classifies as discrimination, But it felt good to vent :)

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