This isn't something that's personally affected me at work yet, but it is happening to someone I know right now.
His boss his very Christian, while my friend is an Atheist. This boss keeps starting these one-on-one discussions during lunch that go along the lines of, "It's amazing how complicated x is - there's no way we could possibly be able to do that or explain it ourselves", to which my friend will side-step the statement with something like "lol not yet!" and try to change the subject. The first time they had a discussion like this (which again the boss initiated), my friend got more "into it" than he realized he probably should have, and it left a bad taste in both his and his boss's mouths. Ever since then he's tried to avoid any kind of discussion about religion (or the lack thereof), but his boss won't let it drop. Today my friend even went so far as to say he didn't want to talk about religion at work, and his boss responded that to him, it wasn't a religious discussion, just "logic".
If I were in his situation I'd be freaking out, not just out of being furious but because of being scared to lose my job. I told him to document everything said, and told him any different treatment he receives, even if he's not fired, is still religious discrimination. It's not even right that he's being forced to have these religious conversations with his boss (who I should mention actually OWNS the company), but what can he do? Suing/lawyers cost money, and it's not like it's even gotten that far yet. It's just a nasty, precarious situation to be in, and it'd be nice to shut it down as quickly, quietly and amiably as possible. He doesn't want to leave the company anytime soon, and with this being his first career-oriented job out of college and only being there for a year, it's not like he could find another job that easily even if he decided to look.
Any input would be valued and appreciated. Thanks!
I would look for a different job, even though you said it would be hard to find. This boss is a bigot. I have dealt with religious bigot bosses before. It will only get worse. The way he is speaking to your friend is not ethical. I don't want your friend to get fired for saying the wrong thing. The only other thing he can do is pretend to agree with him, and trust me after a while that is going to really hurt your friend emotionally. I did that once and that ended up being the reason I eventually quit the job before I even had another job.
Debating religion with a 'Boss' is a no win!
If he 'losses' the debate, he can make up some trumped up charge and release you, many states are 'at will' for employment. By default, he WINS!
If he 'wins', will he continue to try to sell to you? Will he define you as an 'undesirable', then release/fire you? He wins again!
You could ask for legal aide, asserting that the work place/environment is adversarial, or that the boss is useing bullying tactics. This might work, but it will be a crapy working environment for both of you.
You might ask him to leave religion, at work, as off limits. This might be only as good as his memory, but his true believer status will goude him on to greater insults, and demands on your conformity. Again legal action might work, but...
I have people who bring up the argument that life is too complicated to have formed anywhere else and so I usually pull out the facts.
The fact that between dark energy and dark matter, 96% of the universe we both can't see and don't have any idea what it is. So I suggest that they close one eye and squint the other enough so that they have to look through their eyelashes. Then I suggest the fact that what they can see and describe in the room is a lot more than we can see or describe in the universe so chances are that we don't really know and it's probably premature to assume we know what is and what is not possible.
Unfortunately most of the people I use that on make the assumption I am trying to call them stupid so it's probably not a good one to use on the boss. BUT it does keep the people from bring up the argument again.
A similar thing happen to me while at a party several years ago. I was listen to a conversation between a man and woman. The conversation was, on the surface, about 'why we cannot see all the stars'. After a few minutes, with the guy fumbling the question, and clearly loseing the interest of the dear woman, I said, 'most of the sky around the planet is below our FEET! There is only a very small cone of light at any time reaching our local point on the planet's surface'. Latter the guy came up to me letting me know about his dislike for me messing up his pickup line! Damned failed nerd....
Sadly the woman never connected with me, oh well....know it all....