So I am 21 years old and for the first time in my life I have a job! Hooray!
So I started working 2 weeks ago and well, the place is full of religious stuff everywhere.
I work for a nationwide insurance company and they have crosses everywhere, biblical quotes on the walls, and even their card holders is some bible verse.
They have the radio set to the christian radio station and it gets a bit annoying.
How can I deal with this? Well I guess I can't do anything about it...
Well I guess my concern is what do I do if they ever ask me something about religion and I tell them I'm an Atheist? I'm scared I'll get fired for that.
What if I take my "Feminist Atheist" coffee mug to work?!
Have you guys ever dealt with something like this?
I'd recommend taking the first new job that comes your way. Or...move to Europe or most of Canada where this kind of work set-up is illegal and where there are a LOT more Atheists and where religious people usually don't care if you are.
However...being surrounded by religious nuts for a period of time isn't always a bad thing...take my favourite quote by Clifford:
"If a man [[or woman]], holding a belief which he [[or she]] was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his [[or her]] mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it -- the life of that man [[or woman]] is one long sin against mankind."
In the mean time: Keep Calm and Carry On :) :) :)
A bit, yes. I work at a Boy Scout shop (if you don't know anything about the scouts they just recently allowed LGBT youth members (no adult LGBT though) and there has been quite the fuss over it) anyway, being an atheist is grounds for removal from your troop, pack or crew because "a scout is reverent". Thankfully though there is an anti-discrimination act that prevents you being fired or receiving penalties based on your religion (or, l'm hoping, lack thereof). I live in the United States, but it looks like the UK has something similar.
I just went ahead and told them the other day. My co-workers were pretty understanding about everything, the worst l got from them was a "Well.. l wish you weren't (an atheist) but l guess l can't do anything about it" and a joke about purgatory. Hopefully you'll face a similar response.
I see you're in the UK, so the advice below may or may not do you any good.
I've no idea how it works in the UK. But in the US, they cannot lawfully fire you for coming out as an atheist or for displaying any materials that say you're an atheist; not while the same privileges are granted to religious.
However-- and this goes in any country-- they can always fabricate reasons to let you go, if they're not allowed to fire you for being an atheist (or a feminist). (Sorry, Kari, your work is just not up to standard! Bye bye!) This kind of shadiness can be difficult to prove. Ultimately, if they want you gone, they can make it happen. If you're going to 'out' yourself in a potentially hostile environment, be prepared for that as a possible consequence. I understand you have it a little better in the UK, but in the US, atheists are the most despised and mistrusted minority.
(To anyone in the US in a similar position: consider contacting the Freedom From Religion Foundation and explaining the situation to them after doing a little homework first. It's unlawful to force an employee to participate in religious activities as a condition of employment. If your situation qualifies, one of their lawyers may send a letter to your employer on your behalf, with you remaining anonymous if you wish.)
I actually live in the US! I'm American I just like keeping my privacy so I put that I'm from the UK.
Story of my life .. not just at work place but every public place there is .. cafe's ,restaurants and even public transportation.
I feel for you! As much as South Africa is multi religious country, and publicly dominated by all kinds of religions, We are thankful for the liberation struggle after 1994. The Communists within the ranks of the liberation movements paved way to giving anyone freedom to align or dissociate with any religion. We indeed are free to be atheists. There are still public platforms like schools where the local School Gorvening Bodies are empowered to promote a particular religious rites (prayers etc) in accordance with the consesus of the community involved, all in all South Africa is the land of the free!
Perhaps my experience of SA is different to yours, Bongani. Almost everyone that I have met is in some sort of sect of Christianity or Muslim, regardless of age, race, sex, etc. I've also experienced a general kind of silent, sometimes outspoken, mistrust when discussing my (or another's) atheism. I do agree that it's certainly not as bad as in the US which we are extremely lucky for!
I do agree that it's certainly not as bad as in the US which we are extremely lucky for!
It might not be as bad here in the US as it often sounds. We've had an unusual surge of far right and moralistic noise in the past couple of decades, with a Supreme Court also swinging that way. Our freedom to be noisy has its negatives, but some people (like Mandela) have said that US actions and noise were key in SA's evolution. Maybe secularism and egalitarianism have a brighter future than it seems atm.
My knowledge of the US is based solely on what I hear from people here at TA and Facebook as well as movies, series, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if it was slightly skewed.
When I said, "not as bad as in the US," I think I was more referring to people's responses. Most of the time people tend to avoid further discussion when hearing about atheism because it makes them uncomfortable. I have never actually been told to my face that I will go to hell, that I worship the devil, etc. I am sure that people think about it in that way though as I've heard people talk about it before learning about my perspective. People in SA tend to keep their views to themselves, and in that case we are lucky.
I agree. I've been to bible belt areas here where complete strangers who think they are welcoming you come right out and ask "so what church do ya go to?". It makes me wish I could cast some kind of "get smart" spell on them, right there!
You could always point out the staggering irony of Christians working for an insurance company.
Joking aside, it doesn't sound like you want to be an atheist crusader - which is perfectly fine. Provided you can put up with the radio, I'd say just get on with the job.
If you can't put up with the radio, stick it out as long as you can (so you have a track record of good work) then pop in some earbuds and listen to something else. If you get pulled aside for it, explain that you find the radio distracting, but didn't want to ask for it to be turned off out of consideration for others.