For starters, I live in the Bible Belt. Lubbock, Texas to be exact.

I work at a car dealership and most of the people surrounding me are religious. And when I say religious I mean REALLY religious. To the point were they actively talk about it and forward emails all day about it at work.

Now I usually just keep my mouth shut and delete the emails because I would like to keep my job. Also, since I am in the bible belt these kinds of things happen at just about every job so it wouldn't really help to switch jobs.

To get to the point, I recently got engaged and working with all women we started discusses wedding details and different aspects of the planning. One woman I work with is especially adamant about her religion (this same woman absolutely loves Sarah Palin and thinks she is brilliant, didn't go to college but went to school to study the bible) and insisted on telling me about how I should just go through the bible and pick out bible verses about how women should be subservient to the husband (Which made me want to scream because I really have issues with that) and other things. She is also constantly talking about politics and how making gay marriage legal is so horrible and disgusting. She also has a huge sticker in her cubicle that says FIRE OBAMA.

I really want to say something to her about it, and the fact that not only do I not agree with her but that I really wish she would stop talking to me about it. But I also don't want to lose my job. I don't think religion or politics should really be discussed at work in the first place because a lot of people cannot discuss it civilly. (If it can be discussed then by all means go for it i guess). I thought about putting up a sign at my desk that said RE-HIRE OBAMA or something atheist to make my point without having to really say anything. But I think that would be a little juvenile.

How do you tell someone like this to essentially shut the hell up without getting fired or pissing someone off? Or should I just not say anything at all. It is really irritating to hear her incredibly ignorant remarks.

Views: 345

Comment by Becca on April 1, 2012 at 1:40pm

First check your employee manual to see what it says about religion in the work place. If there is nothing there see if Texas has any employment laws regarding religion in the work place. Print these out and take them to her manager/boss or whomever is over her head and register an official complaint. You don't even have to reveal that you are an atheist when you do this just complain that the amount she talks religion is really distracting you and probably her from your job duties. Make sure you document this and keep your own copies with the date you brought them in on it. That way if you do get fired right afterwords you can seek out a lawyer.

Comment by matt.clerke on April 1, 2012 at 7:30pm

Becca has some good advice... although chances are your bosses might agree with her.

Now I usually just keep my mouth shut and delete the emails because I would like to keep my job

Have you considered going into business for yourself? You could have a strict no-religion and no-politics policy to keep your workers focussed on their jobs instead of bickering among themselves.

 insisted on telling me about how I should just go through the bible and pick out bible verses about how women should be subservient to the husband

The irony of her doing this astounding. I wonder if she is aware of it?

 I don't think religion or politics should really be discussed at work

I think is probably a good thing for you to say to her. No need to mention your religion or political affiliations, just that you feel they shouldn't be discussed at work. If she (or others) fail to respect that, it might be a good idea to go above them to their bosses and complain about the distracting work environment.

Hope you figure it out and have a happy work place in the future.

Comment by Daniel on April 2, 2012 at 12:05am

Collect corroborating evidence also. Save the emails etc etc. If someone approaches you in public use a recording device. The ACLU can be your friend. 

Comment by Jason on April 2, 2012 at 6:32am

Uhhmmm…unless you have another job lined up/guaranteed or if a monthly income is not important to you, then I wouldn’t shake the boat in the least bit. This economy isn’t he greatest for the unemployed.

Comment by GD Heathen on April 2, 2012 at 9:18am

I work in the bible belt as well, not sure what the business climate is in Lubbock though.  Where I'm at the proper channel would be to bring the subject up with HR.  If you have one that's where to go, they can blanket issue emails and notifications that the behavior needs to stop and take directly attacking anyone off of your list.  As for the political stuff that might be a bit more difficult here.

But religious commentary is frowned upon in the workplace for certain in Texas.  Not everyone adheres but there are actions you can take legally if things get out of hand.  You might consider speaking with an attorney before you do anything.  I know that if you turn to her directly and ask her to refrain from religious commentary you are going to take some indirect heat.  I doubt they would fire you, it's high risk for the company to do that and would create legal exposure. 

One other risk of directly asking her to refrain from talking like that may be a violation of your employee handbook.  Ours states specifically to not engage and consult with HR on the matter, the less info you give them the better though.  Just say your not as religious and disagree with some of her views and wish you could get your work done without hearing about her opinions. 

Comment by Unseen on April 2, 2012 at 10:07am

An auto dealership is probably a pretty small business, as businesses go, and smaller businesses are often exempted from regulations that apply to larger corporations. I wouldn't expect too much relief from whatever kind of "HR" department a business with probably no more than a couple dozen employees might have, because they probably are flying pretty low under the radar. It might depend more on whether the HR person or general manager or owner (or whoever might be in charge) feels about people flaunting their religion in the workplace.

As far as the anti-Obama sign in her office, that could offend potential customers. You might bring that up.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 2, 2012 at 11:18am

Sometimes when I encounter someone who is all 'blah blah blah Jesus blah blah' I just tell them I'm Jewish - it shuts them up a LOT faster than telling them that their fairy tales are irritating.  Few fundies know anything about Judaism and tend to be a lot more reserved in their comments on it than Atheism.  If they later find out I'm Atheist and question my "Jewish-ness" then I just tell them that I never said that I was a practicing Jew.  :D

Comment by Scott Howard on April 2, 2012 at 2:47pm

@ Heather: Be careful, you may start getting pelted with questions about your jewishness like when's passover? what's Hanukkah? Are you kosher? 

I claimed jewishness one when I was attending a messianic synagogue. Big mistake. I still get questions even though I've made it known that I am "an out and out heathen" now. 

Comment by Mo Trauen on April 2, 2012 at 2:54pm

Document everything!!!  Even keep a journal.  Vent your thoughts in a different journal or forum.  Getting them out of your system in a safe environment is a good way to control yourself when you are not in a safe environment. 

Use non-religious reasons to shut people up.  For instance, this person would be pushy even if you shared her every opinion.  Just tell her, "It's my wedding.  I think I will handle it the way I choose.  Thank you."

Comment by Waynster on April 2, 2012 at 7:05pm

Depending on the size of the business the email thing - well two suggestions:

1. Report them to IT for improper use of the company information systems - most places have strict rules about personal use of such stuff and this religious content may be in contradiction of things that can be sent

2. If you are using outlook, just set up a rule to have anything with the word 'god', 'jesus' or whatever in it go straight to a separate folder (I suggest with the name 'bullshit'). Most other mail programs have similar tools

The other stuff is a bit more tricky as I am a Brit working in NY and ever since I have got here have made it very plain I am an atheist. Also with lots of Jewish, Hindu and Muslim colleagues religion is a bit of a non starter. But I am fairly sure that if you go to your boss and confidentially admit your atheism I am pretty certain he cannot fire you under religious grounds and should do what he or she must to support your grievance and he should also realize that if he were to make life awkward a quick call from you to the ACLU could be very costly financially. So yes while others have stated times are hard, this is not just for the employee and as long as you are good at your job you shouldn't fear losing it.

Good luck with everything


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