Religion creeps in at work again…

Oh, man.

So I’m working on a newsletter at work and I had to interview a coworker. She answered my questions by saying “trust god” and also quoted the bible. 

My boss said it’s okay to put her answers in the newsletter despite the religious references. 

I was so uncomfortable.

The organization I work for is not affiliated with a religion so I don’t understand why we can’t just say “no religion at work”. It seems like a common-sense rule and everyone would be respected.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt uncomfortable at work due to religious coworkers. 

Ugh! Any advice?

I was so excited to work on this newsletter until this happened.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Assuming the piece is about the co-worker as a person, let it run: nobody will assume it’s your statement or the workplace’s, or (probably) find it any more unreasonable than if she had raved about her cat.

    If the piece has another purpose – say, educating workers about how to handle a certain process – then you have an editorial right to insist she stay on topic.

  2. Katydid says

    Can you interview a less-crazy coworker and run that interview in the newsletter instead?

    Cautionary tale for you: a few years ago at work, I got a request to redo an office website to document the office head’s motto of “God, Family, then Work”, and having blurbs in there about how the office head expected all the office workers to “hold him accountable to his faith”. I refused and not long afterwards, suddenly the office didn’t need my services any more and I was let go without an option for unemployment.

    It seems so blindingly obviously that work is no place for religious bullying and proselytizing, but Christians really want to force their faith down everyone’s throats.

  3. Bruce says

    Just be glad that today is not the day that you have to write an article about one of your bosses who believes the earth is flat. You’ll have to spare his feelings also, because everyone else has the right to be a snowflake, so we can’t explain it, or anything else they don’t want to hear. Take care.

  4. Katydid says

    The problem with just letting it run is to make that level of batshittery appear condoned to the rest of the people at work. Expected, even. It “others” those who aren’t quite that insane in the membrane.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    My advice would be:
    1. do as your boss says, assuming you want to keep the job.
    2. take care to avoid that coworker in future, or if you can’t, avoid engaging on the topic of religion or anything adjacent to it.
    3. consider going to live in a civilised country where this sort of thing doesn’t happen so much.

    I don’t understand why we can’t just say “no religion at work”. It seems like a common-sense rule and everyone would be respected.

    You know why this wouldn’t work. You – a rational person – consider just not discussing people’s imaginary friends at work to be appropriate behaviour, and respectful of those who have different imaginary friends, or none. But you’re forgetting that one of the central instructions these people receive from their imaginary friends is to tell other people about their imaginary friend, all the time, because if they don’t they and the other people will all burn for all eternity in a lake of fire because their imaginary friend loves them so much. Or something. I’m a little hazy on the details, they’ve been inconsistent in my experience.

    It’s not “respectful” to say “keep your fairy stories to yourself”, which is what they WILL hear if you ban discussion of religion. “Free speech”, eh?

  6. blf says

    Perhaps not realistic (as in not too helpful), but — snarky commentary?

    An example (obviously hypothetical):

    Q. “Are the safety precautions, such as fire drills, adequate? What more should be doing?”A. “Believe in g—d, for teh babile says ‘gibber gibber’.”
      I’ve not heard of that brand of fire extinguisher — the ones on my floor are made by So-and-So and tested every year — nor are any of the “Fire Exits” marked “gibber gibber”. However, this does bring up the issue I haven’t been trained in the use of the So-and-So fire extinguishers. The manager said they couldn’t remember any training at all. The manager will take up the issue with the Site Safety Officer (SSO), who isn’t named “g—d” but perhaps knows someone at the Fire Department who is. The SSO should also be able to arrange a practical lesson, and demonstration, of the use of the So-and-So extinguishers, as well as advice other than to gobble like a turkey.

  7. lanir says

    I think… Usually what I do for things like this the first time is I just get through it however I can. If it’s likely to be a recurring thing then I start thinking about how to handle it better the next time. And let’s be honest, there will always be another time for this type of problem. A lot of how I respond is going to depend on the attitude of my boss, whether I thought it was safe to say I didn’t share that faith, etc.

    Assuming I didn’t think it was safe to be honest with my boss about being an atheist and the next time also involved the newsletter, the best thing I could think of to say in that situation is that I’m not very religious and I’m not at all comfortable writing articles to help someone promote their religious beliefs. If faith has to be such a big part of the article then someone who believes that it belongs there should write it. To handle the inevitable push-back from that I’d probably prep a story about dealing with someone, maybe a friend or family member, who had strong beliefs and did harmful things with them. And then try to get away with telling as little of the story as possible (planning the story ahead of time is for consistency, even if it’s all true).

    Hope that helps. Employment in the US is far from ideal. I had one employer justify firing me because he said I showed up late one day… 360 days before he so much as mentioned it to me. Like I’m supposed to remember. Not that he needed that to get rid of me but he wanted to do it without paying unemployment, of course, so he couldn’t admit that what he really wanted to do was reorganize and pay his cousin to come do my job as a part-timer instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *