WORK-LIFE BALANCE / FEB. 12, 2015
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What About Religion in the Workplace?

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When you talk about touchy subjects, religion is probably the touchiest. Do this experiment: preposition any sentence with: ‘Christians are’, and pause. Now count the number of eyebrows those two simple words rose. Too many to count, you say? That’s how touchy religion is; you can’t even mention a denomination without offending someone. So, in an environment that social protocols are enforced by law, the workplace, how do you deal with religion?

How to Deal with Bias

Although all religions carry some sort of political connotations, some carry a bit more contention. Islam has recently been associated with extremist acts, Christianity has been associated with Imperialism, and Judaism is associated with the persistent conflict in the Middle East. I know all these are over-gross generalizations, but there are many people that believe them. So, how do you deal with people of faiths that are politically ‘embattled’? Start an open dialogue, have both parties sit down (or as many are involved) and have them air out their discrepancy (in a respectful manner of course). I do recommend using a mediator as conversations about religion can definitely become passionate to say the least. Many times racism is a result of ignorance, so set up the conditions so the parties involved actually meet each other and bond allowing them to look at the person beyond their religion.

 

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Dealing with Religious Racism

How can I talk about religion and not look this ugly beast in the eye? Yes, no matter how hard we’ve tried and how many milestones we’ve reached, religious intolerance unfortunately still persists. My best recommendation is to taze anyone that displays racism. Once they come to, ask them how they feel about the religion they’re intolerant against; if their answer is racist, zap them again. This is called conditioning. I’m joking, do not taze anyone, unless you are physically threatened. Tazing people is way,way outside the properties of a shift manager. What you should actually do is make it explicit that anyone displaying religious intolerance will be… well, not tolerated. If the problem persists, investigate the matter and you might even be forced to terminate the offending party. Fighting intolerance with intolerance seems somewhat counterintuitive, but it works. Now, about the fire with fire thing, I’m not really sure about its practicality.

No Religion, No Problem - Right? Wrong.

You’d think that if you exclude all religious activity within the workplace that you’d quell all instances of religious intolerance, right? No, actually, the right to practice a religion is protected by the First Amendment of the United States constitution. So, yeah, no religion will be a problem when you have to excuse your actions in front of a jury of your peers.

No Religion, No Problem - Right? Wrong Again.

People without any religious association can be discriminated against, also. Hey, stop laughing; yes, people with no religion can be religiously discriminated against. Gosh, that sounds like one of those meditation sayings: ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?’ There are innumerable cases in the United States of Christians creating hostile work environments for the non-believers. Ironic, isn’t it?

How do you deal with religion in the workplace or how do you squash intolerance? Let us know in the comment section below.

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