“Rampant” Religious Discrimination?

The friendly and helpful lady cutting fabric in a fabric shop leaned over to tear a price ticket off the machine.  She thought no one could overhear the conversation she was having with someone else in the store on her mike/earphone.  But, I heard it,  “We are so understaffed, forget about it.”  People were lined up everywhere.

That’s retailing today.  No, wait.  It’s most every job that involves service and production.  I have a nephew who is a radiologist in a large partnership.  He can only spend a finite amount of time on each set of xrays, keep moving on is the rule.

In this world then, it is no surprise if someone is asked, “Does your employer give you time off to practice your religion in its prescribed way?” the answer would mostly be “no”.

If employers did this routinely, there would be an explosion of new religions, all with requirements for time off from work.  Think of the reaction of the woman in the fabric shop if she had to serve even longer lines of customers so someone else could have time off to practice his/her religion.  The woman would quickly find a religion and there would be no one left to serve customers.

There is a steady drum beat to put in place laws requiring employer accomodation for religious practices.  I agree it would be better if people did not have to work so hard and earn so little.

But, accomodations for all religious practices is not a workable idea.


37 Responses

  1. Carlene

    I, as an employee of a turkey packing plant, totally agree. We non-African employees at Jennie-O are forced to work around the Muslim prayer schedule; for example, a 4 a.m. prayer time may mean we have to shut down one line, which of course cuts our production because the majority of our employees are Somalis. We also have our break schedules planned around the schedule, which means in my department the breaks seem to change almost daily. Many of us are resentful of this. I’ve commented that “if us Christians wanted our own prayer room, and time off to pray, and other demands, would they kowtow to us as they do the Muslims?” We sincerely doubt it. I’ve heard stories about people taking jobs which require work — such as handling pork — which is against their religion, and so the employer “has” to accommodate those persons. I, and many others, say they should take jobs which don’t conflict with their beliefs and not inconvenience those of us who have no such restrictions.

  2. Steve

    I may be wrong with my perceptions, but from the flavor of what I have been following on this blog, I have always gotten the feeling that its just the Christians that should be stripped of any right to express their beliefs publicly. Just for clarification, Jon, are you agreeing that it is wrong for ANY religious group to be given any kind of special favor in the workplace? I am not taking any sides on this issue at this time. Consistency is important to me, and I guess what I’m saying is I would like to see the same kind of outrage applied to all “religious” groups that you seem to direct mostly at Christians. I would appreciate clarification. Thanks!

    1. Steve 12:42 Thanks for reading and commenting here.

      “Jon, are you agreeing that it is wrong for ANY relgious group to be given any kind of special favor in the workplace? (or, is it just wrong to accomodate Christians?)”

      I apologize if I left the impressions I was opposed only to Christians. The point I am trying to make is time off or other accommodation made for Christians eventually will need to be made for any other groups, or, any other individual should some individual make up his own religion. Accomodating for a religious practice is like handing out salaries for not working.

      Having said this, employers often accommodate workers for their personal needs because they want to retain a good work force. Perhaps that is what is happening in the case of Somalies an eariler posters discussed. What some Christian groups are doing is trying to put this into law, a very socialistic idea.

  3. Steve

    After reading the article and taking many things into consideration, my impression from the article is that it is encompassing many faiths, the jewish faith for example when they mention no kosher food at company picnics. I feel that it is more than just Evangelical Christians or Catholics that are pushing for these laws. I have worked in retail all of my life, both in management, and as an employee. My observances over the years has been that it is typically not the evangelical Christian or the Catholics that are “requiring” specific or unreasonable expectations, rather it is other groups as suggested in the earlier post by Carlene that are requiring things from their employer that are very disruptive to the work day, and inconvenient for other coworkers, whether it be Christian, Agnostic, Athiest, Jewish etc. I am not sure if employers are willing to make these concession to get perhaps a cheaper work force? These things I can’t say for sure. I agree with you, that if we open this can of worms we are going to have to make concessions for every “religious” idea anyone can make up. Where I disagree with you is that it is the traditional evangelical Christian that is making this huge push and trying to force things into law.

    1. StanB

      Very insightful. Prayer rooms for islamics in state universities paid for and maintained by the state while other religions have to build their own churches just off campus.

    2. Steve 3:31 “Where I disagree with you is that it is the traditional evangelical Christian that is making this huge push and trying to force things into law.”

      Have you ever heard of something call the “Religious Liberty Restoration” act, measure or initiative? We had one on the ballot here in ND a year or so ago. Ours was the first one to be defeated. It said, approximately, an employee must be excused from performing duties that violate “sincerely held beliefs”.

      Signatures were collected in churches all over the State. All Catholic Bishops endorsed and praised the measure from pulpits, as well as Protestant evangelicals. Before the door was shut on providing examples, proponents said it had to do with pharmacists filling prescritions for birth control and abortions. Court cases in the other 20 some states already with versions of the law have to do with High School Councilors who do not want to advise H. S. students about being gay other than to tell them they are full of sin and must repent.

  4. Steve

    I follow where you are coming from Jon. I think you and I have different interpretations of the same article. Let’s look at it from this angle… just for the sake of dialogue and discussion. Would you want to be forced by a law to counsel someone against abortion or counsel a gay teen that it is fire and brimstone, when your personal beliefs and attitudes go against that? Lets remember that these laws that are cropping up came along far after these people chose their professions. By that same token there are those who don’t want to be forced into the opposite. Were I a gay teenager, I would certainly hope I wasn’t being counseled by someone forced into counseling one way or the other. I think that would be counter productive for all.

    1. Steve 6:30 You are correct about the link–it did not discuss the Religious Liberty Restoration business. I always have this tucked in my head so I assume others do as well. Bad assumption on my part.

      As to having superiors (laws) in my job to advocate things I do not believe in, that is the core of the issue. If the field has changed and how I want to do it is no longer acceptable, I should change, like it or not. Especially if the way I want to do it, the way it has been done up to this point, has been found to be harmful, or, potentially harmful. If standards have been arrived at by a legitimate peer process where the goal was to best help the student, I should either conform to the program or leave the field.

      Probably there are counceling jobs in religious schools where the parents, donars and administrators want all counceling issues handled by reading some scriptures.

      1. Wanna 8:23 “that worked well in the 3rd Reich.”

        And also among those Germans who started Lutheranism. They require the man on the pulpit to be ordained and preach certain things whether he believes them of not. If he doesn’t, he’s history.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Oh my. do I detect a bite of animosity, or is it hatred. Jon, you clearly are not knowledgeable of the subject. Perhaps you need to bone up on it by reading some of the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who lived at the time of Hitler, and was killed by hanging on piano wire just a day before the end of the war. At the time of the Reformation, at the Diet of Worms, you must remember Luther’s words, regarding the reliability of councils, and going against conscience. Evidently you are suggesting a minister should not be trained and knowledgeable in that of which he preaches. Evidently you would prefer an itinerant speaker talking about whatever comes to mind or related to the current zeitgeist. Preferably a freethinker. You are right however in the …”believes them or not”. If a minister doesn’t believe what he professes, it will be revealed in time. And correctly so, “he’s history”.
          My point was the changing field determined by “peers”. Watch out for “peers”. They are not necessarily reliable, especially in a totalitarian government. Evidently according to Jon, there is no room for conscience. Conscience was severely stifled during the 3rd Reich, upon threat of prison or death. The totalitarian regimes before or since were also equally guilty. A few months ago this topic was covered, and the consideration of when conscience was challenged, those counselors, pharmacists, or other, should refer the cases to those who aren’t bothered by the situation. No mention of that now. Just counter attack when no attack was intended.

          1. StanB

            being a minister in a church is not a job Jon, it is a calling. Why should someone who does not believe be allowed to preach in a church? Should someone who believes in pedophilia be allowed to preach that child molestation is ok when the church says it isn’t?

            Again you want it both ways, condemn the preacher if he goes against his faith, but reward him if his ideas coincide with your.

          2. Stan 11:18 “Being a minister in a church is not a job, Jon, it’s a calling.”

            I’ll try to limit my snarkiness, but my family has a long standing problem with that term “calling”. I grew up in central Iowa which was a prosperous place at that time. Whenever there was a new preacher at our little church, he would always say, “I felt a calling to come here.”

            At our family Sunday dinner afterwards, my Dad would wonder out loud why the preachers are always called from poorer areas of the midwest to the prosporous ones, and not the other way around.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; I don’t know the procedures the church of your youth went through to receive a pastor. In most cases, the individual church issues the call to the candidate, (after various methodegies depending on the group) and he/she either accepts or declines it. With some, the candidate is chosen by his/her superiors as to where he/she will go, generally based on matching skills with the specific congregational needs. But for most, it is the congregation itself that issues the call, which the candidate may or may not accept. In your case, it would be the fault of your particular church for choosing the candidate from such a poor background and class to serve such a successful community. Whichever method your church used, you would normally have had the option to refuse issuing the call in the first place. Your father’s attitude does explain a lot though. Thanks for sharing.

          4. Wanna 1:38 “..in most cases the individual church issue the call…”

            I think individual churches were in charge of selecting their own pastors. But, we seem to be using the word, “call”, in different ways.

            I realize churches generally substitute the word “call” for the words used most everywhere else, “job offer”. That is how you are using the word, as I understand you.

            The preachers in our church used the word, “call”, as a sign they received from God, or, from prayer. That slick substitution confuses every smart people like Stan. He thinks being a pastor or preacher is not a job, but a “calling”. I’ve read a lot about mafia people. They think they, also, are in a “calling” in that they are separate from the run of the mill public and were not put on earth to work like everyone else.

            That the word, “call”, is used as well as “mission” and so on probably helps perpetuate the notion churches should have tax free properties and preachers tax breaks. We would all be better off if churches would use the words “business” in instead of “mission” and “job” or “job offer” instead of “call” or “calling”.

          5. Wanna B Sure

            I/we don’t consider the office of the ministry to be a “job” in the sense of the secular or of the business world. In most denominations the called pastor is a self employed individual, neither hired or fired. They can accept a call to a particular church, or elsewhere, when presented with a call. In reality when they receive a call, they have two calls. One where they are at, and one to which they are called to move to. If a called pastor acts in a criminal manner, sexually or otherwise, they can be defrocked, have their credentials removed, or in the case of the Catholic Church submit to layicization. In all of these cases they can’t perform their pastoral duties in the churches they abused. The offended church with it’s offended parties then need to report the issue to the secular authorities. It is difficult in most cases to remove a pastor for simple bad conduct in working with others, in short, being a “prick”, AKA not playing well with others, or trying to dominate, but there are ways to document that, and ask him/her to accept a call elsewhere, where he/she might fit in better, (after consultation with the bishops.) The other and most important issue of a pastor remaining in the call is “unsound doctrine”. Easily determined by comparing his/her preaching/ teaching with the “confessions’/ “statements of belief”, or their Credos, (this we believe). With documented evidence, and a reluctance to amend his/her ways, it is not difficult to remove his/her credentials.
            I know by what you say, you consider a church to be a business, and use a business model, which includes hiring and firing, but that isn’t the case, and that is where your understanding fails. The true operation of “church” is simply run in a business manner, done in good and proper order without confusion, apart from the doctrinal positions subscribed to in each and every constitution of those churches. All conduct and teachings/ doctrines are thoroughly described in the constitutions, or should be if they aren’t. If they are incorporated, they should have a constitution.

          6. Wanna B Sure

            Since this thread is primarily about pastors and their called duties, I feel it necessary just to be fair; Each congregation also has it’s own personality, made up by it’s members. Usually by members of disagreeing families, that started from matters completely unrelated to church issues, and they become power plays. On occasion, the problems in a particular church are at the feet of and caused by the congregation itself, or factions of that congregation. Virtually every case has nothing to do with doctrine, but personality issues. Green or red Jello, guitars, organ or piano. What color robes for the choir. These things can be blown way out of proportion, and sometimes the pastor gets caught in the middle to no fault of his own. Like a dysfunctional family, no one wins. Pastors have been known to accept a call elsewhere due to the futility of staying.

          7. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Your ; ” I think individual churches were in charge of selecting their own pastors”. Then your father was being totally unfair with his claim of a pastor coming from such humble beginnings to such a high place of financial success. First the congregation called him, and then he accepted. You aren’t calling him a gold digger are you? Some of the most notable pastors have chosen to go to the mission fields with related hardships, both here and abroad. Most families I’m aware of after having a new pastor installed on the following Sunday dinner, would preface the meal prayer, with a “We thank you Lord, for providing us with a pastor to share the Word, and see to our spiritual needs.”

          8. Wanna 5:26 “Then your father was being unfail with his claim of pastor coming from..” a low salaried church to a church with a higher salary.

            No he was not. He was simply pointing out the preachers went to the church that offered the highest salary but referred to their business decision as being “called” by the god. Apparently, god called them away from the lower salaried church.

            In my 20 years around the church I grew up in and 30 years as a Presbyterian, both denominations leaving the pastor selection up to pastor/local church arrangements, I never saw a young preacher move from a higher paid job to a lower paid one. It was always rural to urban, small urban to larger. I’m not saying it didn’t happen–just never saw the god “call” young preachers to lower salaries.

          9. Wanna B Sure

            The trend is from rural to urban. I have personally seen seasoned pastors receive a call from smaller rural churches, and accept, even with reduced compensation. Our synodical compensation SUGGESTIONS (not demanded), are based on years in service, size of congregations, and single or plural congregations. Obviously a large congregation in the suburbs would pay more to a pastor that has been in the ministry for several/many years than a young one just out of the sem. A young pastor without much experience probably would not be called to a extremely large congregation right out of the sem., but it can happen. It did with my nephew, as an assistant pastor in California. When the older one retires, that congregation may issue him a call to be the senior pastor, or they may not. They all have to start somewhere. My son went to college, got a job as a line welder in a mfg. co. Then got his master’s welders liscense. on to a master welder’s instructor, then a master welder inspector. He now works in the office, and doesn’t do welding, but manages production, material flow, etc. , and many welders. He started somewhere too. A far cry from welding machinery in the rural area. Point is, business model or not, training is not the end, it is just the beginning to experience, and usually that experience starts at the bottom. There is more to the story than what you are prepared to admit. Sometimes it is good to eat with the Publicans, and not judge the motives of others. That what you heard from your father is what you see in your life. Not surprising. Not critical thinking, just critical.

          10. Wanna 6:59 “but it can happen.”

            I wrote I had not seen it happen, but that did not say it did not happen. People take jobs in the Peace Corp when, most of the time, there are better paying jobs somewhere else. Mostly, the motivation in the church and everywhere else is to try to move up. Churches today do not do “church planting” in rural areas where the population is dropping, they go where the money is.

          11. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; I just remembered a pastor still in his prime, who was the senior pastor in one of our largest congregations in a large city, with two assistant pastors. I have known him personally for 30 years. He received and accepted a call from two small congregations in a rural area. I saw him this summer, and asked him why he made such a choice, concerned that he had health problems, or some such thing. He told me that he was missing the close personal contact with members, and pastoral care that he could provide to them. Much of his time in his former large congregation was taken up with administration, and that was not he went into the ministry. He took a substantial reduction in compensation. The money wasn’t such a concern, nor the prestiege that you seem to imply is the reason for “a job”. He is just one of many that have made similar changes through the call. There is a possibility that the churches you were associated with earlier did not emphasize such principles. In spite of that, there may have been individuals there that did,in spite of the trends in them.

          12. Wanna 9:21 re: Pastor who took a pay cut

            I mentioned Peace Corp volunteers. There are Doctors who take a pay cut to be in places where the hunting and fishing is good, professors who want to teach at a small place and not do research–plenty of examples outside of preaching. People go where they get the most of what they want. Only the preachering profession universally uses the phrase, “called” by god.

        2. Wanna B Sure

          Boy, you sure have a burr under you saddle over “the call”. That’s OK. If you don’t understand it, you can’t appreciate it. You are not in a position to demand that we accept your understanding, or rather your lack of comprehension of it. Moving on now.

          1. Wanna 9:50 “If you don’t understand it…”

            That the problem. I do understand it. It’s a propaganda technque. It implies being a preacher is a job somehow on a higher plain than other jobs and they deserve a tax break.

            If being a preacher was referred to as what it is, a job, it would be harder to justify public fiscal support of churches.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            What your problem is that churches are considered a not for profit organization, which they are, with the tax deductible advantages for contributions, which you don’t like, only because they are churches. You certainly don’t complain about other tax deductible contributions to the other non-profits, such as cancer, scouts, red cross, Salvation Army, (also a church), Freethinkers, universities, endowments, trusts, etc. many of which are significantly larger than monies received by churches.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; There are way too many variables for you “fits all” straw man. Many very small churches contribute hardly enough to pay for upkeep of the church proper, while the pastor works as a common laborer off site, with all the W-2’s, 1099’s, social security responsibilities on the pastor, along with hi/her carrying their own health insurance independently. Other large groups self insure, with retirement plans similar to MN PERA, apart from Social Security. These plans generally fall under the “benefits package”, subject to all tax liabilities. Usually millage is paid per mile driven for official purposes, and logs are kept for tax purposes, If a parsonage is provided, The pastor usually pays for heat, phone and utilities out of his own pocket. Each case is different for each congregational situation, depending on IRS rules and the accountant’s recommendations. As for the house/parsonage, few pastors own their own home, as they hardly live in a community long enough to make buying one feasible. Parsonages are often provided for traditional ministries, but not all the time. When the pastor retires, he has no home to fall back on. A distinct disadvantage. The mega TVchurches such as Benney Hinn, etc. take severe advantage of this, and sometimes own several extravagant homes in the ministry’s name, along with boats, planed and luxury cars, and this should be cleaned up. This abuse is not the intent of the IRS provisions for normal churches. As far as fire, police ambulance services, One needs to be in church if an emergency pops up. In the middle of the services, beepers beep, and many members in attendance jump up and leave to do what they do for the community. In almost every small town, most of the volunteerism is done by members of several churches. No Charge. Only the equipment and facilities are provided by the community. If it’s a blizzard, we have members that are out for the city or county cleaning the streets, getting paid as they are employees of those entities.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Re. housing or the lack of it at retirement; A distinct disadvantage for pastors. One not acceptable to college professors, as theirs is a job, not a calling.

          5. Wanna 2:57 “Housing or lack of retirement….”

            You may not know of the Community of Christ denomination, formerly the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints. There, preachers are all layman and women, none salaried. That would be a legitimate use of the term “calling”. In that church it is said everyone is “called”.

          6. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; You missed the Jehovah’s Witnesses. More ubiquitous than the Reorganized LDS around here. Although they have closed churches. They too claim “Everyone a minister”. Just ask them. I have.

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