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When does it become harassment in the workplace?

I was hired at a "religious-based" company. I knew that when I was hired and my response was, "I won't bug you if you don't bug me." I think they understood that to mean, "I won't offend your moralities."

I've been here three years with little "events" over that time. Recently, there has been a more public push of community events that directly involve their religion. Examples are monthly excursions to Priority Associates luncheons. I went to one and was made VERY uncomfortable. I was told it wasn't going to be pushy at the end and, well... I don't have to go, but I do watch the phones when everyone else goes.

Another noteworthy event was when I sent and anti-Bush funny (I thought) email out that had one "who would Jesus kill" comment on it and was put (unbeknownst to me found out when she left her daily report to the Owner on the printer) in the Human Resource Director's daily notes that I had written a "highly offensive" email and was talked to about it (she emailed me saying she liked a joke, but that it offended her about Jesus. I apologized to her in email and thought nothing more of it.) She then sent me an email (the next day) which ended:

There is only one choice and Gerald Ford's life exemplifies the nobility of choosing to walk in harmony with The Creator through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Redeemer. James Brown chose to walk in the flesh. His life's work glorified the flesh and his death magnified the flesh. Saddam Hussein chose evil. He was a narcissistic megalomaniac. His life glorified evil and his death was gruesome.

This all played out in one day. God painted a great picture for mankind to see. I pray people got His message.

Also, they've hired chaplains that "aren't pushy or denominational", but I came back to find a Daily Bread for the Workplace booklet on my chair (and it's now in the bathroom - I suspect one of my co-workers put it there).

This week, several of our co-workers have fallen on rough times - sickness, broken bones, eminent death. Our human resources director scheduled a prayer meeting in the conference room. We're a small business and I know when I took a moral stand not to go, it was painfully apparent. (I personally felt it was not only hypocritical, but just wrong for me to go and pretend to be praying - they know my beliefs on religion, mostly and know I was raised Christian and was even an acolyte, but have chosen not to go that path).

Since that time, I've felt distance, but nothing concrete from the company officially.

This is a tough situation. I recommend you try going to the Management Forum at About.com and post your situation there. Some things that might make a difference would be:

1. Is this company privately owned? 2. What were you told before you were hired?

It's weird because it is a religious company of some sort--so I'm not sure how that would impact what an employee would or should expect.

Certainly the Bush e-mail was not a wise idea. However, the religious e-mail/s you got/may be getting(?) are also something that can result in a complaint. If you are offended by them, you can bring them to management as well. The fact is, in a workplace where there are strong differences in views on politics and religion--it's probably best for them to have a no tolerance policy. But how do you avoid religion at a "religious-based" company?

I'm sure more info would be required. Also, I'm not sure what makes you uncomfortable at the off-site events. I'm not asking--I'm just pointing out that everyone has a different level of comfort/discomfort. I've been to church weddings and even sang hymns from my childhood at one such event--it was fun. But I did not participate in the group communion, because I felt communion was a rite reserved for believers that I should opt out of due to respect for their beliefs (I was, after all, in their church).

But you need input from a source that can give you good advice on what management's responsibility is toward making individual employees feel comfortable in the workplace. Start at about.com in the Managment Forum and see what that gets you? I've found them to be quite helpful when I've had sticky workplace situation. Also, I think Monster.com has a similar forum--but I haven't tried it myself yet.

I hope any of this helps. Best of luck. The workplace is an important part of our lives. You either need to be comfortable or start putting out resumes. You can't really be happy if your work environment is stressful and uncomfortable--as you describe.

I tried to answer this message but I keep getting a spam message

Send the message to dbaker at atheist-community dot org and keep a copy for yourself. I may have the spam filtering turned up too high. Sorry.

Two of us tried to answer this message and couldn't. There was nothing in our message that was vain or in poor taste. I also can't sign in because I never have but it gives a message that our information doesn't match anything on file, when we are not on file. Maybe it is because we are both atheist who don't have fun at church.

The anti-Bush funny email didn't matter, because if it hadn't been that - it would have been something else. Trust me- they probably weren't that thrilled with you before the email. Tragically, you didn't send a George Bush is the Anti-Christ email, but then that would have been an insult to the Anti-Christ.

Christian fundamentalism has lead to a Federal Government controlled by a party that is beholden to an unholy alliance of religion and corporations. It is the vast Right Wing banding together in a web of interlocking and interconnected organizations.

I don't go anywhere if they are in control because it's not fun, and I despise them. To me it would be like going to a vampire convention, but not drinking the blood because, "I'm not a vampire."

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