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Sunday, April 5, 2020


Work is not a religious affair

How would you feel if, while at Starbucks, you heard “Enjoy your coffee …and this scripture verse”?

These types of comments would be expected at private, religious organizations but not at others.

I went to Catholic school. Because I was Catholic, I had to maintain certain principles and follow rules according to traditional Catholicism. Other non-Catholic students were not expected to participate.  All that was asked was that they maintain a level of respect.

That was a private organization where religious affiliations are strict. The idea behind this is simple: if you want to come to us and use our services, you follow our rules.

This kind of thinking allows the Catholic Church exemptions from covering abortions in employee health care.  It is fundamentally against what they stand for.  The organization, not the individual employee, is allowed to refuse certain rights because there are (or should be) alternatives.  That’s key.

In a different situation, say, a Catholic pharmacist refusing contraceptives at his non-religious job – that’s not OK, if for no other reason than economics.  It’s bad for business; the individual is denying a service that is ordinarily offered.  If the pharmacist doesn’t want to do the job, he should look for employment somewhere that aligns with his beliefs.

The right to further your religious convictions at the workplace ends with non-religious employers, especially in government positions.

Obviously, this does not include the employee’s right to practice religion, but when you are at your job, you are an entity of that corporation.  You represent them and must abide by their regulations, and to advocate for your religion on that time is a violation not only of policy, but of trust.  Put simply, as long as you are a compliant employee, your time at work does not belong to you.

This policy has been violated by some, including Texas courthouse clerks who have delayed, or outright refused, same-sex marriage licenses.  As a public servant, it is their job — or dare I say, their obligation — to protect and fulfill the civil rights and liberties of others, even if the Supreme Court-mandated right to marriage licenses may chafe one’s personal ideology.

On the weekends, the county clerks can protest what they please – how they spend their own time is their prerogative.  But as soon as that time card punches, the personal crusading stops, or they can find a different job.

You wouldn’t want your public school teacher giving lessons on her religion, would you? Or favoring students who aligned with her beliefs?

If you work for anyone or any corporation that is not explicitly religious, you give up your right to make religion a part of your job.  Regardless of personal beliefs – that women shouldn’t have abortions or that same-sex couples shouldn’t marry – it’s foremost your duty to uphold rules set up by your employer and by the federal government.

You simply cannot police the lifestyle of strangers because you think it’s immoral, or because it disagrees with your religion.  That’s not your job.

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