I'm new here, so hello. 

Anyway, I work as a Recreation Therapist for troubled teens at a Presbyterian Residential Facility. My job entails running activities with these children and using these activities to build social skills, resilience and self-esteem. Only one co-worker knows a hint of my non-religious nature (and that's because I tried to date her....HUGE MISTAKE, NEVER DATE A FUNDAMENTALIST, this was a very influential part of my life that should be saved for another thread).


Prayer is a huge part of my every day routine at work. Most of the time, I just bow my head and be respectful when they ask to pray. When they ask me to pray, I always pass.  Some of the children ask why I never pray when I run activities or why I don't say prayers out loud. I usually brush off these questions as 'they are not my thing'.

The institution is a private facility, so I do not dare share my opinions, or object to any policy for fear of losing my job or being ostracized. My boss is a strict right wing conservative who thinks that Obama is a muslim foreigner (yeah, one of those).  A pastor comes two days a week to run a Bible study group for the kids, and I wish so bad that I could run it and point out all the flaws, supernatural nonsense, contradictions, absurdities, sexism, murder, rape, I could go on. 

The fact is that I put up with this every day, and for fear of losing my job, I keep my mouth shut. There are plenty more situations that bother me, but I will stop here.

Beyond the religious part of my job, I like it very much. Working with kids from diverse backgrounds and helping them learn to become stable adults is a fulfilling job. I was just wondering if anyone here has had the same experience as I have, or experiences these practices while at the workplace. Any ideas on how to cope with these people?

Anyways, thanks for reading. Your thoughts are appreciated, and its good to be able to talk with people who choose not to believe in fairy tales. 

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Nice to have you on the site!

No haven't had that experience.  Just be grateful that you aren't a 50 year pastor with a large congregation that just figured out that religion is bunk.

Yes, fortunately I learned to reason and look past irrational fears and emotional crutches at a young age. Haha

I couldn't imagine being so deep into religion that I spread it or try to convert people, then making the 180 back the other direction. There would have to be some major epiphanies involved, as well as a catalyst for the initial doubt.

Not necessarily.

People who spend lots of time and energy prostheletizing* others, and seeking converts to their faith are trying to convince themselves that their own beliefs are TRUE via a variant of argumentum ad popularum (it's true because it's widely believed/other people believe it). I think it shows uncertainty that their beliefs are true.

Sometimes, this doesn't work to maintain their own faith, and the person who was converting others ceases to see the Truth in those teachings, and either changes to a different belief/set of teachings, or they back away from religion altogether. Then, they have a new belief system (or lack of one) to prostheletize* the same people with over again - with a new vigour.

* Definition: prostheletize - verb - To beat others over the head with the crutch of religion.

Hi-- I can understand everything you are saying about your job frustration.  I'm sure you already know the answer, and it is what you are doing-- just avoid the relifious stuff as much as you can and eventually hope for a job where you can be yourself.  I live in a community and extended family of fundamentalist Christians, and it is much the same, I would imagine.  I just look the other way and don't participate in prayers and so on.  I don't let them "catch" me disagreeing out loud with their beliefs, but I'm sure my silence is a strong hint.  Yet there's nothing they can prove, in your situation or mine.  The difference is that i COULD tell them what I really believe, but for you your job would be in jeopardy, and you don't want to do that until you have another direction.  It would be great if you could find a secular organization that needed your services.  And please forgive me for stating nothing but the obvious!

You say the organisation is a Presbyterian organisation, and you say it is a private organisation. There is a difference in how each can treat you under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, religious rules descriptions found here.

Generally a religious organisation may discriminate on employment based on religious sect, but may not harass or retaliate (thus you could be replaced if a Presbyterian were found to replace you, but not be fired over your non-belief).

The rules are tricky and subjective, though courts have found that clergy may not sue a religious organisation for religious discrimination. (A Catholic priest cannot sue because an Assembly of God church won't hire him on religious grounds.)

Generally, this is harassment (taken from the document, but I would argue read the whole doc)

Religious harassment in violation of Title VII occurs when employees are: (1) required or coerced to abandon, alter, or adopt a religious practice as a condition of employment (this type of “quid pro quo” harassment may also give rise to a disparate treatment or denial of accommodation claim in some circumstances); or (2) subjected to unwelcome statements or conduct that is based on religion and is so severe or pervasive that the individual being harassed reasonably finds the work environment to be hostile or abusive, and there is a basis for holding the employer liable.

It is necessary to evaluate all of the surrounding circumstances to determine whether or not particular conduct or remarks are unwelcome. For example, where an employee is upset by repeated mocking use of derogatory terms or comments about his religious beliefs or observance by a colleague, it may be evident that the conduct is unwelcome. In contrast, a consensual conversation about religious views, even if quite spirited, does not constitute harassment if it is not unwelcome.

Even unwelcome religiously motivated conduct is not unlawful unless the victim subjectively perceives the environment to be abusive and the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive. Religious expression that is repeatedly directed at an employee can become severe or pervasive, whether or not the content is intended to be insulting or abusive. Thus, for example, persistently reiterating atheist views to a religious employee who has asked that this conduct stop can create a hostile environment. [emphasis mine, and the reverse is true]

The extent to which the expression is directed at a particular employee is relevant to determining whether or when it could reasonably be perceived to be severe or pervasive by that employee. For example, although it is conceivable that an employee may allege that he is offended by a colleague’s wearing of religious garb, expressing one’s religion by wearing religious garb is not religious harassment. It merely expresses an individual’s religious affiliation and does not demean other religious views. As such, it is not objectively hostile. Nor is it directed at any particular individual. Similarly, workplace displays of religious artifacts or posters that do not demean other religious views generally would not constitute religious harassment.

There, clear as mud. James K, former Wiccan who had to put up with Fundamentalist nonsense every day in the military and could not get away.




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