Do overt religious displays bias you for or against a business?

I don’t have a problem with how they decorate their store inside, what irritates me is when religion is used as a draw. It feels kinda icky to me that a business encourages customers to discriminate in their favor via religion. If I put “a white owned and operated business” in my ads I’m quite sure I would be hearing about it if my advertisers would even let it go to print.

It turns me when it’s used as a method of attracting customers, for example the aforementioned ‘reason for the season’ advertisement.

There’s a Mennonite-owned shop near me that doesn’t have any sort of “Christian” advertisements, but on the checkout counter is a stack of Bibles and music CDs recorded by their church, all labeled ‘Free’. They never mention it, but it’s there if you want one. That sort impresses me.

It usually biases me slightly against a business, but I don’t usually go out of my way to avoid a business specifically for posting a sentiment I don’t agree with. I think it just adds to my sense of being slightly uncomfortable or unwelcome and makes me more likely to look at alternatives. But I think I’d also be slightly uncomfortable if the business posted an atheist slogan. Even though I might agree with the statement, I’m not coming into the business for the philosophy; I just want a coffee.

But then…. There’s this B&B I’ve been wanting to go to with the missus. It looks gorgeous, very romantic, and so on. There’s a little emblem on the website that says “Suitable for Christian Travel”. Huh? What does that mean? Does that mean there’s no porn on the TV? OK, fine, I wouldn’t be partaking anyway. Does it mean I can’t bring alcohol into the building? Not so fine, but I’d be willing to put up with it. Does it mean we’ll be expected to hold hands and pray with the other guests before breakfast? Now we’ve crossed the line for me. So, that’s one case in which a religious display is definitely making me skittish about patronizing a business.

The trucking companies with political statements always make me think how long until I get back to blue blooded liberal New England. However, yesterday I unknowing purchased something that if I had read the label I won’t have. It was a squash. Lovely looking spaghetti squash, to be exact. I didn’t look at the label until I got home. This squash is from Faith Farms or some such place. The T is cross. Whatever, I thought, if they want a religious logo. Then I noticed that there there was a bible quotation. On my squash. Right there. From Deuteronomy. I find that highly offense. The word of God (my god, your god, whichever god) is supposed to be sacred. Revered. Not put on produce to be discarded. I find that offensive to a high degree and wouldn’t buy their produce again.

If it is just a crucifix displayed in the shop, that wouldn’t bother me. But incorporating a cross or a fish into a logo or advertising (when the business itself is not related to religion) is a deliberate message, and it’s disingenuous to pretend that it’s the same as a shrine in an Asian family business. Social context is everything and we have enough evidence of Christian fundamentalists telling the rest of us about our deficiencies as Americans. You add two and two. Otherwise, why shouldn’t Buddhists and Hindus feel free to display swastikas in public? Context gives the symbol baggage. And Christian symbols in business advertising and logos carry the baggage of the culture wars. They either mean “Do business with us because we are Christian” or “Do business with us because you are Christian” or “Become a Christian” or a combination of them. Either way it’s a hostile message to non-Christians.

I think that the reason people are showing such bias against specifically christian displays is because in this country, it’s reallly only Christians who have a reputation for witnessing and trying to convert. With other religions it’s seen as more cultural and “harmless,” but with Christians you get the opinion that those people are judging you and are trying to get you to join their ranks.


Makes no difference to me.

I agree, and that’s what I meant to put in my post but didn’t 'cos my brain’s a bit fried today. There’s a difference between politics and religion - I would certainly think twice about using a business that is so clearly anti-abortion because that doesn’t sit comfortably with my belief in choice. However, it was a more “reason for the season” type of message then I probably wouldn’t think twice because I don’t feel that message is being foisted on me like a more political one would be.

I must admit I’ve not come across a similar situation with Hindu/Sikh/Jewish business here and when I lived in a predominantly Jewish area I found the people more than happy to discuss their beliefs with me and just as happy to accept that I might not share them. I have very fond memories of morning debates in a Jewish bakery in Golder’s Green!

Furthermore, it’s not even a very useful message to Christians. If I want someone to paint my house, I need to pick someone who is good at painting houses, not singing hymns. Of course those things aren’t mutually exclusive, but picking a service provider on the primary basis that they agree with your faith just means you’re placing less emphasis on the important question of whether or not they can do the job to your satisfaction.

Only if they tried to discuss religion with me. Then I would get up and walk out.

We occasionally get ultra religious Jewish and Muslim men in our office. I never offer my hand and always give them a male agent. I certainly don’t agree with them, but I keep my mouth shut and they never bring up their religion.

I don’t mind if people’s workspace has personal decorations that include religious stuff. Ads that feature “WE’RE CHRISTIAN!!!” (I’ve only ever seen Christian ones) messages turn me right off though. For me, it’s that they protest too much, methinks. I just picture a really underhanded operation, slapping a Christian symbol on their marketing to make people think they’re moral and upright.* And of course, the underlying message that *only *Christians are moral and upright.

But moreover, I think my upbringing in the Northeast just gives me a fundamental distaste for trumpeting your religious beliefs in a business context. It seems tacky to me. And that goes for any belief, including mine. I just took off my atheist bumper stickers because I’m going to be representing an organization that is neutral on religion, and it just seems to send the wrong message to me.

*Just last week I heard a radio preacher saying that employers are/should be leery of people who declare themselves loudly to be Christian, because so many such people behave so badly!

It depends on whether I agree with the political/religious bias. I wouldn’t want to support a business that overtly championed a political or religious cause I disagree with.

Of course I’m not too sure how far I’m willing to go with that. There are biblical references (which I vehemently disapprove of) on every meal I order from In N’ Out burger, but there’s no way I’d stop getting my grease fix there. They could giving 100% of their profits to a Nazi presidential candidate and I’d still eat there.

A lot of the Christian stuff seems to be intentionally designed to be either political, proselytizing, self-righteous or all of the above.

One of the things that distinguishes Christianity the most from some of the other religions mentioned (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism) is that it’s evangelical while those other religions are not. A simple cross here or there wouldn’t bother me just like a statue of Buddha or a Star of David doesn’t bother me. It’s when the message start in on telling me what I need to believe that I get turned off.

I also think that in the last couple of decades, the evangelical Christian movement in the US has become so overtly political, hostile, mean-spirited, judgemental, tribalistic, anti-intellectual and dishonest that they’ve made all Christian branding and expression into an automatic turn-off for a lot of people even when the intentions are benign.

So, yeah, I get more turned off by the Christian stuff, but that’s because so many Christians are actually making an effort to turn people off.

I’m not bothered by Hobby Lobby’s announcement about Sundays, or by either a Buddha or a cross/crucifixion figure in a store or restaurant.

I am bothered by ads that have Jesus fish or quote the Bible or talk about abortion. I’m not going to patronize those places.

I think I feel there’s a difference between using your religion to advertise and simply having the religion and perhaps displaying evidence of it. Growing up, I had a cross over my window in my bedroom, so I view it as a comforting display rather than an in-your-face attempt to advertise.

If they put up Christmas decorations, or it’s a small shop and the owner has put up a cross, a Buddha, etc. then it doesn’t bother me at all. If they have ads implying that I should patronize them because they’re a certain religion (implying that they’re better than their competitors simply because of their religion), I would go elsewhere. And the anti-abortion stuff crosses the line into offensiveness.


Well sure, because most Dopers don’t live in places where there’s anyone but Christians, agnostics and atheists, I expect. I do, and I was very conscious and accurate in my response: “Against, unless it’s my religion, natch. And even then, it better be subtle unless you’re a religious shop.”

And **Diogenes **is right as well. There’s a fundamental difference between a bit of statuary, be it a cross, a Buddha, an angel, a Moon Goddess or a Vishnu, and words in a language that I can read which tell me what to think. I can easily dismiss the former as decorative or cultural in intent. It’s a lot harder to dismiss words.

ditto. Their bed, they made it. “Anti-Christian bias” is merely the rest of us saying, “Nuh-uh, you’ve gone too far. If you’re quiet and respectful and don’t bother the rest of us, like the Buddhists and Hindus in this country, we don’t mind the occasional bit of statuary. But your zealots and asshats are getting mighty close to wearing out your welcome.”

Uh…why would anyone be offended at the religious display in a religious shop? Anyone who’s offended by such, please raise your hand and go stand in the dummy corner.

Doesn’t bother me much. Politics, yes. Religious displays, no. Heck, if I refused to go into any store that had a religious display up, I’d never be able to eat Chinese or decent BBQ again, and that’s just too big a price to pay!

In Spain, having religious images all over the place is also a part of cultural tradition.

And the abortion message is not religious, it’s political. A Buddha, a St Pancras with or without coin, or a Calendar of the Sacred Heart aren’t political.

I hate those muzak-ed hymns that Hobby Lobby plays over the intercom in their stores. If I drop by there at lunch I’ll spend the rest of afternoon humming “How Great Thou Art”.