How should I respond to workplace proselytization ?

I work in a smallish office; there are less than a dozen of us in our office suite. I started this summer as an intern, and will continue work part-time in the fall. The highest ranking person in our area, who I don’t report directly to, is a fundamentalist Christian, and a right wing republican. Plus, he is just a little creepy. I thankfully, have managed to avoid him and have had very little conversation with him. Before now, the worst that he said was that the “good lord” is needed to deal with stress, and I just laughed that off.

This morning, I came into work and found witnessing literature on my desk. Not Jack Chick, but a large 8" by 15" piece of paper made to look like a $100 bill, this one in fact. A sample of the text


[li]Ignoring it (Not preferred)[/li][li]Talking to my direct supervisor about it, and hoping he brings it up with the offender.[/li][li]Talking to the offender directly, and asking him not to proselytize to me at work.[/li][li]Going to the offenders’ boss, and asking him to talk to him.[/li][/ul]
We don’t really have an HR department to go to, so that is not an option.
And we are not a religious institution, we are an engineering firm, so this is really not appropriate.

Help me teeming millions, what should I do?

This is just my knee-jerk reaction (and please feel free to take it with a grain of salt - stuff like this really gets to me.)

I’d go to his boss and ask his boss to address it.

I have no patience with stuff like this, though, and I don’t know your work dynamics - like if going to his boss would piss off your boss for example.

the answer is b and c. Address him directly - he may be reasonable about it. But let your boss know what’s going on as well.

Yeah, I don’t know. His boss is the big boss (BB) of the Socal area. BB is actually the one who interviewed and hired me, I didn’t meet the proselytizer until I started work. That said, I am very intimidated by BB, and have rarely talked to him. I don’t know if he would be sympathetic, or annoyed at having to deal with it. I would lean towards annoyed though.

PC answer, go to his boss.

**What I’d Like to do ** answer, ask him if he’d be interested in a nice slice of Shut-the-Fuck-Up.

Going to the boss probably won’t do much. It’s a small office, he was there first, and obviously, everyone else is dealing with it. I’d get outta Dodge.

Could you draw a mustache on the bill and put it back on his desk?

As someone’s boss, I recommend that if at all possible, you address it with him first. I really hate being bothered with things that can be resovled amongst subordinates. If you can discuss it like rational adults, do so. If it continues to be an issue THEN bring it to me and I’ll enforce workplace policies (ie, keep to yourself, no converting at work).

Something like : “Hi, Smith, did you leave this at my desk?”
“Thanks for the interest, but I really don’t feel comfortable with this subject here at work and I’d prefer we not discuss it. I’d hate to make us both uncomfortable since we have to work together and I otherwise really enjoy your company.”

If he still insists after this, then he’s an insensitive ass and the boss can get involved.

Go to him first, tell him that you’re not interested in discussing religion with him AT ALL, that his behavior is inapproprate for the workplace, and that if it happens again you’ll ask his boss to step in.

Ooh, Kalhoun, I like the way you think. And since I bet he put one on everyones desk ( I was out yesterday, and the other person who was out has one as well) , he wouldn’t know who did it. Maybe, cross out the in god we trust as well. :slight_smile:

Ok, maybe not since I want him to stop, and I am not a fan of passive aggressiveness.

I am leaning toward C, becuase theres not much he can do to me, since I in practice report to only my supervisor and the BB, and it would be direct action.

I don’t know if this is the “proper” answer, but it’s what I’d do:

I’d email everyone in the office, including the offender and the boss, and I’d calmly and rationally point out that Someone inadvertently left personal items of a religious nature on your desk. And since you KNOW that NO ONE associated with the office would want to be guilty of CREATING A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT, you disposed of the offending item in the shredder and you trust everyone to keep better track of their personal items in the future.

Passive-aggressive? Yeah, maybe. What can I say, I’m a mom. Guilting people into compliance is in the handbook.

You shouldn’t have to confront the religious harrasser personally, just like no one has to confront a sexual harrasser personally.

If there’s no HR department, who would an employee go to with a sexual harrassment complaint?

Ditto this. At least give him the opportunity to realise it was inappropriate and apologise before drawing higher management into it.

The problem here is: is one incident a case of “harassment”? If a coworker asks me out on a date, is that harassment? What if I would have said yes?

I think the guy does merit one (1) warning or response that further attention is not acceptable, whether the attention is sexual or religious in nature.

Agreed. If he continues doing it after the warning, then it’s harrassment and needs to be taken up with senior management.

You started as an intern and you’re going to be working there part-time? If you want to keep your job, I’d just suck it up. It doesn’t matter how “right” you are. You don’t want to rankle the highest ranking member of a small firm over something like this unless it bothers you so much that you’re prepared to leave over it.

Thirded. You have to take into account that if you go to senior management now, you’ll also be mentally flagged as Guy Who I Have to Babysit. You come across much better as Guy Who Dealt With This Rationally and Is Still Not Getting Respect. If this guy’s boss is your boss is well, think of the impression you need to give of yourself at work.

Personally, I’d just ignore it. At this point it’s at about the same level as someone passing around a Girl Scout cookie order form.

If it increases beyond the level of occasional junk mail on your desk, then you can bring it up with someone.

The problem with ignoring it is that you’ll continue to hold a grudge against the person, which will manifest itself in the way you interact at the office.

Whereas if you raise it with him and give him the opportunity to acknowledge the inappropriateness and perhaps even apologise, you can end that conversation in a friendly manner and it will improve the way you continue to work together.

The OP doesn’t have to make a big deal out of it, just a brief conversation stated in a matter-of-face way.

Whoever you go to (the guy or the BB), make sure to document your contact in writing. e.g. if you just go the guy and talk without writing him an email, and he retaliates against you, you will have lost an import piece of evidence.

And you should definitely go to somebody (either or both of them).

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in my experience, anyone who is into religion enough to proselytize at work is not going to respond well to anyone telling him his proselytizing is not welcome, no matter how well put it is. I think if the OP brings this up at all, and it gets back to Religo-guy, it’s gonna be bad for the OP.

Maybe you don’t get religious nutters where you are, sandra_nz, but 'round here, you pretty much just want to stay away from them as much as possible.

See, I don’t like people using their power over others to proselytize. I think that if more people spoke up, then this kind of behavior would be less tolerated. I just talked to my supervisor, and he told me that I am not the first person to be annoyed by this behavior, and that he is a minister and does this several times a year. My supervisor told me that it probably would not be a problem if I talked to the proselytizer, but I probably wouldn’t be able to get out of having a conversation with him about religion, and he probably wouldn’t stop anyway.

Since I really don’t want to get into a conversation with this guy, and I don’t want to talk to the BB about it, I am going to drop it.

Then, when I am the boss, I will put athiesm tracts on the underlings desks :stuck_out_tongue: