Inappropriate religious content? (Internal dissemination, public agency)

I work for a public agency. I just got an e-mail from a division secretary which contained only an attachment that she had forwarded to the entire division at the request of one employee.

The attachment is a flyer for a BBQ held by a prominent Catholic church, to benefit a sister church in Peru or somewhere. Besides being a flyer for a BBQ, it’s filled with religious/Catholic references. Including a letter from the priest of the church in Peru that begins “To the Christian Community of Immaculate Conception: Greetings and blessings in our Lord, Jesus Christ!”

To give you an idea, here is an article about the event:

http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=immaculate+conception+bell+tower+barbecue&d=4662166584299116&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=_DsH2Wr35cxIG_dG2T06s9tr3AsPnHri

I’m about .7 of a second away from shooting back an e-mail that this is inappropriate for dissemination at work. I’m pretty damn certain that if I tried to get a flyer for a fund raiser for Camp Quest I’d be out of luck.

So, according to laws, good taste, etc. is this appropriate or not?

Are these type of flyers sent for other organizations? Have any non-religious organizations be prevented from sending out emails?

If the policy is that people can promote any fundraiser, I can’t see this being inappropriate.

No. If it’s a fundraiser, it’s generally somebody’s house burned down or they have cancer…heres a BBQ benefit. And it’s almost always for someone within the organization or a family member.

No, but I’m probably going to give them the opportunity.

If it were for a community project - “give these peruvians a well/school/traffic light” maybe it would be appropriate.

Asking people to donate to a purely religious organization (“Help give these people a CATHOLIC church”) cannot possibly be appropriate unless everyone is Catholic.

However, the key is “what does the policy say”? If it says “charity” then by any definition, a church denomination is a charity - just not one some people would give to. If there is no written policy, then time to write one.

Similarly, if you don’t have a policy on email use in general - i.e. no religious messages, no politics, no causes - then it’s never too late to join the 20th century and write one. i would approach it as “this guy may be well meaning, but the next person may send a less appropriate message, like political or about abortion or something equally inappropriate.” Certainly telling people Jesus blesses them may not be an appropriate message to some pople with different beliefs.

The thing is, I would estimate that more than 70% of the recipents ARE Catholic. That’s why nobody is likely to question it.

There is an e-mail policy of sorts, but it doesn’t deal specifically with instances such as these.

It’s like taking your church’s collection plate to work and passing it around.

It’s inappropriate, but let it die.

Why? I think it’s important for people to realize that not everybody thinks or believes as they do.

It’s too late, anyway. I replied to the secretary and cut in my boss:

I failed to cite md2000 in the e-mail…

I have asked politely to at least leave me off the list, and if it’s frequent, like every day, I have gone to my boss about it. If it’s just once or twice, it’s not a biggie but this one woman used to send me inbox hogging huge e-mails, complete with giant pictures of jesus christ and all kinds of other inapprpriate things. Her I asked directly, and she stopped. Other people I have gone to the boss if it was way too infrequent.

Speaking as a practicing and conservative Catholic… I agree.

If the bulletin were asking people to contribute money to a Catholic (or Jewish or Protestant or…) charity that was doing some kind of secular good (running a food bank, housing refugees from a natural disaster, whatever), I’d have no problem with that.

But just asking people to support a church per se seems to be crossing a line.

[moderating]
Moved thread from “General Questions” to “In My Humble Opinion.”

Please remember that any thread seeking advice, anecdotes, or opinions belongs in the IMHO forum, not GQ.

Thanks!
[/moderating]
With mod hat off, I’d say the opening sentence of the OP answers the question. At a private company, whatever the owner/chairman/partner says is okay. At a public agency, this is not okay.

Yeah. It’s inappropriate. And if you are uncomfortable with receiving email of a religious nature, and you’ve made that known, then the emails really need to stop coming to you.

Technically they’re asking if you want to attend a BBQ. The proceeds of which will go to a church and maybe that’s reason enough for you not to go. Or maybe you like BBQ and are interested anyway.

I guess I see it as a fund raiser in a different light than just asking for donations.

I think the religious aspect of it is immaterial - it depends upon the workplace’s policy of charitable solicitations.

In my office, we’re not even allowed to ask people to buy Girl Scout Cookies or candy bars to send kids to band camp.* A mass-email seeking charitable donations - unless it was one of our company’s own charitable foundations - would not be permitted. And this is a company whose founder is well-known for his philanthropy to both religious and secular causes.
*although violations are routinely ignored

Yes it’s inappropriate. Just like the bible quotes and and Christian posters I see pinned around the office when we aren’t supposed to have posters of any kind in our cubes. Christians are particular tone deaf to this because they are so used to everyone around them bring in agreement. I hesitate to poke that hornet’s nest at work but I appreciate those brave enough to complain.

Depending upon what type of public agency you work for, you could consider contacting the www.FFRF.org, an organization that works for state / church separation.

J.

I haven’t received a reply from the officeperson who sent the e-mail or my supervisor, who was cut in. Well, it may not happen again, but if it does I’ll take it higher.

Now, my other battle: Wednesday is the summer employee appreciation cookout. These invariably start with a prayer, which again is obviously inappropriate. In addition, the bi-annual employee meetings begin with a prayer.

I’m trying to figure out how to or whether I should bring it up anonymously, since I’m sure it won’t go over well.

Well since you not so anonymously voiced a complaint about the email, I don’t think it would take much mental work to make the connection to you. Especially if no one’s complained about it in the past. As annoying as it is, and as much as I agree that it’s wrong, this might be a case where it’s better to just leave it be.

Well, that’s not exactly the case here, it’s complicated. I’m actually the only one from my division that works in this building. My boss is 128 miles away, as is the secretary from the previous incident. So I am likely the only person at this location who recived the e-mail.

And if it comes down to not saying anything or being identified as the one who started the stinkabout the prayers, I’ll let myself be the Bad Guy. I would just rather not, because I actually have a nice office here that doesn’t necessarily have to stay mine, if you get my drift. And the fact that at least one of the people who have the power to move me to a crap cubicle keep bibles on their desk…well, let’s just say I’m trying to fix something, not be a martyr.

Nobody said taking a stand is going to be consequence-free. If you’re not willing to be the “bad guy” then just shut up and eat your hotdog or whatever. A prayer isn’t going to hurt you, and nobody is forcing you to participate. Don’t like the email? Delete it.