Prayer before group meal at the office?

Dopers, I want to get a feeling for how unusual this is.

I just changed jobs. Wednesday was my first day at the client site. I’m a contractor working on a DoD project in Northern Virginia. I hope that’s not too specific. :wink:

Friday there was a pizza lunch for the project. Before we tore into the food one of the bosses on the government side said a few words about the projects progress in the last year, and then asked someone to lead the blessing over the food.


Someone volunteered to say the blessing. I bowed my head and listened like anyone with a modicum of manners would, but I was wondering if this was at all typical for a workplace in the 21st century U S of A., where lawyers roam free.

If it makes any difference, I’m sure the boss is former military.

We were all pretty much heathens at my last job, so this struck me as odd. I assumed that workplace discussions of religion and politics were no-nos.

Am I right that this is unusual, or just going to heck in a hand basket? Or both?

It’s unprofessional and creepy.

I’m a DoD employee. We’ve had pre-meal prayers said at work functions in the past, although I’ve noticed the last few pot-lucks went unblessed. I’m wondering if someone put a stop to it?

Doesn’t matter to me either way. The prayers were pretty generic, and I wasn’t offended.

Never had that happen at work. I would find it rather odd unless I worked in a church.


We had a manager who used to put bible quotes in his signature. He was told to knock it off (I’m sure someone somewhere complained - I didn’t, though my eyes did roll enough for me to glimpse my brains). This is a publicly held corporation.

I would find it bizarre in the extreme – though I agree, there’s nothing to do but bow your head and hold your tongue while it’s going on.

and maybe butter a roll. It’s not technically eating!

I wouldn’t have any problems with people praying over their dinner. It’s just one of those rituals people do. But doing it “top down” seems odd to me.

We never do it at work and we’re 100% of the same religion. By that I mean not just Christian but all of us are active in our respective churches. Some of us may say a private silent grace; possibly all of us. Some of the places I worked in the past would have a very general benediction at banquets and the like. But to do it out loud, on the job and prompted by a boss? I agree with whoever said “creepy”.

That’s just bizarre.

Bow your head? Fuck that shit. I’ll sit there quietly and stare straight ahead, or look around the room, but i’m not bowing my head while people pray.

I’ve never heard of such a thing in the workplace. I would not bow my head.

I would have broken into a loud chant praising the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Noodly Goodness.

If I was secure in my position, I think I’d volunteer, and then say a few words about the separation of church and state. In your case, I think that I’d leave an anonymous tip that this person is promoting religion in the (government) workplace.

I would be looking for a new job the same day.

Does the company have 15 or more employees? That is where the federal law against discrimination on the basis of religion kicks in. That’s what would make a top-down group prayer legally inadvisable. If it’s a smaller company, your government contract might still make it legally inadvisable. I’m not sure about that, though.

However, it’s not like there is black-letter law saying “thou shalt not.” It’s more that, if you were to protest or refuse to participate, and it negatively affected your employment, it would give you grounds for a lawsuit.

I have only encountered this once in the workplace, in a state university office where it definitely was legally problematic.

Small companies (<15 employees) are generally free to discriminate based on religion under US federal law. This freedom applies to the believer and nonbeliever alike, as do the restrictions on larger employers.

Happens all the time at the main office of my employer, and not only at meals. These people pray to open conferences, they pray before management meetings, they pray for sick coworkers, you name it, they pray for it. Goes with living in the bible belt. Doesn’t bother me, because I leave the room until the praying is done. Gives me a chance to go smoke a cigarette.

Totally, totally inappropriate and possibly illegal.

Bow my head and keep quiet? FUCK THAT. I come from a line of People that goes back thousands of years, many of whom were tortured and killed for not bowing their head and keeping quiet. The very least I can do to honor them, given that I am fortunate to live in a country that separates Church and State, is not fucking bow my head and take it. The thought of doing so literally turns my stomach.

I have been in a similar situation and I would do now what I did then. Get up and leave the room.

Inappropriate, and hopefully unusual.

Thanks for the confirmation, Dopers.

Listen, this was my third day on the job. A job I like and worked hard to get. The prayer-instigator does not work for my employer, although he works for the client.

No, I am not dropping a dime on this guy. It is not worth it. I was not offended, just puzzled.

Yes, he works for an organization of more than 15 people - he works for the US Department of Defense. More than 15 people there. Maybe that’s why he passed the praying on to someone else - then he couldn’t get blamed for it. Maybe he’s in touch with his inner weasel.

I am just going to roll with this. I suspect that if I had been asked to lead the payer and did something in heavily accented Hebrew, everyone there would have been fine with it. I’ll have to brush up on my Hebrew before the next such event. Or the [post=11106706]Yiddish curses my grandmother used to use[/post], and pass them off as a prayer. Or would that be wrong? :smiley:

And would I be caught at it? :frowning:

Darn me and my love of employment!

I’ll have to keep a couple of quotes from Feynman or Einstein handy for such occasions. Or maybe memorize the Muslim prayer for meals. That’ll keep 'em guessing!