Religion at Work...Help me explain this no-no

So I enter my office this morning and on the door to our reception area, a very well-traveled area, there is a poster taped. It is for Mel Gibson’s upcoming The Passion. It has a representation of Jesus nailed on the cross.

We are an interent provider/computer networking company. So I hope that you can already see the inappropriateness that immediately seized me. I asked our receptionist who put the poster up, she said it was up when she opened the office this morning.

On my way upstairs to my office, I get a few people asking me about the poster. (I am, among other things, the entire HR dept.) Some co-workers explained that they were offended by the poster being displayed so prominently, others were just plain confused.

I sent out an email to All, worded thusly:
“Good Morning Everyone! Whoever taped up the movie poster on the door to reception, can you please take it down? This is a place of business. If you must hang that poster up, you can do so in your own cubicle. We dont want any potential customers possibly being offended or even just confused by the poster being there. Thank You. HR”
Meanwhile, one of our sales reps comes to me and asks if I could just take it down, he had clients coming in.

So I went back downstairs and took the poster down, I had to tear it a bit, it was taped as if a tornado may pass by at any moment.

I get back to my desk and I receive the response from our perpretrator. He is the owner of our sister company that is located in our building:
“I will take it down when I return. As for this being a place of business, you are correct. This is also my place of business and Sister Company, LTD, is a sponsor of this production when it is released locally at This Movie Theatre. As for you not wanting any potential customers being offended or confused, I would hope that the confusion would be solved by them talking with a believer and finding out more about Jesus. Those who may be offended, I will pray for.”
I am really really REALLY upset about this response. Frankly, I don’t care WHAT movie it is, it’s confusing and a customer would likely think they were walking into a teenager’s bedroom seeing a taped-up poster on the door. Not to mention the religious inclination of it.

How does one communicate with a person such as this? Im a fairly cut-and-dry to-the-point person but I’ve been told I can come off sounding “mean” in my emails. I certainly dont want to provoke any more ire in Mr. B. Thumper here, but I do think it warrants a little clarification. And that last bit pissed me off because while I am a “believer”, that doesnt mean I cant be offended by the poster. I most certainly was.

What a nice way to start a Monday.

Oh shit, are you in a pickle.

This movie coming out may be the biggest hassle we’ve had to deal with in a while, because there are a lot of people who wish to use this movie as a way to prosletyze.

You being the whole HR department and him being the owner? Man, I’m not sure what you can do. I clearly think it is appropriate to bring religion into the workplace, simply because it’s an issue that can be quite controversial.

Maybe you can appeal to his views on productivity: how much time will be spent “discussing” the movie versus working? Although in the scheme of things, this guy might not mind if it causes a few people to “see the light” as it were.

My response would be something like:

Thank you for your quick response. Because we have clients arriving at the building, the poster has been removed. I will save the poster so you may display it within your own offices*. Please contact me when you return to retrieve the poster.
*assuming the office of sister company are in some way set up so the poster is not displayed in a public space. I would make no reference to his comments about praying for people. Also, if there is any set policy about displaying items, quote it. If there’s not, perhaps one should be developed.

I had a friend who was working for the provincial government (Alberta) whose co-workers wanted to institute morning prayer sessions… (church and state is not separated in the same way here in Canada)… rather than launching a complaint about it, she came up with a novel idea… she would accept their prayer sessions if, every eighth work morning, they would have a Marxist study session… she played fair, and the whole idea died a quick, well-deserved death… Perhaps you could suggest something as an equivalent for the non-believers in your office… that they could (in proportion to their numbers) have a poster or piece of artwork posted in the same position… :smiley:

Of course, I overlooked your statement about him being the owner of sister co.
Is there anyway you can approach upper management at your company with your concerns and have them address it? Of course, that might be seen as a waste of their time - and truly, it is something that shouldn’t cause a lot of debate. That doesn’t mean that it won’t.

I’d say see if you can get a policy developed. To my mind, the policy should be that “No unofficial postings are allowed in the building with the exception of the employee bulletin board in the break area” (if you have one).

“Good Morning Everyone! Whoever taped up the movie poster on the door to reception, can you please take it down? This is a place of business. If you must hang that poster up, you can do so in your own cubicle. We dont want any potential customers possibly being offended or even just confused by the poster being there. Thank You. HR”

Although I think this is a reasonable email - the art of email writing is totally under-understood. People can sound harsher in emails than they ever intended. I have taken to softening all emails where I can, but still sticking to the point.

I would have thought that each company has a policy on this kind of thing.
Perhaps putting up film etc posters in your work reception is not allowed, if it is, then you can’t distinguish between the kinds of films being advertised.
If posters are not allowed, then this should have been addressed in the email, not that it was advertising a christian film.
Whilst in the local jewellers last weekend, I happend to sit down and at eye level noticed a christian fish on the side of the jewellery counter. Then SO was looking at the grandfather clock they had for sale and noticed that the number eight was a face pointing down fish. We had never noticed this before and have used the shop many times.
It is obviously a christian shop, or christian friendly and therefore totally okay.

Look at it this way: you made this guy’s day.

Tell him that you really appreciate him treating your savior like an adverstising sales pitch for Nike. Maybe he should think about pop up ads next?

If the sister company has a business reason to display the poster, then I don’t see the problem in their doing so… and apparently they do, being a sponsor of sorts for the local showing of the movie.

I gather you and they share the reception area?

There should be some sort of agreement concerning their promotional materials being displayed in shared space. Even if their next movie sponsorship is Freddy Meets Jason in Hell Again, you may not want a poster for that on your door.

If there is no agreement between the two companies for the use of shared space, there should be.

  • Rick

I hope this movie is a dismal failure. I hate it and everyone associated with it. insert more vitriol that I am too noncreative to come up with at the moment Normally, I wouldn’t care about this movie, seeing as how I don’t care about most movies in general. But the advertising/proselytizing blitzkrieg that surrounds this thing is getting totally out of hand.

I got hit with this annoying variety of proselytizing in my LiveJournal last week. I posted my thoughts on the oddity of people’s interactions with each other and lo and behold there comes BLOG SPAM! You can see an example of it here. (Note: not my journal.) What a way to lose viewers before you even start, blog spammers! Please walk into a tar pit and die!

I would have just taken it down and then sent out an email explaining your reasons for doing so, and letting them know where they could retrieve it. As it was, you did the equivalent of a kindergarten teacher saying “Whoever took the chalk/book/apple off my desk, I’ll turn my back and you can put it back and we’ll pretend it never happened.”

Other than that, I agree with you completely.

P.S. Churches across the country are renting out theatre screens and showing the film to their congregations. Maybe this is what is meant by “sponsoring”. Is your sister company religious in nature?

Ugh. What a situation. Might I suggest:

"Dear ______

I believe you misunderstand my objections; I am merely trying to cut off any problems that might arise from innocent co-workers and employees being exposed to Mel Gibson without warning."


Unfortunately, I think you might be better served by simply apologizing for any confusion and mentioning that you’ve taken the poster down and where it can be retrieved.

If another poster goes up, consider asking for details about the company’s sponsorship. While you might think it sounds worse to let people know that the company is sponsoring the film, it would make the poster seem more professional if you could attach an explanation of the company’s reason for hanging it, one preferably couched in very neutral language.

For example, if it could have an accompanying caption that said something like: “Company X is always happy to support local businesses like movie theatre Y.”

I’ve been in situations where I’ve had two bosses fighting over religous things, so I don’t envy your position.


It seems like you might have to take this up with the owner or CEO of your own company. If the other owner has a business reason for showing the poster then he needs to hang it in his own part of the bulding. A shared reception area is in appropriate if it will hurt the other business.

The comment about “talking to believers” was completely offensive and inappropriate and belies the true motive for his poster. If he habitually sponsors movies then why hasn’t he hung anything up there before?

Oy. What exactly do you think might happen to you if someone loves Jesus? Or Buddha? Or Mohammed? I’ve resigned myself by now to the fact that the hand-stabbers will go into hysterics over the slightest hint of anything religious, but I do not yet understand why. Why the Slim Wittman effect? You don’t mind invoking the name of Jesus whenever you want to turn a colorful swearing phrase. In fact, you applaud one another and wallow in it. “Jesus on a cracker!” “Oh, band name!” […giggles…] So, why do you mind so terribly when someone invokes His name reverently?

It might have been worse. Your boss could have been the pilot on a American Airlines jet.

Well, I for one, have no problem exposing myself to Mel Gibson. Oh…you said “exposed to”…nevermind

Complain about the poster being a poster, not about the religion part, and you will get farther with this guy. (but not much farther from the sound of it)

As for what to do … My suggestion would be to reply honestly, if your job doesn’t depend on it. Probably consulting with the owners is a good idea, unless they’re in constant cahoots with this guy. In the end, I don’t think you’ll be able to get your point across to someone like this.

Ya know … It’s not just ANY movie we’re talking about here. This movie has been quite the newsmaker, even before its release. I’d say that if there are statements and retractions bu the Vatican about it, it’s heavy duty.

You’d have to tell me more about what kind of company this is. I’m assuming it’s a company that no Jews patronize?

As for you not wanting any potential customers being offended or confused, I would hope that the confusion would be solved by them talking with a believer and finding out more about Jesus. Those who may be offended, I will pray for.

Is he fucking JOKING? Does he know you’re Christian? If he doesn’t, that’s a pretty big assumption, first of all.

Second of all, I’d LOVE to know what kind of job you do that TALKING TO CLIENTS about Jesus is a good idea. Is this guy a pilot for American Airlines in his spare time? That pilot would have scared the shit out of me, considering recent events. I would have been praying to Hashem to take care of my fiancé, friends and family ~ I would have thought I was being hijacked. Minimally, I would have gotten the fuck out of your office damned fast if you would have started to preach to me. You would have lost my contract FOR SURE.

Third of all, let him pray for me all he wants. I’m quite happy with Judaism, tyvm. If you want to “talk to me and find out more about Jesus”, go right ahead ~ one of the mitzvot (laws) I am bound to as a Jew, is to hate those who try to convert me to idolatry. It won’t be a nice ‘talk’.

I guess he’s quite proud to be a sponsor of this movie. Someone’s gotta be, I guess. I think it’s a MAJOR bad move for ANY company that is not related to Christianity.

As for Gibson, we know there are no Jews in Hollywood, right? Good luck on your next movie, buddy. Don’t you dare rewrite history. Don’t you dare create more anti-semitism in a world where religion and money are the roots of all wars.

Mel Gibson is a war monger, in its most pure definition. He is banned on my list.

“P.S. Who or what is this ‘Jesus’ you refer to?”


My suggestion would be, since the only legitimate reason for this poster to be up in a place of business, instead of a teenybopper’s bedroom, is because the business is sponsoring the showing. Since that seems to be the case, here, I’d tell Mr. B. Thumper that an additional notice accompanying the poster explaining why it were up in a place of business, i.e. The Owner has chosen to show his support for the community by sponsoring the showing of this movie at such and such a venue and time, would at least keep the associations with the poster/movie only on the business owner, not the workers such as yourself.

It would also have the benefit of keeping customers from wasting your time asking about why the poster is up. And, hopefully, keep any anger directed at Mr. B. Thumper, not at you or your co-workers. The other suggestion would be to ask your boss, presumably the other co-owner, to be the one to ask for the clarifying notice.

perhaps not the advice you’d wanted to hear, but it’s the best I can come up with…