Religion in the Workplace

At the state agency where I work, the receptionist listens to “Christian” talk radio. Luckily, I am not one of the ones whose offices are close enough to have to hear that all day long. I do hear it every time I go to the copier, other people’s offices, etc., and while it really doesn’t harm me in any way, I find myself more and more irritated every time I hear it.

I don’t want to come across as a complainer and “go to the boss,” and besides, the boss doesn’t want to have to make any decisions when it comes to personnel and/or possible conflict, as well as being a Christian himself. The office manager would just tell me I’m being silly because what’s the harm, and she’s probably right. I certainly can’t say anything to the receptionist herself unless I want a war which would make my working life difficult (her very similar daughter also works there).

What do you think? Should I just utilize cognitive behavioral therapy and rearrange my thinking so I’m not irritated, or is it a big enough deal to make something of?

It’s not a big deal. I suggest earplugs.

Start leaving Watchtowers in the break room.

This would irritate me but probably not enough to motivate me into doing something about it.

You say she’s a receptionist? Have a friend call in and ask to speak to the Big Bossman and say that he found the choice of radio station somewhat disagreeable while visiting the office last week. Little things that are easy to “fix” get addressed in a heartbeat if it’s a potential turn-off for customers/clients.

Personally I am intensely annoyed if I have to put up with other peoples’ noise. The last time I worked in an office I had three different music sources surrounding me … one classical, one hip hop and one normal. Added to that there was a guy who sniffed loudly, one who continually rattled his coins, a woman who had a piercing cellphone ring and another who had screechy gossip sessions on the phone. Uggh.

If your receptionist is allowed to inflict her listening habits on the rest of the office, why can’t you, or everyone else too? Perhaps you should get a few other radio stations being played around the place and eventually enough people will complain that your boss will insist that earphones be used by everyone.

One thing I’ve learned about getting along in an office is that you need to pick your battles. Is it really worth the effort? I wouldn’t think so.


What a fantastically underhanded and cowardly way of dealing with workplace problems.


This is petty.

I would hardly consider Dave Dobbyn as “normal” :wink:

I believe it was Robert E. Lee*who said “Ya gotta pick your battles.” This one ain’t it. If she can bring a radio (or whatever), why can’t you?

[SIZE=1]It probably wasn’t.

My coworkers listen to the Sean Hannity Show. Really loud. And I work in a retail environment iwth customers in and out all the time. And company policy explicitly forbids listening to political shows (it specifies “customer-friendly music stations” or "all-news programs). And the general manager knows about it, and doesn’t care. So I have to spend my evenings listening to political crap I violently disagree with, while my coworkers laugh at Hannity’s points and say “yeah, all those stupid gay people should just move to Canada” etc.

I hate my job.

Racin-If your GM lives in deadly fear of customer complaints like mine did, I imagine an “angry customer” (preferably a friend) calling Corporate (assuming there is a corporate) to complain might work.

Mind if a Christian receptionist (among other things) checks in? I’ve got rather rigorous standards for what constitutes professional behaviour, and listening to the radio or other music may not be professional in my book, depending on how much outside traffic the reception desk gets. At the company I work for, we hardly ever get unexpected visitors and very few expected ones because of the nature of the business. Therefore, when my boss is out of town, I’ll occaisionally listen to a CD on the computer, but I’ll turn it off when the phone rings or when someone comes to the door. Since my boss’s office is within earshot of mine and he doesn’t like noise of any kind, I don’t listen to music when he’s in town. If we got more visitors, I wouldn’t listen to music at all because it would be unprofessional.

As for a Christian radio station, as opposed to other forms of music, I’m afraid it would bother me, because such stations are usually far too conservative and narrow minded for me. I’d object to a station which played right-wing talk radio shows for much the same reasons, including the fact that I object to being preached and proselytized at.

Regina, could you say something gently in the appropriate quarters about the image your receptionist presents? Is there someone in your office who has some sort of Christian credentials, even if it’s only being known to darken the door of a church on occaision, who could say something to that effect? I know there are some Christians who are shocked that being openly Christian could give a negative impression, but it does happen. I’m afraid that, despite my posts here, I tend to be one, and it’s mostly come from the actions of those who proclaim themselves to be Christian the loudest. Are there people within earshot of your receptionist who could say something to the receptionist about it disturbing their concentration? Being a bit of a tactless loudmouth, I’ve come to realize that when one person complains, there are usually several others who are grateful somebody finally did!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll review the boss’s schedule and see when I can bring in my Meatloaf and Stan Rogers cds.


We have a “no radios, CDs, music of any kind” rule in our office, as we have to concentrate. Every so often (usually when I am most busy) someone will have music playing on their computer, and I will have to politely (and you know how difficult that is for me) tell them that it’s really hard for me to work with distractions going on, could they please turn it down?

At one work site, I have a similar situation, although only one day a week. An elderly lady listens to a Christian station, music and prosletyzing, very loudly (she’s hard of hearing). Fortunately, I have earplugs for the machines I work with, so I don’t have to listen to it much. As the director of Pharmacy is Jewish, I would have thought that he would have said something to her if it bothered him, but hasn’t - so if it’s ok by him, it’s ok by me.

At the other work site, there are three radios within my earshot. All of them playing different R&B stations, way too loudly. Very annoying. The DoP at that site likes to come into my room and listen to Big Band or Swing or Classical with me, whatever I happen to be playing at the time. At a reasonable level, with my door closed - win-win.

As someone who is incredibly (and I mean incredibly) easy to irritate, I’d say that this is probably your best bet. See if you can turn it around in your head to something funny. This will be a stupid example:

I have an assistant who tends to hover over my desk. It irritated the hell out of me. I felt rude for just saying, “Back off!” or “Go back to your desk” or “I’ll call you when I need you” even if worded very nicely, so if she started to hover, I’d figure out little errands for her to do that involved physical effort–something she’d have to walk across the factory for, for example. Basically, she wasn’t busy, so I was going to keep her busy and out of my hair.

The upshot? She’s learned to keep herself a little busier and doesn’t hover over my desk as much–probably because she hates those assignments–and when she does, I’m amused thinking about how I could send her on a long walking trip.

Now, that exact scenario can’t work for you, of course, but that sort of amusement can. Bet yourself that while you’re making copies you’ll hear “Jaaayysus!” three times. See how many distinct voices you can hear and whether all of them talk with fake southern accents. Glance at the headlines for the day and then try to predict what they’ll be talking about on the radio (depending on what kind of station it is–this can also be used with political shows and it can be fairly funny).

The more irritation you allow yourself to feel (at least in my experience), the more it will build.

Of course, if your coworkers are also being annoyed, you should make that annoyance public. But if it’s just you, you probably do want to pick your battles.

Am I the only one to notice that the OP works at a state agency?

I think the constitutional principle of a separation of church and state would require that the receptionist turn off the radio, or at least use earphones so that the radio could not be heard by the general public coming in (or phoning in) to the agency.

IOW, the establishment clause of the First Amendment means that a state agency cannot be promoting a particular religion.

I’m sure your receptionist doesn’t think she’s actively promoting her religion (she’s just listening to a station she likes), but what of the Muslim or Jew who comes in seeking the state-authorized service your agency provides?

Would not such a person wonder (especially if he or she dresses in Islamic or Jewish garb) whether he or she might not be given the same level of service than a Christian would receive?

Just food for thought (but completely irrelevant if you’re not in the States).

Former state employee chiming in.

On the one hand, state employees do still have the right of freedom of speech. For example, the state can’t promote one political candidate over another, either, but employees can still put BUSH 2004 or NO MORE BUSH posters in their cubes (so long as they’re in good taste). By that same token, an employee can have all the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, et al, symbols, posters, knickknacks, music, etc., in their cubes, too.

On the other hand, this employee is a receptionist and, as such, is a spokesperson for the agency, which makes it stickier. Frankly, I’m surprised she’s allowed to listen to any radio station in her work area, because you never know what will offend. And, no, I don’t think headphones would be a good option for a receptionist, either. She’s supposed to be answering phones and greeting customers, and it seems to me that headphones would at best get in the way, and at worst look even more unprofessional than a radio.

So, if she were a “regular” state employee with her own cube or office, she’d have the right to listen to just about anything she wanted and you couldn’t say boo, but as a receptionist she should be held to a higher standard. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Where is Satanic Radio when you need it?

Right here.