Should religious organizations require adherence by employees?

See this thread for the beginning of this discussion.

Is it proper for religious organizations to require adherence to their faith of all employees, or only those who are specifically engaged in religious promotion or instruction? If, for example, there is a Christian school, is it right to demand that not only the teachers but also the janitor be a Christian? What about discriminating via the level of the employee – perhaps the clerk need not be an adherent to the organization’s faith, but the department director does?

Does it matter what the purpose of the organization is? For example, would it be okay to require adherence to a specific faith at a religious college but not at a fast food place? (A small excerpt from the Chick-Fil-A website regarding their corporate mission: “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us…”)

Finally, is it discriminating against those who would apply for positions with a religious organization but are not religious to require adherence to their faith? If so, is it acceptable to exempt those who must adhere to the religious faith as a condition of being able to perform a job (such as a priest, rabbi or pastor)?

It’s fine for them to require adherence (or not – as in Jewish temples that specifically hire non-Jews to do work on the Sabbath), as long as they don’t also accept government money for the work they do and claim to do such work in a secular manner.

David B, lel didn’t ask whether it offends your Constitution, but whether it is right, proper, okay, discriminating. Maybe your answer would be the same, maybe not. I would be uncomfortable buying from a firm with such practices (unless I were buying Kosher food or religious education etc). I’d feel deceived if they hid their employment practices.

Do these firms let their customers know what their practices are?

Let me ask a slightly different question.

What would you do if you were an employer and you had a candidate for, say, a database administrator job who’s got best qualifications and experience for the job except for the faith requirement? If you turn the candidate down, wouldn’t this be working against the organization’s best interests?

I also wonder about requiring that people who deal with the general public profess a certain faith. If I’m stopping into a fast-food joint to grap a quick lunch, I’m willing to have a side of witnessing rather than a side of fries, and I suspect both will raise my blood pressure equally.

Also, despite the amount of time I spend arguing religion on this Board, my faith is an intensely personal matter to me. I differ from my local bishop’s stand on homosexuality, yet I still consider myself to be Episocopalian. If I applied for a job in my city which had a requirement that all applicants must be Episcopalian, would it still be legitimate for me to claim to be so, despite disagreement with my city’s official position?

Finally, I’d like to hear what people would think if someone converted to a religion, if only in name, in order to get a job.

I’m less uncomfortable with religious organizations discriminating against people of other faiths than I am with employers in general, but I still don’t like it. Employers have power, the supply of jobs is variable and right now, for tech workers, it’s dead short. If enough employers require that employees have the same faith, people who don’t follow that faith are going to have increasingly limited options when it comes to work. Eventually, if taken to a logical extreme, such people will wind up unable to find work, and such employers will wind up unable to find employees. Eventually, the former wind up in a “Convert or else!” situation.

As a Christian, I’m not likely to be discriminated against because of my faith, but as a database programmer, I’d say my faith isn’t relative to my skills on a day-to-day basis. It affects my work, just as it affects the things I say, but I’m more willing to work with a compentent atheist than an incompetent Christian, even though the latter might provoke more prayer.

Sorry if this is incoherent. I’m just very leery of discrimination because I’ve seen how it can be twisted even if it did originally start with good intentions. I’ve also experienced it firsthand, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.


Don’t they do this at the 700 Club?

Not obviously, if the faith requirement is seen as a very real criterion.

I don’t really have a problem with it I can muster up any real justification for, but I can say it makes me a little wary. When my buddy Lib mentions God, I like to wonder about what it is like, and whether I’m wrong. When my boss does, I feel pressured to conform to something I should freely choose. So I think religion should stay out of the workplace. Some exceptions to the rule would be, for example, churches, charity organizations based on religion (like missionary work), or perhaps bookstores that focus on a religion.

Still, apart from people who make it their business to offer religious advice, I can’t personally see the advantage of ensuring all employees are of a particular faith. Doesn’t mean there isn’t an advantage, I just don’t see it.

hawthorne said:

My answer is the same.

Now as for cjhoworth’s question of what we would do in that situation, that’s a very different issue. Just because I think it’s okay for them to do doesn’t mean I’d necessarily recommend it.

cjhoworth, in your hypothetical scenario it might be working against their best interest in that they did not get the best database admin, but it might be demoralizing to the other employees to feel restricted in their ability to express their faith with an outsider about.

I’d like to mention one of your quotes here:

In that situation, I would say that you certainly may state that you are an Episcopalian. However, let’s say you were to apply for a position with a denomination that you didn’t wholly agree with but that you would readily admit was Christian. Would you apply for that position, knowing that you might well disagree with a number of their doctrines?

As for converting in name only to get a job, if one were exploiting faith just to get a job, why would they even want the job in the first place?

Vanilla, quite likely they do!

erislover, I have to agree with you here. I don’t see a problem with requiring adherence to a faith, but solely in the confines of a religious or quasi-religious organization.

Being someone who thinks that employers and employees should have equal rights in partnerships, this case is easy. There is no reason why they always SHOULD, but if they want to, they SHOULD be able to.

Personally, I think it’s interesting to consider whether people not of the faith could teach religious instruction. I mean philosophy profs can teach ideas they don’t agree with just fine, even without offering criticisms of them. So what’s different about religious instruction? (that’s NOT offered as a rhetorical question) And if it is different, what does that tell us about the nature of the instruction?

I have less of a problem with this that I probably should have, probably because when I first saw such a requirement, I lost all interest in the job. I don’t like employers that dictate past doing the job.

That doesn’t work for a free spirit like me. This doesn’t help my overall employability, for certain, but everything has its price.

Here’s another scenario. You’re a member of so and so correct denomination when you’re hired, but you decide, say, Islam is your calling after a year. Do they have a right to fire you? If so, do you thank them for showing you the true faith? :wink:

I had a similiar problem with a Lenscrafters lab job back in college when I decided to grow my hair long. When it got past the shoulder, it was quit or be fired. I quit. That’s probably one of the best thing that ever happened to me.

lel, I’ve been unemployed for four months. At this point, I’ll take anything I can get in my field. In two months, when my unemployment runs out, I’ll take anything I can get, period.

I believe it’s unethical to live beyond my means. I haven’t examined this in depth yet, but I suspect it’s tied in to “Thou shalt not steal.” Since I am my sole support, although I can turn to my family in a pinch, I therefore have to do whatever it takes to get a job. In a job market such as this one, that means that if a job comes along which I can do, liking the environment isn’t a factor.

I’m not comfortable in overtly Christian atmospheres, I’m afraid, mostly due to my experience with other Christians. Nevertheless, if I were offered such a job, I’d take it and, if conditions proved unbearable, search for a new job once the market improved. If that sounds overly pragmatic, one of the things which makes me a good programmer is pragmatism.