Marc - Column for 9/30

Religion at work

Again, my fiction endeavors are not coming along well. I should have the next installment of that next week. This week I thought I would talk about religion in the workplace.

Currently, I work at a non-profit, gov't think tank. We have a pretty high number of former military and other former gov't folk on staff. This mixture creates a pretty pro-God and pro-GOP environment. Nothing oppressive, but I have heard some jokes about me being a liberal, northerner and such. The joking was clearly in good fun. A bit ironic as well, since I grew up in a town of around twenty thousand people just outside Indianapolis, Indiana. Definitely not a hotbed of liberal activity. Anyway, another thing that is clear is that most of my co-workers are regular church goers. Nothing against that on my end, but I do know that the differences speak to some fundamentally different views under the surface All-in-all, not a bad place to work, though it can be a bit slow sometimes.

Now, over the years I've had varied views when it comes to religion and God in general. I grew up in a non-religious household. I have vague memories of going to church when I was very little, but my family never went while I was a teenager. I was baptized when I was young, but I know that my father has never been. In college, I became Catholic and took a fair amount of religious coursework. I was even accepted into divinity school during my senior year of college. I decided to work full-time instead. (The beginning of my decent into decadent, non-church going ways.) My work led to a lot of long hours doing assorted software things in the late nineties, and my church going days feel behind me. I havenít set foot in a house of worship since I was married. I'm not to set in my viewpoint now, but I do feel a bit uncomfortable when folks assume that I'm totally on board with the whole God is great and Christianity is right attitude.

Now, one of my former co-workers is an observably devout Protestant Christian. Not sure about the exact denomination, but it is probably one of the more conservative ones. This co-worker has in the past told me that he thinks that the media and such makes it hard to be a Christian. At the time, I was a bit flabbergasted. In my opinion, the opposite is the case, but I wasnít in the mood to get into a debate about the topic. I am not a devout Christian anymore and I am not really convinced that I am an atheist. Probably an uninterested agnostic is the best phrase that I can think of. Anyway to me there is definitely a good amount of ĎGodí on TV. In that same instance, the coworker went on to explain that the news is so bad that he doesn't watch it. This is when it definitely went from religion to politics. So, at this point I just stopped talking and went back to my office.

It did get me thinking though. I usually avoid talking about religion or politics at work. I have seen instances when folks didnít do that, and it caused a lot of stress that wasnít needed. Itís weird. Those two topics are really important to a lot of people, but they are things that we donít Ďpolitelyí discuss for a big part of the day.

Columns by Marc