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Old 09-21-2007, 10:51 AM   #21
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Also asking for a lawsuit.
For what?


If you don't want to pray, then don't. Use it as a quiet moment to reflect or just plan your eating strategy.
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:55 AM   #22
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For what?
I could think of lots of things, but discrimination comes to mind most readily.
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:58 AM   #23
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I feel there should be a separation of church and work, and that just isn't happening here at all.
I would like to know what section of the constitution you find this?

If I'm an atheist so no one else has the right to pray around me as it might point out the fact that I'm and atheist and that may be detrimental to my job.

Lighten up! Some people think their air plane is always going to crash and a good old prayer wouldn't hurt. Just because the boss decided to please a section, large or small, of his employees by blessing food does not turn me, him, or you into a Christian, Muslim or Jewish. When in Rome do as the Romans do.

If it bothers you that much, vote with your feet!
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:07 AM   #24
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I could think of lots of things, but discrimination comes to mind most readily.

That would require the OP to have missed out on a promotion or other job related opportunity.

You can't sue because your chicken got cold. Sorry, but there is no constitutional right to not be offended.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:13 AM   #25
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That would require the OP to have missed out on a promotion or other job related opportunity.

You can't sue because your chicken got cold. Sorry, but there is no constitutional right to not be offended.
Unless there is a hostile work environment. Understanding Workplace Harassment

Hostile work environment harassment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed.

Not a constitutional right, but a federal law. Various religious practices in the workplace have on occasion been held to constitute a hostile work environment.

I live in the liberal north where religious practices at work just are not done, so I have no personal experience. I think it would make me very uncomfortable but I would let it pass. Some things are just not worth a lawsuit.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:15 AM   #26
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As another transplanted Northerner in the Bible Belt, the prayers before meals came as a shock to me too! (And one of the city courthouses displayed the Ten Commandments, which also wouldn't be done up north---and now we have a Christian mom trying to make sure that school libraries don't contain evil Harry Potter books so kids won't be tempted away from Christianity into witchcraft!).

Since I'm agnostic and an introvert, I can't understand why people need to pray out loud and as a group. It seems like everyone's spirituality and/or relationship with God should be highly individualized and that they should do it on his or her own, privately, but of course, if you're a member of a church, you won't agree with that and will find value in doing it as a group. So I know I'll never understand.

Being FIREd, I no longer have to deal with this at work---but I recently encountered it at our condo complex---before a dinner!

I handle it by starting off by bowing my head initially and looking down, but then as the prayer start, I look around, hoping to catch someone else doing the same (to find another kindred soul, perhaps). So far I haven't succeeded. In general it bothers me less when it's fairly generic. When it becomes Christian, that's when I have an issue with it. Or I would do okay with the Christianity if the next time another world religion would be representated, but of course, that usually doesn't happen, especially in a smallish work or social setting. And when it was tried, look at what happened when the US Senate finally allowed a Hindu to do the morning prayer:

Senate Prayer Led by Hindu Elicits Protest - washingtonpost.com

And look how innocuous the prayer is. There is nothing that should bother anyone---it's just that fundamentalist Christian groups were put off by the fact that a Hindu was saying it since Hinduism is not a monotheistic religion.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:26 AM   #27
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Unless there is a hostile work environment. Understanding Workplace Harassment

Hostile work environment harassment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed.

Not a constitutional right, but a federal law. Various religious practices in the workplace have on occasion been held to constitute a hostile work environment.

I live in the liberal north where religious practices at work just are not done, so I have no personal experience. I think it would make me very uncomfortable but I would let it pass. Some things are just not worth a lawsuit.
Has there ever been a successful case where somebody sued their employer for simply having to listen to a group prayer?
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:29 AM   #28
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Has there ever been a successful case where somebody sued their employer for simply having to listen to a group prayer?
Of course not. Such a case would include the fact that unwillingness to participate was a reason that the employee was harassed.

Purely from a pragmatic point of view, as an employer, why on earth would you want to open the door to such a suit?
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:35 AM   #29
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I'm ok with it unless someone says something like, "there are no atheists in foxholes." Trust me, there are.

I once tried to just stand there respectfully in a Catholic church and not kneel. Someone behind be kept inadvertently bonking me in the head.

I was raised Christian and was later told that I qualify as atheist; but would never define myself as something I am not. I still fondly remember my grandmother's "grace" before meals; all the cousins know it by heart. Last time I was with a family group it had become optional.
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:03 PM   #30
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Has there ever been a successful case where somebody sued their employer for simply having to listen to a group prayer?
Where is an associate when I need one?

One case I remember is where a business broadcast prayers over its PA system during the course of a year. The court found a hostile work environment. A couple times a year prayer probably would not be considered pervasive enough.
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:11 PM   #31
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C'mon, guys, how 'bout a little understanding & tolerance. We all have our own local practices & cultures, even if we don't notice them. This experience was totally appropriate for that region of the country and its culture.

I agree that it wouldn't play very well nationally, but that wasn't the context. I agree that it could offend people of other religious beliefs, but I thought that a big aspect of everyone's religious beliefs was tolerance. Imagine if everyone had to attend at least three other denomination's services before they could profess to be committed to their own. It certainly opened my eyes to corporate religion.

I also agree that a lot of those same people blessing the food so fervently might feel just a tad out of place at a Manhattan bat mitzvah or even a Lutheran prayer breakfast.

As for the workplace environment, again it's totally appropriate for the context. This business is trying to attract customers who feel comfortable that the CEO shares their values, and this is how the business & CEO project that image. It might not play very well in New York or Chicago or LA, but that's not what the business is trying to do. And values from Noo Yawk, Chicawga, 8& Hollywood might not play very well at this breakfast.

You want to see business dissonance? Imagine if family loyalty (pejoratively called nepotism) was at least as important as qualifications & experience. Imagine if most business meetings started 10 minutes late because everyone needed a little extra time to get there, and then the meeting spent the first 20 minutes talking story so that everyone could get caught up on attitudes & feelings. Imagine having your business reputation rest on who you're related to or whether you were born there. Imagine if the only way to say "No thanks" was to repeatedly thank someone profusely for their offer… without ever actually taking them up on it. Imagine no talk stink if it was impolite to criticise publicly. Imagine if every business construction site had to be blessed by a kahu and all work had to be attended by both an archeologist and another kahu. Imagine if you had to have a blessing ceremony for your company picnic before you could dig it out of the pit. Imagine if crossed arms and a frowny face wasn't defensive body language but rather an indication that the person wasn't allowed to speak freely and thus would not. Imagine if your school principal was obligated to attend a meeting of several hundred alumni and forced to go through ritual ho'oponopono to justify his controversial decision. Imagine if those same alumni marched between two sites, chanting & singing, and brought down the trustees of the world's biggest charitable estate. Welcome to Hawaii.

But at least you didn't have to eat fish paste or accept the honor of being given the goat's eye. I don't think I'm quite ready to adapt to those cultures yet.
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:12 PM   #32
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The CEO offered a prayer/blessing at lunch at the suggestion of another employee -- and this warrants condemnation as offending the religious or philosophical sentiments of others, as violating the First Amendment, or, God-forbid, as being entirely inappropriate and in bad taste!

I'm in favor of separating church and state, but I'm also in favor of acknowledging that religion does have a place in our history, our culture, and our values -- though sometimes, quite frankly, organized religion has been on the wrong side of my own moral barometer.

But in this instance, we don't know whether the company headed by the CEO has decided to infuse its own religious values in its workplace, or whether this company expects its employees to have similar values -- there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially if the company does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Two of my favorite retail chains aren't open on Sundays for religious reasons -- should we get upset about that because they are sending a religious message to us and we can't purchase grocery items or chicken sandwiches from them on Sunday?

Regarding this church and state issue, I remember, as a five-year old child, being forced to stand-up and listen to a public school teacher recite a Christian prayer the first thing every morning in a class funded by our tax dollars in New York City. There's definitely something wrong, in my view, with that scenario, but a company CEO blessing the food at lunch before grown adults at the suggestion of another grown adult doesn't strike me as something that the most ardent defenders of the First Amendment would think objectionable.
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:45 PM   #33
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I wouldn't care if "the prayer" was led by a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, or Christian (and whatever denomination I failed to list) individual. Nor would I care if there was no prayer. I have more important things to concern myself with - and do not feel any religious pressure if someone is discussing their religion - or lack thereof. My beliefs are mine and someone yakking about theirs is not going to make me jump ship! That so many are "offended" is more bothersome than the triggering actions to me.
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:55 PM   #34
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I don't understand what the problem is. It wouldn't bother me at all. I'm not religious, but I'm also not "religiophobic". When in Rome...
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:59 PM   #35
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I agree it's totally inappropriate. But not worth a fuss.

At times like this, I pretend I am an anthropologist observing a primitive rite (maybe not that far from the truth). I stand respectfully and watch it all wide-eyed, and try to understand what it all means. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

I'm still waiting for someone to ask me why my eyes weren't closed during the prayer....like how did they know?
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Old 09-21-2007, 01:10 PM   #36
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I had no idea there were so many who felt the same way about these kinds of things. I'm an atheist and I let other people do what they want, even when I think it's not entirely appropriate. I'm just not one to confront others on their religious practices. My personal policy is that I will never pretend to pray, just to please other people. So on the rare occasion that I have been in a religious atmosphere, I sit politely and respectfully while others bow their heads, kneel, make a cross, daven ....whatever. But I always keep my head up straight, and I give a polite smile.
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Old 09-21-2007, 01:14 PM   #37
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I agree it's totally inappropriate. But not worth a fuss.
Why is it totally inappropriate? I don't know the entire context of the lunch or the company, and for anyone to say it's totally inappropriate, seems to me to be totally inappropriate, as well. I'm just trying to figure out why the people who feel offended appear to be offended simply because there are people who practice their religion on their sleeves!
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Old 09-21-2007, 01:15 PM   #38
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Thanks for the interesting discussion and viewpoints, and a few laughs, too!

No, I have no plans for legal action - never even crossed my mind! I didn't raise a fuss or lose sleep over it.

I just really was surprised that it happenned. I wanted to see if this is a common occurence. I guess it is here in the south. I still don't think it's appropriate, but it's nothing I'm going to make a big deal out of, nor would I confront anyone about it. I like bosco's suggestion of how he views it; this is an interesting observation of a different culture.
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Old 09-21-2007, 01:54 PM   #39
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I had no idea there were so many who felt the same way about these kinds of things. I'm an atheist and I let other people do what they want, even when I think it's not entirely appropriate. I'm just not one to confront others on their religious practices. My personal policy is that I will never pretend to pray, just to please other people. So on the rare occasion that I have been in a religious atmosphere, I sit politely and respectfully while others bow their heads, kneel, make a cross, daven ....whatever. But I always keep my head up straight, and I give a polite smile.
I mostly agree with how you have put it. However, I do pretend to pray, as well as pretend a lot of other things. Actually, I don't need to pretend- I know about praying even if I usually forget to do it in my normal life. In a certain mood, I enjoy pretending as it gives me a bit of a vacation from from my normally boring self. Anyway, you never know when you will experience something in a different way from your habitual ways; and that is a gift.

Ha
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Old 09-21-2007, 02:01 PM   #40
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While we are on the subject of praying, here's a little helpful tip for those still working. When you get caught literally asleep on the job at work, don't open your eyes immediately upon being woken up. Wait a few seconds, mumble something under your breath, then loudly proclaim, "Amen!". Then open your eyes. As long as you weren't snoring big time, your boss should think you were just concluding a lengthy prayer. And bosses don't have the audacity to infringe on your right to say a little prayer to get you through the day, do they? (taken from experience working with state Department of Transportation staff)
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