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Religion in the Workplace

Updated on October 10, 2016

In my paper I will be explaining the ethical issues dealing with religion in the workplace. I will explain this topic from the standpoint of two different ethical theories and I will make sure that I support my topic to the best of my ability. I choose this topic, because religion and having the freedom too express one’s religion is very important to me. Religious freedom in the workplace should be a choice not a demand that employers can use against you, nor should the employers be allowed to discriminate against an employee based on their religion and their freedom of expression of said religion.

This first theory I will use to express this topic is the theory of Virtue Ethics. When an employer discriminates against an employee because of their religion they are displaying a type of virtue ethics. They are only focusing on what may or may not be best for them or what they may feel is best for the overall social good of their workplace. The second theory I will use for this topic is Ethical Egoism, which is when an employer discriminates something simply because it is what is in their best interest.

What are the ethical issues? One ethical issue when it comes to religion in the workplace is the constant discrimination. Not everyone believes in the same type of religions and that within itself can cause a major riff in the workplace of multiple and very divided religions. Another ethical issue is when those who do believe a certain way tries to force others to believe the same way they do or when those who believe in religion try to force those who do not believe in religion to believe.

What are three breaches of ethical behavior? One major breach in ethical behavior when it comes to this topic is discrimination. Another is forced religious beliefs when others try to force others to see things the way they see them or the way they believe they should be seen. How could each ethical theory you cite help people think about what constitutes virtuous or ethical behavior? With the ethical theories that I wish to present I am showing how it is not right to believe that just because you believe it everyone should believe it. Also, I am showing that it is not acceptable to discriminate against others simply based on their religion.

Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things especially on the grounds of race, age, sex, or religion. It has been suggested in recent years that religious harassment in the workplace is on the rise. One article I found while researching this topic had the quote "We're not here to promote religion in the workplace," she said. "We want to share knowledge and have a dialogue on the subject." The article goes on to state that religion in the workplace is the second most problematic issue.

However, I fail to see how having a religious background can be a bad thing. I also fail to see how this can possibly be a problematic issue within the workplace. Though this could be of my limited work experience the reason I cannot really see an issue with this. Religion is mainly a problem in the workplace because of the way that the individuals promote their religions. With all the different holidays, attire, diet, values and practices this can lead to conflict with existing policies or beliefs. It's an issue many businesses are not prepared to deal with, Hackett said.

This is an issue that has grown a lot as the new religions have begun to be more pronounced in our society. An issue that not very many are familiar with or even really willing to deal with. Most managers believe that the way to avoid religious discrimination is by treating everyone in the workplace in the same manner. However, this is not always a logical option in some instances.

Like for instance if an employee wishes to wear a turban to work, while it might be discrimination to not hire said employee the courts have deemed it acceptable to ask said employee to work in a part of the company where they will not really affect the clients that come to said company. Another instance is if an employee chose to wear an article of clothing or image that other employees were uncomfortable about. An acceptable deal would be to allow the employee to wear the imagine but to be required to cover it while at work.

These are just a couple of the ways employers have found a way to get around the discrimination laws. The courts have even found that Atheists have a “creed” which qualifies as “religion” and must be reasonably accommodated. Atheists do not even believe in God or any type of religion at all but according to the courts even their nonbelief of any religion has to be acknowledged and accommodated.

Are these rules of non-discrimination fair to the rest of us? No probably not, but this is how it goes. This is what we must accept to be able to live in peace and harmony amongst each other. The different religions are many and very varied in types. They can range invariants from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Bahá'í Faith, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Slavic neopaganism, Celtic polytheism, Heathenism (German paganism), Semitic neopaganism, Wicca, Kemetism (Egyptian paganism), Hellenism, Italo-Roman Neopaganism and these are only a few and does not even begin to crack all of them.

As far as the law is concerned, practices including voodoo and Santeria are legitimate religious beliefs. Atheism is considered a form of belief and is protected, too. (Willett, 2011) Until I wrote this paper I myself had not even realized how many different religions there really were and each are recognized and protected by the law.

Religion is not only in the belief of a book or a higher power. Some people see religion as their way of life and it can go so far as to define how they see themselves and allow others to see them. People can let their religious beliefs define their attitudes, values, and their main motivation in their lives. Only 40% of organizations have a formal policy to accommodate the religious preferences of their employees.

People have embraced materialism, thinking that possessions will make them happy; they have turned to utilitarian individualism and no longer feel connected to one another.1 This disconnectedness gave rise to a business culture in which organizations respond to spiritual matters and concerns by declaring them inappropriate or out of bounds. Conventional wisdom holds that these issues are far too personal and private to be brought up directly in the workplace. It also declares that spiritual matters have virtually nothing to do with the day-to-day demands of work, and even less with corporate affairs. Hence they are to be dealt with outside of work, on employee’s own time, and as the employee sees fit.

All in all, religion in the workplace has always been a very touchy subject. Simply because there are so many different religions. On the same note no two religions are the same. Each one has its own beliefs and ways of doing things. It is a real issue in some workplaces, because of the new vast majority that is showing up that represents the Muslim religion and not many want to accept that they are here or even recognize that their religion is just as important as everyone else’s religion.

Most would just rather turn their backs on any religion that does not directly affect them. I honestly think we would be better off just being accepting of all around us. After all, we were all made and brought here in the same way. It doesn’t really matter who each of us believes in or how he is named in each religion. He remains the same no matter what. Just as the destination for where we will end up is the same.

We shall all pass on and face whatever lord or devil we believe in when the time comes and nothing we do or difference of what we believe in will change that fact. We will all meet our wonderful maker when the time comes. He may have many different names, but honestly isn’t that what makes our world unique? The fact that there is freedom to believe as we see fit and in what we wish to believe in? I think it is and I for one would not change my belief in any way. I love my religion and I can practice it without allowing it to define who I am as a person. That is what we all should be able to say.


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