Religion Goes on the Job in U.S. Faith Plays a Roll in Many Careers

Article excerpt

Bosses take note: A third of the men and half of the women under your employ know your religious background.

Do not be surprised, however, because seven in 10 employees talk about their own faith in the workplace, a new survey shows.

"Religion and work are important aspects of many people's lives," said David Rustad, spokesman for the Lutheran Brotherhood Report, which funds occasional surveys on U.S. religion.

"Since Americans spend so many hours at work, it's not surprising that conversations about religion crop up among co-workers," he said.

The practice is not so rampant, however, that employers should worry about low productivity or proselytizing in the office, according to the survey.

Only half of American workers talk religion with co-workers at least once a month. The other 19 percent who broach the subject at work do so only once a year.

Women are twice as likely as men to enter such conversations, and it is mostly women who take the trouble to find out what religion their boss may adhere to.

"People living in the South are the most likely to talk about religion at work compared with the other U.S. regions," the survey summary said.

In recent years, religion in the workplace had become a federal issue.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attempted to issue guidelines that made offensive religious talk the grounds for workplace harassment charges. But the guidelines were withdrawn in 1993 after public protest and a unanimous Senate resolution against them.

A year ago, President Clinton issued guidelines that protected the religious speech of 2 million federal workers. …