Many Atheists Endure Hostile Workplaces in the United States

New office

If you are an American atheist with a job and you have more than a handful of co-workers with whom you interact regularly, chances are pretty good that you have experience dealing with Christians in the workplace. Some of these Christians would never dream of wearing their religion on a chain around their necks, decorating their cubicles with bible quotes, or repeatedly inviting you to attend their church long after you've made it clear that you have no interest. Consider yourselves fortunate because many atheists have to deal with an entirely different breed of Christian.

Evangelical Christians who wear, display, or push their religious beliefs in the workplace can be a problem. "Hostile workplace" generally refers to a form of sexual harassment, but many atheist workers experience another sort of hostile workplace. Express their feelings about religion, refuse to participate in prayer meetings, or turn down enough church invitations, and they can be ostracized, harassed, or even fired. Legal assistance is expensive, and religious discrimination in the workplace is not always easy to prove.

I have been involved in job interviews where applicants were passed over because they were judged as being insufficiently Christian by the decision makers. I've listened to more anti-atheist bigotry than I care to hear at work. I've endured countless conversations about the churches my co-workers attend and the importance of their religious faith. I used to hear from my ex-wife at least weekly about being subjected to proselyting, mandatory prayer meetings, and repeated unwelcome invitations to attend her boss' church.

My experiences are hardly unique. I may live in a particularly oppressive state when it comes to evangelical fundamentalist Christianity, but there are reports all over the atheist blogosphere about what atheists are subjected to at work by their Christian co-workers and bosses. Some of the reports include:

Atheists need to devote considerable thought to disclosing their atheism in the workplace. There may be advantages, but the costs can be great and not always easy to anticipate.

Have a horror story? I'd love to read it.