Recently, whenver I’ve been in the teachers’ lounge, two vociferously anti-Christian, anti-Catholic female coworkers, without the slightest provocation, launch into verbal attacks against the Catholic Church. I’m certain I’m the target, since they’ve seen me reading my Bible at times, and know I’m decidedly religious. These two are radical feminists and secular progressives. Meanwhile, my boss, whose sentiments are close to theirs, sits idly by, snickering. I eventually have to ask them to change the subject, which they reluctantly do. I’m getting sick of it. I’m sure it’s against some workplace regulation. Should I remain silent and demand that these topics not be discussed, in the context of workplace rules and regulations, or should I tactfully fight back, defending the faith as best I can? I’m confused, angry and frustrated.
I read that Archibishop Fulton Sheen said “Win an argument, lose a soul”. I suppose he meant that in arguing that our side is right, we push people away…
What can you say back to them to change their minds? Given what you have described, the answer is “nothing”.
I would say ‘take it’ with humility and grace. And joy, because you are being persecuted for your beliefs.
Easy for me to say, I know. But in the same situation, that is what my spirit would say, even if the flesh would be weak…
Praying for you !
Thanks. It’s just hard for me to sit there, minding my own business, with them standing over me or sitting next to me, excitedly bashing my faith, with others in the room laughing in agreement. Deep down, I’m furious. Still, I can’t allow them to drive me out of the lounge. It’s our designated work-area during conference periods. And you’re right…there’s no chance of changing their minds.
I would advise you to pray for these individuals. Pray that they may experience a conversion, or at least that they learn charity.
Secondly, you must defend the faith to the best of your ability. In so doing, you are defending Christ himself. Don’t argue with your co-workers; just explain Church teaching succinctly and ask that they respect your beliefs. Maybe they will cease attacking the faith if they come to a better understanding of it.
Anti-Catholicism is one of the last acceptable bigotries. I have heard people remark that anti-Catholicism is the anti-semitism of intellectuals. All Catholics must do whatever they can to defend the faith! We must not argue with, or hate those who attack our faith; we must preach the Gospel through our actions and behaviour.
Defend the faith. Hopefully, this will help to end these discussions. However, if this does not work, then I advise you to make a formal complaint. Don’t worry about offending your co-workers by doing this because they obviously don’t respect or care for your feelings. If they did, they wouldn’t attack your faith in your presence.
- pray for them that they will meet Jesus in this life before its too late.
- read my sig. The Pope is telling us to be bold we cant be silent all the time. Where would we be if Jesus kept his mouth shut or all the saints especially this year St Paul?
- Pray for the Holy spirit to guide you if you should say something and what to say.
I`ll say a couple of prayers for you.
Seems to me you have a human resources complaint when it comes to workplace discrimination. Would Jew bashing or Muslim bashing be tolerated at your office? I doubt it. Is there a grievance process for discrimination/hostile work environment type thing at your office?
this situation seems to be a workplace rules issue, not an apologetics issue, although of course we always evangelize by our actions. Your first recourse is to go to the administration with a formal complaint if their behavior constitutes the type of harrassment that is forbidden in your workplace. Do research first to make sure what those rules are.
Im also all for going to the managers and filing a formal complaint. One thing I would do though first is get evidence by recording them using your cell phone or a similar device.
Document everything. When you go to file the complaint, you will have all the information. The boss who is sitting there should be putting stop to it. It is a type of harrassment.
This is definitely creating a hostile enviornment in the workplace. Don’t stand for it!
The other Catholic co-worker who walked in on it approached me yesterday and stated he too was deeply offended. If it happens again, I’m going to speak to an administrator. One of the women involved – a first-year teacher – has already offended several teachers with her brash, over-the-top, radical diatribes. The older woman who launched the attack, however, is seasoned and clever. She’s the one I have to be leery of. This would definitely constitute a valid EO complaint, which I’ll file if forced to do so. Thanks for your guidance, folks.
(The following opinion assumes you are in the USA.) Do not defend yourself. Do not apologize. Keep records of when and where and what was said and put the school district – not just the school itself – on notice of your situation. It is not just right that you and others should be protected from such behavior – IT’S THE LAW.
Are you a member of the teacher’s union? Include them on all correspondence.
Watch out if you file a harassment complaint. It sounds as if you have a clear case but first take the above mentioned advice and DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.
He-said; she-said will scarcely be “evidence” especially if the person who should step in to stop it is part of the problem. Since you say that person is the chairman, what do you think your chances are of surviving a harassment filing? Hm?
It is important that these people realize that you are a human being and that the Catholic position on whatever issue they are railing against is not absurd. Would it be realistic for you to join their conversation with a line like:
“Excuse me, but I can’t help overhearing your conversation, and as a Catholic, I actually have a pretty clear understanding of what the Catholic position really is on [abortion, birth control, stem cell research, masturbation, end-of-life care]. I would be glad to provide you with some resources on what the Catholic position really IS on this matter. You seem to be shooting at something other than what the Church really teaches. Would you like me to do that?”
How you let such things affect you, shows the level of strength your faith is. If it is strong, you don’t need to defend it. If it is weak, you’re defense will probably have more to do with defending your own pride, than the faith.
Also, do not make a formal complaint. This is revenge, which will cause them harm, and is not in accord with the Gospel message, to turn the other cheek.
Instead, pray for these people. Their ignorance is their poverty, they need compassion more than reprimand.
In all, pray for the strength to let it go. If Jesus wants anything further from you on the issue, He will provide the opportune time, and means to handle it, as He would have you handle it. This way, you’ll be following his will and will avoid any agenda you have for serving yourself, which we all do, BTW.
Take it from me, I have lots of experience handling these things the wrong way. Now, through the grace of God, I’ve learn that prayer and silence is better than anything I can do to try and correct the situation on my own.
Great guidance, yall, as they say down here in south Texas. So far, it hasn’t happened again, and hopefully won’t. Indeed…a formal complaint would wreck a few professional relationships, but would also emphasize the need we all have to remain professional as teachers at all times on campus.
I was wondering what you handled it? Thanks!
Do you have a teachers union that could help you with this? That’s who I’d be talking to.
Yes. So far, however, everyone’s behaving.
As a Principal I can see a problem here. If you are reding the Bible in the teacher’s lounge the argument can be made that others have the same right as you have to express their religious beliefs.
If this is a public school, you’ll never win the argument, unless they are talking to you. The conversation is between them. They have the right to say whatever they want about the Church or the government etc. They do not have the right to harass you. But it is not harassment, unless you can prove that they are speaking to you or about you. I’m not agreeing with them. I’m simply stating the rules.
If this is a private school it becomes even more complicated. Private schools do not have the same strict regulations about matters such as religious freedom. A private school Principal can order you to put away your bible while in school as well as prohibit the discussion of politics, religion and anything else he wants to in public places.
In my school the policy is simple. Religions, politics, sexuality, salaries and private family matters may never be discussed in public. There is not public display of any of the above allowed. Staff membes may wear a religious symbol, such as a cross or a Star of David, as long as it’s discrete. The dress code is specific that it can’t be more than 3/4 in and must not present a distraction. It is up to the Principal’s discretion if it presents a distraction.
Teachers may have bibles and other holy books, but they may never be displayed publicly. They are for private reading. A teacher may read his Torah, Quran or Bible in the staff lounge as they read any other book, but may not use the staff lounge to discuss religion or politics. Any personal reading must be during the teacher’s free time, never during a planning period.
My point is that you have to make sure what the rules of engagement are in your school system or your private school. You can’t accuse someone of harassment, because you’re offended if they are not speaking to you, unless you can prove that you are the target. That’s not easy to prove.
I would read my bible in a private setting, such as in my classroom when I’m alone. This way you get the benefit of the reading your bible in peace.
If someone asks you a question about your faith, there is nothing illegal about responding, unless the staff handbook says that such topics are banned in the school. Again, some private schools do bann such topics to avoid conflicts among their employees.
I do not allow my staff do discuss the candidates in the coming elections. They may discuss them outside, in the privacy of their classroom when no students are around or anywhere else, except common areas. The same applies to religion. If two people want to discuss religion, they must move to a place where the conversation is between them, out of hearing from the students, parents or other faculty members.
This does not include simple question and answer type conversations about religioius or political topics. These are allowed at any time, because no one is under attack. This is just sharing information.
Again, my suggestion, if you can read your bible in a private place where you’ll be at peace, I would go that route. It’s difficult to prove harassmment if no one is speaking to you directly. They can aruge that everyone has the same right as you do to freely express their religious beliefs.
Hope this helps. If I can be of futher help, just PM me.
I suppose this varies from state to state. At my school, if two teachers are having a conversation of a sexual nature and a third overhears, the third person could rightfully file a sexual harassment complaint if he or she was offended by the conversation.
I don’t know if the same applies if two people are overheard having a conversation involving racially or religiously bigoted remarks. I know in my school if someone overhearing it were offended and reported it, the two having the conversation would be reprimanded.