Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not coming out at work

Okay, I'm not just copy-catting Ordinary Girl this time...this really is a subject that was already brewing in my head lately...but OG tripped it off. :)

The subject is whether or not to be open about being an Atheist in the workplace. After all, there are many Christians who are open and vocal about their beliefs at work.

I'm fairly quiet about my beliefs at work...and part of the reason is because I used to debate Religion and Evolution in college, and after a few years I learned that rational arguments cannot disarm faith. If anything, rational arguments make people defensive and they retreat further into faith.

If people come to Atheism, they generally have to discover it for themselves.

But there's another reason I don't express my lack of faith: I don't want the pressure of being a representative of a minority. I think that people would scrutinize my actions, character, and morals if they knew I was an Atheist.

I've heard some American Muslims say they feel pressure to be extra good and friendly since 9/11...because they feel (probably legitimately) that other Americans are watching and studying them more intently these days. They feel pressure to prove that not all Muslims are bad. (Which is ridiculous because any adult should realize that good and bad people come in all flavors.)

I don't think I'm up to the challenge of being studied. If I say I'm an Atheist, the follow-up question is almost invariably about how I was raised. If anyone asks me about my parents or upbringing, I can't say a single word about that without lying or giving them ammunition against me.

Also, I'm a technical leader at work...sorta the head-geek, and I don't want people to lose in faith in ME. I know in my heart I can be a force for good and help everyone at work...but only if people trust me. If came out as an Atheist, it would surely undermine that.

I guess that's politics 101. The higher up you get in any position of authority or power, the more you have to play your cards close to the vest.

So, maybe my reasons for not being open about Atheism are a bit unusual. But it does work. Does it make me a chicken? Maybe...but if being a chicken helps me and everyone around me at work...then I like to think of myself as the heroic self-sacrificing chicken! :)


Ordinary Girl said...

Super Chicken, ha! Well, you are super. I thought some co-workers were aware of your beliefs.. well, other than me and one other I can think of.

The other day I was trying to remember how I told you I was an atheist and I can't remember. It seemed completely natural though and we didn't know each other that well. Maybe it was through bumping into each other on the web.

Vistaluna said...

Ya, that's funny...because I can't remember either, and I was wondering the same thing some time ago. I'm usually pretty reserved. I wonder who went first? :)

I'm not sure who else knows other than maybe 1 or 2 others. Only 3 people know this blog...but I think a few others suspect.

I think the vast majority do not...but then again people like to gossip, and being an Atheist is a gossip-worthy piece of information that can spread like wildfire. :)

SteveDenver said...

Hello, I was following a post on Villa Alegre and saw this blog listing. As an HR professional let me advise you and everyone with a religious viewpoint or not to refrain from discussing religion in the workplace.

As a person, let me advise you to back up who you are with knowledge and arguments that make sense to you. Decide what your boundaries are. If you are head geek and want people to "have faith" in you, let them place their faith in your reliability, capability, fairness and performance; not your religion or rejection of it.

If someone mentions religion and you feel like discussing it, let them present their viewpoint and then ask them what other religions they studied before adopting this one. If they adhere to a religion because of their family, it's tradition. Talk about tradition and not the religion. If they only studied this one and it appealed to them, that was a rash decision and deserves a disapproving look on your face -- like they only looked at one house before buying in.

It's a touchy matter if you let it be. You don't have to step on religion to be an atheist, but it is recommended that you are informed in your decision: what other religions have virgin births, deluge (great flood) and resurrection? What are "spurious texts" in the christian bible? What are printer's errors, etc.