Religion Etiquette: The Case of the Christian Coworker
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How do I deal with a co-worker's constant "witnessing"? I work closely with an evangelical Christian who knows I do not share her beliefs. She keeps quoting the Bible to me and making comments like, "I got a great discount on my new kitchen tile. The Lord always takes care of his own!" Once, we were discussing how to approach a new project when she paused, said, "Oh, thank you, Lord!" in a very excited voice, then turned to me and said "Why don't we use the Lord's idea!" (It was actually a very prosaic, uninspired suggestion.)
What does etiquette require of me in these situations? I am tired of politely repeating, "Debbie, you know I don't share your beliefs." Once she even said, "I don't care. I'm going to tell you anyway!" Also, if I have lunch with her, do I have to wait till she's finished saying grace before I can start eating? (She closes her eyes, bows her head and prays silently for several minutes before announcing "Amen!")
She is very nice and I don't want to hurt her feelings, but she seems to think that she can convert me by relentlessly demonstrating that she believes.
Laura Sheahen responds:
you accept the Lord's kitchen tile suggestions? Why do you refuse to let the Spirit's project management wisdom into your heart?
But seriously. It sounds like you've done everything you can to be polite and forebearing. Perhaps it's time to be...not so polite. You could sit down with Debbie and explain to her that while you understand her commitment to Christianity, her words and actions often make you uncomfortable. You could ask that as a sign of respect to you, she refrain from in-your-face witnessing clearly aimed at persuading you to convert.
Since Debbie's made it clear that she puts her call to evangelize above interpersonal considerations, your request may fall on deaf ears, but it's worth a try. If her insistent witnessing continues, you could plan to spend less time with her socially--though interacting with her on work projects may be, ahem, your cross to bear.
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