the_shoshanna: my boy kitty (Default)
the_shoshanna ([personal profile] the_shoshanna) wrote in [community profile] agonyaunt2010-12-02 08:00 am

Dear Prudence: religious holidays in the workplace

Dear Prudence,

The Christmas celebrations in my office have taken on an increasingly religious character over the years. Last year, there were Christmas carols, including "Silent Night," playing in the break room, and several of the holiday cards bought to decorate the area around the Christmas tree had Nativity or other religious themes on them. Multiple people complained, either to management or to each other after feeling that management was not responsive to our concerns. My boss asked me why I wasn't at last year's tree-trimming party. When I told her that it was because I'm not a Christian, she suggested that it would be OK if I hung a menorah on the Christmas tree. I can't begin to describe how offensive I thought that was to all religions. I don't have any problem with Joe wearing a cross in the office or Ayanna putting a picture of her favorite Hindu goddess above her computer. It's the corporate-sanctioned expressions of religion in shared spaces that bother me. What can we do to encourage management to return to the more secular celebrations of previous years?

—Not a Christian

Dear Not,

I'm also not a Christian, but excuse me for being amused at your boss's idea of a menorah as an interfaith Christmas-tree ornament. I often hear from people who are subjected year-round to pressure from religious zealots in the office—often the boss—and that's repugnant and needs to be dealt with. But what you're describing sounds mild and inoffensive, and since it will all be over the last week of December, it's a self-limiting problem. Your office has a Christmas tree, which you don't seem to object to—and I don't think you should—so it's hardly worth making a fuss over a Nativity card or "Silent Night" in the break room. Face it, there's no silencing the Christmas music in any venue once the Thanksgiving dishes are put away. You, of course, are free to skip the office tree-trimming, but attending does not mean you are violating your own religion, just as a Christian partaking in a Passover Seder is not part of a conversion program. Though it's not my holiday, I love seeing others get excited about the pageantry, even the excess, of Christmas. My suggestion is that instead of complaining, get in the mood of the season and be merry.

—Prudie
minoanmiss: (Default)

[personal profile] minoanmiss 2010-12-02 01:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I really think Prudence is wrong and being dismissive here (not least, but not only, because many people's faiths do indeed prohibit them from participating in others faiths' rituals), but I'm typing this as "Gaudete" plays on my work computer. Could one of my coworkers have written this about me? (Well, not literally -- we don't have a Christmas tree.)
cereta: Mr. Hooper (Mr. Hooper)

[personal profile] cereta 2010-12-02 02:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I don't think Prudie really got the difference between going along with a relatively secular Christmas in order not to make waves, and having overtly religious things displayed in an office. The former is already pushing it; the latter is just bad.
zulu: (house - exasperated)

[personal profile] zulu 2010-12-02 02:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, way to miss the point, Prudence. Dear cultural minorities: my advice is to suck it up. Yeah, that'll solve everything.
unusualmusic: Part of Ms. Benjamins face, in yellow and blue makeup.  (colors)

[personal profile] unusualmusic 2010-12-02 02:51 pm (UTC)(link)
That is some privileged and fucked up advice. (But it does make me understand a recent Privilege Denying Dude post.)
torachan: anime-style me ver. 2.0 (Default)

[personal profile] torachan 2010-12-03 12:04 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, it made me think of [personal profile] giandujakiss's PDD, too.
havocthecat: ronon dex got out of bed for this? (sga ronon out of bed)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2010-12-02 03:37 pm (UTC)(link)
So basically she's saying, "suck it up and shut your whiny little mouth, people like Christmas" instead of something, I don't know, useful?
wolfshark: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfshark 2010-12-02 03:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Why did I read the comments? You'd think by now I'd know better, but you'd apparently be wrong...
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)

[personal profile] vass 2010-12-02 04:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I think Prudie's flat out wrong. If the OP wants to participate in something that's not her religion, that's fine and good, but it ceased to be at all okay at the point where her boss took official notice of her not being at a religious event.
dorothy1901: Gilda: Put the blame on Mame (Default)

[personal profile] dorothy1901 2010-12-02 05:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Not a Christian: I can't begin to describe how offensive I thought that was to all religions

Prudie: But what you're describing sounds mild and inoffensive

Me: Prudie? You're wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Chanukah is not some kind lesser Christmas celebration, which can be incorporated into the 'greater' religion. Your letter writer was correct: the boss' suggestion was incredibly offensive.
eviltammy: (Default)

[personal profile] eviltammy 2010-12-02 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
And the boss knows the LW is Jewish? Or is that an assumption? There are lots of non-Christian religions out there.
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Danger)

[personal profile] ambyr 2010-12-02 06:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, I missed that on the first read-through, but. . .yeah. Ick.
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)

[personal profile] sophie 2011-05-07 01:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Late reply, but... yeah, this makes the "offensive to all religions" bit even more stark.
amadi: A stylized photo of two calla lily flowers (Menorah)

[personal profile] amadi 2010-12-03 06:53 am (UTC)(link)
It'd be one thing if everything in the office was exclusively Christmas themed, that's typical and hard to combat in a lot of places. There really isn't any such thing as Chanukah decorations, anyway.

But the LW's boss specifically denigrated her faith by saying its only place could be subordinated to the trappings of Christmas. A menorah tree ornament is offensive on so many levels it makes my head spin. Maybe one has to be a Jew to understand why?

Prudie screwed the pooch big time on this one.