A conscientious can of worms

2009

I'm always baffled when I read articles about religion in the workplace. In my mind, I don't see why one would influence the other. So, it's with some surprise and disappointment that I read this article about a proposed "conscientious objector" law in the state of in Michigan that would protect people from having to do anything in their job that may be in conflict with their religious beliefs.

Most of the examples in the article focus on the medical profession; such as, not being required to perform an abortion if your religious beliefs forbid it. Personally, I find it unlikely that a doctor who performs abortions would be in the position to perform one if their personal morals forbade it.

A more logical example would be a pharmacist who refused to give a 17 year old girl RU-486 (a drug that induces abortion during the early weeks of pregnancy) based on their religious beliefs.

To my secular view, you know that these are the types of tasks that your job requires; if you're unable to perform such tasks (especially when there is no really way to prove a "belief"), then perhaps it's time for a new line of work.

From a business perspective, I can't imagine most employers wouldn't be happy if employees started cherry picking tasks that they felt they were morally able to do. Productivity would certainly take a hit, not to mention sales – you can bet your bottom dollar that a client who couldn't get served at a store because an employee felt that the request was against their religious beliefs isn't likely to come back to the store.

Of course, this is always a trick subject and I'm sure many readers won't agree or appreciate my views on the subject. However, I live in a secular country and work in a secular company and frequent secular merchants – why should I expect anyone's religious views to come in to play?

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Generally speaking, I would be pleased to hear that my bank manager is a Mormon, and disturbed to hear that the manager is a Thuggee. How about you?

Mike L. Chicago