People around the world have a set of beliefs whether they choose to believe in Jesus Christ or not to agnostic and gnostic, everyone has a set of beliefs which they hold on to. However the question arises on how can we practice it outside our homes specifically at work without imposing other people’s rights who may not hold to the same views as one does. How does the view of a utilitarianism, deontology, and relativism tie into this matter, and could we find a balance on both sides to come to a logical conclusion on how things could be run at a workplace.
People seem to shy away when it comes to talk about religion and politics for good reason. One cannot come out of the conversation agreeing with the other side so they revert back to relativism which is a go to for some trying to avoid confrontations, but what about our rights to religious practice at work? Where does one draw the line? We were born with the freedom of choice, this includes choosing to believe in what others tell you, to listen to things etc. One can easily choose to leave the room or place, but where it gets troubling is if it takes place during a meeting and the other persons morals are founded strongly on their religious beliefs and they just might either make or break a company based on their decision or performance.
Why though do we feel as if we need to have the right to express ourselves? Well as Mosser., K explains “ because religion is such a basic part of a person’s self-conception, someone may feel his or her right to the free expression of religious beliefs is restricted by not being allowed to state them when and where he or she wishes.” A company may reap the blessings of a group or an individual true Christian and still not be biased to that person only because of the good that is coming out of it. This would result in good for the greatest number of people according to a utilitarianism view.
However there is another side to the coin even in the same ethical theory. Rule utilitarianism states that “allowing the majority’s religious views to be imposed on a minority does not create the greatest good for the greatest number.” (Mosser K.,) This also brings into light that people cannot be forced into something that they do not want to accept. Christianity was never meant to be forced upon people, but over the years it has been twisted to mean something other then what is true though there are those who still hold faithfully to what is right.
Even at mandatory work functions one cannot force prayer or religious service on one without possibly violating state laws. Sam Grover explains “ most likely any prayer or religious service that accompanies a mandatory work event or meeting would violate Title VII discrimination laws under the same reason used in Townley.” (Grover, S. 2010) The next question one could ask themselves how much is too much, when someone continuously asks to attend church or has their bible out on their office desk?
Harassment has taken place in the workplace when “an employee is required or coerced to abandon, alter, or adopt a religious practice as a condition of employment” (Grover, S 2010) A person by no means base their decisions on whether a person is of the same beliefs and or style of worship to give them the greatest good even if that particular religion is the biggest in the workplace, and leave the others hanging dry.
In an article written by ACLJ it speaks about prayer in the workplace as being legal, stating “In sum prayer is not illegal, unauthorized, inappropriate, nor improper – and as long as employees pray before or after working hours, or during official breaks, there should be no problem at all.” (ACLJ 2012) So the person cannot make it mandatory for anyone to participate in a religious gathering nor can they hold it against them in terms of gaining a status at a job, and make it into a utilitarian view on them.
So what are the outcomes of the utilitarianism over an issue like prayer in the workplace? One can practice their religion on their own personal time as long as it does not conflict with work and can perform their duties while on the job. The greatest good that comes from this view is that all people are protected in some way or form, but we will always have those who have ethical egoism and that is what the greatest number of people are protected from in the laws that are set forth.
Using the view of deontology (Golden Rule) it serves as a good foundation and rule of them to treat others. This view however when looked at and studied, that part of scripture is telling the reader not as a reactive approach, but for them to go and do unto others regardless of how they may treat them. Also, the way this view could be used and twisted is if another person from a different very radical belief thinks it is right for them to force it upon other people talking to them about it at work.
No one needs to feel the stresses of a job and then put on top of that, dealing with religious views that one apposes. These laws that were put up were not only to protect the people, but also in a way for the religion. This does not in fact mean to keep going up to someone and throwing scripture at them, unless one wants to have a lawsuit against them and the company, but to be able to meet the other person half-way and realize that I might not like them pushing their beliefs down my throat either.
Deontology ethics is grounded in the “Categorical Imperative” by Immanuel Kent states “The Categorical Imperative simply declares act as if thy action were to become by thy will a universal law by nature.” We should live our lives to help all mankind and that by this we write our own morals. Would we be okay with others adopting our actions and be able to live with what they do to us since we did it first unto them?
If we are at a workplace and there are no regulations established on prayers in the workplace and no guidelines whatsoever set in place. Would one put their beliefs out there and start the religious movement at work by their actions, but be able to handle and live peacefully when another religion that strongly apposes theirs comes into the picture? Is it better to just leave it at home rather than starting something that perhaps one may not be able to handle very well?
Relativism works hand in hand with this issue simply because it is used as a means to get out of a discussion and end it at a peaceful ending instead of coming out of it with a reasonable answer. This only adds to the ongoing issue and cannot solve a problem in the workplace, there are those who by their faith need to pray a certain amount of numbers a day which can in turn affect their work and if given special treatment for this may cause some division amongst co-workers.
With utilitarianism, deontology and relativism we see different ways on how all this could play out in the end and while trying to figure out the right decision for everyone. The laws are there to protect people from having to conform to something that they do not believe in but at the same time must meet the freedom of choice in the other persons personal views as long as it does not hinder the good standing work order.
Mosser K., Bridgeport Education Inc, 2013 Ethics and Social Responsibility Grover S., FFRF Summer 2010 http://ffrf.org/faq/state-church/item/14007-religion-in-the-workplace ACLJ 2012 http://aclj.org/workplace-rights/religious-expression-workplace http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/deontological-ethics.htm