Freedom of Religion vs. Promotion of Religion
This article caught my attention because it illustrates the difference between freedom of religion in the workplace and promotion of religion in the workplace:
A Wisconsin Dairy Queen owner is defending a sign describing his restaurant as “politically incorrect” for its unabashed support for “God and country.” The sign at the franchise in Kewaskum notifies patrons that staff may say “Merry Christmas,” ”Happy Easter” and “God Bless America,” among other things. Owner Kevin Scheunemann tells WDJT-TV he “felt the sign was appropriate to hang in terms of being transparent about the views of the owner and staff supporting God and country.” One customer who apparently doesn’t agree took a picture of the sign and complained about it on Dairy Queen’s page on Facebook. The chain tells the station the sign “expresses the views of this independent owner only” and doesn’t speak for the company or any other franchise owners.
Employers cannot impose religion on employees or discriminate for, or against, employees based on their religious beliefs. However, that doesn’t mean business owners can’t have their own personal beliefs and/or express them. My advice to owners has always been, “you can be open about your religious beliefs, just don’t make compliance or submission to your religion a condition of employment (e.g. mandatory “staff” prayers before starting work). For example, every December clients ask me if they can have a Christmas party (as opposed to a “holiday” party). My response, “no matter how people try to spin it, Christmas is Christmas and it has been celebrated on December 25th since A.D. 336.” Trying to force people to be religion-neutral is as bad as trying to impose a particular religion on someone else. I’m headed to Dairy Queen.