In modern, democratic civilisation, why should people who don’t follow a particular (or any) religion feel social pressure modify their behavior to avoid offending or inconveniencing someone who does?
Just think for a minute…
If you modify your behavior (however slightly) to appease the rules set by someone else’s god(s), you’ve got a moral and ethical problem on your hands.
The only way to completely avoid “offending” a person of a different religion is to convert to their religion. However, since there are so many religions, we will never succeed in making all of us happy and comfortable at the same time.
Offend and be offended.
That is the only alternative.
If you refrain from ordering beef in the presence of Hindus, pork in the presence of Jews or Muslims, or any sort of meat at all in the presence of pagan vegans, you are not just avoiding offence, you are also tacitly practicing their religion. You are being manipulated into doing something you would not usually do – into changing yourself – to suit, honour (in some way even unwittingly ‘worship’) another person’s god.
And then we get to the work place.
If you adjust any secular business work schedules or office rules to accommodate the religious time tables of selected groups of colleagues or employees, you have to do it for all religious groups (yes, even the ironic Pastafarians), or you imply unethical favouritism to a particular group.
Oh the conundrum.
Ultimately, it the individual is the one who has to chose between their job, their social circle and their religion.
The rest of us are not compelled to make that choice easier for the individual by accommodating the individuals religion through any sort of special allowances or personal sacrifices.
Surely a secular commercial enterprise should not feel pressure to give religious staff extra breaks during fast periods, move meetings away from prayer times or sacred days (especially when all the major religions pick a different day of the week to avoid work) or amend dress codes to the satisfaction of the office religious faction?
Every time you choose to amend behaviour or make allowances to avoid offending one religious group; you also implicity offend everyone who is not a part of that group.
….And yet, every day, we read of more listed, commercial, businesses making ‘special allowances’ for staff of specific religions…
If business – the social entity that has the least incentive to make allowances of any kind – is making these allowances; it follows that it will not be long before the state also makes these special allowances for the vocally religious.
And if a country has different sets of standards – possible even a different set of rules – for a specific segment of the population… Well, we are all in trouble. Big trouble.
And don’t even get me started on religious institution tax exemptions…
Image by EVAN VUCCI, sourced by Wired Magazine.