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Is it Taboo To Talk About Your Beliefs at Work?

August 10, 2010

Last week I heard a story on NPR about academic scientists who felt they had to hide their religious views from their peers.

Elaine Howard Ecklund, a Rice University assistant professor of Sociology and author of the book “Science vs. Religion,” surveyed 1,700 scientists at elite universities about their belief in God. At the onset, she anticipated the same results you and I would have – that all scientists (especially professors at elite universities) would put God in the same belief-bucket as Santy Clause and Tinkerbell. To her surprise, she discovered that nearly half of them said they were religious.

However, when she did follow up interviews, she found they practiced a “closeted faith.”

“They just do not want to bring up that they are religious in an academic discussion. There’s somewhat of almost a culture of suppression surrounding discussions of religion at these kinds of academic institutions.”

Hmmm. However dysfunctional that may sound, I can actually understand how a scientist’s confession of belief in God might be taboo at a secular university, since atheism is all the rage among scientific academia.  The peer pressure must be enormous. Besides, it’s nobody’s business, what you believe on your own time. Why make a big fuss over your faith if it’s going to cause a Spanish Inquisition?

But it got me thinking about how this applies to business settings. As far as I know, there is no such unwritten standard that CEOs , Vice Presidents and business leaders must adhere to some godless business or economic theory in order to be respected and effective in their jobs.  Business is agnostic – it doesn’t matter what you believe; it’s just a spider web of organizations, people and transactions operating within a range of economic, ethical and regulatory parameters.

To continue this discussion, please click here to read my post at The High Calling Blogs.

Photo by Colin Stebbing. Used with permission.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 10, 2010 9:18 am

    In my workplace, very early on, I made a point of telling others ‘where I was coming from.’ I just came right out and told people who I was. That way, there was no second-guessing — David was a man of faith. After that, it was much more natural to express my thoughts. I didn’t have to be coy. I didn’t have to be careful. They know that I speak from an eternal perspective, that my heart is not of this world, and my language will not be peppered with negativity.

    And it works. There’s no awkward dance. It’s just who i am and I’m respected for that. When the lives of people are turned upside down, I’m often the one they seek out because they know me, they respect me and hopefuly, they’ll now and respect my Lord.

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