Friday, 19 November 2010

The Imposition of Christ

From a fair time spent in business, I have determined that the process for obtaining a job follows broadly this pattern: see vacancy; send in application form or CV which details all the specific skills required to meet the requirements of the vacancy; have interview where same skills are expanded upon and personality qualities applied; get job; accept job; recieve Terms and Conditions regarding when where how much and what, together with expected standards of dress and conduct; sign and return Ts & Cs; do job; bank the cash. With odd idiosyncrasies excepted, that is largely the story as I have experienced it.

The same experience, often as the interviewer and employer, has also told me that very few Christians are open and conspicuous about that side of their life, and barring a few recent Head Teacher applications that have recently crossed this desk, the many hundreds of other application forms that I saw were silent about faith and moral perspective. Even under 'hobbies' there was no "I go to church" even when I later discovered that the person did. Not a whiff of religious practice; nothing. I think that this is indicative of the majority of such applications which will naturally wax lyrical about this degree or that certificate, this experience or that professional course. 

There was another of 'those stories' in the Church Times today. It was an article about a woman who was dismissed and then later partially reinstated in her job. She later resigned and took her employer to tribunal for discrimination against her on the basis of her faith. Why? Because she used her own theological and moral perspective to govern her decision making in her work in adoption - and as such it caused her to abstain from applications by same-sex couples to adopt children because she considers them to be grubby sinners contrary to the Bible. 

This is not the first such story. We have heard about praying medics and crucifix wearing cabin-crew, all doing their rocks when the outpouring of their faith wasn't deemed appropriate in the circumstance where they found themselves.

Recognising both that my view is one of many, and also that I speak as a former employer - I am becoming tired of the Christians who feel that they have a right to operate in this way. They took a job and its salary and then opted to interpret it according to some lofty Christian ideals, and I believe that they are wrong to do so. When I sold carpet for a living, and mindful of my distaste for orange flooring, I would have expected the heave had I refused to sell such shagpile. I know a friend who is a very committed and devout Christian, and a funeral director - yet he does not refuse the requests for humanist or civil ceremonies. No, he does the job he is paid to do, and so did I - and doing that job involved doing my best for the clients in my care. That was the ethic of my work and is the imperative of my friend's work. 

Wearing a crucifix in an environment where it is deemed inappropriate in the workplace is no higher an issue by virtue of the item in question than wearing a tutu to a building site. Abstaining from the decisions to provide vulnerable children love and security on the basis of some wonky theology of sexuality is no more lofty than refusing to sell orange carpet on the basis of taste and decency. Uttering prayers over someone who hasn't asked for them is somehow quaint when a Christian does it, but imagine the furore in Christian (or any) circles if those prayers were from a Muslim. No, some have this view that they have unending rights to behave in certain ways because they are extoling the virtues of Christ himself. Not so! They are simply working beyond their rights in the workplace, and more often than not within the cloud of unknowing that they create for their employers when they fail to mention their zeal in their applications.

The thing that is most annoying for me is that these 'I have the right' Christians are making a mockery of all of us. In imposing Christ, they remove debate and very often reason from the circumstance in which they find themselves in, and that seems to ride against all Gospel imperatives. Worst still, they place one more stone into the hands of those who seek to throw them at people of any faith, all because they think that they have the right to propogate their theologies through their jobs! No such right exists except that of the employer that we all do the job we are taking the cash to do. 

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