biblical verse in your application

If you have religious quotations, bible quotes, etc. in your email signature, you don’t want to use those when you’re sending hiring-related correspondence.

Why don’t people know this?

{ 42 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    It's astounding when people retain personal e-mail signatures – biblical or otherwise – when sending an applicattion. Very unprofessional.

  2. De Minimis*

    Maybe they should apply to that place where the guy keeps asking people about church!

  3. Shackleford Hurtmore*

    Personally, I appreciate these faux pas. It helps to filter out people who will be incapable of keeping separation between their personal life and professional life. Why are you sharing these clues with the clueless?

  4. Kelly O*

    I'm a reasonably religious person and I get annoyed when I receive emails with Bible verses in the signature line – or pithy little sayings, or pictures of angels with sparkling things, or whatever else.

    I think some people think they're being a "good example" or whatever, and just don't get that they're crossing an inappropriate boundary.

  5. Sergey Gorbatov*

    what about a little icon of a green tree and a request to consider printing out that message for the better of the environment?

  6. Anonymous*

    I had the opposite experience when i received an email reply from a prospective employer with a "inspirational" quote following the standard email signature.

  7. Anonymous*

    Then when they don't act so righteous, then I have to laugh at how un-________ (insert religion) they are.

  8. Aileen*

    So many people think they impress somebody by being "so religious".
    Pretty much what Kelly said.

    I am from Germany, and it always amazes me how people here in VA strut around showing off what good Christians they are. We keep it a lot more private.

    I am saying Christians cause that is really the only religion I can speak for … all my examples are christian.
    And then they turn around and lie to people's faces and spread lies. I kid you not. Have seen this so many times. But pretend to be a decent human being by sending biblical verses and openly praying in public. Sigh.
    Amen :P

  9. Anonymous*

    Aileen – We say how good they are during the one hour of Church on Sundays, but immediately out in the parking lot, they are each other's throats in trying to get out.

  10. Anonymous*

    For me, it's not so much the religious part, but candidates expressing something that interviewers can't use as part of the hiring decision. In my company, we're not allowed to ask about religion, so please don't volunteer it. I don't want the "burden" of knowing, if that makes sense. Don't tell me you're pregnant, don't tell me how often your kids get sick, don't tell me your marital status, and don't tell me about your religion.

  11. Christopher*

    I used to work for a company whose main clientele were Christian bookstores. I just got so used to seeing Biblical email signatures, I forgot that they're unacceptable in a professional setting. Of course, I imagine I'd be taken to task by the client if I ever pointed this out.

  12. Chuck*

    While I agree with the points raised here, I would encourage us all to not be so judgmental and picky. If someone wants to express themselves in such a manner, we shouldn't let it bug us. (Would we react the same if a signature included a reference to a sports team?)

    Just b/c someone has something like that in their signature does not necessarily make them a bad person. They could turn out to be a good friend/employee. I urge us all not to be so close-minded.

    a Cincinnati Bengals fan,

  13. Amy*

    Or how about the increasingly more popular "Have a blessed day"? OK, thanks, I can use all the blessing I can get but there's a time and a place to say it…

  14. Anonymous*

    This makes me think of a previous position I held. Not long after 9/11/01, a client sent me an email forward that was basically a hate-filled screed. Among other things, it implied that the attack happened because we kicked God out of the public schools. It was factually incorrect on a number of points, besides being deeply offensive.

    Not least because he clearly assumed that I'd agree with it. Did I mention that I am not Christian? (And even if I were, I'd probably have been offended by this thing…).

    I ended up showing it to the consultant who worked with him and asking her to address it with him. Which she promised she would do. And he never sent me anything like that again or mentioned it. But…wow. So very, very inappropriate.

  15. Ask a Manager*

    Chuck, I agree that it doesn't make them a bad person. The issue is that it shows a lack of judgment about what is and isn't appropriate for a business setting.

  16. Anonymous*

    @ Anon 9:56

    I have to check my office's public email accounts. Needless to say I read forwarded paranoid conspiracy theories and hate screeds multiple times a day. I only wish that I could write back and tell them off. Like you, the most galling isn't what they are sending even so much as the fact that they don't know anything about the person reading their emails and just assume that I/my office would appreciate our inbox being clogged with vitriolic email forwards.

  17. Anonymous*

    I won't judge someone for being Christian or liking the Bengals, but I will judge them for not knowing when it is and isn't appropriate to advertise those things.

  18. Chuck*

    I understand what others have said, but…

    Do we have to be so picky/petty as to make judgments about people based on just one data point (a comment in an email signature)?

    I think one would be much better off to let some things just go. Is it really worth getting upset about?

    People are different. They will do different things and will exercise different standards of what is/isn't appropriate.

    Why are you letting such a little thing upset you? Such an attitude might lead one to be perpetually angry at all of life.

    The size of a person's character is revealed by the size of that which offends him.

  19. Anonymous*

    @Chuck –

    Pardon my cynicism here…but would you be urging us to be as understanding if the material quoted in the email signature were a quote from the Koran, or the Wiccan Rede?

    It's a matter of appropriate behavior in a business environment, and advertising one's religious practices, particularly in a manner that assumes the recipient shares them, is neither appropriate nor respectful. It's not necessarily the "little thing" you're arguing that it is. And, really, when you're sending an email to someone you don't know, that is all the data they have. Why include something that is quite likely to give a negative impression of your understanding of appropriate behavior in the workplace?

  20. Chuck*

    @Anonymous & @AskAManager…

    Thanks for the comments. I enjoy hearing opinions that differ from mine – such things help one grow.

    I agree – putting such things in a signature is not appropriate. It should not be done. I don't do it myself (with the exception of claiming to be a Bengals fan, which should have garnered some sympathy!).

    But if someone sends me an email with something like that in their signature, I am not going to let it ruin my day.

  21. Ask a Manager*

    I don't think anyone is talking about it ruining their day (although correct me if they are!), just pointing out that it harms a candidate's chances. :)

    It's an interesting topic either way though.

  22. Talyssa*

    I don't think a sports team affiliation is a good comparison to the religious affiliation. Sports team rivalries are an acceptable water cooler topic. "I'm rooting for the BLAH this year, what about you" is friendly small talk. "let me share my religion with you" is not considered friendly small talk. So the fact that you'd put one in your signature on a professional representation of yourself suggests that you don't understand those boundaries. And sure maybe you're a great CPA that just doesn't know how to keep their mouth shut about religion and politics. But that's going to create a future management issue when your irritated coworkers complain to HR or your boss and then someone has to deal with it. Why would you want to hire someone KNOWING you have that problem in your future?

    And besides that, there are plenty of people out there who might be offended or annoyed by it, even if they dont' consider future complaints. Why would you want to risk irritating someone you are hoping to get a job from?

    I think I might agree with shakeford hurtmore though. Sure does make it an easy way to filter someone out.

  23. Anonymous*

    Chuck –

    While I understand your religious toleration, you have to understand that not too many others are in the same boat as you. Remember, religion has been the basis of many wars (if not all of them) and is a very touchy subject, especially between rivaling religions. While you might see a Judeo-Christian biblical quote, for example, as a part of someone's signature line and have no qualms about it, someone else might take offense. It probably doesn't have any malice behind it, but history precedes in this case.

    You can see other disputes in religion in recent news. The Empire State Building has refused to honor Mother Teresa in its nighttime lights. There's the controversy around the mosque establishment near WTC Ground Zero in Manhattan (as well as other areas of the country – Tennessee, for example). While I'm mentioning mountains and you're discussing molehills, unfortunately when it comes to religion a molehill can be turned quickly into a mountain.

    And in the case of the professional world, you just don't want someone to hold prejudicial thoughts against you due to your religion.

  24. Jamie*

    I agree with Shackleford Hurtmore – anyone who would do this clearly has some issues understanding professional boundaries, so it's awesome to be able to rule them out immediately.

    If only we could screen everyone so easily.

  25. Anonymous*

    I'm also not a fan of the voice mails that end with "Have a blessed day." or some of the outrageously extreme "Have a holy and blessed religious day where God watches over you and blesses you with his religious and holy light" (I'm exaggerating for effect, but you should understand my meaning – keep your personal views of religion, politics, marriage, or whatever else that isn't directly business related out of business correspondence or the business environment, its inappropriate).

  26. Rachel - former HR blogger*

    I hate that. It's so rare (from what I've seen) that people in the professional word do cutesy signatures that when someone does it really stands out.

  27. Chuck*

    Thanks for the discussion. Again, I appreciate the viewpoints of those with different opinions.

    Let me ask this: If a womans religious convictions compel her to wear a burka (or is it burqa, burqua or burqa I found different spellings) to the office, do you feel the same? Are you offended by the man wearing a yarmulke b/c of his belief system?

    Where is your sense of tolerance and understanding?

    And, if you feel those pieces of clothing are acceptable why do you feel a Bible verse is not? What makes you the judge of whats acceptable and not acceptable? Who are you to say that wearing a yarmulke is OK and quoting a Scripture verse is not? Who made you the judge of such matters? (Some might find such an attitude arrogant.)

    Have we reached the point that we are so politically correct that we cant express ourselves? Why is it OK for you to proselytize your opinion (of being 100% politically correct) and censor such comments and it is not OK for others to express their opinions?

    If someone wants to cheer for a football team (yes, I agree its a BIG stretch to use this as a comparison) OR if someone wants to advocate hugging trees OR saving whales OR quoting a religious text why does that bother you?

    This is not something we should allow to upset us. People are different. They do different things. They believe different things. Lets appreciate their humanity and celebrate the freedom and diversity of our lives.

  28. Kelly O*


    I think the real issue is the way you present yourself in e-mail form to people you don't necessarily know in anything other than a professional setting.

    Articles of clothing that may be required by a particular religious group, to me at least, is very different than including a Bible (Koran, Book of Mormon, Flying Spaghetti Monster) verse in your e-mail signature.

    It's not that seeing something like that ruins my day, but it does make me question whether or not the person with whom I'm corresponding will be able to separate their personal life from their professional life and make unbiased decisions. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that there is intolerance on both sides of any religious debate and the single easiest way to avoid those issues is to make it a non-issue.

    It's not intolerance at all. It's simply being respectful of the fact that we *do* have so many groups here in our country, and what may be perfectly acceptable to you may be patently offensive to me, or vice versa. Rather than take the chance that we'll agree, I choose to leave out those bits about myself so that I don't inadvertently offend anyone.

    And in the spirit of full disclosure, I don't do those things in my personal email either. I occasionally blog about my faith or share items on Facebook – but again you will not find that on my LinkedIn page.

  29. Ask a Manager*

    I'd also add that wearing religious clothing is something that you do for yourself, whereas putting religious quotes in emails is something you're doing to communicate with others — or at least that's how it comes across. I don't want anyone communicating with me about religion in the workplace, least of all in the hiring process, and it makes me uncomfortable when a candidate appears not to get that.

  30. Chuck*

    @ Kelly O, @ Ask A Manager –

    Thank you for your gracious responses.

    Kelly – In your opinion, an article of clothing is different than quoting a religious text. But – what makes you the judge of such matters? What if someone else holds a different opinion? What makes you right and them wrong? Shouldn't we all be open-minded enough to allow for some differences of opinion?

    Ask a Manager – Clothing sends a message. Clothing communicates. (Just look at all the articles that tell us how to dress for an interview. Our appearance does communicate.) You say you're uncomfortable in a situation where someone tries to communicate their religion? Certainly some lawyer will jump all over that statement the next time you interview and don't hire a candidate wearing a yarmulke! :-)

    Unless someone is holding a gun to another's head and asking them to subscribe to their beliefs, shouldn't we be OK with some freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

  31. Ask a Manager*

    No, my point is that religious clothing is something that you wear for yourself, not to send a message to the world at large. (Although, actually, now that I write that, I'm questioning whether I'm right about it.) But regardless, it's different from email, where the entire purpose of an email is direct brain-to-brain communication. Religious quotes don't belong in there.

    I don't want a worker preaching about religion to customers or to other coworkers, and it doesn't belong in the hiring process either. A candidate who doesn't understand this is a candidate who spells trouble. (Freedom of speech actually doesn't apply here; it applies to what the government can and cannot restrict.)

  32. Ask a Manager*

    Another way to look at it: Some things simply aren't done in the professional world — they're just not. And you can debate whether or not it should be that way, but convention is what it is. For instance, if a candidate sent me an email with a row of red hearts and stars beneath her signature and the words "Kate loves Brian!!", I would think that was unprofessional too.

  33. Anonymous*

    I agree completely with your post, but I have to admit that my first thought was to wonder if you've ever lived in the south as I have for the last ten years. Later, I shared your post with my wife who works in a school. She pointed out that she's the only one of her coworkers that does NOT have a biblical verse or prayer in her signature. Keep in mind that these are the email accounts that are used for communications at work and with parents. I'm not saying that it's my idea of professional but in some circles it might be the accepted norm… or at least accepted.

  34. Anonymous*

    I'm fascinated with this thread. Here's a question for everyone: I regularly use the following sayings in a signature, would these get me excluded from consideration for a position?

    Do or do not there is no try. Yoda

    I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, no amount of labor nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best there was in me –Harland Sanders

  35. KellyK*

    I think that using a religious e-mail signature is really tacky in work-related communication. It implies that you expect the person you're talking to to be comfortable with your religious views, even though this may be your first contact. And it assumes either that they agree with you or that it's your place to preach to them if they don't agree.

    Anonymous at 3:25, August 13 has a really good point that it has a cultural and regional component. I saw it a lot in rural PA (which a lot of people say is very much like the South).

    I think the difference with clothing is partly what AAM pointed out, that it's not (or at least not entirely) about sending a message to the world at large. Also, there is no religion that I know of where believers are required to attach religious quotes to every piece of correspondence. The burqa and the yarmulke are more obligatory.

    The other big difference is that, as AAM said, an e-mail is much more direct communication that the recipient is intended to engage with. Clothing is a much more subtle, diffuse kind of message that's not directed at any particular person.

  36. Chuck*

    @KellyK –

    Thanks for your comments. But, you are imposing your rules, your beliefs on others. You say that clothing doesn't communicate to any particular person. It communicates to all who see it just as an email communicates to all who read it.

    You say religious clothing is somewhat acceptable b/c it's a requirement of a religion, but b/c quoting Scripture in an email is not commanded it's not. Again – who are you to impose your value judgments in these things?

    What if someone is simply following their conscience by inserting such text into their signature? What gives you the right to over-ride that conviction? Some might say that smacks of arrogance.

    I would hope we could accept people for who they are and appreciate that people have different opinions, values and beliefs. We should relate to people as they are and not be so bigoted as to judge them by just the one data point of their email signatures.

  37. Ask a Manager*

    Except that it's unprofessional. It just is — it defies business convention, whether you think that convention is right or wrong. Someone who doesn't know or care what's unprofessional is someone I don't want dealing with customers, other employees, or even me, for that matter.

  38. Chuck*

    I agree that it is not professional. I still do NOT recommend this as a course of action.

    But – consider the possibility that you are shutting someone out of your life who could turn out to be a decent human being. Perhaps it is someone who is VERY naive. Perhaps it is someone who is quite opinionated.

    But do you really not want anything to do with someone just on the basis of their email signature?

    When we begin to build walls and barriers between ourselves and others for such reasons then I think we're making a mistake.

  39. Anonymous*

    i like you Chuck. :o) i don't do personalized email signatures but I don't make a big fuzz out of it. the body of the email is what matters to me. :o)

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