new vendor keeps sending religious quotes on invoices

A reader writes:

My department recently started doing business with a company (now in a 10-year contract) that has started putting religious quotes on their invoices. For example, the latest one says “Honor God in all we do.” They’re all about that same level of religious-ness.

Some people are uncomfortable signing invoices with religious quotes because they are non-religious, and have likened it to feeling like they signed up to work in a non-religious place but now have religion foisted upon them on a daily basis. Our department has been accused in the past of being the “PC police” and being overly “sensitive” to every little need. We value diversity and inclusion, and those are not just buzzwords to us. This is, in my opinion, the point of having a welcoming and aware work environment full of productive, respected, empowered people.

My question to you is, should this be taken seriously enough to risk a long-term contract with a prime vendor? In your opinion, do we have the right to ask them not to include religious jargon on their invoices for services that we pay for? Or should we mind our own business and try to get on with the day? Note that this is a multinational company with a local franchisee that is working with us, so I doubt that the multinational even knows about the religious quotes on invoices.

Well, I can’t tell you or your employees how annoyed or offended you should be by this. Clearly you do have some people there who are highly annoyed by it, and it’s pretty tricky to tell people how they should feel on matters of religion, especially when religion is injected into places where they didn’t sign up for it and don’t want it.

Personally, I think this falls into the category of “annoying and inappropriate, but not interfering with our work.” But someone else could feel more strongly about it.

I look at it like this:

First, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a company to include religious quotes on its invoices, unless spreading religion is an explicit part of its mission and they make it clear to clients up-front that they operate that way. It seems especially problematic to do that as a franchisee unless the parent company is aware of it and has signed off.

That said, companies do a variety of mildly annoying things that aren’t necessarily worth getting worked up about. And while I know that people have different levels of tolerance around this stuff, “honor God in all we do” doesn’t seem that much more overbearing than “in God we trust,” which is on our money. And I say that as someone who doesn’t think a religious message belongs on our money either, but it might be useful as a way to calibrate your sense of how put off to be by this.

So again, to me it’s annoying and inappropriate, but doesn’t rise to the level of interfering with your work — sort of like that one rogue woman in accounting who has religious quotes in her email signature.

But if you have people who truly feel more strongly about it than that, then sure, take it up with your vendor. It’s useful for them to hear that not everyone will hear their messages as innocuous or workplace-appropriate.

If you go that route, you could say, “We have some employees who really aren’t comfortable receiving religious messages on your invoices, and I don’t want to require them to encounter religious materials in the course of doing their work. Is it possible to leave those off correspondence with us?” This may or may not get you any traction; if religion is an important element to the other company, this may be Their Way, and at that point you’d need to decide whether to take it or leave it.

{ 739 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m putting this up top so hopefully people see it before commenting further: Please be respectful of other’s opinions in this discussion; it’s not okay here to call people whiny, crybabies, or otherwise mock or express contempt for people’s feelings about religion.

  2. Kelly L.*

    Agree with Alison–this is annoying, but it sounds like this is just their company’s Thing and that it might be best ignored. I’d try to start thinking of it as just their tagline or slogan, and I’ve certainly seen other annoying taglines over the years (e.g. bad grammar that irked me every time I saw it, that sort of thing).

  3. Katie the Fed*

    I feel about this the same way I do about people who tell me “have a blessed day!” It annoys me slightly, but the intent is nice and it’s not hurting anyone, so I’m not going to tell them to stop.

    1. Dan*

      I grew up where saying “god bless you” or “bless you” when you sneezed was the culturally appropriate thing to say. These days, I think I’d give someone the side eye, but I’d ignore it more than anything for the reasons you state.

      1. Joseph*

        It’s still the culturally appropriate thing to say in a lot of places. I’ve been under the weather this month and I honestly can’t think of a single time in the past two weeks that I sneezed and someone DIDN”T say something of the sort. Among colleagues at work, friends, etc.

        Frankly, it’s best just to chalk it up as one of those meaningless courtesy things people say and give it no more thought than the typical “how are you? fine” or “have a good night” that people say when passing in the hall.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I work in the Chicago suburbs and get a chorus of “bless you”s and an occasional gesundheit when I sneeze, God is not usually invoked but I think that’s still very common and considered appropriate. (Whether it should be appropriate or not may be another question.)

        1. Bookworm*

          FWIW ‘gesundheit’ doesn’t translate to ‘bless you,’ it actually means health. So it’s a non-religious response.

          But I agree that “Bless you” post-sneeze is a cultural reaction, not necessarily a pious one.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Oh, I know gesundheit is non-religious, I didn’t intend to imply it was — just saying I hear that occasionally, but “bless you” much more regularly.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I find the silence weird. I don’t see much of a religious thing – but apparently the custom started because people believed the spirit could escape the body during a sneeze?
          The way I always interpreted it was that someone cared you might be getting a cold or getting sick. It startled me to see people not saying “bless you” and my knee-jerk reaction was “wow, there is a person who does not care!” But I guess I would rather have silence than, “Hey stop that attention-seeking behavior!”, which I have also heard people say. If someone can’t say something nice then…..

          1. Hobbits! The Musical*

            There’s an Irish folktale about a man who was “shadowing” a leprechaun on his magical workday and seeing him conniving to steal the bride at a wedding reception – the small bad guy threw pepper under her nose to make her sneeze, and timed it so each time the parson had his mouth full and didn’t say “bless you” which meant no-one said it (speak before Parson? Unthinkable!). If she sneezed 3 times without being blessed the leprechaun/fairy/boggart had the right to steal her away. The 3rd time she sneezed the irishman leapt up and roared out “God bless us all!” at which he was suddenly visible to all and the bad guy vanished in the usual smoke & bad temper.

            Not sure how that relates to *why* people say bless you in the first place, only that its continued usage is partly superstition.

            1. Hobbits! The Musical*

              Also some numbers of people may be, as am I, choosing to say gesundheit because saying bless you feels wrong if you don’t agree with the source.

      3. NK*

        Hmm, I’ve only ever lived in urban cities on the West Coast and Midwest US, and “bless you” has been the typical response to a sneeze in all those places (“god bless you” being somewhat rare). I don’t even think about it as a religious response. I suppose technically it is, I’m just surprised to hear that people are giving side eye over it.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m an atheist and I think “bless you” is about as religious as “goodbye”–they both may have started that way but they’re sure not now.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Yes, I mentally just put “blessu” (usually mumbled as all one word) in the same category of automatic responses as saying “you’re welcome” after someone says “thank you” or saying “you too!” after someone says “have a nice day”. It’s just an automatic polite response that doesn’t actually mean anything to me, but I feel weird not saying it, and there isn’t a non-religious/superstitious equivalent I can come up with, other than maybe “you ok?” or “need a tissue?” if someone is having an especially bad sneezing fit.

            1. Oryx*

              I feel weird not saying, too, which is so bizarre because it’s not like we say something after someone coughs (which I liken to sneezing in this respect). It’s automatic and habitual.

              1. Shannon*

                Well, back in ye olde dayz, they thought that when you sneezed, your soul temporarily left your body and that someone needed to say “bless you” in order to keep you from being possessed by a demon. There is no similar mythology around coughing.

                1. fposte*

                  Interestingly enough, this is a common explanation but there’s no historical support for it–or historical explanation for the custom at all. So we’ve been doing it for 1000 years because we thought it was important to somebody for some reason but we don’t know what :-).

                2. Delightful Daisy*

                  I sometimes do say “bless you” when someone has a coughing fit, usually to be corrected because “I didn’t sneeze”. :-) I alternate between “bless you” and “God bless you” and there’s no rhyme or reason to why I say it.

                  I agree with Alison that it’s perhaps an annoyance but doesn’t rise to the level of cancelling a contract over it. For the record, I wouldn’t find it offensive nor would most of the people in the state that I live in. I think it’s fairly innocuous but then I also say “God bless you” so I may not be the best judge. :-)

                3. Aim Away From Face*

                  Bart {sarcastically}: If your soul’s real where is it?
                  Milhouse points towards his temple.
                  Milhouse: It’s kinda in here. And when you sneeze, that’s your soul trying to escape. Saying ‘God bless you’ crams it back in, and when you die, it squirms out and flies away.
                  Bart {unimpressed}: Uh-huh. What if you die in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean?
                  Milhouse: Oh, it can swim. It’s even got wheels, in case you die in the desert and it has to drive to the cemetery.

                4. Shannon*

                  Replying here, but, I did a bit of digging and it looks like this saying was first recorded in this context around 590 AD, with Pope Gregory telling everyone to pray constantly, because the Black Death was killing everyone. Part of this command was to bless someone who had sneezed, since sneezing was one of the first signs of the Black Death.

                5. fposte*

                  @Shannon–I think you hit an urban legend vein, since the practice it goes back further than that (it’s noted in Pliny) and sneezing isn’t a symptom of the Black Death (and yes, that does mean the plague story about “Ring around the Roses” isn’t true).

                6. Hobbits! The Musical*

                  I think that’s true – I referenced an Irish tale in my comment above (bad fairy steals bride if nobody says bless you when she sneezes).

              2. a(non)choo!*

                There was a cute ad for cough medicine on TV here in which a little girl asks why we don’t say anything after someone coughs. So her mother suggests we say $Brandname. Right then the father coughs so the girl pipes up with “$Brandname!”

                And yes, I do remember the brand in question, so I guess the ad worked :)

            2. Narwhal*

              I don’t say anything when people sneeze, and when I sneeze, I just say, “Excuse me.” Everyone seems okay with it, though they still say, “Bless you” to me.

              1. Sydney Bristow*

                I do the same. It was a habit for the longest time but it really annoys my husband when I say “bless you” so I trained myself to stop. It’s too hard to switch back and forth.

                Sometimes I mention the reason I don’t say it because it sometimes feels rude. So I’ve mentioned it to a coworker I sit near who always says it to me.

              2. OhNo*

                I had a coworker for a while who said “Bless me!” every time she sneezed. So far, she’s the only person I’ve ever heard say that, and it cracked me up a little every single time.

                1. StellsBells*

                  Either you’re a former coworker of mine or there are two of us in the world :)

            3. Pep*

              I’ve been saying “g’blessyoo” my whole life…now *what* are you telling me that stands for?


            4. Lana*

              Because of the whole thing with “bless you” being said because the idea was (supposedly) that your soul left your body when you sneezed, my dad sometimes likes to say “I got it!” and then try to hand their soul back to them. It is a very Dad thing to do, I think, and I have used it myself on people when I know they will appreciate it.

        2. Kelly L.*

          I hear “bless you” and “gesundheit” both with frequency. Usually only the devout will actually say the “God” part.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          As an atheist from the Northeast, I usually say “bless you” just because I can’t think of anything else that everyone will immediately grok, although if I know the recipient will understand I’ll use the Spanish “salud”, which translates literally as “health”. That feels much more appropriate to me, but many people won’t get it.

          1. Lurker*

            I use the French version, “à tes souhaits,” which literally translates to “to your wishes” and lacks a religious connotation.

          2. hermit crab*

            Haha, if people don’t get it, maybe you just have to say it like my 96-year-old Colombian grandpa does: ¡Saaaaa-loooood!

        4. INTP*

          Same here, though I’ve lived in the urban bible belt as well, but don’t really notice a correlation between saying “bless you” and religiousness.

          Actually, the one time I’ve had someone take issue with it was BECAUSE of their religion. During my very brief stint working with special needs kids, I had a student with autism, and her parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They objected to the original, literal meaning of the phrase (apparently it had something to do with believing one’s soul left their body during a sneeze?) and didn’t want their daughter to say it, which with her being autistic, meant that we couldn’t say it around her.

      4. Cass*

        I’d have to disagree. In my opinion, hearing “bless you” is not worthy of a side-eye.

        1. Sadsack*

          Yeah, I am not a believer, but still say it and thank people who say it to me just because it is a custom. I am not sure what exactly the side eye would be for.

      5. Mazzy*

        I’ve lived in many parts of the country, and many of the most progressive parts, and even the atheist, progressive type coworkers I’ve had have always said “God Bless You” when someone sneezed without thinking about it. Is there really a place where that would be “side eyed?”

  4. SerfinUSA*

    You could always cross out the quotes like people do when signing contracts with items they aren’t agreeing to.

    1. Dan*

      Yeah. We sort of have this (mis)conception that we cannot say anything at all about religion (or someone else’s religion) in the workplace, as if it’s a taboo subject. I guarantee you that if someone was playing a call to prayer over their desktop speakers loud enough to distract me, I’d ask them to wear headphones or something.

      It’s quite appropriate to ask the vendor to remove the message. If they don’t comply, that’s a different story, but OP (or someone in their company) is in a position to make the request.

      1. KMS1025*

        But really, why bother? If your department is already known as the PC police, why lose any sleep over this one? Just not so much of a biggie….surely there are way more injustices to address?

        1. Dan*

          I meant we as a society/culture have a misconception where you cannot say anything about someone’s religion.

        2. Honeybee*

          Well, “PC police” is sometimes used as code from people as “This is the person/group that keeps bringing up that I’m saying offensive/incorrect/stereotypical things about people, and that annoys me because I’d rather not anyone bring attention to or try to modify my behavior”. In that case, the “PC police label” is a failing on the part of the labeler and not the team that earned it.

          It may not be a biggie to some but may be a biggie to others.

    2. Van Wilder*

      Agreed, your relationship is probably important to them. If they refused, I might want to make a call to corporate. But I object to this more than most commenters here seem to.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      This is what I came to say. It is actually helpful for you to tell them that their quotes on invoices to clients may not be appreciated. Most vendors do not like to purposefully offend the very people who are paying them. If you have an account manager I would mention it to her. Something like, “I have recently noticed that your invoices are coming in with religious quotes and some individuals who have to approve invoices have raised concerns. Can you please look into having our invoices produced with out any quotes that are religious in nature?”

      1. Graciosa*

        I think that’s a perfectly good way to go about it, but there’s a part of me that thought you were being tactful in referring only to quotes that are religious in nature.

        Maybe I’m a little too task oriented, but why does the company think it needs any quotes on an invoice? This should be (in my view) a business document requesting payment. Personally, I don’t need to read any quotes of any kind.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          “Personally, I don’t need to read any quotes of any kind.”

          If it’s just something meant to be generically inspirational (“Today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the present!”) or funny (“Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.”) then it’s just a difference in preferences/taste rather than being anything people might feel excluded by. Similarly, I might think a vendor’s logo of a big-eyed kitten was sort of cheesy for a company that sells widget-polishing fluid, or that it’s tacky for the sales rep to send emails in purple Comic Sans, but I wouldn’t feel like those were something to actually complain about. I’d just roll my eyes and move on.

  5. Observer*

    The company is being ridiculous, and it’s perfectly appropriate to ask them to knock it off.

    On the other hand, the people who are uncomfortable signing are also being ridiculous. No one thinks that they are signing onto the religious sentiment expressed on the invoice.

    I get that it’s annoying. And, I agree with Alison that we don’t get to tell people how annoyed or upset they “should” be. But this discomfort is a different issue. They can sign without agreeing with, or even reading, the quotes. And that’s what they should do.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      It’s probably on their invoice template. I don’t know why they added it recently, unless someone higher up decided they wanted to be more upfront about their godliness. I’d just ignore it, or roll my eyes at it.

      If they started requiring their customers to conform to their standards of godliness, like that crazy school that wanted the OP who worked there to never associate with anyone who didn’t follow the tenets of their faith, then it’s perfectly acceptable to find another vendor.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        I wonder if it is on their invoice template, or if this is the equivalent of one person adding biblical quotes to their email signature. There’s a chance someone in accounts payable decided to add a little something extra to their invoices and the rest of the company has no idea.

      2. Shannon*

        Depending on the size of the company in question, no higher ups may have been involved in this decision. It could be that their new hire, Wakeem in accounting is eager to mark his territory and redesigned the invoice for no other reason than to take over ownership of the document.

      3. Observer*

        Sure, if the vendor is crazy (or stupid) enough to actually require anything religious, or even an acknowledgement of the quote, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

        If it’s not always the same quote, I’d bet someone though it would be cool to add a quote generator thing to stuff, and chose a religious one.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I think the people processing the invoices are being a bit ridiculous as well. “[they] now have religion foisted upon them on a daily basis.”? How often are you getting invoices from this company? Don’t most places only invoice once a month or so? Or are you getting a million orders from them with a bunch of invoices every day?

      Unless OP is working in a country that has a policy of freedom from religion, as I believe is the case in some European countries, I think this needs to be just an eyeroll and move on type of thing. Maybe mention it once to whoever set up the contract as an aside, along the lines of “Hey, you know the new vendor? They are putting religious quotes on their invoices now, and its annoying our AP staff. Could you ask them to knock it off?” Its probably also worth mentioning because chances are if it’s on the invoice it’s also included in other parts of the service/product, such as the supplier I used to work with that stuck tracts in its catalogs and in the boxes of products we purchased, and had the same kind of quotes all over their e-commerce website.

      But honestly, having worked in a place dealing with paying vendor invoices, if the invoices are correct, legible, logically laid out, come in a timely manner and have a reasonable due dates – they would probably be on my favorite list of customers, despite the religious quotes. Because I have dealt with soooo many incorrect, unreadable, sent to the wrong address/person, re-sent as late even though I already paid the invoice, etc invoicing problems that I would welcome a straightforward “pay $X for Y services by Z date” invoice happily, roll my eyes at the quote and move on with my day.

      If the company invoices aren’t correct or are a hassle to work with, I think that is the more important part, and the religious quotes could be one more black mark against the company.

      However, if anyone here is in a position to add quotes like this to your invoices, marketing materials, etc – can I just say that if I were the decision maker in charge of finding vendors, that would be a super major turn-off to me, and your product/service would need to be head and shoulders better than the competition while being significantly cheaper for me to even consider moving forward with you as a vendor.

      1. Violet Fox*

        I think it’s also different for people who are form religious minority groups, at that point I can very easily see how having quotes from another religion on invoices that they have to sign as being uncomfortable, problematic, and like they do not belong in that work place because they are not part of the majority.

        1. Observer*

          Even there, I think this is being way over-sensitive. I’m an Orthodox Jew, and even in Brooklyn (which has a huge orthodox population), it’s still a minority position. And, I’d not be pleased with someone who put something overtly Christian the invoice. In fact, if I had a direct relationship, and tell them it’s out of place. I wouldn’t kick up a fuss if I wasn’t in that position, and I would not feel like I was being coerced into signing onto the majority religion.

          1. Violet Fox*

            There is a big difference between being an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, and being the only one of your kind at your workplace, school, possibly town, etc and be obviously different.

            Also, please don’t call my own personal experiences being “oversensitive” because that just tells me that I am not justified to feel the way I do about things based on my own subjective experiences. It also tells me that infact, my opinion really does not matter, because it again, difference from the majority.

            1. Observer*

              You obviously don’t know much about the matter, if you think that being an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn means never being “obviously different” or the “only one of your kind in your workplace or school”. You also apparently know nothing about the experience of belonging to a community and family with a lived history of major persecution, and its effect on the next generation which hasn’t faced that kind of situation.

              If the only way you can believe that your opinion matters is if people agree with you, that’s an issue you are going to have to deal with. I’m not going to suddenly start believing that the presence of quotes on invoices is a seriously exclusionary measure unless they actually target a specific group (eg All xxx are going to burn for eternity type quotes.)

              You are entitled to your opinion on the matter, and your opinion on my opinion. But, you are not entitled to tell me that I am not entitled to the same.

      2. writer of the religious question*

        Hi there- i’m the writer of the original question to Ask A Manager- and we receive these invoices daily. always with different religious messages. I did mention it to our local rep for this national company- and she agreed that the company was becoming more religious over time, and had noticed it too. She said that she wasn’t comfortable bringing this to her boss- who created the quotes for fear of her own job. The person in charge of maintaining our contracts believes it is not her job to tell a company what they can/can’t include on an invoice, even though we both agree that if it were another religion/non christian, more people in the office would likely take offense, and she still would not tell the vendor what to include on their invoices. She also believes that this is akin to an addition on the email signature as many of you do- and that while annoying and verging in inappropriate, we should get over it.

        1. fposte*

          Whoa, “created the quotes for fear of her own job” is pretty scary. That worries me a lot more than the quotes themselves.

          It sounds like you’ve come to a stopping point on the topic, which is good, but I’d stay open to reconsideration if the company becomes more intrusive on this.

          1. SaraV*

            I’m wondering if OP missed a punctuation? Perhaps it meant to read…

            “She said that she wasn’t comfortable bringing this to her boss – who created the quotes – for fear of her own job.”

            1. Observer*

              That does make more sense. But, I still think it’s a huge red flag. Really, if the rep is worried about bringing something like this to the boss for fear of losing her job because “she’s not religious enough”, that is a HUUUGE problem.

        2. Brianna*

          Is it possible to use a company or department seal to acknowledge the invoices so that employees won’t have to sign the ones they disagree with?

        3. Meg Murry*

          Daily, and they change each day? That’s still in the “ugh” and eyeroll category to me, but I can see how it could get old fast, or how it could make an already crummy day crummier. I wonder if they subscribe to some kind of “inspirational quote of the day” service to automatically change the invoices, or how that works?

          However, I still think another commenter made the incredibly important point: are your employees truly upset and offended by this, or are they just venting and want to be heard by you? If you go back to them and say “sorry, ContractManager and LocalRep say it’s not going to change, I asked” how are they going to react? Are they going to say “thank you for trying” or are they going to be really upset? I also noticed you said “some” of your employees are upset by this – do you have enough employees that you could assign 2 or 3 to dealing with invoices this vendor, and assign other employees different key vendors? Preferably ones that have some other annoyance about them, like the invoices are often wrong and require a follow-up call, etc, to spread some of the pain/annoyance around.

          Is there possibly some other religious issue that is currently a problem that is also making this one more straw in the pile on the camel’s back? For instance, the office being closed for Good Friday or Monday after Easter but not holidays for other religious? Or are the employees that are complaining about this the same employees that complain about everything, either because they are just Debbie Downers or because they try to complain to get out of doing actual work?

          Like I said, this only triggers my “eyeroll” response so far, however, if I ever had to call the company to settle an invoice and got put on hold with religious music or a religious message playing, that would put me over the edge to complain to my boss about.

        4. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Thanks for writing in. I feel very sorry for that employee.

          I would probably write to the c-suite and let them know that I, as an individual without identifying my company, was disturbed (depending on my mood, I might use the word repulsed) by that addition. If I had issues with the service at any level I might point out that marketing which appropriates a halo by implication was not going to endear me to them when I already had complaints. And, I would definitely write Matthew 6:5 on any copies of their invoices I sent back with remittance.

        5. Observer*

          I’m with Fposte on finding the “in fear for her own job” quite disturbing.

          That puts a very, very different spin on things. I do still think that your staff needs to just deal. But, if this really is an indication of where the company is going, I would really start looking for another vendor to move to when this contract is up, or if it comes to a point of expanding it. Not so much because of the quotes, but I really would be uncomfortable with the idea of doing business with a company that puts that kind of pressure on their staff.

          And, I’m with fposte, that you should keep your eyes open for things that do unequivocally cross the line.

          Lastly, I’m not in total agreement with your contracts manager. If the quotes start crossing a line of targeting groups, she most definitely CAN tell them what the cannot put on their invoices. In fact, she may have an obligation to, given how often you get these invoices.

    3. BethRA*

      This. How is processing invoices with annoying religious quotes any more a violation of someone’s conscience than making a religiously conservative county clerk issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple?

      I would see the quotes as annoying and unprofessional, too, but unless I pull a muscle rolling my eyes, it seems harmless to me.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Making a religiously conservative county clerk issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple is making them DO THEIR JOB. Unless employees at this company were specifically hired to process invoices for a religious organization, reading religous quotes every time they process an invoice is not part of the job they were hired to do.

        1. Blossom*

          But processing invoices is the account payables department’s job. I’m not aware of any rule that says they must be shielded from religious mottos on another company’s invoice. However inappropriate we might find it, the company has every right to put religious mottos on their invoices and still expect the invoices to be paid, right?

          1. LisaLee*

            Sure, and the OP’s company has every right to express their annoyance with it. The issue here isn’t the invoices getting paid–it’s whether or not to mention employees’ discomfort to the company.

          2. Jadelyn*

            As I said, unless they were hired *by a religious organization* or *to interface with other religious organizations*, they didn’t sign up to be targets of casual evangelism, regardless of whether that comes on invoices or emails or directly face-to-face. They took a job to process invoices. That generally involves reviewing for accuracy, entering into whatever system, and disposing of/filing the invoice. “Be casually evangelized at” is not part of the job description for an A/P position, which is what makes the inclusion of religious quotes when sent by a secular business to another secular business weird and inappropriate.

            1. Blossom*

              I agree it’s inappropriate, and that they’ve every right to mention it to the vendor. But since when do we need to specifically opt in to “interfacing” with religious organisations, where interfacing means glimpsing an slogan while processing an invoice, and “religious organisation” perhaps means widget supplier with an overly zealous rogue accounts clerk? What if the OP worked for a retailer and received an order from a religious group with “God bless” or “Inshallah” on the order form?

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              “Be casually evangelized at” is not part of the job description for an A/P position

              It’s not part of what I expect to find at home and yet… those Jehovah’s Witnesses still come around uninvited. There’s still religious programming on the cable that I pay for.

              It is annoying? Yes. If the quote were something else like “A Smile is Just a Frown Turned Upside Down!” or ‘Have a great day! :) ‘ would it still be annoying? Depends on the person processing the invoice.

              Is it professional for the company to do this? That’s debatable. But, it’s their company and their invoice and if they want to put religious quotations on it or use Comic Sans or print with pink ink — that’s their lookout. Unless there is some sort of legal prohibition in your jurisdiction against the publishing of religious messages on legal or business correspondence, then IMO, there’s not much anyone can do but suck it up and dismiss it as a peculiar quirk of that company/those invoices and try not to take it personally. It isn’t personal, they aren’t targeting anyone, they are just spreading “the good news” as they see fit. Sure, someone can ask that they remove that for your company in particular and if your contract is important to them, they may agree or they may not just to prove a point.

              I mean, if I was processing invoices (I used to do that) and one of them had a “Dynamic Beige, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your saviour yet? If you want to learn more, please call me. God Bless! $YourClient” note on them that would be completely inappropriate and I would say something to them about it. Some generic Bible quote, I’m going to think what I think about that, let it go and go about my day.

              1. Jadelyn*

                But if someone comes up to your home uninvited, you can slam the door in their face, you can tell them to f*** off in all kinds of colorful terms, etc. You can’t do that with a vendor at work. The power dynamic is what distinguishes this from personal-life irritations of the same type.

            3. Observer*

              “Being snowed on” is not part of most job descriptions either. Does that mean you can’t send someone to a place that’s getting snow for a business meeting?

              Assuming that this really is intended as evangelism, it’s still not obtrusive enough to warrant anyone not processing the invoices over this.

              1. Jadelyn*

                First, weather phenomena are not comparable with deliberate religious overtures, and to compare them is disingenuous at the least. Second, nobody said anything about not processing invoices – just about talking to the company about it and pointing out that it’s unprofessional, or other similar remedies.

                1. Observer*

                  Actually, they did say something about not processing invoices. They claimed they were “uncomfortable” doing so, and that they should not be “exposed to religion”.

                  I certainly agree that the company is being inappropriate in sending the invoices with these quotes. And I’m not really in agreement with the contract manager that she can’t express an opinion on the extra content on the invoice. But, in any outward facing job, being exposed to annoying and unpleasant things and behaviors is just part of the package.

                  I’d react very differently if the staff actually had to engage with this stuff.

        2. Observer*

          What Blossom says. And, unlike the clerk who actually has to do something, the AP staff do NOT have to do anything related to their religion or lack thereof. They don’t even have to read the quote!

          1. OhNo*

            You know, that’s an interesting thought. Is there any chance that whoever first receives the invoice could just black out the quote with a permanent marker?

            It sounds like they are coming pretty frequently, so that might be an unreasonable burden, but it’s something to consider if the employees are really kicking up a fuss about it. Then no one has to read it except the one person who gets it first, who would (hopefully) not mind.

            (And maybe, just maybe, the head of the other organization notices that they keep getting invoices back from XYZ Corp with the quotes blacked out and takes that into account. Unlikely, I know, but a guy can dream.)

            1. Observer*

              I love the idea. I don’t know if it’s practical, but I do like it. But, I wouldn’t want to turn this into a “thing”. I’d just love to see it happen organically.

      2. Temperance*

        Um, no, not a valid comparison whatsoever. For one, a government official’s job is to carry out his or her duties and comply with our laws, so Kim Davis refusing to do so is discriminatory and a violation of her position.

        1. BethRA*

          And dealing invoices is A/P’s job, no? I don’t have to share or support someone’s religious beliefs to process an invoice with scripture or a religious slogan on it – I’m “attesting” to the amount on the bill, not the various bits of other text the sender threw in.

          1. Jadelyn*

            But you still have a right not to be proselytized at in the course of doing your job.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t know that you do, actually. It’d be a nice one to have, but I’m not sure it exists.

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                I would say we should all have that right from the Rules of Etiquette.

                Perhaps I should try to come up with some verse a la The Goops about it.

              2. One of the Annes*

                Yeah, I’m not understanding the indignation of the employees who are processing the invoices. A private company has chosen to put religious quotations on its invoices. How is that hurting them or infringing on their rights? We’re fortunate to live in a very diverse country. Religious people are part of our country’s diversity, and if those religious people have businesses and choose to put religious quotations on their materials, that’s absolutely their right.

                That said, like Alison and others, I think it’s totally inappropriate and offputting to include religious quotations on business correspondence of any kind, but that’s not what the LW’s question was about. It seems really presumptuous for one company to tell its vendors what quotations it should or should not include on its invoices.

                And FWIW, I’m an atheist.

                1. TychaBrahe*

                  Because, frankly, if this said, “May the blessings of Krishna be upon you,” or, “As salamu aleiykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,” no one would be expected to just deal with this. The fact that a majority of people in the West are Christian does not make it any less offensive.

                2. One of the Annes*

                  TB, your response is unrelated to anything I wrote. I didn’t say anything about expecting people to “just deal with this” because the quotations are Christian quotations. Your example quotations fall squarely into the religious quotations that I noted businesses have every right to include on their materials.

                3. Achoo*

                  Euh yea,

                  Return those invoices signed with Quotes from the Koran or something along the lines of ‘Allah is God! Allah is Love, Allah is Life!’ and watch them throw a fuss over it.

                  Absolutely in our rights!

                  Though I don’t actually suggest you to do it. Business reasons :/

              3. Jadelyn*

                Given that Title VII protects against religious discrimination on the job…yeah, I would definitely say that we do.

            2. BethRA*

              If I send you an invoice on our stationary, which includes references to LGBTQ rights, would that count as “proselytizing” or “recruiting”? If someone who worked at one of our corporate sponsors wrote to AAM upset because they had to process sponsorship invoices that included “gay propaganda” how would you respond?

              1. Temperance*

                Well, for starters, the gay community isn’t in a position of social power like Christians are, so it’s not a valid comparison in any way, shape, or form. Also, any accusations of “recruiting” levied at gay people are pretty darn offensive, because that’s just one of the terrible things homophobes have levied at LGBT folks. Whereas Christians openly recruit via evangelism.

                That’s just one of the many reasons why this is not a valid comparison, and I would judge that sponsor as a homophobe and a jerk.

                1. BethRA*

                  Speaking as a lesbian who really does work for an organization involved in gay rights work, thanks, I’m pretty aware of the history of the “recruitment” libel, and the power differential. But I’m still no more vulnerable to catching “the Jesus” from a religious slogan on an invoice, than someone else is to catching “the gay” or being forced into a same-sex marriage because they have to look at our letterhead.

                  The fact that we agree with one side not the other doesn’t make this an invalid comparison.

                2. Achoo*

                  As much as I am a supporter of LGBTQ rights, I don’t think LGBTQ rights quotes belong on a company invoice neither.
                  Same with the Christian quotes

                  Not very professional.

          2. Temperance*

            Still not the same. As a taxpayer, we’re essentially paying people like Kim Davis to illegally discriminate. I think that stamping Jesus messages on invoices is rude, unprofessional, and inappropriate, but it isn’t quite as bad as a government official neglecting her taxpayer-funded duties.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I don’t get why the person feels they are attesting to something. If this is the case then a bill should not say, “Shop at Bob’s, we only sell superior products”. For her to sign a bill would mean she is attesting to the unproven fact that Bob ONLY sells superior products.

            Just because I have cash in my wallet does not automatically mean I “trust in God”. Just because I pay cash for goods and services does not automatically mean I trust in God. But my cash still has that written on there.

            1. fposte*

              I think I’d just roll my eyes, personally, but I get the feeling–it’s not like “Shop at Bob’s,” because Bob shoppers aren’t a majority that believes non-Bob shoppers are either unworthy or in desperate need of Bob. (As with the discussion below about pledges, it’s kind of interesting that it reads to some of us as boilerplate that makes the message *less* impactful.)

              I personally wouldn’t feel any different because of the signature aspect–I get that it could feel significant to somebody, but that’s the part I’m having a harder time standing with. But I do get sick of God on my money and elsewhere, and we’re not quite to the point of considering it as meaningless as the godly inspirations behind the names of the months.

    4. INTP*

      Yeah, I’m an atheist and fairly PC myself and I tend to agree. Working with outside vendors, especially if you’re working with small franchises and companies, is a lot like working with the public. And you can’t control everything the public says or writes on their invoices. It’s not appropriate for an employer to require you to be proselytized to or endure harassment based on your religion, but these are just trite quotes on an invoice. It seems unrealistic for a company to expect to manage to shield employees who interact with the world outside the company from any hint or mention of religion.

      Now, I don’t think it would be wrong per se for the company to ask the vendor to knock it off as a kind gesture towards employees who are emotionally distressed by the quotes for whatever reason. But I don’t think that any rights are being violated here.

    5. Ife*

      Logically, I understand that signing an invoice that says “Honor god in all we do” or whatever is not that big a deal, and I would probably do it without verbal complaint. But in my emotional/lizard brain, that’s like signing an invoice that says, “Go to hell.” So, that’s probably where the people who are offended by it are coming from and I can’t blame them for it.

      I do like the suggestion of suggesting that the signing employee crossing the religious statement off. That would make me feel better about it, anyway.

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, I do get why it’s bothersome on a lizard brain level. There is a contingent of religious people that feel people of their religion are morally superior to and more trustworthy than people of other religions, and those are the types that put religious material on their invoices and packaging and email signatures and whatnot. They think it’s business appropriate because it would be something THEY would like to see in a vendor. And I’m not talking out of my ass here. I sat through a family dinner recently where an aunt explained her daughter’s boss’ unethical behavior as “She’s not a believer, so you can’t expect that [ethical behavior] from her.” In parts of the country this is a common line of thought.

        So, I can’t really blame people for being triggered or annoyed or upset here, though I don’t think it rises to a point where rights are being violated or anything and still think it’s part of “inappropriate stuff you might have to tolerate from the public.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree with you. As a believer- I hate that crap. There are just as many corrupt believers as there are corrupt non-believers. Just because a person calls themselves a believer does not give them a free pass.

      2. Jinx*

        I can understand this. My initial response to the letter was “well that’s annoying, but I’d probably ignore it”. The thing is, I wonder if I just feel that way because I am Christian and I have evangelical in-laws. I don’t really care for putting scripture or God all over everything, but I’m used to it. Other than eye-rolling I usually just let it go.

        The Christmas / Easter conversation we had a couple weeks ago comes to mind – if someone from a dominant religion is acting this way and you don’t belong to that religion, stuff like this may feel more obnoxious. I think it’s tacky, personally, but I know several people with good intentions who would simply not understand how people could be offended.

        That being said, I don’t know if OP has many options. It sounds like her employer isn’t likely to support a pushback if they’re already calling her department the “pc police”. A polite note may or may not have any effect – at best they go “sure, no problem” and at worst they get offended, which could cause trouble.

        1. Jinx*

          To clarify a point, when I said its tacky I was referring to the religious notes on invoices, assuming you aren’t working at a religious institution. It doesn’t bug me to see references to people’s religion in their cube or on their person (scripture, symbols, etc.). I even have a cross necklace I wear sometimes.

          To me, there’s a difference between putting up religious things for you, like in your work area, and putting your religion in a position that’s only for other people to see, like your email siggy. It’s not a huge deal, but I’d probably view a religious email signature the same way I view the ones in pink font I get from a particular coworker. *sideeye*

    6. Ad Astra*

      “Ridiculous” is a strong word, but I agree that signing an invoice with a religious quote doesn’t really make this a bigger deal than if the religious quotes were appearing on some document that didn’t require signing. There’s no implication that those are the signer’s beliefs.

      I can understand the general discomfort about the quotes appearing on the invoice in the first place, but they’re emphasizing the signature part a little too much. If it were me, I’d just let it go for the sake of saving trouble — and I’d hope that more business owners saw posts like this and realized how off-putting this kind of thing is. But if it bothers these employees a lot more than it bothers me, it probably doesn’t hurt to at least ask the vendor about making a change. Some business owners may be including religious stuff to defy “PC culture,” but plenty of others just included it because they thought you’d like it and will happily remove it now that they know you don’t.

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I have a government job, and I’ve seen Bible quotes in email signatures and stuck on office walls. I probably could raise a stink, but I take AAM’s approach on this. I’ve got bigger issues to fight, and I don’t want to use my energy on this lest I look petty and difficult.

    It’s annoying and inappropriate, but, yeah, not interfering that much.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Govt employee here too and my goodness there are more people here that do that than I ever would have imagined. I find the e-mail ones particularly annoying, even though I am of the same faith as the individuals doing it.

      And just my two cents on the OP’s situation. I don’t think you should mention it. If this company finds it important enough to put on all outgoing invoices, and likely other communications as well, then any mention of your dissatisfaction/dislike of that is likely to offend them and potentially create a cloud of negativity over your relationship with them going forward. I don’t think it’s a big enough issue to warrant that. And you say that your department is all about diversity and inclusion….well that includes accepting that some people you interact with want to make their religious beliefs known and respecting their ability to do that. In my opinion, this is no different than accepting and including a female follower of Islam who chooses to wear a hijab to work which clearly makes her religious beliefs known. As long as it stops at the slogan and they aren’t actively preaching to you or your staff I say let it go.

      1. INFJ*

        I like the idea of thinking of it as “making one’s religion known.” I think that does a good job of expressing how non-intrusive it really is. Nonreligious people shouldn’t expect to never have to come across religious sentiment in their daily lives.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yeah, this is what I’m seeing too. And something like “honor God in all you do” isn’t expliticly denominational in any way. I’d look more askance if it was something exclusionary (ie, Know Jesus, Know Peace/No Jesus, No Peace) but that’s about as generic a religious sentiment as you can get.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think the pronoun is important. It is not “all you do.”

            It’s “all we do.”

            It’s a statement of their own beliefs. You aren’t endorsing their beliefs when you write “OK to pay” across the bottom of the invoice and sign it.

            Paying your business bills with them isn’t endorsing their faith or saying anything about your faith.

            It’s basically marketing, in some ways–and if their invoice said, “Dedicated to quality since 1894,” you wouldn’t even notice.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Well, the OP was using it as a generic example, not meaning the exact phrase itself is what’s there, so I just figured it was more in that class of generically-talking-about-God that could apply to nearly any faith, as opposed to something that’s specifically referring to a particular faith (references to Jesus, Muhammad, etc).

          2. Temperance*

            I disagree. It’s pretty clearly Christian. Muslims use Allah, and Jewish people don’t write out the word “God”.

            1. Observer*

              Eh. As an Orthodox that follows that convention, I don’t think I would see it that way. There are plenty of people who don’t follow that convention. And, while I’d be willing to bet that the person who is behind this is Christian, this didn’t read as very Christian to me, at all. It’s a sentiment that is totally in line with Jewish thought. And, I’d be willing to be with most other religions, even if it’s not something that is formally and explicitly taught.

            2. Marvel*

              “Muslims use Allah”

              Many English-speaking Muslims actually don’t. Allah is just the Arabic word for “God”; English-speaking Muslims just use the English word, a lot of the time.

        2. INTP*

          I can’t blame anyone for feeling wary of or threatened by this sort of thing, because in my experience people that feel they need to state their own religion everywhere they go DO feel it is superior. They trust people of their own religion more than others even in secular settings, and that’s why they think it’s a business asset to put bible verses on their materials or engage in other public displays of religion. It’s not like any sense of being bothered or annoyed only comes from a place of intolerance of others’ religious behavior.

          That said, I don’t think that silly quotes on invoices rises to the point that employees have a right to be shielded from it. If your job involves interaction with the world outside your company, you can’t expect your company to control every aspect of that interaction, and while the company certainly should intervene if it nears the level of harassment, I don’t think this is near that level. It’s just annoying and unprofessional.

          1. Violet Fox*

            Speaking as a non-Christian who has never had the luxury of living in an area where I am anything but part of a very tiny minority, it all of the religious quotes, religion talk on invoices that very clearly reads Christian to me also reads as I am not one of them so I am not wanted, I do not belong, etc. I actually see constant reminders of how much I do not belong, am not one of them, will never be part of the group, respected in the same way that anyone in the group automatically is as harassing.

            Then again, as I said, never had the luxury of being part of the majority enough that I could just shrug of things like this as “minor annoyances”.

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*

              And you are a perfect example of one of the people I’m thinking about when I get irritated with trite expressions of Christian hegemony. Thank you for writing your point of view.

              1. Violet Fox*

                Thank you for saying this. Been pretty nervous about saying anything due to the amount of the dissmive “get over its”.

        3. Hotsaucenmybag*

          I agree with INFJ. I’m a Christian, and we’re called to be bold in our faith. I’m also raising my daughter as such. I am mindful and remind her to be as well that not everyone shares our beliefs as we do, and to always be respectful of that. I once had a colleague who was an Orthodox Jew: I mean no pants, out of the office by 3 on Fridays, never had a cheeseburger, two sinks and two refrigerators in her kitchen Orthodox. And while we were as different as different can be in regards to our faith, we both learned a lot from one another, enjoyed some very intense discussion and remain friends although we no longer work together. I experienced a semi related situation to the OP a few years back. A mother of one of my daughter’s fellow Girl Scouts decided that she felt some type of way about her kid having to recite the GS promise which includes the line “to honor God and my country”. She wanted to know if we could change the line because her family “doesn’t really believe in anything” [sic]. I was pretty taken aback and I guess so were the other parents because no one said anything. So I did. I explained that this was the GS promise and had been since forever- the exact same one my sister and I repeated as GS years earlier. There’s no allegiance being sworn to and if your family doesn’t believe in anything then the word God is just that, a word and holds no more weight than the words book or flabbergasted. And that as they say was the end of that. And this mother and her daughter are still very active members of the troop and bring a lot to the group. All of this to say, OP let your few disgruntled staff know that this isn’t one to get into something over- and seriously if this is the absolute biggest issue they have at work, they’re among the very fortunate!

          1. Felicia*

            Girl Guides, which is the Canadian equivalent of Girl Scouts , actually removed any reference to God/faith in their pledge a few years back because it excludes families that don’t believe in God. I think “Because it’s been this way forever” is a bad reason to continue to do anything. Although it is a GS promise, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t discriminate or that it’s a good thing.

            Also according to the Girl Scout Website girls are now able to substitute the word God with faith, or beliefs, which i think is exactly the right thing.

            1. fposte*

              Agreed. You can’t on the one hand argue that it should be treated as meaningless and on the other that it’s important that it stay.

              1. Shell*

                This. As an atheist, I am very annoyed by the assumption that I should swear a vow to any religious entity for the sole reason “that verbiage has always been there.” If you argue that it would be meaningless and “just a word” to me because I’m not a believer, then it should make no difference to you if I swap it out for something non-religious since it doesn’t mean anything anyway. Keeping the word makes you (general you) feel better, not me.

                1. Hotsaucenmybag*

                  I don’t think, again in my opinion, that it’s swearing to anything. The GS promise is far more innocuous than say the Pledge of Allegiance, and I’d argue that most of us had to say it every morning in school and by the 10th week of kindergarten recited it rather robotically and with no additional thought. My feeling on this is just that the word God means something to me, because I believe it does, it’s not just a word. The words “In God we trust” printed on our $$ used by the believer and the non from east coast to west, have weight to me, but maybe not to a non-believer, however I think both sides get on with it pretty ok. I’m certainly not for forcing anything on anyone particularly not in a workplace where people generally want to do their jobs and keep it moving. I just don’t think this situation meets that “we’re inappropriately trying to force this on you” criteria. Now another post Alison had from a year or couple of years ago regarding a company that had a priest or shaman roaming the office corridors praying over unsuspecting employees, that blows it out of the water.

                2. fposte*

                  But I think you’re not realizing that you see it as innocuous *because* it aligns with your beliefs. The fact that kids are forced to say the Pledge doesn’t normalize the intrusiveness of a particular viewpoint on the minority–it just makes the entrenchment of the hegemony clearer.

                3. Shell*

                  I’m Canadian. I’ve never said the Pledge of Allegiance, and my money does not say “in God we trust.”

                  The closest I’ve come to is the Canadian national anthem, and believe me, I skip the word God every time I sing it. (The references to thy/thou/etc. I see as addressing Canada as if it were an entity, not a particular god, so I keep those.) “God keep our land glorious and free” carries the same “religious weight” as “to honour God and my country”, so I don’t say either. I’m not swearing to anything I don’t believe in.

                  Back to the OP. If I were in the OP’s position, I’d absolutely be put off by a company randomly putting religious quotes and themes on their invoices or other communications. Religious people can believe what they want, that’s fine. But unless the company is of a religious nature, which doesn’t sound like the case, the professional thing to do is to keep religious beliefs out of business. I would not put quotes about natural selection, Darwinism, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster on my invoices or in my email signature, and if I do people will rightly take me to task (religious and non-religious folks both, I bet). Similarly, I don’t want to see your “Honour God and country” where they don’t belong.

            2. Hotsaucenmybag*

              Felicia- hi from DC. I didn’t know this. We (and at least from the troops we interact with) continue to recite the promise with the “God and our country” phrase. I do wholeheartedly agree that bc something has been done forever does not mean it should continue esp if it’s found to be negative, harmful, way outdated etc. But I don’t think the promise inspires any of that. I was just making a semi comparison to the OP’s situation in that the phrase printed on the invoice, in my opinion, was not meant to proselytize and that it didn’t rise to the occasion of “let’s do something about it”.

              1. fposte*

                And “God and our country” was a problem for me in Girl Scouts and made me feel deeply unwelcome, and it bums me out to hear that it’s still there so many decades later.

              2. OlympiasEpiriot*

                That anti-communist (because that’s what it was intended to be, just like the In God We Trust and Pledge of Allegiance) line was a major thing for my parents and ensured I’d never be in Brownies nor Girl Scouts.

              3. A Cita*

                Agree with fposte’s comments on this. Also, if the words are meaningless, why even have a promise or a pledge. The whole idea behind it is that it holds meaning–it’s, well, a promise. And a pledge. Like an oath. It’s meant to be meaningful. Otherwise you just scrap the whole thing. Words have meaning. And the meaning of god in these oaths may not be, ye olde greybeard in the sky, but in fact may mean, exclusion.

                Also, can I vote we change our currency to, “in pixies we trust”? I’d be okay with “woodland nymphs” too.

                1. fposte*

                  I would vote for “We don’t trust in much these days but this is still legal tender.” Hard to squish onto a penny, I grant you, but maybe we’d get points for candor.

                2. Shell*

                  @fposte: heh, I’d just shorten that to “I trust in legal tender.” Not very patriotic, glorious, or heroic, but I think it’d speak to the masses just fine.


              4. TootsNYC*

                I’m just really alarmed that you think the word “God” doesn’t mean anything.

                It so absolutely does.
                Words mean something–that’s why we say them.

                If an organization says, “Our organization is Deist–we deliberately include God in our oath because that’s what this organization is,” they are absolutely entitled to do so, and then people who don’t believe will not feel welcome, nor will they really be welcome. Not as themselves, only as pretenders.

                This is the Missouri Synod Lutheran in me coming out–I don’t like references to God in oath, nor do I participate in prayers not being done in my faith, because it matters what we say, and what we say we believe.

                1. Hotsaucenmybag*

                  I’m not sure if you meant this for me or not but if so I 100% believe the word God means something- which is why I say it. I was just thinking that those who don’t believe in God would not necessarily take offense to using the word because the word doesn’t hold any weight. And for some this is true and for others, such as those who have commented here this is not true. And because they know themselves better than I do, I believe them.

                2. Rey*

                  We’ve run out of nest, but in answer to Hotsaucenmybag (great name, by the way), for me coming across the word “God” on an oath, in a pledge, or on my money is not really an offense, it’s just a bit jarring. It’s a little like being a woman and coming across official language somewhere that uses “men” instead of “people.” It’s just a moment of “Oh, wait, that’s not right, that’s not me.” For me, at least, on their own none of these instances is a big deal, it’s just that it happens over and over again, these little reminders that I’m different and I don’t belong, even in places where I *should* belong, like a classroom or a courtroom. And then, of course, because these are such little, commonplace, ubiquitous things that have been in place for such a long time, I get to play the game of deciding whether to mention that it bothers me (and be making a big deal out of nothing) or lying about myself, tucking an important part of me away so that I don’t have to make a fuss. After a while, it adds up.

          2. Not me*

            There’s no allegiance being sworn to and if your family doesn’t believe in anything then the word God is just that, a word and holds no more weight than the words book or flabbergasted.

            I’m sorry, but I really disagree here. I have to lie every time I recite something like this (like the Pledge in school). Being agnostic doesn’t mean I’m okay with doing that.

            1. Hotsaucenmybag*

              Not Me- I’d like to ask you this and you are free to not answer, I’m just genuinely curious. If you don’t agree with the pledge of allegiance, I’m assuming you mean the part “one nation under God” do you just not recite that part? A for instance would be my dad is Catholic, and in his church they always recite the Nicene creed and there’s a line that says something to the effect of “we believe in one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.” Well while my family is Christian, my mother, siblings and I all belonged to a Baptist church and we’d just remain silent on that line. I was just wondering if you say the parts you agree with and stay silent on the ones you don’t? Again, I’m asking out of polite curiosity and you’re more than welcome to not reply.

              1. Denise*

                Not that it matters tot he point that you were making, but the “catholic” in the Nicene creed is lowercase “c” not uppercase “C”. It is “catholic” meaning “universal” rather than the Roman Catholic Church. It is inclusive of all those who are baptized.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  I’m Lutheran–so very much not Roman Catholic, and we use “catholic.”

                  It’s not a term that gets used often (my mom used to say, “I have very catholic tastes in books,” meaning she’d read anything).

              2. OlympiasEpiriot*

                I disagree with the entire premise of a pledge of allegiance to a material symbol. From a political point of view I think it is a brain washing techniques and from a religious point of view i think it is idolatry.

                1. blackcat*


                  I share very, very few beliefs in common with my fundamentalist* christian cousin, but the belief that the pledge of allegiance is inappropriate for schools is one.

                  *She agrees with the label “fundamentalist”

              3. BananaPants*

                This is way off-topic, but as a Protestant we recite the Nicene Creed and Apostles’ Creed using ‘catholic’ with a small ‘c’. With that spelling it has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic church and is understood as a synonym for “universal”. We’re not saying that we’re Roman Catholic when we recite those creeds – at least that’s the case in the Lutheran context.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  We were taught that catholic means universal, not Roman Catholic. The nuns said told us that in grammar school. I don’t understand why they just don’t change the word to “universal” so people would not be confused by it.

              4. INeedToDecideOnAHandleClearly*

                I can’t speak for Denise, only for myself. I’m an atheist and I simply don’t say “under god” when I recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m swearing to uphold my country but I’m not going to invoke something I don’t believe in. If I’m reciting with others, it means there’s a pause in my pledge as others chant “under god” in unison. If I were ever asked to lead the pledge, I would go straight from “one nation” to “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

                I feel like any attempt to ask me to use “under god” or “so god help me” or anything like that is asking me to swear that I uphold something I don’t believe in. So I refuse to say such words. It *is* a big deal.

                1. Hotsaucenmybag*

                  And if we happened to be sitting beside one another at a ball game or something I probably wouldn’t notice that you omitted those phrases just as you’d likely not notice that I recited them. And even if we had noticed, I wouldn’t think to change my seat and I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t either. And we’d sit there and cheer for our team and maybe high five and that’d be that.

                2. TootsNYC*

                  As a non-atheist, I totally agree with INeedToDecideOnAHandleClearly.

                  It *is* a big deal.

              5. Not me*

                You’re right that I could just not say that part.

                For another example, I had to recite and sign a sort of honesty pledge in college (basically an “I won’t plagiarize” statement). Students who did not do this could be expelled. Unfortunately, it had religious references in it, and so I lied in the honesty pledge.

                These little things add up to an overall impression of being assumed to either A) not exist, or B) be fine with going through the motions of someone else’s religion (which is also IMO degrading to those who are genuinely religious).

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*


                  In my case, I don’t take oaths. Taking an oath implies there is truth and then Truth. There aren’t two kinds of honesty.

                2. nonegiven*

                  I don’t know what to do if I have to testify in court. They make you put your hand on the bible and say “so help me god.” They want me to promise to tell the truth by reciting a lie.

          3. BananaPants*

            The official GSUSA policy is that members may substitute wording appropriate to their belief (or non-belief) for “To serve God” in the Promise. This has been the case for over 20 years. Girls should not be dissuaded from modifying the Promise in this way just because “this is how it’s always been done”.

            Apparently the new – and very much optional – “My Promise, My Faith” award has been earned by girls who identify as agnostic or atheist. Our daughter’s Daisy troop doesn’t do My Promise, My Faith but we’re working with her to earn it individually (we’re mainline Protestants).

            1. fposte*

              It’s better than nothing, but I don’t think that’s a terrific improvement; it requires little girls to be willing to visibly deviate from the official norm in front of their peers. Ditto the “You can interpret ‘God’ however you want” guideline; that’s kind of like using “men” instead of “people” and telling women they are free to consider the term to include them.

              1. Hotsaucenmybag*

                BananaPants- yes my daughter’s troop has the same thing and it’s totally optional. And fposte- no girl in our troop is ever intentionally made to “deviate from the norm in front of her peers”. But yeah I agree for better or worse it can happen. My own daughter has gotten questioned because she says her grace at lunch before she eats. She wasn’t teased per se, but according to her there were questions about why she was doing what she was doing, and she answered because she thanks God for her food. And those kids are ok, and my kid is ok. And it’s been a couple years now and she still eats lunch with pretty much the same group of kids and she still prays over her meal and the majority of them don’t (I’ve popped in during lunch and seen this) and all parties included keep it moving.

                1. fposte*

                  When you say “no girl in our troop is ever intentionally made to “deviate from the norm in front of her peers,” what do you mean? Not saying “God” is deviating from the norm if her peers are all saying “God,” and it’s pretty tough to claim that’s a viable equivalent.

              2. Hotsaucenmybag*

                Fposte I’m actually replying to your reply below, but there was no reply button down there. What I meant by no girl is ever intentionally made to deviate from the norm in front of the other girls is that while we recite the promise and the word God is included- if she stays silent during that portion or inserts another word or something that she’s more comfortable with no one is going to call her out because of that. There are girls of varying degrees of faith and there are girls that are completely non religious represented in our troop (very similar to a workplace) and no one is singled out because of this.

                1. fposte*

                  Right, but she’s still deviating from the norm by remaining silent–that’s my point. What you’re saying is that girls aren’t picked on for deviating from the norm, which is good, but they’re still visibly deviating from the norm.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I sure wouldn’t have “faith” in any wording for atheists or agnostics!

              As a person of faith, that offends me. And I would think that most atheists wouldn’t like it much.

              “My Promise, My Values,” maybe.

              There -is- a meaning of “faith” that is “promise,” but it’s very archaic and not much used.
              a : an assurance, promise, or pledge of fidelity, loyalty, or performance
              “gave his faith that he would come on the appointed day”

              — often used in the phrases to keep faith or to break faith

              b : fidelity to one’s promises : allegiance to a duty or a person : sincerity or honesty of intentions : loyalty
              — often used with the qualifiers good or bad to specify a state of mind of one trying to be honest and faithful
              [“observed perfect good faith and strictly fulfilled their engagements — Marjory S. Douglas”]
              or of one trying to deceive, mislead, or defraud
              [“accused him of bad faith”]

              1. Kelly L.*

                I wouldn’t say it’s archaic at all–it’s used all the time in constructions like “good-faith guarantee,” “arguing in bad faith,” and when talking about marital fidelity.

              2. Not me*

                Some religions can include atheists and agnostics. I know I’ve heard of Jewish and Buddhist atheists, for example. And there seem to be a lot of agnostics who don’t know the word “agnostic,” but that’s turning into a derail. :)

                I’m okay with it meaning “faith” as in “belief,” which could be anywhere from religious beliefs to related or unrelated values. But I wouldn’t know if it was intended that way.

                1. fposte*

                  Then there are the number of atheists who can’t spell “atheist.” (Always makes me want to claim to be even athier.)

              3. TychaBrahe*

                I’m an atheist. I have faith in a lot of things. It’s just that none of them are gods.

            3. Nancypie*

              That’s interesting…it may be their policy but I don’t remember ever hearing it in any of the trainings I’ve gone to. I suppose we’d have to seek out that information. That being said – we have girls who stay silent during the God part of the GS promise and the pledge and that’s totally fine.

          4. BethRA*

            I think there’s a big difference between signing/coding and invoice that has a religious message on it, and actually having to speak an oath to god. One is about how I respond to someone else’s profession of faith (or their values), the latter makes me literally profess a faith I don’t share.

            I may be an atheist, but the fact that I don’t believe in god doesn’t mean that the word has no meaning or impact. And I believe you’re genuine in feeling that using that word should hold no meaning and thus not be offensive, but I’m going to suggest that because it’s part of a faith tradition you embrace, you may not be the best judge of how it feels to others.

            1. Hotsaucenmybag*

              Then I suppose my next question would be then what does it mean? And you’re absolutely correct I’m not the best judge of how it feels to others which is why I would never force anyone to say it if they were opposed.

              1. BethRA*

                God means god. The word has the same general meaning for both of us, I just don’t share the belief that god exists. And asking someone to swear to allegiance to something they don’t believe in a) privileges your belief system over theirs and b) asks them to make a false profession.

          5. Anon-ish*

            As far as referencing that deistic phrase in the Pledge of Allegience (and possibly the GS promise, not sure) as personal or not holding more weight than the speaker meant – the problem with that is, is that it was *deliberately intended to be offensive*. Deliberately intended. It was not included as an empty promise, nor as a profession of the faith of those who meant it, it was not sincere, it was originally intended to be an active attack on those who did not mean it – “godless communists” and atheists and people of the “wrong” faiths.

            It was meant to send the message to these sorts of people that they were excluded and unwelcome – and further, it was meant to be a means to identify and target them. At the time, it was understood that anyone who protested, or who simply omitted the words, or who perhaps said them but not like they meant them, might fall under suspicion of being a communist or atheist… with personal and even legal consequences. They might be questioned, investigated, arrested, fired, banned from professions or areas, and more. People were required to say the pledge then, including “under god”, so that people could watch for those reluctant or defiant, and they could be reported and persecuted.

            Nowadays, it may be safe to mouth the words without meaning. It may be safe to simply not say them. It can no longer be required to demand that phrase be spoken, or face severe consequences. It may, maybe, be even safe for people to mean the words sincerely, for someone who chooses to do so. But the words, that oath you hold so inoffensive, themselves came out of a profound *hatred*, and an intended violence towards people who did not believe what you believe. Even if they still weren’t *still* isolating and marginalizing those who didn’t believe, even if it wasn’t a constant reminder that those who don’t follow that religion are not welcome, I would still reject that phrase because of the violence at its origins.

            And, getting back to the original problem a bit… religious quotes are really problematic because they send the message that other people are not welcome. And they are part of a cultural acceptance, a cultural invisibility, that makes other people less welcome. Quotes on an invoice don’t do any harm except make people feel offended, or unsafe. But quotes everywhere do exclude people. And when they’re everywhere, and not noticed or not minded (or people *aren’t allowed* to mind because “it’s inoffensive”) people let it creep further and further, until they can have actual consequences – my literature SAT II had ten or fifteen outright religious questions, because “bible is literature” (funnily enough, I did not see questions from other people’s religious works, despite some of their being quite literary), which of course changed my scores. because of my religion. Maybe people didn’t notice it was problematic because the odd religious quote on a blackboard or religiously themed extra credit question was unquestioned by people who were afraid to seem “too sensitive”. Or they let the quotes go until people lose their jobs, because because they weren’t comfortable saying religiously charged statements, which makes them stand out because “everyone else does it” – or who might fear to lose their jobs if they object to religious business practices, like the people at the company which started putting quotes on their invoices.

          6. Ellie*

            In “Scouting for Boys” by Robert Baden-Powell (the book that outlined the program that modern scouting developed out of), there was a section that stated that participants should be allowed to substitute the line “to render service to my country” if their beliefs didn’t support saying the “to serve God” part so it’s not necessarily true that ‘this it how it’s always been’. I’m a little disappointed because I feel like at the very least we should be more inclusive than over a hundred years ago in this regard.

      2. EvanMax*

        I think there is a difference here between a hijab and an outgoing religious message. A Muslim woman wearing a hijab isn’t wearing it to proclaim a message to others, she is wearing it for her own personal observance, just like a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke, or a Catholic person with ash on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, etc. A religious message on an invoice is not about personal observace, it is about sending a message to others.

        I still think that Alison is right here, that it is inappropriate, but within tolerable allowances, but whereas this invoice message is inappropriate, there is nothing inappropriate about a Muslim woman wearing her hijab to work.

        Sorry to quibble over such a fine point, I just think we run the risk of becoming intolerant when we don’t differentiate the various levels of tolerance that different things deserve. Personal observance that has zero effect on others (like an article of clothing) shouldn’t be lumped in with attempts to “spread the word”.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*


          Huge difference between religious symbolic garb and phrases written on invoices.

      3. KR*

        This – tolerance and acceptance isn’t about eliminating differences, it’s about being respectful of people’s differences. I don’t think that if someone signs an invoice with a religious slogan that they are endorsing that religion. They’re just paying a vendor who happens to include religious sayings on their invoices.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      When I’ve been “behind the scenes” in a government office as a customer, say, talking with an employee at their desk, I’m put off by religious displays in their cubicle but I’m not going to say anything. But when I was at the post office mailing a holiday package and the clerk has put a big hand-written, heart-shaped sign on the outside of her station, facing the customers waiting in line that says, “JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!” then I’m absolutely lodging a complaint. That’s foisting it on the public [a captive audience, might I add], which is a big no-no.

      1. AMG*

        I feel this way about bumper stickers. I’m a relatively captive audience and absolutely must know who a random stranger is voting for this November. Um, okay thanks for that critical information.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Precisely. This is exactly how I feel too.

        I still cringe when I see Bible quote signatures on emails that go to external people, but I can’t see myself acting unless I see an attempt to proselytize.

    3. One of the Annes*

      I would roll my eyes at a religious quotations in business correspondence from a private company, but I think use of religious quotes in email signatures by government employees using their government email accounts should be shut down by a supervisor immediately. Use of a religious quotation in a government employee’s signature has too much of the whiff of state-sponsored proselytizing.

  7. 42*

    I’d expect in in the future, roll my eyes each time, and move on with my day. There are much bigger fish to fry IMO.

  8. Not Today Satan*

    I know this isn’t Alison’s first suggestion, but I have to say I’m a little perplexed by “I don’t feel right requiring them to encounter religious materials in the course of doing their work.” Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in communities with religious diversity, but I just can’t imagine having the standard of, “I can’t encounter religious materials at work.” It’s a vendor, not their own employer, so it’s not like encountering the invoice could ever be interpreted as their own endorsement of the religious expression.

    1. Roscoe*

      Agreed. If someone had an email or voice mail saying “Have a blessed day” would they have a similar problem. Encountering religion isn’t the same as being forced to agree with it.

    2. Anna*

      That’s what I was thinking. This is an outside company that the OP’s employer really has no control over.

      I am curious though. The OP says the sentiments “started” appearing. Were they not there before? Because if that’s the case, then it’s possible this is an AP person thing and not a company-culture thing. Which might give you an in.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      This is my sticking point. Would the OP refuse to work with religious organizations to shield her employees?

      1. Temperance*

        I absolutely would, and I think this is common. There is a nonprofit in my area that does a lot of good, but they are explicitly Christian and while they allow non-Christian volunteers, they partner you with a Christian so the client can have their “spiritual needs” met as well. I do not work with this organization, and do not offer it as a volunteer opportunity.

        1. Sarah Good*

          So you deny someone the opportunity to volunteer with a Christian Charity because you don’t want your employees to risk being stained by Christianity? Should I wear a Scarlet A on my shirt so you know I might accidentally say something religious on your property? Do I need to remove my cross & claddagh ring for fear you might be traumatized?

          1. fposte*

            That seems a little extreme. Temperance isn’t stopping anybody from volunteering, but she presumably can only provide for a select number of volunteer opportunities through her workplace.

            1. Temperance*

              This is exactly how it works. If someone wants to work at that org, they are welcome to, but I’m not going to sponsor it as an official volunteer opportunity.

          2. Temperance*

            WOW. Calm the persecution complex and reread my comment. A large part of my job is finding volunteer opportunities for my coworkers to do through our company. An organization that requires all volunteers to either be Christian or work directly with a Christian so the group can pray, in a Christian church environment, is absolutely not appropriate for a large non-faith-based organization.

            If this group didn’t require all volunteers to either BE a Christian or sit through Christian prayer, and was just run by people living their faith, it would be one thing. This is not that. I regularly work with a different faith-based nonprofit that does not require, or even ASK, whether volunteers are of their religion.

    4. mskyle*

      Yeah, do these people drive out of their way to avoid seeing quotes on church signs? I’m a cheerful atheist, and although I would roll my eyes at something like this (I’ve also seen religious material at the bottom of takeout menus and on drycleaner receipts), I don’t really care if people want to express their faith so long as they’re not hurting anyone.

      1. Temperance*

        Not a valid comparison, because the workplace should theoretically be secular unless explicitly religious.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Because, assuming the OP is based in the U.S., this is a secular society which holds as one of its founding values freedom of religion – and that includes freedom to be non-religious.

            1. KR*

              But freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom FROM religion. Assuming the company isn’t forcing people that work there to convert to their preferred religion, they don’t really need to be secular. People can choose to work elsewhere if they don’t want to encounter that religion in their workplace. I can totally see where a government agency should be secular because of the freedom of religion value in government, but private companies can and should be able to hold whatever values they want as long as they aren’t discriminatory.

              1. Jadelyn*

                That’s the problem, though – “as long as they aren’t discriminatory”, and a case can be made (and is being made by many people in this thread) that requiring potentially non-Christian or non-religious employees to be casually proselytized at in the course of their job is a microaggressive form of discrimination.

                1. fposte*

                  I’m the one who brought up microaggressions, but I think this is taking the point to an unproductive and unnecessarily adversarial direction. I don’t think it is discriminatory to allow your staff to have invoices with signatures on them.

                  I do think that it’s understandable that people aren’t crazy about reading them and that it might be worth talking to the vendor.

                2. Observer*

                  To be honest – and as someone who has encountered both micro-agressions and overt hostility over religion, I have to say that the arguments made are highly unpersuasive.

                  I’m not going to repeat everything I said, but the reality is that just because someone complains about something doesn’t make that thing a micro-aggression to require the employer to take major actions over it.

                3. fposte*

                  @Observer–and the hair I’d split is that it can be a microaggression (and I think it is) but that doesn’t mean the employer is required to take action.

              1. fposte*

                Well, the Constitution does–it’s not like a private business could decide to ignore the Supreme Court–but the First Amendment doesn’t because it’s explicitly about limits on the government.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  And you’ll note I did not reference the First Amendment anywhere – my comment was about cultural values, not specific laws.

            2. AnotherFed*

              Actually, all that’s in the Constitution is that the federal government cannot mandate any particular religious beliefs/participation. There’s absolutely nothing about being free from religion, or restricting the freedom of speech of other people because you don’t want to hear something religious. Seriously, if that were true, don’t you think the door-to-door missionaries would’ve been stopped ages ago?!?!

              1. Jadelyn*

                I wasn’t talking about the Constitution, I was talking about our collective cultural values. And door-to-door missionaries are completely different, since they’re approaching you in your home and you’re free to slam the door in their faces. The person working A/P can’t slam the metaphorical door in this vendor’s face. The power dynamics of a workplace are what make this different.

            3. Observer*

              There is a difference between the freedom to be non-religious and requiring all businesses to be secular.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Workplaces are staffed by people. Some of them have religious beliefs that affect how they operate. Many religious people see religion as a part of their entire life. That includes the workplace. To tell them to leave it at the door is actually telling them NOT to practice their religion.
          The issue is magnitude and how much it impacts others. In the case above the magnitude is small and the impact small.

            1. Jadelyn*

              And at what point, then, is their “freedom” to bring their religion to work infringing on my freedom to bring my lack of religion to work?

                1. fposte*

                  I’m inclined to agree with you there, EG, and while I think you and I would draw that line at different places, I think we’re together on the unworkability of zero tolerance.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  @fposte, and this is something that concerns me, I don’t think zero is doable on any issue, not just this one. Most certainly, we can work at things and do better than what we are doing, I am not saying that we should give up and stop. But I do think that it’s a disservice to encourage people that zero is reachable and will be happening soon. The deck is stacked against that- there are too many people and too many diverse opinions in our country/world.

                  Back to our OP, sadly, if OP cannot find a solution and the other employee is not satisfied then that employee may have to leave the job. Which is not the answer we want to arrive at. It’s up to the employee to decide if this is a deal breaker. Maybe the employee will be satisfied that OP tried to do something but it was beyond her control. I prefer to advocate for a person to remain in place rather than be unemployed. But sometimes things have to go in a different direction.

          1. A Cita*

            I’m an atheist and I can agree with this. I don’t like seeing these kinds of quotes, at all, and I think we have different levels of tolerance about these things (given our respective non/beliefs). However, in this case, if the OP thinks the magnitude is great enough (given number of complaints), I can see them saying something to the vendor. OP should just know, if invoices are printed on pre-printed forms, it may not be so easy to remove the quote.

            Also: I’m also going to start adding to my email signature: “Save the Unicorns!” since we’re all entitled to express believe in whatever magical creatures we want. Plus, mine is cuter.

          2. Temperance*

            There’s a huge difference between banning all religious expression and banning evangelizing, though. Bible verses in email signatures and on invoices = evangelism. A Bible verse calendar or wearing a cross or praying privately at work = not evangelism.

            My rights to not be preached to are just as valid as the rights of someone to express their Christian beliefs in an appropriate, professional manner. I work with a few Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, and only know about their beliefs due to their holiday restrictions at work.

    5. Rat in the Sugar*

      Yeah, that seems a little silly. If OP is in the US, we have freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM it, as someone mentioned above. People slap religious quotes of all kinds on all sorts of things, and many products come from organizations or companies associated with religion.

      I mean, you can absolutely choose not to associate with any company that has any mention of religion on their materials at all, if that’s what you really want. I personally don’t usually go to places that have Chrisitian as part of their name since it always feels sort superfluous to me (because Christian Karate, seriously? What even is that? How is it different from any other karate??), but I feel like if you avoid any mention at all you could be limiting your choice of vendors.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Wait, so Christian Karate is actually like a thing? I see one sign for it in my neighborhood and I was pretty sure (read: hoping) that it was just like one person was blending their totally-unrelated interests in some wacky way, like the Christian barber up the street.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          I don’t know where you’re at, but here in Northern Florida I’ve seen more than one. All decked out in red, white and blue too, natch. I honestly have no idea what makes it different besides the quotes on the walls. Maybe each kick brings a blessing? “Bless-yaaaaaa!”

          1. OhNo*

            As an aside: the red-white-and-blue motif is actually really common among a lot of different martial arts places, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, the art taught, or anything else, and I have no idea why. Do they think we will see a sign for tae kwon do and forget we’re in the US or something?

            1. TychaBrahe*

              Red, white, blue, and black are the colors of the flag of The Republic of Korea. Taekwondo originated in Korea.

          2. Sarah Good*

            Oh good. You don’t understand something or think someone who has faith should be mocked. Nice tolerance for others there.

            Yes, it is a “real thing”; yes, people think it is important to make a distinction (wouldn’t want you to be scared if someone uses “Jesus” as a blessing not a blasphemy).
            Stop telling me I have to stop practicing my relion.

      2. Brianna*

        Does karate have a spiritual component to it? I haven’t heard of Christian karate, but I’ve heard of Christian yoga.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          No, when I’ve done true yoga it was extremely spiritual to the point of feeling religious and making me a wee bit uncomfortable, but I never got similar vibes from karate.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yoga, as it originated, is a Hindu spiritual practice. My personal jury’s still out on whether “Christian yoga” is syncretism or appropriation.

            1. Chinook*

              “I remember wondering whether as a Christian I could even DO yoga.”

              I checked this out before inviting a yoga instructor to my local Catholic Women’s League and, for Catholics, the answer is “yes you can” as long as you don’t follow the more intense spiritual practices like chanting phrases you don’t know the meaning of. There is nothing wrong with deep breathing and chanting “OM” or in doing any of the movements. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.

          1. fposte*

            Though it looks like Christian and other Western influences had a lot to do yoga’s becoming a thing in the nineteenth century–the original sutras were apparently not really the source of interest and have been largely rediscovered as a response to the more recent stuff. Like anything cultural anywhere, it’s a complicated thing.

        3. Chinook*

          “Does karate have a spiritual component to it?”

          It can if it embraces the Japanese culture that goes with it. Often a dojo, if the sensei was trained by a master in Japan, will have a small altar/shrine somewhere to the previous masters. I have trained in Kubodo (karate with weapons) with a Canadian sensei who did this and I never felt pressured to take part in the spiritual aspect beyond treating that corner with respect (which meant bowing when I entered and left). But, honestly, if he did insist on prayer during that time and I really wanted to train with him, then I would have prayed my own prayer and crossed myself out of habit. And, if he had a problem with that, then I would have decided my faith practice is more important that than the training (but that is me).

          DH tried going to a Christian karate club, sponsored by one of the local Protestant churches, and he said it was overtly Christian in that they had prayers and readings during their practices. It made him uncomfortable as all he wanted to do was train. Plus it was obvious that they weren’t connected with one of the international organizations, so a black belt from there wasn’t special.

  9. Roscoe*

    Would this be only affecting your department or the entire company. If it was just your department, I’d be more on board with talking to the company (although as others have said, I think the co-workers are overreacting here). However, if its affecting the whole company, I’d just let it go. If you already have that reputation as the PC police, and this being a relatively minor thing, I think it could look worse for your department in the long run.

  10. Bend & Snap*

    I would hate this, but any religious talk annoys me to a very high degree.

    This is a vendor, not a customer, so they should be willing to accommodate that request.

    1. Minion*

      Just curious: religious talk in the workplace? Or just religious talk in general? And things like saying, “Bless you” after you sneeze or more in-depth conversations like, “Hi, Bend, I’d just like to take a moment to talk to you about my lord and savior Jesus Christ. Have you accepted him into your heart?” I mean, I guess I can infer that the more in-depth conversation would be the more annoying, but I’m curious about smaller things like “bless you”.

      Just FYI – I’m not trying to debate religion or argue with you about your level of annoyance. I’m genuinely curious.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Religious talk in general. there’s a difference between “I went to church this weekend” (fine) and “have you found a church family?” (Recently asked of me at work and Not Fine).

        I don’t want to be preached to or questioned.

        Bless you for a sneeze is mainstream and benign.

        I’m agnostic and minored in religious studies in college so I’m not anti religion. I’m just anti evangelizing.

        1. Minion*

          Thanks for answering. I get the anti-evangelizing sentiment.

          In other news, I put the word “curious” in my comment three times. Not sure why that’s noteworthy, but I read it again and it annoyed me.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          “have you found a church family?”
          “Actually,I’m not interested in that.”
          I get it that people’s assumptions can be annoying. But it is so simple to correct their misperceptions. Don’t get offended. Politely establish a boundary instead.

          1. Marvel*

            In my experience, if someone’s assuming that of COURSE you must go to church, they’re not going to react well to “actually, I don’t.” Often, they’re going to look at you like you’re Satan himself. That can be really offputting and upsetting for those of us who just want to go through our lives peacefully non-Christian without being looked down upon for it.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              Own it. People get looked down on for every ideology ever invented. Going to church. Not going to church. Guaranteed that there is someone that disaproves of what you do. You can’t please everyone so don’t expect everyone’s approval.

              1. Marvel*

                I’m really not a fan of your tone here–you’re not me, so please don’t tell me what to do about my own emotions.

                I DO, for the record, own it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t upset me.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  Other people’s opinions can indeed be upsetting. That’s especially true if they are radically different than our own. That said, it is unreasonable to control and limit the speech of others just because we are uncomfortable with it.
                  Diversity includes the beliefs and opinions that you hate as much as the ones you agree with.

                2. fposte*

                  @Engineer Girl: We talk about that a little downthread–I think that’s not really true. Obviously using terms like “inclusivity” as a watchword is sometimes just asking to be backed into a corner, but I think that diversity does not actually require the unbounded toleration of different beliefs. What I do think is worth championing is the toleration and inclusion of *people* with different beliefs, and awareness that the hegemonic beliefs, positions, and memberships come with a power imbalance. And there’s no easy answer of how to do that when beliefs clash, which is why we have to work it out anew and eternally. Which I don’t necessarily see as a bad thing, because humanity is always changing, and working out new ways to deal with one another in light of that beats retreating into our individual caves and never talking to people in the other ones.

                3. Marvel*

                  And I think it’s perfectly valid to place reasonable limits on speech in certain situations (i.e., for an employer to ask that people refrain from making assumptions regarding religion in the workplace). This is already something we do quite a lot–sexual speech, for instance, is highly regulated in work environments.

                4. Marvel*

                  Whoops. Posted too soon.

                  Anyway, I was going to say: I find your tone very condescending, though, so I’m going to end my part in this discussion here.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Interesting. (Tangent) I have said it in regard to other things- but I do believe it’s really important not to carry other people’s emotions for them. If a person is upset because you go to church/don’t go to church or eat meat/don’t eat meat that is their upset. Try to separate out how much is their emotions that they are responsible for and refuse to deal with their emotions for them.

            2. Chalupa Batman*

              For other Christians as well. I’m a Christian, but I’m very uncomfortable in churches. I’ve tried several. When it comes up and I politely decline, I’m usually met with a combination of insistence that their church is different and thinly veiled contempt at the suggestion that I believe I can worship just as well without a “church family.” I have yet to find a way to say “your church is not different, I will not like it, and I already know this” that is well received, so I usually redirect as soon as the subject of church attendance comes up. I don’t have anything against church, but I do not enjoy it. Of course, I feel the same about people’s gyms and favorite restaurants, too. That discussion doesn’t usually end with the implication that not being that interested in Brazillian barbecue will result in my going to Hell, though.

              (Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but in all seriousness, I do feel like my faith in general is being questioned pretty much every time the topic comes up, and it’s very hurtful. I love that you want to share something important to you with me, but not if it means that you’ll treat me like I’m less than when I politely decline.)

              1. KR*

                I loosely associate with Christianity and I hate church mainly because of the social anxiety caused by fellowship and spreading the word and the lowkey sexism. I don’t see a lot of religious people anymore except when I’m with my boyfriend’s family, but if I run into people I used to go to church with they always interrogate me as to why I don’t go anymore. I wish people would just leave others be when it came to their religion.

          2. Violet Fox*

            My experiences are that is never done after “Actually I am not interested in that”, that opens the door for more evangelism, and that is much of the problem.

          3. Jadelyn*

            Why should it be my responsibility to (re)establish a boundary, rather than their responsibility not to pry into something as personal and non-work-related as my religious activities?

            1. Engineer Girl*

              Because boundaries are different for different people. If the other person doesn’t know you they don’t know where your boundary is at. You can’t be (re)enforcing boundaries if you haven’t established it with that person in the first place. They aren’t mind readers and boundaries are not universally established across the universe.
              Cross my boundary once and I’ll let you know it is there. Cross it again and I’ll politely and kindly enforce it.

              1. Jadelyn*

                My point is that IN THE WORKPLACE, it should be an already understood boundary that you don’t pry into people’s religious lives, and crossing that boundary by asking someone about their churchgoing habits should be considered rude and boorish in the same way that it’s an understood boundary that you don’t bring super-stinky foods and eat them at your desk in an open office (or similar unspoken courtesy rules of your average office).

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  YOU think that. In my workplace we talked about religion on occasion. We had Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics. One guy even did a brown bag about his pilgrimage to Mecca. I thought it was interesting. And because I actually talked to the people about their religion I learned more about them.

      2. anonanonanon*

        I do get uncomfortable when people say “bless you” after I sneeze and I never say it after when other people sneeze. But I don’t really see the need to comment on people sneezing in the first place. No one says “bless you” when you cough or hiccup or anything else, so I never really understood the point.

              1. heatherskib*

                If it’s a really great one a look of stunned disbelief is appropriate as well. Then again, that could be said for religious quotes at the bottom of invoices too. See what I did there- brought it full circle. ;)

  11. anonanonanon*

    I find adding a religious quote to a business invoice just as inappropriate and uncomfortable as people who sign emails “God bless” or have religious quotes hanging up in their office/cubicle or as their email signature. As long as they’re not forcing that message on me, I just try my best to ignore it and pretend it’s not there. It’s unfortunate that people in the majority religion don’t have to think twice about a simple religious quote or saying making others uncomfortable, but I’ve learned there’s not much I can do about it. Yes, it makes me uncomfortable to say “thank you” when someone says “bless you” after I sneeze or says “you’re in my prayers”, but I think most of it is done with genuinely good intentions and I’ve unfortunately learned some people get offended if you try to address that you’re a different religion or not religious.

    I think addressing it is more likely to cause a headache since someone is going to end up offended at either end of the scale. It wouldn’t hurt to ask the company to remove it, but I think you have to be prepared for a delicate conversation.

    1. Lady Kelvin*

      I try not to get annoyed when people say “you’re in my prayers” when something unfortunate is going on in my life. I just remind myself that this is making them feel better about either not being able to do anything about it and wanting to, or not wanting to actually do anything but feel like they should be doing something. When people say it to me I say “thank you” and think “whatever makes you feel better”. It helps get past the annoyance of people assuming you share their religion.

      1. anonanonanon*

        Yeah. I try not to get annoyed either, but it’s hard when you’re already emotional. I think “you’re in my thoughts” is a nice, neutral way to express the same thought.

        I have more of an issue with people who update people on something bad going on and say, “please keep us in your prayers” because “you’re in my prayers” is more them acknowledging the use of their religion to think of you whereas “please keep us in your prayers” assumes everyone prays.

        The only saying I really can’t hold back emotion on is “God does everything for a reason”. I find that particular saying to someone in grief incredibly rude.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          The only saying I really can’t hold back emotion on is “God does everything for a reason”. I find that particular saying to someone in grief incredibly rude.

          That and “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Those are just awful things to say to somebody.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I hate these! Also, when people say something to survivors like, ” God must have saved you for a reason.” Does that mean everyone else got what they deserved…?

            1. fposte*

              There is that jawdropping urban legend about the 2000 Alaska Airlines crash that says the few minutes where the plane stabilized was because the “wife of a pastor” was praying over the cabin intercom. Since the plane nosedived into the ocean right after that, that’s not quite the advertisement for God that the tellers seem to think.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                There’s a heartbreaking Story Corps narrative from a woman who survived 9/11. She discusses how many people mentioned that God saved her for a reason and how she couldn’t believe that because it meant he let everyone else die…

                1. Hobbits! The Musical*

                  Yes so much to this thought thread – I’ve been having a *really* difficult time for 15 years because I felt there had to be a reason why I survived a car crash but my mum (and others) didn’t; did that in fact mean there was no reason they should live? Or also that someone decided I could “handle” loss if loved ones and potential careers (no longer physically/ mentally/ emotionally possible).

                  I get very hulk smash-y towards suggesters of this.

                  On a tangent, please ignore/delete if straying too far: I get REALLY grumpy when biblical historians and/or archaeologists link the 10 plagues/Exodus to Santorini. They happened concurrently (maybe) but I find it really *off* to suggest that the Minoans and others were annihilated to prove a point to an Egyptian non-believer.

            2. anonanonanon*

              Yes, that type of comment always shocks me, too. It comes off as so insensitive.

        2. Observer*

          Well, lots of deeply religious people find that rude too – even ones who actually believe it. There is a time and place for everything, and a discussion of G-d’s ways and reasons is NOT an appropriate response to someone’s grief. Blech!

        3. Emily Procter*

          And hard times can bring on a crisis of faith, even for devout people!

          When I was going through the worst time in my life and people told me that “god has a reason for everything”, my takeaway was somewhere between “god doesn’t care about me” and “god is actively harmful”.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            What bothers me about that one is it feels like half a sentence and what does the other half of the sentence look like?

            “God has a reason for everything, so I am off the hook, I will not help you.”
            “God has a reason for everything, must be you were verrry bad.”
            “God has a reason for everything, go figure it out yourself.”

        4. Chinook*

          “The only saying I really can’t hold back emotion on is “God does everything for a reason”. I find that particular saying to someone in grief incredibly rude.”

          I agree because a) it is not helpful in dealing with the pain/grief of the moment and b) it takes away the personal responsibility we all have for our actions. It literally is based on the idea of pre-destination and a lack of free will. If someone I care about has been hurt by someone else, God did not do that; a human did. (I may or may not have responded with such a tirade when someone said that to me in the past).

    2. Ad Astra*

      Religious quotes/items in someone’s cubicle don’t really bother me because it comes off as more of a reminder to themselves. Just like family photos in offices are really there to remind that employee of the people they love, not to tell their coworkers how many kids they have.

      The email signature is much weirder to me, because it’s designed specifically to be sent to other people. Coworkers and clients don’t just pass your religious quote on their way to the break room; you’re actively including it in correspondence.

      1. TootsNYC*

        right–it’s like the hajib: It’s about who the audience is.

        For someone wearing the headgear or clothing: the audience is their deity
        The family photos, the religious quote on the wall: the audience is the person herself.
        The email signature, the line on the invoice: the audience is the recipient of that communication.

        The Star of David necklace: the audience is the onlooker and maybe the wearer.

        I don’t think it’s really fair to say; I don’t want to ever be confronted with a statement of who you are, as in the cross, and maybe even in the invoice.

        But whether it’s appropriate is a matter of “who you are speaking for.”
        The Star of David around someone’s neck, they’re pretty clearly speaking for themselves.
        But a work email with a signature that’s personal always seems weird to me, even if it’s not religious. Because your work email should speak for your company.

    3. Mazzy*

      Many people here say they would be annoyed by seeing a religious message. I personally don’t care what people write/do/say to a certain point, so religious messages aren’t an issue to me, but I accept that they can be to others.

      But my question is, how does that overlap with other “protected classes” to you? For example, does it matter what religion it is? Does it matter the gender/race/sexual orientation of the person giving out the message?

      I’m genuinely curious, not judging your answer or thinking, as I said, I just have a very lax attitude about many things so this wouldn’t bother me.

      1. fposte*

        I think for me it’s a three-prong test. Is the view a majoritarian one that I’m already culturally steeped in and affected by whether I like it or not? Is it relevant to the particular situation or organization? Is it, in content or form, in my face, directive, or denigrating?

        I didn’t include whether or not I agreed with it; while my hackles probably raise faster when I don’t, as an atheist, I’ve been annoyed by plenty of atheist stuff that fails tests two and three. Maybe more annoyed, because they make me annoying by association.

        1. A Cita*

          This three prong test is excellent. And yes, being associated with atheist stuff that I find annoying is a down side.

  12. Kris with a K*

    While I don’t think it appropriate that the invoices include the messages, would there be any pushback if it was something other than Christian? What if it was Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or Pagan? I think this might be an important distinction to make. Because if you want a “non-religious workplace” you must exclude it all. Otherwise, roll your eyes and move on.

      1. Kris with a K*

        The phrase “Honor God in all we do” made me assume Christianity. But you’re right. My question still stands, though. Is it religion in general or a specific religion? Because as someone pointed out above – if you don’t want to subject your employees to religion in the workplace, are you also going to refuse to let an Islamic woman wear a hijab? What about a Pentecostal woman wearing long skirts and long sleeves?
        Religion is part of humanity. As long as people aren’t hurting people, we really have no say in howhich others choose to express that. And if you are so insecure in your own faith as to be offended when someone expresses theirs, assuming they are not trying to force a conversion from you, then maybe you should reconsider that faith.

        1. Kelly L.*

          If you read my other posts in this thread, I actually advocate ignoring the quote, but I do see a difference between religion confined to the space of one’s own body (clothes, jewelry, personal prayer) vs. religion being output into the general atmosphere (putting it on an invoice that other people have to sign). But that might be too much of a tangent.

        2. Kate M*

          Following the rules of dress in your religion is different than evangelizing, which to me is what the phrase on the invoice is trying to do. Again, I wouldn’t make a big deal about it, but there are definitely differences in the things you list.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Exactly. There are two issues where religion and the workplace can be in conflict: first, does the practice interfere with the work product? If a Muslim or Jew worked for a non-kosher or non-halal butcher or deli and refused to touch anything there, they obviously can’t do their job. They are free to practice their religion, but to keep a job they must be able to do it (with reasonable accommodation). Second, the practice should involve themselves, not others. That’s where this invoice crosses a line. The vendor is not just trying to observe their own religion, they feel the need to force others to read about it. This is a very minor case of that, but IMO it’s still intrusive in that it is actively involving others involuntarily. They can say that all they want wherever they want, but they are basically forcing the OP’s division to “hear” it every time they send an invoice.

            Of course, the solution may be for the OP’s company to break the contract, but my point is that this isn’t about “expressing your faith”, this is about proselytizing, because it involves saying it to random third parties, not to themselves, not to their god, and not to their friend or family or congregation.

            1. Observer*

              You have an extremely expansive view of proselytizing.

              I also think that the level of intrusiveness is way overstated.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                You are entitled to that opinion…but aren’t the rest of us (and there are many others here saying it feels like they’re trying to convert or proselytize to others), too? And most of the rest of us who do not belong to a majority religious group have good reason to be wary of these “harmless” attempts, as they’re often dog whistles for flushing out and marginalizing the nonbelievers.

                1. fposte*

                  They’re basically microaggressions, and like any microaggressions, their aggregate impact is what really causes the problem.

                  I don’t know I’d do anything about this one instance, but I sure wish people wouldn’t do it.

                2. Observer*

                  I find it very interesting that you assume that everyone who sees this as not a big deal is of the dominant religion. Very much not so.

                  I think many of the arguments here really do overstate the case. The reality is that preselytizing is more that just putting some words that people can easily ignore ona piece of paper. The definition of the word is “convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.” And, it’s just not credible that the quotes on the invoice come close to that.

      2. Mazzy*

        I just asked this above as part of a longer question, I’m of the opinion it doesn’t matter, but was curious what other people thought.

    1. Kate M*

      First, “Honor God in all you do” isn’t necessarily Christian sentiment. It could probably be any of the religions you mentioned (minus Pagan maybe?). Second, OP didn’t say anything about a particular religion, just that they try to be inclusive and that religious sentiments were rubbing some of her employees the wrong way. That’s totally reasonable. I mean, I would probably shrug it off and roll my eyes. But OP didn’t say anything about only excluding things from one religion, so I’d take her at her word.

      1. Not Karen*

        It can’t be Buddhist, either. There aren’t gods in Buddhism (which isn’t even a religion BTW).

        1. Kate M*

          Gotcha, thanks for clearing that up. But regardless, it doesn’t have to be Christianity.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I agree completely…but to be accurate, Hindus would refer to gods or a specific god (probably Vishnu), and Muslims would refer to Allah. Your point is still completely valid, though.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Actually, not necessarily true. Modern Hinduism has been drifting in a more and more monotheistic direction, and references to God, the Divine One, or similar are pretty common. And Allah is the Arabic word for God, not a name. Saying that Muslims pray to Allah, not God, is akin to saying Latin@ Catholics pray to Dios, not God.

      2. TootsNYC*

        It’s “honor God in all we do.”

        As a grammar geek, I feel obligated to say: Words mean something.

    2. Tea*

      Honestly, I feel like there would be even more pushback (not necessarily in OP’s office, but in other offices) if the sayings were from a non-majority religion. Do you think that people would consider it just as okay if the invoices had “Hail Satan” as the bottom tagline? Or “Maybe the Great Moon Goddess grace you with her presence”?

      1. Kelly L.*

        I imagine a lot of the people saying “grow up” and “get over it” would suddenly change their tune, but maybe I’m just a cynic.

        1. Tea*

          That makes us both cynics, then. I feel like there are a whole lot of people in the US who would raise hell if they had to sign off on statements that had Satanic or Islamic or Pagan etc. references.

          1. Observer*

            Why? Does anyone in their right mind think that signing off on the invoice implies signing off on the sentiments?

            1. fposte*

              You might ask whether anybody in their right mind thinks that putting it on an invoice relates to the invoicer’s behavior.

              And the answer in both cases is of course they do, because words and signatures culturally matter a lot. That doesn’t mean either of them are right, but it’s perfectly reasonable that they should feel that way.

            2. Tea*

              To be perfectly honest, yes. I’m not saying that it’s right (or even that I agree with the sentiment), but I think that a religion in the United States can be such a polarizing topic relating to identity, politics, oppression, and societal approval that there are plenty of people who would recoil, hissing like snakes if they had to sign any document containing the “wrong” kind of religion in it. Some people will get publicly, loudly offended. Others might not say a word, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t stop discriminating either.

              Just as an example, the brand “Atheist Shoes” once conducted an experiment– they shipped out a load of shoes in their trademark ATHEIST SHOES packaging and a load of shoes in plain unmarked packaging via USPS. The “Atheist” branded shoes were 10x more likely to disappear, and also much more likely to arrive much later than the unmarked shoes. Now, that’s just discrimination on the part of USPS, but imo we’ve got a whole country’s worth of people who react very poorly when faced with religious views they deem incorrect, to the point of out-and-out discrimination and obstruction.

        2. Emily Procter*

          YES! It infuriates me when people use generic terms like “faith” and “god” and “religion” when they really mean “christianity”.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Personally, I’d think it would be pretty cool if I got an invoice with “An’ it harm none, do as ye will” on it.

        1. A Cita*

          It might make good business sense to put on an invoice: “Remit payment within 30 days, and as ye do, it willst be returned threefold.”

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        Actually, I would laugh at either of those. A friend of mine who is not religious at all is always saying “Hail Satan” just to be funny.

        OK, now I’m picturing receiving a bill from the phone company with “May the Great Moon Goddess grace you with her presence” on it. While I hate Facebook, that is something I would definitely post to Facebook.

  13. Mike C.*

    Man, I really, really get tired of folks like those accusing the OP’s department of being the “PC Police”. “Politically Correct” is nothing more than a derisive complaint against treating everyone with respect, even if it means mildly inconveniencing the majority.

    While I agree the invoice issue isn’t the biggest battle to be fought, those crying “PC POLICE!” internally should be shut down now. I can think of few things more toxic than employees complaining that they can’t tell “those sorts of jokes” anymore in front of those who are the butt of such jokes and so on.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      The irony being that it was always rude and inappropriate to do. But 50 years ago, people who were offended couldn’t say anything without fear or risk so they had to either ignore it or laugh along or play it cool.

      Just because no one articulates offense doesn’t mean no one was offended!!!

      1. Allison*

        I was thinking about this last night, about how people say “back in the good ol’ days you could say whatever you wanted!” and it’s like, no, privileged people could say whatever they want, women and people of color had to keep quiet for the most part.

        1. Tea*

          Exactly this. It’s a little infuriating, actually, now completely blind people can be to that fact. I had an instance just the other day with a client saying to me, “Oh, back in the day we had a name for everyone. That’s just how it was, and nobody got offended!” This was in the context of how his son called a fellow classmate a ‘chink’. I couldn’t help but think that most likely the classmate and their parents absolutely got offended, but had to keep their mouths shut for fear of further discrimination (or being accused of being ~the no-fun oversensitive PC police~)

      1. lex*

        I’m going to use this the next time someone starts crying about being forced to be “PC.”

    2. Ad Astra*

      Yes, and the minority of people who are using “PC police” to refer to some truly absurd demands (“Not everyone can have sandwiches!”) are hurting their arguments by unwittingly associating with a bunch of jerks who think they should be allowed to say whatever sexist, racist, classist or generally insensitive thing they want without any blowback. As soon as I hear “PC police,” I assume the speaker thinks it’s ok to mock people who are different from them simply for being different.

    3. Roscoe*

      I’m a very liberal person. Also a minority (black male) and I still think people can be the PC police by making every.single.thing. a social justice issue. I was at work the other day trying to make an analogy (something about hiring movers), and someone was like “thats a very classist thing to say”. This happens quite often. These people are the ones who get that moniker in my book. So its not just avoiding saying rude things. Its trying to find offence at everything someone says

  14. ali*

    I get where the people signing the invoices are coming from. You’re signing your name on a piece of paper saying you are agreeing to pay the invoice, or whatever reason they are signing it for. To some of us, signing our name in any legal capacity with that sort of religious overtone to it is not cool. You’re signing it (and then it’s implied agreeing to it) which is a lot different than just seeing it someone’s email signature.

    I’d ask them to knock it off. And I’d look for other vendors to replace them when they don’t. They don’t get to keep my business if they are making me or my employees that uncomfortable.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yep, I think it’s the signing thing; it can feel like an endorsement of whatever’s on the page. That’s why I think it’s best to think of it more as part of their logo/slogan. Like if their invoice said “Bob’s Burgers: Best burgers ever!”, you wouldn’t necessarily have to believe the burgers were really the best.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        It’s still not endorsing the sentiment, though. If I get a check from someone with a religious quote preprinted on it, I’ll roll my eyes, but me depositing the check isn’t an endorsement of the sentiment on it. I get being annoyed, but the signing part doesn’t make it an endorsement or acceptance of religious sentiment on there, anymore than it is a legally binding verification of the vendor’s address or motto that might be printed on there.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I said “it can feel like,” not “it legally is.” That’s my point–reframe it in your head by seeing it as a slogan.

          1. ali*

            Exactly. It doesn’t matter what is, it matters how OP’s employees feel like when they are signing it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt right now, and I see this sort of thing all the time. A lot of local businesses do this, including some I patronize. They fulfill my needs and they don’t push it on me, so unless they do push or are discriminatory, I’m not going to worry about it too much.

      I don’t feel like I’m endorsing their religion by doing so–I’m getting a service they offer to the public in exchange for money. Is the company donating profits to a religious organization? Is it owned by one? Is it asking customers and employees to conform to this religion? To support a company who does these would be an endorsement. Some church lady employee or manager stuck quotes on the invoice? Meh. I’m not comfortable with overt expressions of faith, but I’m less comfortable with claiming my religious freedom by saying someone else can’t express their faith in a way I can easily ignore.

      A government office? Yeah, that would be a problem, because government needs to avoid involvement in and influence by any one particular religion. I would politely mention it in that case. But if this is a private business, then there’s really not much you can do.

      1. ali*

        How you feel about doing it isn’t the point. The point is how OP’s employees feel about doing it. If they are uncomfortable doing it, it’s OP’s duty to either tell them to suck it up (and then it is their choice whether or not to agree to stay employed there), or to figure out a solution where another person who is not uncomfortable with it signs invoices from these vendors, or to get the vendor to cut it out. OP needs to figure out a way to make this work, because regardless of whether you or anyone else feels the employees should or should not feel uncomfortable about it, they are. That’s the issue here, not whether or not it’s right for them to feel that way.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Well sorry, but there are no laws in the US that guarantee us freedom from being offended. That’s up to each person. But a quote or a stupid slogan or a picture of dogs playing poker on an invoice does not force the company paying it to endorse the vendor’s beliefs about anything. It’s a business invoice with a dumb design, nothing more.

          The OP can’t tell another business how to do things. And going by the response from the OP above about the increasingly religious boss, they’re not likely to pay any attention anyway. So the choice would then boil down to either ignoring it or finding another vendor.

    3. Observer*

      That’s just not true. You are NOT in any way implying agreement to anything but the purchase of whatever goods or services, and payment thereof.

      If anything else were true, you would really need to police anything else on an invoice, including tag lines like “the best widgets in 4 countries” because, what if someone discovers that they really are garbage?

      1. ali*

        We didn’t say it IS agreeing to it. What we’re saying is to some people it FEELS like you are. Which is what matters to the employees in question. It is not the same equivalent to seeing someone’s email signature with a Bible quote in it.

        1. Observer*

          Why is it any different? Besides, what if it’s in the letterhead of part of the form in some other way?

          And while I get that it’s annoying, since when do people get to imply that they shouldn’t have to do their job because of something that is annoying?

          1. ali*

            Because to some people it may be more than just annoying. You don’t know why the OP’s employees are uncomfortable.

            1. Observer*

              Absent any other information, that just doesn’t fly. And, yes, I did seethe OP’s update. I actually do find that quite disturbing, but if the rep is correct, that’s not about micro aggression or even proselytizing but being pressured to show how religious she is as the price for her job. THAT is a huge deal.

  15. My 2 Cents*

    The problem with approaching the vendor about this is that in today’s world they are going to call it religious persecution, then Fox News is going to report on it 24 hours a day for 3 weeks, then a Kickstarter campaign will be started for the company to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, then they’ll be out on the campaign trail with Ted Cruz through November crying over them godless liberals. If someone is pushy enough to invoke religion on something as minor as its invoices then they aren’t going to take them off, it’s God’s will!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was thinking this as well. If the vendor says, “No, we will keep these quotes on our invoices. If you don’t like them, then you will have to terminate our contract.” Then if the contract is terminated…wouldn’t that be religious discrimination? It would be certainly be enough that an attorney could make the OP miserable.

      1. Faith*

        No it wouldn’t. “We” (speaking as a devout Christian, not someone connected with sending out Christian messages on business docs) would understand that doing business with ‘us’ is a free choice. Trying to legally shut them down because of the verse would be discrimination.

      2. My 2 Cents*

        No, this is not religious discrimination. You have a right to practice your religion without interference from the Government, you do not have a right to force your religion on others.

    2. TootsNYC*

      This, very much. They went to the trouble of putting it on there–that means they thought it out, and they have a plan.

      You could quietly just go find another vendor, of course, but I don’t think you will have any success in asking them to change. And you could have a PR problem on your hands.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, I think there is a good chance that no one thought it out. Unless these are preprinted invoices that have to be purchased through central purchasing, it’s quite possible that it’s one person who is doing this on his own. The fact that it’s not the same one all the time indicates that this is not a purchase that is centrally over-seen, so who knows.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think it’s far more likely that these messages were put on there by someone higher up at the company. And only a little bit likely that it’s on clerk in accounts receivable who’s putting them on there.

          The messages didn’t used to be on the invoices. Now they are. And they change now and then–so yes, someone is consciously choosing to put them on the invoice.

          Since they do change now and then I think there’s a bigger opportunity to say, “We would prefer not to receive religious messages on our business correspondent. Please consider dropping this wording.”

          1. Observer*

            Quite the reverse. The changes sound like someone who is trying to keep things “interesting”. AR department and the people who MANAGE them generally are not into it. AR CLERKS, on the other hand, might be more interesting in relieving the “boredom.”

  16. Ann Furthermore*

    The only time issues should be brought to the vendor’s attention is when there are problems with the goods/services being provided. The vendor can format their invoices however they want to, barring of course putting anything obscene or illegal on it.

    If someone came to me and said they felt uncomfortable having to sign off on invoices with religious messages, they would definitely get the side-eye from me. There really aren’t any more pressing issues to be worrying about? And I say this as just about the most un-religious person you’ll ever meet. We are not churchgoers; in fact, my husband is an atheist, and I am not a fan of any organized religion. If I saw an invoice with a religious message on it, I’d mentally shake my head, chuckle to myself, and sign it, provided that the goods/services on the invoice were provided according to the terms of the contract. And then I would move on with my day. My husband the atheist would do the same thing. If it was up to me, the religious messages would come off the invoices immediately, but it isn’t, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    It’s highly unlikely that a vendor would create a special invoice format for one particular customer (unless it’s a huge customer that provides most of the revenue). And if you did ask, there would be a cost for them to do that, which would probably find its way into the pricing the next time the contract was up for renegotiation.

    1. sam*

      Actually, vendors can’t just format invoices any way they want. We negotiate procurement agreements with many of our vendors that include forms of invoices that have to be approved as part of the contract. We do this mainly so that we can confirm that the invoices comply with our various procurement requirements, but it could also head off an issue like this.

      The OP may want to check if there is a vendor/procurement agreement here with such a form of invoice. If so, they could inform the vendor that their invoices do not comply with the contractual requirements.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        That may very well be. But I’ve done quite a few ERP implementations in my time, and there is always a huge amount of time spent on the invoice format. Never a minute was spent on formatting to comply with a customer’s specific requirements, but to make it look how they want it to look. All numbers need to align to the right. This value needs to move over one space so it’s perfectly aligned in this or that box. All these other values need to align to the left. Oh wait, why would I make that request? I don’t like the way that looks. Move it back. Everything needs to align above where the invoice gets folded into thirds and put into envelopes. The logo should be on the top left of the invoice. Wait, I don’t like the way that looks. Move it over to the right. And on and on and on.

  17. F.*

    You mention that this is a franchise. In many cases, when a franchisee contracts with a parent company, they agree to follow strict guidelines put out by the parent company regarding branding and marketing, including parameters around their communications with clients. This is to preserve the integrity of the parent brand and reputation. Putting religious sayings on materials that go to customers is quite probably forbidden in their contract.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh I didn’t see that–if the parent company would object to the franchisee altering aspects of the brand, then that is a no-go.

      However, that issue would be up to the parent company to deal with. You would have to decide if that’s a hill you want to die on, because if you say something, there’s always a chance the parent company might be okay with it and then it would still be there.

    2. LQ*

      Yeah, I would be a little surprised if the parent company was ok with this, just because franchisees often have pretty strict requirements about sticking to the parent brand. It makes it seem like the parent company supports this message. (Assuming they don’t, they might be very unhappy about this.)

  18. Erin*

    Hm, I think you should let it go.

    One of my jobs has a religious receptionist who plays a religious radio station all day, which is annoying for me when I cover her lunch and sit at her desk, and I can’t imagine what clients think. But no one seems to make a big deal about it. For me, it falls into exactly what Alison said: it’s annoying and inappropriate, but not interfering with work. In fact, I could turn it off when I’m at her desk and I usually don’t even bother.

    And I completely agree with your notions that the whole point of being all inclusive and welcoming of everyone is to…be all inclusive and welcoming of everyone.

    I mean, if they were sending religious literature and trying to get people to convert – or other, similar, boundary-crossing things – that would be different. Quotes on an invoice? Not worth getting worked up over, not worth losing a client over.

    1. chocolate lover*

      I would have a problem with a receptionist (assuming that most receptionists are in a central area of an office) listening to a religious station loud enough for everyone to hear. And I’m pretty sure my University would, too, given the wide range of students we have and how they’d essentially be captive audience sitting in the lobby of our office. It could be perceived as an office endorsement of a particular religion.

      1. AJS*

        I’d have a problem with a receptionist playing ANY radio station that’s loud enough for others to hear.

    2. LQ*

      If the music was being played in the lobby I would assume it was music being endorsed by the company.

      1. Katniss*

        Yeah, this was discussed here before with a secretary planning conservative talk radio, and many agree they would assume the company endorsed it and stop doing business there.

    3. Sigrid*

      I’ve refused to patronize businesses whose receptionist played religious music or radio, and will continue to do so. So it does have actual economic effect.

    4. Ad Astra*

      I think there might be an old AAM post about receptionists playing religious music. I don’t like when it’s coming from a ceiling speaker (or similar) and appears to be chosen by the company specifically. But I don’t mind if it’s more of a personal radio on a desk (or streaming radio on a computer), where it’s clearly the receptionist just listening to what she wants to hear. Usually there’s a corresponding difference in volume there, too.

      Now, whether a receptionist should be listening to music at her desk at all is another discussion. (I think it’s fine if you have relatively little client traffic — like my office does — but not great in a “waiting room” kind of setup where you’ll have a steady stream of clients coming in and waiting for several minutes each.)

      1. Hobbits! The Musical*

        Not sure this is the correct place for this reply (nesting). A couple of years ago visiting family in a small town (NZ) several of us were browsing in the local Salvation Army opshop; listening to some pretty rockin’ music over the store sound system, did a bit of a double-take when I registered the overtly Christian lyrics – we all looked at each other, rolled our eyes at the earnest but lame sentiments, then continued shopping while enjoying quite good music (and giggling at unintended imagery)… because that’s the nature of the environment. Christian mission fundraising. Now, same music in a different store/environment, and I’d leave. But then I’d also leave if it was boot-scootin’ country music. My taste in music is fairly eclectic but not catholic! (in the dictionary meaning of that word)

  19. Nico m*

    My first reaction was that the complainers are whiny crybabies (are they going to catch teh jebus lurgy) but on reflection, if a vendor sent me a invoice with a “Vote Trump” message on it i would refuse to pay it until it was reissued clean of such filth.

    So on balance – I would politely ask the vendor to stop. And if they didnt, i would rudely order them to stop.

    1. Roscoe*

      Theoretically I agree with you. But while for some people they are linked, I do see a difference between religion and political affiliation. Religion, for many people, is at the core of who they are. Politics is rarely that. Its the whole, if you describe yourself in 3 words, I think a lot more people would use their religion as a descriptor as opposed to their political affiliation.

      1. SerfinUSA*

        Religion is still a choice, even if spirituality is hardwired in our species. People can choose to express spirituality in ways that are positive and beneficial (and private).

      2. Marvel*

        Like apparently many others here, that is not my experience at all! Politics and religion are definitely both facets of identity.

        1. LawLady*

          Agreed. Religion isn’t my identity (except, I suppose in its absence). But what I believe about how society works, how others behave, how to build the world I want to live in, etc. is the very core of my being, and is very much reflected in my politics.

    2. Nico m*

      I wonder if theyd put a fire-and-brimstone type quote in their Final-Demand-pay-up-or-else type documents.

      1. AMG*

        lol–‘A nice Revelations quote will really hit the point home about how they are 90 days past due’.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Thou shalt honor thy contracts and pay within 30 days, lest thou be assessed a 5% penalty.

    3. Rat in the Sugar*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t care about that either and I’ve given a few anti-Trump rants myself. I’m not endorsing anything by paying the invoice and the money isn’t going to Trump, so who gives a fig?

    4. Jadelyn*

      I love how non-Christian people, many of whom have ugly histories with Christianity and that’s why we’re not Christian anymore (look up “religious abuse” sometime), are “whiny crybabies” afraid of “catching teh jebus” for being annoyed by having religion foisted on them in a professional setting. Thanks. Really.

      1. sam*

        I’m having flashbacks to my first amendment/freedom of religious class in law school, and the substantial number of (otherwise quite smart) classmates who seriously argued that creches were basically non-denominational holiday displays, while the various jews (myself included) and one buddhist in class (and the professor) had to patiently explain, over and over again, that dioramas of the birth of the baby jesus were in no way “secular”.

        Prevalence/observed by the overwhelming majority of the population does NOT equal “secular” or non-discriminatory.

          1. Observer*

            This has come up here before. In fact I recall one long discussion about whether Christmas is a religious holiday or not.

            The first time I saw this kind of thing, I was also pretty stunned.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Of course a creche is a Jewish holiday display. Everyone there except the wise men is Jewish. ;-)

          1. sam*

            OK, this wins. ;-)

            But in all seriousness, this is why I do so love when the church of satan starts petitioning some town to get their holiday displays “equal time” with whatever “non-denominational yet almost entirely christian (but with a tiny little menorah in the corner as a sop to the jews, as if they’re (we’re) the only other religion around)” display that is usually set up. It serves to expose exactly how “non-denominational” that display really is.

    5. KR*

      An aside – The owner of an office building near my work hung large Trump signs all over their property facing the road and all I could think when I saw that was that the poor employees of those business’s must be so uncomfortable. They were large buildings with multiple companies inside and if I were leasing that space I would not be okay with those signs being hung up and possibly misinterpreted to represent my company. They took them down since our primary and I’m curious if they took them down because the primary was over, our building inspector made them take the signs down (I should go over and ask him now that I’m thinking about it), if the lessees pushed back on the signs being there, or if they’ve shifted their alliance to a different candidate.

      1. Observer*

        If someone does say something to the owner, it should not be about trump (although I can see why this would trigger a reaction), but about the idea of putting up a sign that looks like it is speaking for everyone in the building, despite the diversity inside.

  20. Master Bean Counter*

    I vote for it’s a few words on an invoice that you can ignore. Some companies ignore more important things on invoices, such as net 30, past due, etc… As long as you aren’t ignoring those words, you’re good.

  21. Allison*

    I wonder if this company is based in the Bible belt, where almost everyone goes to church on Sunday and it’s assumed everyone is Christian, and it’s normal to have references to that religion everywhere because it’s so ingrained in people’s lives. I wouldn’t like seeing it on invoices, personally I think religion has no place in the business world unless your company sells religious merchandise, but it wouldn’t offend me so much that I’d raise a stink. Phrases like that say “we’re religious,” they don’t imply that everyone should be as religious as them, so reading it on an invoice wouldn’t make me feel like the religion was being forced down my throat.

    OP can ask them to leave it off the invoices, and if the vendor gets angry, they’re probably not a good vendor to partner with, but if they just said “no,” I’d let it be.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I think this is a selling point in some areas and with some companies. Around here people will sometimes put the ichthus somewhere on their ads/letterhead to advertise that.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        And I always give those businesses the side-eye… not a big fan of “Look, we’re Christian!” as a marketing strategy.

        1. Almond Milk Latte*

          Same here. I’m more likely NOT to do business with them if they advertise their religion because it’s like they’re leading with a terrible reference. It’s cool that we’ve got a mutual friend, but no higher power can really vouch for you professionally.

        2. Faith*

          I was an atheist several years ago (for 25 years), but when I was thinking about looking for an accountant for my then business, I rec’d a marketing letter from a local CPA who stated that he was Christian and ran his practice according to Christian ethics.

          I called him immediately. I figured I wanted to stay far away from the gray edges of accounting and taxes. I live in a midwestern state known more for its corruption than religiosity.

          Of course, by then I had left my anti-religious feelings behind. Would I have reacted that way to a similar sentiment from someone not Christian? I never thought about it, but I probably would have called someone who referenced Jewish, Muslim, etc beliefs as well.

          1. Temperance*

            I’d like to point out that being an atheist doesn’t mean that you’re “anti-religion”. I celebrate everyone’s right to believe what they do.

          2. Ian Krase*

            This is potentially a bit thorny.

            From my own devoutly religious standpoint, *not* living with religion in every part of the workplace is an unpleasant compromise I make because I haven’t managed to start my own business yet and must earn my bread in secular society. If I make electric motors using the scientific knowledge God has sent me, those are religious articles

            Meanwhile, though the mentioned religious quotes are pretty bland, my religion might forbid signing a document with such a quote if the quote constitutes a confession of faith contrary to my own.

            Probably I would be fine if I crossed anything offensive out.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yep. I live there and yep yep yep. But if they have something I need, I’ll still do business with them unless they get on the discrimination naughty list. If they serve the ENTIRE public and don’t treat their employees like crap, I don’t care if they display a velvet painting of Jesus riding to heaven on a velociraptor.

        1. JayemGriffin*

          I think a velvet painting of Jesus riding to heaven on a velociraptor would make me more likely to patronize that particular business.

  22. Journal Entries*

    When I send out invoices for approval to pay it’s by email. The vendor name, invoice number, and total dollar amount are included in the subject line and the body requests approval. You might try this, then the approver is just approving the goods/services and not actually signing the invoice. It’s actually faster too.

  23. AyBeeCee*

    Is there anything in your contract with the vendor stipulating what can and cannot go on the invoice? Are they producing a document with all items (numbers, names, graphics, logos, etc.) supplied by you, or are you just supplying the information and they handle the looks? In general I’m not crazy about it because the invoice represents your company but the quote does not.

    1. Kelly L.*

      It’s not the OP’s company’s invoice, though, it’s the vendor company’s invoice, which presumably they designed all by themselves. It doesn’t represent OP’s company at all.

      1. AyBeeCee*

        Ah, I misread that. That does make a difference in the situation, and now all the comments comparing it to being wished “Have a blessed day” make more sense.

  24. Colorado*

    Something like this I’d let go and it wouldn’t be a big deal to me. But I’m more of a “let it roll off my back, don’t want to die on this hill” sort of person. I have more worries and stresses to deal with than letting someone’s religious tagline affect my work or offend me. Unless someone is being hurt, humiliated, or bullied or an animal is being abused, live and let live. On the other hand, I understand not everyone feels this way and it would be insulting to tell them to just get over it.

  25. Jubilance*

    I wonder if the franchise owners are aware or asked for these messages to be put on invoices, or if it’s an overzealous employee who took it upon themselves to do this. It’s possible that someone in charge doesn’t even know this happening and would be just as upset about it.

    This isn’t the same as the coworker with the religious quote in their office. This is part of the company’s branding and image, and how they interact with customers. We have questions all the time about how when you interact with the public, sometimes you need to change the presentation (appearance, music at the reception desk, etc) because of your clients – how is this not any different? The OP’s company is the client and the religious quotes make them uncomfortable, and I think it’s fair to raise the issue. It’s ALSO fair for the invoicing company to say “Sorry you feel that way but we’re keeping it” and then the OP’s company can choose if they want to continue doing business. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask the question.

  26. Noah*

    I would ignore it and tell my staff to whiteout or cross through it with a black marker if it bothered them that much. You cannot expect to go through life without encountering religious sentiments periodically. I don’t particularity like it, but that’s life sometimes.

    I would be really tempted to find a good pagan quote to print in the memo line of the checks though.

  27. Brianna*

    I don’t know if I’d be offended at that particular quote on an invoice. The company is putting it forth as their guarantee. “Honoring God” means that you do what you agreed to do to the best of your ability, even if you can get away with doing less. The idea is that God can see what they are doing, and so they want to please God with their effort and actions. Also, the quote has to do with how Christians represent themselves to the world, and by extension, how they represent God. They aren’t honoring God if they go around acting judgmental and cruel, overcharging their clients or billing for time not worked, and breaking promises.

    If they’ve been a good partner to your company, they’re probably serious about it. Not every company is. For example, the clothing company Forever 21 puts a bible verse on all their bags, yet they’ve gone to court several times for ripping off designs from famous designers and mass producing them. (They always settle. Some have speculated that it’s cheaper for them to steal and settle than it is to hire a design team.) If they are doing this intentionally, that’s not honoring God!

    1. AMG*

      I just have met too many religious but unethical people to really be swayed by this. I do know many wonderful spiritual people who are religious but to me this is just a subtle way to preach to people. Their intent doesn’t matter as much as how it is received, and many people don’t appreciate it. I have my religious views but I just wouldn’t do this, no matter how innocuous my intent was. I think it looks naïve and self-righteous, and will annoy too many people.

    2. Cat*

      Heh, I don’t know if I view U.S. copyright law as springing out of fundamental ethical principles, to be honest.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, and nearly all the fashion retailers rip off clothes from their competitors. When I worked for Giant Department Store in their tech design department, I had to shred the last year’s files so we couldn’t be sued. But that’s a story for another thread…

    3. Temperance*

      I really disagree with your logic here. I am an ex-evangelical married to an ex-Catholic, so I know a ton of religious people. It’s a brag, NOT a guarantee. It’s showing the kind of people who work there, showing that THEIR employees are nice Christians. Or, if it’s not endorsed by the company as a whole, it’s one AP/AR clerk showing off his or her faith.

      1. Brianna*

        You know “tons of religious people”, and therefore it’s okay to generalize?

        The concept I stated is not my own, it’s merely what I have heard the meaning of “Honoring God” to be. From what I understand, it is a concept that other religions practice as well, although they might call it something different. While I agree that some people do brag about their religious status, there are others who live by their convictions and state their ethics as a form of accountability. By “others” I mean people of all different types of faiths and non-faiths, not just Christians.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago I bought something from there, it did not survive the washing machine. Maybe their business model is to pray the merchandise lasts more than one washing? I was amazed by the manufacturing work I saw there, that’s all I can say.

  28. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    Agreed – annoying but just something to deal with. My vendors do far more egregious things that actually interfere with my work and that’s stuff that’s worth mentioning.

  29. Thyri*

    Yeah, I have to admit I’m stuck on the part where the OP says, “We value diversity and inclusion, and those are not just buzzwords to us.”

    Doesn’t “diversity and inclusion” apply to religious beliefs as well? If your company values diversity and inclusion, why not look at the sayings as the other company sharing its own beliefs/way of doing things? They aren’t asking your company to be more like them, they’re just expressing themselves, in a way, like a tagline or brand might.

    1. Cat*

      Eh, in a long-term business relationship, you usually know enough to know that the other company also has employees who aren’t all homogeneous. If it’s a single family, that might be different. But there’s also a power dynamic issue in a predominantly Christian society where people are actively discriminated against for not being Christian, as is the case in the U.S. today. If the other company is run by a single family that isn’t Christian, I admit I’d be a lot less worried about them imposing their views on other people. I think it’s a distinction

      1. Cat*

        Posted too soon. I think it’s a distinction that really does matter in our unequal society.

      2. Ad Astra*

        And, to your point, I would find myself less put-off by, say, an overtly Jewish or Hindu quotation on the invoices. Still not really professional, and still a little bit annoying, but it bothers me so much less when the power dynamic is different.

        1. Chinook*

          “I would find myself less put-off by, say, an overtly Jewish or Hindu quotation on the invoices.”

          So something like the following would all be okay? They all come from the Torah.
          Psalm 34:3 – O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
          Psalm 71:8 – My mouth is filled with Your praise And with Your glory all day long.
          Proverbs 14:31 – Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

          I think a Jewish quote would be just as offensive to those who don’t want to see a religious quote because, too often, they are read as “Christian” because they come from the same book.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Well, one could argue that the vendor is definitely not valuing diversity and inclusion, because they’re assuming that everyone who has to handle their invoices will be OK with reading something that’s specific to the vendor’s religion, which is also the country’s dominant religion. The OP is trying to push back on that.

  30. Oryx*

    Hmmm, I’m sort of torn on this because the OP says their personal company values diversity and inclusion and yet because this isn’t the right kind of diversity, they don’t want to have to deal with it. Tolerance goes both ways.

    I’m an atheist and I might kind of roll my eyes at this but I wouldn’t consider ditching a vendor because of it. Like Alison said, the level of religious zeal in that phrase is pretty similar to the phrasing printed on US money and while I maybe sometimes roll my eyes at that, too, I’m not going to stop using the dollar over it. As long as they are only putting the words out there and not actually expecting your company to start following the tenets of their faith, I say let it go.

    1. Lurker*

      Exactly, they don’t really value diversity and inclusion. The OP probably doesn’t realize the irony.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Except that this isn’t about objecting to someone’s personal practice of their religion; it’s an objection to being evangelized to.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I thought the definition of evangelize is to try to convert and how is a simple message in an invoice doing that? The OP says it changes often, I figure it gives the sender some satisfaction but I don’t get that it would be evangelizing to the receiver.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              I think this is evangelizing, too. There are some Christians for whom these kinds of messages are seen as an important part of their “outreach” activities. If it’s a company with a clear evangelical goal (they do exist), then I’d think of it as part of my “payment” for good/cheap services is being annoyed. But if it isn’t, the OP might want to see what the parent company has to say.

              (A family member used to work in Christian publishing, so I recognized this as evangelizing right away. And their invoices only had the religious symbol that was part of their logo…)

          1. Violet Fox*

            As someone who has been on the receiving end of an unpleasant amount of evangelism, yes I find religious quotes on things like invoices to be a form of evangelism. With some people it was pretend to be a friend until they realized I had no interest in being converted, with others it was Bible quotes everywhere, others talking all the time about praying for my soul or how I was going to hell.

            Personal practice of religion is going things like going to a house of worship, following religious laws like dietary laws personally, it is not telling other people they do not belong, are horrible, etc because they are not part of whatever religion.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Nobody in the entire universe thinks this is illegal. It’s annoying, which is a whole different thing.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, in that the government can’t order them to stop. But that doesn’t mean that private individuals/businesses can’t say “hey, we don’t want this on our invoices.”

            1. Lurker*

              Well perhaps the OP’s organization should have a company wide policy that states that any religious , spiritual, inspirational messages are banned on emails, invoices and other correspondence because it may be found to be offensive. Then let those who they have contracts with agree or not agree to do business with them.

              1. Kelly L.*

                That’s an option, but kind of a nuclear one at this stage! I think it could probably be handled with conversations of one kind or another.

                1. Lurker*

                  Yes, it is extreme. I agree it can probably be handled with a phone call or meeting with the vendor. But there really should be a policy in place if they feel that strongly about it. I don’t think you should allow any religious, spiritual, inspirational messages. Can’t pick and choose. That’s not really in the spirit of inclusion and diversity.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  Right now, only one vendor is putting the messages on their invoices. There’s no secret other vendor putting “Hail Satan” and being shrugged off. There’s no picking and choosing going on.

                3. Lurker*

                  How do you know? There could be other religious quotes on signature lines not just Christian ( Jewish, Tao, Zen, Buddhist, etc….) If there were a policy in place the OP would know how to proceed, so it would be helpful.

                4. Kelly L.*

                  Because then the question would be “Some of my vendors have started putting religious quotes…”

                  Just like in the question earlier this morning, can we start believing LWs rather than making up hypothetical imaginary things for them to be lying about?

                5. Lurker*

                  I didn’t mean to infer that she was lying. It’s reasonable to assume that she isn’t privy to the content of every email or piece of correspondence that is being sent company wide. In my opinion there should be a policy regarding religious content.

              2. Temperance*

                Not offensive, but unprofessional. Which it absolutely is. There is no need whatsoever to add religious statements to email signatures or invoices, unless you are a religious organization.

          3. TootsNYC*

            That only applies to whether the government can punish you for it.

            Private citizens and companies are entitled to respond with any negative consequence they would like to.

          4. A Teacher*

            The concept of your right to free speech but not free from the consequences of your speech (if the private company decides to push back and ask them to stop that is, right now the consequence is eye rolling from people at said private company.)

        2. TootsNYC*

          I agree w/ you that this is marketing–but it’s “honoring God in all WE do,” not “Honor God in all YOU do.”

          To me it’s not quite as proselytizing as it could be.

          Of course, i don’t know what the others say.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Strongly agree with this. It is the “we” that has me refusing to believe that this company or the sender of the invoice is evangelizing. If the OP provided other examples, I might say otherwise of course.

          2. PlainJane*

            Ditto. This sounds more like a statement of the company’s values than an attempt to proselytize (and for the record, I dislike all attempts to proselytize). The OP does mention that the quotes change, so others may be more proselytize-y, but unless they’re choosing some of the really negative/offensive passages, it seems like an expression of the company’s identity.

  31. Ck*

    I don’t know which ad or what is doing it, but I’m having trouble viewing your site recently while on mobile – I keep getting redirected to

  32. Michelle*

    So… you are all about inclusion and diversity but you’re upset that a vendor puts religious quotes on an invoice? Do you think signing an invoice from them with give you religious cooties?

      1. Michelle*

        I trying to use satire point out how childish it is that they are getting all tore up about signing an invoice with a religious quote. They are words on a piece of paper. Most reasonable people are not going to assume that you are religious/agree with that religion because you have to sign it in order to pay for services or goods provided by you.

      1. Reader*

        What’s the definition of “evangelizing?” It seems like they’re including it as a generic business motto intended to show fealty to a particular set of principles. “Come to Jesus,” or “Find the true path to enlightenment,” or “Know Allah as the one true God” would strike me more as overt proselytizing, because it’s inviting a response from the reader. But this is about as anodyne and toothless a religious statement as I can think of, and I honestly don’t understand the twitchiness it seems to be engendering.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          It appears that evangelizing is being used as a synonym to “preaching” when they aren’t really the same. One is about converting and the other is about advocating. I see the vendor as advocating their religion, not trying to convert customers.

          Would people feel the same way if a coworker had a gay flag at their cubicle or in their email signature?

          1. INTP*

            But isn’t advocating done with the ultimate goal of conversion? If you only have a goal to reach people who are already in the religion, why the need for advocacy, especially in such a public manner?

            1. Laurel Gray*

              No, it’s not. I go to gay rights events that advocate for equality and such and I don’t plan on making a conversion. You can go to a church for help (food bank, cooked meals) without converting. You don’t even need proof of Jesus to be fed. One of the homeless guys I serve at mine is an atheist and I know damn well our mashed potatoes aren’t making a believer out of him. As for the public advocacy, it isn’t my thing either so I don’t have an answer for that. I actually believe this is just someone who works in accounting’s doing when they would be better off with a WWJD bracelet or similar.

              1. Ad Astra*

                But, in this case, the business isn’t advocating for a specific organization like Maple Street Methodist Church. They’re advocating for a specific world view — one in which you honor God in everything you do. The goal, then, is to get people to share that world view — not necessarily to get them to show up to Maple Street Methodist Church on Sunday.

                Just like you don’t “convert” in the sense of becoming LGBT yourself, but you show up to advocate for gay rights because you want others to share your view that LGBT people should have equal rights.

          2. Jinx*

            From my experience with certain evangelical christian denominations (they call themselves that), this could definitely be considered evangelism. Maybe not in the dictionary sense, but in the sense that the purpose of the action is to expose other people to your religion or to proclaim it. In some evangelical circles, you are taught that you should make your religion known to people you interact with and keep an eye out for opportunities to “witness”, or talk about your faith with a nonbeliever. The invoice messages would definitely be supported, because it can expose nonbelievers to Christianity and influence them to think about it and learn more.

            I’m not saying I agree with how any of that claims to work, but that’s the thought process. I know people who do these things, from a sincere belief that they are helping people.

            The difference between the invoices and something in someone’s cube is that an invoice is something meant to be sent out to people (and people you may not know), rather than something you hang in your work area.

            1. Jinx*

              I really should have said non-Christians instead of nonbelievers, since that implies that religion is binary. Sorry, I slipped into the jargon when I was explaining the process. >_<

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Or it could have absolutely no influence on them at all because all they care about is the amount and product information shown on the invoice and whether it’s correct.

            3. Temperance*

              This is a pretty great explanation of how it’s supposed to work. I’m ex-evangelical, and I can recognize this stuff when I see it, but I’ve been away from that life so long that I forget some of the mechanics.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            I think the example the OP provided is a bit generic to be considered “preaching the Gospel.”

            1. Anna*

              I agree. As a person who spent a lot of time in the Four Square community growing up, this is not evangelizing by their definition or mine and I’m an avowed agnostic. To me it’s no different than the Zap Branagan’s quote in my friend’s email signature line. Calling it evangelizing is kind of a stretch.

            2. Annie Moose*

              Agreed. Assuming these quotes are in the same vein as the example OP gave, it’s a statement of belief, not a sermon.

            3. Temperance*

              Jinx explained this pretty well up above. It’s a known technique in evangelical circles. Part of evangelical Christianity is that you are mandated to talk about your beliefs when someone else brings it up to you or asks you about it.

        2. Temperance*

          It’s a form of soft evangelism. It’s basically inviting you to talk to them about their Christianity, and let you know what they believe. It’s not street preaching or askign if you’re saved, but it’s part of the same family.

      2. Michelle*

        Is putting a religious quote on a company invoice really evangelizing them, though? I think they are just trying to let customers know that is the direction they are taking with their company, not trying to get them to convert to that religion.

        FWIW, I do not attend church or really discuss religion with anyone (other than my family). I think getting upset by some words on piece paper to the point you want to call a vendor and request a special invoice is overreacting a bit. If coworkers are calling her department the “PC Police” maybe that’s something they need to think about- are you complaining about things on a daily basis? Making mountains out of molehills? Maybe they should concentrate on doing their work to the best of their ability instead of trying to change how another company chooses to set-up their invoice templates.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            You shouldn’t be stomping on people’s feelings. On the other hand, you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells either.

    1. Miss Jackson*

      You have totally missed the point. Maybe don’t be in such a rush to mock and try, y’know, thinking? Just an idea.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Your initial comment came across as mocking to me as well. If you didn’t mean it that way, great; it can be hard to judge in written stuff, especially with people we don’t know. I think we probably need to move on…

          1. Michelle*

            Let me apologize for that. I realize now that it did come across a mocking but it was not meant that way.

    2. INTP*

      It’s about what’s appropriate and professional. I wouldn’t consider it non-inclusive if a client didn’t appreciate me writing “THERE IS NO GOD AND NOTHING HAPPENS AFTER YOU DIE” at the bottom of my invoices (or a motivational-sounding euphemism thereof, like the vendor is using), though that is just a factual statement of my beliefs, because it’s inappropriate. No, the recipient wouldn’t catch my atheist cooties, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for a business context and might upset someone. I don’t understand why being considerate in your communications with people outside your immediate demographic cohort is such a burden to some people.

      1. Rey*

        I just wanted to thank you–I really needed a good laugh! You also make an excellent point, but imagining that text at the bottom of an invoice tickled my funny bone.

  33. Jackie*

    I suppose you could put your own quote on your vendor payments, like “Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool”

  34. Sydney*

    I would be annoyed by this too. But my question is why not just white out the words before you pass it on to be authorized?

  35. Argh!*

    Writing “Hail Satan!” in the subject line of the check would be wrong but I would so so so want to do that!

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I wonder if they would still cash it? Is it “honouring God in all we do” to accept funds marked “Hail Satan!” Oh, the design on the cheques alone… little goat’s head and pentacle foil mark. Wacky font. Black in signed with bright red… might be ink, might be something else.

      1. Annie Moose*

        There’s an urban legend that, when asked about such circumstances (well, donations to a church from an unbeliever), the famous preacher Dwight L. Moody said, “The devil’s had it long enough, it’s God’s turn now.” (or something to that effect, I’m sure Moody never actually said it :P)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I would bet my last chocolate donut that they would not be able to cash that check.

  36. Portia*

    I would be one of those people voicing that it makes me uncomfortable. It’s different when it’s something that you have to encounter, like an invoice, as opposed to like a Bible quote on say someone’s cubicle. And if they’re reasonable, they should be willing to not put those additional religious quotes on invoices (it sounds like the invoice changes frequently enough so that they’re actively putting these religious sayings on the invoices). Unless this is a company that would dig in their heels and explode a work relationship over a small religion-related issue, I don’t see the harm in bringing it up in a non-combative way.

    This is an example from my personal life, not job, but my MIL is deeply religious (Catholic) and all her cards were at one point religious themed. When I brought up that it made me uncomfortable, she bought non-religious cards. I’m pretty sure she sends them only to me. I’ve also noticed that she includes Bible quotes in emails to others but not me.

  37. Ampleforth*

    Oh my god, just freaking ignore it. You are all grownups. It is not going to hurt you to see words you don’t agree with. Everyone has gone insane acting like they need to be shielded from opinions other than their own or they will be somehow injured by them.

    Honestly, I don’t care what is on the invoice. I was raised Baptist and consider myself non-religious now – but not so much as I have to give it any kind of label. I don’t care if the invoice says “Jesus is Lord” “Allah is the one true God” “Hail Satan” or “Worship the Unicorn Goddess”. Who freaking cares? Just do what you’re being paid for and spend all this energy on something that actually matters.

      1. UK HR bod*

        I don’t know, but there’s a unicorn therapy centre in the UK that doesunicorn classes, really. You can meet your unicorn apparently.

            1. UK HR bod*

              They were popular with royalty, so you can find them in lots of places in Scotland (they were part of the royal arms at one point) and most places in the UK – I think there are some in the recreated Tudor garden at Hampton Court. I’m not convinced these are quite what the unicorn therapy people are talking about though – not sure they go for aggresive ones!

              1. A Cita*

                It’s true, the Scotish version is pretty ferocious. However, you get a group of them together and they’re still a blessing. :)

                (Aren’t they still on the coat of arms?)

                1. UK HR bod*

                  There’s, but it’s the UK royal coat of arms now. The unicorn switches sides depending on whether it’s the Scottish version – and I think the Scottish one had two unicorns before James i/vi, who combined it with the lion of the English arms. Confusingly, Scotland also has a lion, which is what appears on the shield of arms supported by the unicorn and the lion. The Scottish lion is rampant, where as the English lions are passant gardant.

    1. Dan*

      You said what I didn’t. In the general case, American society needs to do a better job of “getting over it” instead of wining and making my problem somebody else’s.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Funny, I thought we were having a really interesting, civil discussion. Disagreeing with you is not automatically whining.

    2. Rat in the Sugar*


      Chiming in to agree, and also to ask how I may better serve the Unicorn Goddess.

    3. Jadelyn*

      You know, I have to say this thread is seriously shaking my previously-solid belief in the quality of community here on AAM. When I’ve recommended the site to friends, one of the big selling points has been “the comments are actually safe to read – the community is very socially aware and pretty good about issues around discrimination/oppression/privilege/etc.” And yet here we are with numerous people not only politely arguing against, but actually insulting and belittling those of us with the temerity to be annoyed about having religious content as an unavoidable part of the work environment. Not at all what I would’ve expected from AAM’s community.

      1. Kelly L.*

        AAM can be weirdly paradoxical that way–when we’re discussing an issue that isn’t controversial on the surface, the regular commentariat is really good about those kinds of aspects when they arise in the discussion! But sometimes when a topic is controversial, I think it brings in people who wouldn’t ordinarily be here for the quotidian work stuff and are just spoiling for a culture-war fight.

        1. Jadelyn*

          That’s fair, and I think you may be right re people showing up specifically to argue about it.

        2. LawLady*

          This is an excellent point. If you look at the names of the people who are mocking, they’re not part of the usual commenting community.

        3. AMG*

          I’m not giving up! I’ve had my moments here, but I try to be a voice of rationality and support. We are anchors for the awesome, respectful dialogue. :)

        4. Faith*

          I read every column AAM puts up, but rarely post. But somethings just bring out the commenter in me.

      2. Violet Fox*

        Yeah, it is not exactly super-comfortable making or at all compassionate to people who just do not want to have to deal with this sort of thing at work.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ampleforth, you don’t care, but some people do. It’s a pretty well established thing that it can be problematic to encounter religious messages in the course of your work environment. It’s reasonable to discuss where that line is, and how to handle it when you feel someone is over it. When discussing that here, I ask that it be done respectfully and without mocking other people’s viewpoints.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      Yes, we are all grown ups. But as a grown up, I try to be inclusive and respectful to others. If I were doing something that made people feel alienated, I’d like to know so I can adjust my behavior.

  38. Undine*

    It’s the evangelism, and the associations with that evangelism. For me as an employee, part of the problem would be that religion is not politically or socially neutral these days. With the push for laws that explicitly allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the “bathroom bill” in Carolina, not to mention the push by some people to export all Muslims, I would feel uncomfortable as well. If you’re interacting directly with someone, and they say something, you have the chance to push back; if you’re just signing an invoice, it can feel like you’re being imposed on.

    I like the idea of speaking to the parent company. In addition, how formal is your commitment to diversity? For example, if you are the HR office, or a certain department in a university, diversity is part of your charter. Can you pull some language from somewhere and make a little cover sheet for the invoices that says something like “XYZ department. Committed to diversity and to creating equal opportunity for all people, regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.” (It’s a little too long for a stamp, unfortunatel.) And attach that to all invoices. (I would guess it has to be all invoices, just because.) If you don’t want to do it indefinitely, you could tie it to a specific date or event somehow — like a marketing campaign.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I agree. For example, a religious symbol would be the company stating, “Hey, we’re religious!” A quotation is giving religious instructions to others, whether they want it or not. (That’s where the evangelism aspect comes from.)

      1. fposte*

        I’m still thinking about this. The quote does say “we,” so I think TootsNYC’s reading is a legitimate one, but it’s also reasonable to read it as “we as humanity.” But it’s the imperative form that makes it read evangelistic to me–if it just said “We totes love God!” at the bottom it wouldn’t grate on me so much.

        1. Jadelyn*

          The OP also said that was just one of the quotes – it read to me like a rotating set of quotes, and the quote provided was just an example. We don’t know what the other quotes say.

  39. Student*

    I’d start with talking to the complaining employees more – specifically, listening. What is the exact complaint? Do different people have different complaints? What do the employees think should be done? Sometimes people are just looking to be heard. Sometimes they’ll happily compromise with a solution that’s easy on everyone.

    For some people, these quotes could actually be violations of their religious practice. It’s unlikely to be a violation of the employee’s religion to see someone else do this or to sign such an invoice, but watching someone break your religious taboo constantly could certainly be obnoxious. Off the top of my head, I know that some Jewish people won’t write out the word god so lightly, instead going with G-d for casual references. I think there are other religions with strong feelings about when it is and is not okay to invoke god, and I can see how some people might find it inappropriate to invoke it on a business invoice.

    Depending on the religious quote, it could be pretty directly hostile to actual employees. Religion is a big world, and it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The given quote is pretty hard to take specific offense to, but I would be up in arms and encouraging you to cancel your business if it was a religious quote about women being inferior to men, or one of the bible quotes invoked against gay folks, or similar.

    Of course, for some people, this could simply be an issue of religious intolerance. I’m an atheist. I’d be tempted to complain about it if something like this crossed my desk very regularly, and it’d be mostly out of a personal dislike for religion and a feeling that it was unprofessional rather than because I was deeply offended or felt it was exclusionary. I don’t really expect anyone to cater to my personal dislike of religion. I might just want some validation from another that this was out of the business norm, or feel instinctively that I needed to remind the very Christian-dominant area that not everyone they meet is automatically Christian in an effort to feel like I’m not invisible, or perhaps a polite call to the other company giving it one go before deciding this was an inevitable part of doing business. I wouldn’t really want the business to go nuclear over this kind of thing. I might even just want someone to explain to me why some people do this kind of thing – some insight into a thought process I find very foreign (do they think invoice god quotes will convert someone? do they think other religious people need a reminder like this? do they think they’re scoring some religion points based on the number of times they bring up god in a day? is the quote a religious code phrase for something more specific I’m unaware of?).

    1. ali*

      Yes, this exactly. Thank you – real advice that the OP can take and use. We have no idea why the employees are uncomfortable, just that they are. It doesn’t matter if we think they are being idiots about it and should just ignore it. That doesn’t help OP. The uncomfortableness has already been expressed, so there’s already a problem. OP needs advice on what to do about the problem, not just to be told her employees are stupid for not just ignoring it.

    2. Portia*


      To expand upon the religious objection for Jewish people: the practice goes beyond not writing out the word. In Jewish tradition (usually for the more observant, but this varies), you can’t destroy a piece of paper with G-d’s name on it and would need to bury the piece of paper whether the rest of it was a religious paper or not. It might involve a prayer and potentially a designated place or box for the paper, but I’m not sure (I’ve never observed this part of Judaism personally).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I agree with this; however, the OP can’t tell someone else what to put on their paperwork. So I’m not sure that saying something would even be effective–if this were a standalone business, they can do whatever they like. I’m guessing their boss isn’t going to care what the OP or anyone at her workplace thinks. I think it would be more like, Tough noogies; this is our invoice and we’re not changing it (assuming the parent company is okay with the quotes). If the company wants the quotes there, they may decide, Screw it; we’re not going to have special invoices for one customer.

      If it’s bothering people that much, then the solution might be to find another vendor. If she does want to bring it up, she might say something like, “Hey I noticed you’re putting quotes on your invoices these days; what made you decide to change them?” and see what they say. Their answer will probably give her a very good indicator of which direction she wants to go.

  40. JenVan*

    How is being annoyed by religious jargon on an invoice valuing diversity and inclusion? Sounds like the complete opposite – and I’m not even a religious person …

    1. Laurel Gray*

      This is the one point I can’t get over. I am thinking about this from a diversity and inclusion standpoint. Which is why I wondered what folks’ reactions would be if it was a gay flag instead of a religious quote.

      1. ali*

        my reaction would depending on the wording. “Honor God in all we do” is plain and clear evangelizing, which is not cool. If someone said “hey, I’m gay!” that wouldn’t bother me nearly as much. They’d have to say “Hey, I’m gay and you should be too!” to have it be the equivalent. In which case, I’d have the same reaction – if you have an employee that is uncomfortable with that for whatever the reason, you work out a solution to make your employee more comfortable. If you say to your employee “grow up and just ignore it”, that’s an option, but it’s not being a very good manager.

      2. Tea*

        Diversity & inclusivity in my opinion means welcoming people for who they are and what they personally believe in… for themselves. It doesn’t mean being welcoming of people imposing or inflicting their religion on others, evangelizing, or harmful actions or opinions that affect other people. Someone in a heavily evangelical religion might complain that ~inclusion~ means respecting her religious need to leave religious tracts on her coworkers desks every month (which is similar to how I might feel about seeing Godly references on a weekly invoice, as an example), but that isn’t how it works. At the same time, people might respond differently to receiving a monthly religious tract– some won’t care, some might even enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean that the people who are offended or put out by this are wrong in feeling that way.

        Also, for your latter example…
        I’m 1000% for LGBT rights and equality, but I would also 1000% not put a gay pride flag on the invoices issued for my job unless I were working for an LGBT organization (or specifically LGBT targeted organization). It’s not professional, it’s not relevant, and it really has no place there.

        1. Jadelyn*

          +1000. I *am* LGBT myself and while I am out and open about it, I don’t put rainbow flags all over my email signature, because I would feel that to be inappropriately outside the bounds of “personal expression”.

      3. Temperance*

        It’s not comparable, though. A pride flag isn’t asking people to also be gay, it’s showing your organization’s values, which are presumably inclusion and that you are LGBT-friendly.

        The two are vastly different. For one, Christians are not even a little bit discriminated against in our society.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Thanks fposte, this is exactly what I had in mind when I made the gay flag comparison.

            1. fposte*

              To be fair, I don’t think they’re exactly equivalent for a variety of reasons, and I do think that a white supremacist quote, as I said, is probably a closer analogue.

          2. ali*

            I would read it as it is directing the recipient to do just that. Sounds like a command to me, and I disagree with TootsNYC assessment. “We” in religious cases, especially in cases of pure evangelizing which I think this is, often means “the human race” and “everyone”, not “us” rather than “you all”.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Really? Because I didn’t read it that way at all. I read it as “WE honor God in all we do,” only without the first we. Maybe the God meme has horrible grammar.

              1. fposte*

                I finally went down the Google hole on this, and I found several interesting things I did not know. One, a management company in Michigan with this motto filed suit about being forced to provide contraception to their employees (don’t know what happened in the end, just saw something that said the Hobby Lobby victory helps them, but I can’t see that they appealed after the district court said they had to). Another, that “To honor God in all we do” is part of the motto of ServiceMaster, which includes companies such as Terminix, TruGreen, Merry Maids, etc.

                I also found out that the anti-atheist comment associated with George Bush Sr. is highly questioned by reasonable sources, so there’s that too.

              2. Temperance*

                I’m ex-evangelical, so I’m very familiar with all the ways to evangelize that don’t require asking someone whether they’re saved or not. This is a soft form of evangelism moreso than a statement of what the company does and believes. It’s a command to honor God through all that you do.

          3. Temperance*

            I don’t agree with TootsNYC’s interpretation of the statement. I’m ex-evangelical, and things like this are soft forms of evangelism. It’s a command that we should all honor God in all that we do.

            It’s very likely that the person writing it doesn’t see it as a rude or weird thing to do, because he/she is commanded to honor God, and thinks that they’re sharing something positive. Sort of like “try your best!”

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Well, there’s plenty of people who *do* think having a rainbow flag is trying to “turn people gay.”

      4. Ad Astra*

        The gay flag (from an organization that isn’t related to LGBT issues) would be similarly odd because it’s an unnecessary opinion placed onto business correspondence in the same way a religious quote is an unnecessary opinion placed onto business correspondence. Do I want the vendors I work with to treat their LGBT employees well? Absolutely. But I don’t need or want to see that on an invoice. An invoice doesn’t need to express any sort of world view or political opinion or even really a business philosophy. So including it, regardless of the opinion being expressed, is weird and unprofessional.

        1. Observer*

          Here is the question, though. It’s odd and inappropriate. But, if an employee came to you and said that she was uncomfortable signing off on the invoices because it implies that they agree with it, would you agree with that? I’m assuming that you wouldn’t.

          1. Annie Moose*

            And more to the point, would you consider contacting the company that sent out the invoice to ask them to stop putting the gay flag on it, because you have employees who aren’t comfortable with it?

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Not to derail (but it’s late and no-one is still reading this anyway), but does that mean you would say that flying the gay flag on WA State ferries is weird and unprofessional?

          1. fposte*

            Dude, this one is going to be going into the night :-).

            I might say it if they never flew any other non-maritime pennant and if it weren’t associated with a specific event. But once they ran the Seahawks up the mast, all bets were off.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              Oh, but in WA, the Seahawks are finally a religion too. :)

              But you’re right. And if the invoices rotated with quotes from Jesus, Mohammed, and Dr. Seuss, then there probably wouldn’t be a question to Alison. (I get a weekly email with an attached quote, and Dr. Seuss seems to show up pretty often.)

              1. fposte*

                I am disappointed to report that I could not find an online tool that allows you to put in quotes from these people for a mashup result.

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  To overcome evil with good is good, That is truer than true! Love one another, be the best you-er in shoes!

    2. ali*

      Valuing diversity and inclusion does not mean you have to subject your employees to evangelism in the workplace. It means that if an employee wants to pray quietly at their desk, you let them so long as they are not interfering with others. It means that if an employee is feeling left out of a work social gathering because they are hearing impaired you work on ways to make them included. It means that you protect your employees from feeling uncomfortable when something work-related they are expected sign goes against everything they believe. These people may have a legitimate reason to be annoyed, you don’t know. You need to be supporting your employees over your vendors. You talk to your employees and then you figure out a solution to make them more comfortable. If that means having someone else sign the invoice, or using white out, or talking to the vendor, you do what you can to make the employee more comfortable, because you value them and their diversity over the diversity of your vendor.

    3. Temperance*

      It’s actually “valuing diversity and inclusion” to ask for secular, non-religious invoices. Instead of forcing everyone to be evangelized to, you would be respecting that people have different belief systems and that not all people are Christians.

      Here’s an example from my own job: there are two men that I work with regularly who keep kosher. We make sure that meetings are not scheduled on the Sabbath and that there is food that they can eat at our meetings. I can call them to ask a question about scheduling a meeting to make sure it isn’t a Jewish holiday, and they respect that and answer me.

      1. JenVan*

        Well, Christians are not the only people of faith who believe in God. Jews, Bahá’í Faith, Islam, Hinduism, and Rastafarian all believe in “God”. It’s impossible to tell to what religion the offenders belong.

        I just fail to see how they’re evangelizing to anyone. “Honor God in all we do” is not the same as “Honor God in all YOU do”. If I had an employee who who made a stink about this I would seriously question their maturity level.

        1. ali*

          In the majority of such quotes, such as “in God we trust” or “Honor God in all we do”, “we” is referring to the human race, not “us”. It is evangelizing pure and simple, and yes, some of us do feel like we shouldn’t be evangelized at our workplaces. I’m sorry if you think that makes us immature for actually standing up for something we believe to be wrong.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think “in God we trust” means “we the country.”

            “Honoring God in all we do” is the company who is speaking. It’s not a public piece of paper; it’s an invoice from a specific company. It’s exactly analogous to “We make service our priority.”

            Now, whether the other phrases are similarly first-person or not, I don’t know.

            But Temperance (below) is totally right–it’s evangelizing. Just not as direct.

          2. JenVan*

            It’s not evangelizing unless they’re aiming to persuade you to convert to the Christian faith. There’s no indication that the vendors are Christian, other than the assumption they are because they mention “God”. Many religions other than Christianity believe in “God”. If they are, in fact, Christian, then that’s the weakest form of evangelism I’ve ever seen. I was born and raised in the south, so I’ve seen lots of evangelism.

            If seeing a phrase on an invoice that in no way whatsoever effected the job my hypothetical employee was being paid to do caused such anguish that it was disrupting their work then, yes, I would have a serious problem with that.

            I don’t know, I guess I just live by my own self imposed edict “if it doesn’t fit in my hula hoop, it’s not my problem”. I guess I just assumed most other reasonable adults believed some similar variation of that.

        2. Temperance*

          I’m an ex-evangelical, and I can tell you that this is absolutely evangelizing, even if the wording isn’t on point. They want to get it in your mind, and on your mind, to think about God.

  41. Van Wilder*

    Ok, wow. I live in NYC and I’ve lived most of my life in this area so that’s where I’m coming from. But man, I can’t believe how willing most people are to overlook this.
    If I received an invoice with a religious quote, I would call the vendor, ask what it’s doing there, and if it could not be there in the future. Unless it’s a company that has religious values in their mission statement (which there are plenty of – Hobby Lobby, Chik-Fil-A), I don’t see why a random employee at a local franchise of a national organization should be infusing religion somewhere that it doesn’t belong.
    It may or may not make me hesitate to sign the invoices. But if your employees feel similarly to me, I’d call.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Interesting. After 7 years of living in the bible belt I found that this kind of stuff isn’t a hill to die on. So many times I day I was told to “Have a blessed day.” My favorite one was, after generously sharing my table at a packed food court, I was asked if Jesus was my personal savior. My response was something similar to, “Jesus(pronounced in Spanish, Hey-Zues)? No, but he does make a mean taco. But I don’t believe tacos will be my salvation.” But such was life in that area. I learned to appreciate the kindness and concern behind the statement and ignore the rest of the fluff that goes along with it.

      Anyway back to the point, I do believe geographic are may play into people’s perceptions of this kind of thing.

      1. Jinx*

        I was raised in the Bible Belt too, and I’ve noticed that I’m pretty apathetic about these things too. This is probably a cultural thing, honestly, because in that environment pushing back would get you absolutely nowhere.

    2. LawLady*

      I was guessing that the company as a whole is actually vaguely religious. For example, I work with one publishing company based in Nebraska that doesn’t have a religious mission, but is sortof Jesus-y in general. There are bible quotes under signatures, they pray before meetings, etc.

      Now hey, I think they’ll have a problem when they hire their first non-Christian who is like “hey, I don’t want to participate in this”, but that’s not my problem to solve. (And they provide good publishing services, despite the fact that I think they’re wildly unprofessional in their religiosity.

  42. Krissey P*

    Do these same employees have a problem with co-workers or anyone that they may encounter that is wearing a piece of jewelry that expresses their religious beliefs? Or a co-worker or another table at a diner that would say a prayer before a meal? There are expressions of religious and non-religious beliefs all day every day if one wants to be aware/look close enough for them. We have a client that includes a small brochure of some sort with each payment, usually expressing whatever religious season/holiday we happen to be in. One time they put in a fairly graphic one regarding abortion; yes it was not what I wanted to see at work, but no I was not going to make a big deal about it, I simply put it in the trash and went on about posting the payment to their account. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions, and can express those as long as they are not threatening or harmful to others. This world has come to the point that if someone is not in agreement with an opinion or belief, they are “offended” and everyone else much change their behavior to accomodate them. Bull-crap! Simply sign the invoice and pass it along to whomever needs to see it next to get the vendor paid.

    1. Temperance*

      The situations you cite here are absolutely not the same as what LW has cited. For starters, a person wearing a cross or Star of David is expressing their beliefs in an appropriate way; they aren’t making you wear the jewelry, nor is the praying coworker holding you hostage wtih their prayer (unless, of course, they are someone ahead of you on the food chain and they encourage you to participate).

      Receiving graphic and inappropriate religious materials from a client is vastly different than from a vendor. They’re paying you if they are a client and you can decline to work wtih them if you so choose. If a vendor is evangelizing, you’re paying them for the privilege of evangelizing to you.

      I’m an atheist – if I crossed out the God statements and left a quote about natural selection instead, would you feel the same way?

      1. Krissey P*

        If you crossed out the quote and put one about natural selection I would ignore it, sign off on the invoice and pass it through the system. I don’t feel like I have to acknowledge/agree/dispute every belief that people express. I have my faith and I am secure in it. If someone wants to have a rational discussion about it I am fine with that, if someone wants to degrade me for that I politely excuse myself from the situation.

        1. INTP*

          Frankly, it’s easy to say people should just ignore each other’s evangelizing when you are a member of the majority religion and the religion from which evangelizing is the most tolerated. As an atheist, if I attempt to evangelize, I’m seen as argumentative and disrespectful of religion at best, not just mildly annoying and unprofessional as seems to be the consensus in this thread. Hell, even admitting to my atheism will result in being seen as untrustworthy and without a moral compass by many people (I have been told as much by Christians who assumed I was a Christian due to my family and therefore felt free to share their opinions of atheists with me). I’m sure many other minority religions experience similar problems (I can only imagine the reception of a Muslim attempting to evangelize in the Bible Belt). If you’re in a position of privilege, which you absolutely are if you’re a member of the majority religion in a country, it’s important to recognize that reality might be different for the people in the non-privileged positions in that category, and be sensitive to that.

          1. Fawnling*

            +1. As an Atheist living and working in the Bible Belt I am afraid to discuss my (non) religious views with others. It has severely damaged a job I once held and the relationships in it (for the reasons posted above, I was deemed untrustworthy and my opinion on work-related things wasn’t taken seriously). There are a million things I would rather say to someone than “I don’t believe in God”.

            To those who are the religious majority, imagine the bible verses are replaced by quotes of a presidential candidate that you are strongly against. Would you feel that you are endorsing that candidate when signing off the vendor’s paperwork? (In the south, religion and politics get very heated so I am curious about this!)

          2. Temperance*

            I once was told, at a work function with my husband’s former company, that I couldn’t possibly care about helping people/charitable work, because, and I quote, “only Christ motivates you to help people”. It wasn’t a throwaway remark, either, she kept harping on me about it.

            At the time, I was interning at the domestic violence unit of my local family court, writing PFA petitions for abuse victims. The woman assumed that I was religious like her because of my work, and I politely corrected the assumption, and she went off.

      2. Chinook*

        “For starters, a person wearing a cross or Star of David is expressing their beliefs in an appropriate way;”

        But not all believe that. There was a new law in Quebec that stated that all government employees were banned from wearing religious symbols, whether they be a hijab or a piece of jewelry like a cross around the neck. The argument was made by a large contingent of atheists that they should be required to interact with someone who openly displays their religion.

        The irony of the law was passed in a legislature with a large crucifix hanging behind the speaker’s chair was noted but the government refused to take that symbol down due to it being a reminder of their historical past (Quebec was founded as a Catholic colony of France).

        1. fposte*

          It wasn’t passed, though–it was proposed and it died, and it seems to have been seen as mostly anti-Muslim. Interesting that it’s getting storytold as a successful law and one that got pushed through by atheists.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, but something similar actually happened in France. A full veil in public is forbidden, “conspicuous religious clothing” including hijab, skullcap (yarmulka) and large crosses are forbidden in state schools (not just for the staff – even parents who are volunteering are subject to these rules, as well as the schoolchildren.) Similar rules are in effect for any employee of the public sector.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I knew about the French one because it was pretty widely publicized (and the Quebec story may have crossthreaded with the French law in people’s minds) but that one wasn’t an atheist effort either. I’m intrigued that it’s being told as one, and a little surprised, I guess, that it took this long for me to run into that.

    2. Kelly L.*

      As I mention upthread, no, I have no issue with jewelry or personal prayer.

      I think your client was wildly unprofessional. Even leaving aside the controversial issue, nobody should be sending graphic medical photographs with their payment! I guess maybe there’s some rare situation in the medical field where there might be some reason…but in general, NOPE!

    3. Observer*

      Mostly I agree with you.

      However, graphic images about anything not related to the business at hand do NOT belong in professional or business related correspondence. I think that everyone on this list would agree that “don’t drink and drive” is as innocuous and acceptable a sentiment as you can get. But, accompanying it with a graphic image of the negative consequences of such would be wildly out of line. These are much more intrusive – and DESIGNED to be so- than any mundane line of text.

    4. Ad Astra*

      No, they probably aren’t bothered by coworkers wearing religious jewelry or praying before a meal because those are common, socially accepted expressions of religion. Smacking a quote about God on your invoice is not. The issue here is that the vendor is doing something weird and unprofessional, and it’s off-putting.

      Religion is not an appropriate topic for business correspondence because it’s unduly personal and makes some people feel weird; politics and medical conditions are similarly personal and similarly inappropriate fodder for an invoice. It shows that the vendor either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about professional norms. It’s not that I’m offended that the company is trying to honor God, it’s that I’m squicked out about them bringing God into my invoices.

  43. Temperance*

    I’m going to go against the grain here and say that this absolutely shouldn’t be ignored, and that it is frankly quite unprofessional for this organization to be evangelizing through invoices. This would be a big deal to me. I don’t care if it would make me the “PC Police” – what would the reaction be if I started stamping Darwin quotes, or statements supporting the Church of Satan on invoices? Not good. People wouldn’t be bending over backwards to support the org, or saying that it wasn’t a big deal.

    I wouldn’t bother reaching out to the local organization, but I would call the national one to see what is going on. If the local is so willing to be unprofessional by stamping all their invoices with religion, the national needs to know about it.

    For the record, I’m an ex-evangelical atheist. I know all the tactics and tricks employed to evangelize without actually saying “hey, do you know about Jesus?” or “Are You Saved?”. This is absolutely one of them.

  44. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Y’all, please be respectful of other’s opinions in this discussion; it’s not okay here to call people whiny, crybabies, or otherwise mock or express contempt for people’s feelings about religion. Cut that out, please.

  45. Will*

    I was 50/50 on this, thinking you could go either way until I focused on this sentence: [Our department has been accused in the past of being the “PC police” and being overly “sensitive” to every little need.].
    This makes me think you should let it go. Fair or unfair, you have a reputation among your company and the reality is that you need to be a little choosier about what battles you fight in order for your side to be taken seriously. You might also want to consider how fighting this issue affects the ‘next’ issue – the more your reputation grows (again, this isn’t fair but this is reality), the harder it will be for others to take your other (more important) issues seriously.

    1. F Manley*

      Heh. Ironically, that line made me swing the opposite way! “Well, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” I was thinking to myself. “You can just ignore that silly thing…” Then I read that the department has a reputation of being the “PC Police”, and I stop and go, “Huh. So there’s actually a lot of harassment going on, if very small stuff, and the rest of the organization not only isn’t particularly sensitive about it, but sneers every time people in this department point it out. Yeah, you gotta draw a line at some point. And if people around you are already being that kind of asshole every time you point out a problem, then it’s time to push back harder, not let them think that they’ve finally shut up your ‘whining’ by repetition of how silly it is.”

      1. Observer*

        Maybe they have a bad reputation because they are the only ones calling out real issues. But they might also have this reputation because they are like the municipality that asked technology vendors to stop using the labels “master” and “slave” on computer hardware because it’s offensive to African Americans. (For those who are not aware, this term is used for certain types of linked hardware. Nothing to do with people at all.)

        1. Will*

          Yes. We have no idea why they have this reputation, whether it is legitimately deserved or not. All I know is that the OP says that they do. In which case, fair or unfair, they have to pick and choose their battles for the greater good+health of the department. They have a…currency…for lack of a better term, and do they want to spend any of it bringing up this issue? I say no, hold onto that currency for another problem down the road.

      2. Observer*

        You could be right, or it could be the reverse, but either way “pick your battles” is always good advice.

        Assuming, for the sake of argument that you are correct, which would you rather go after? The invoices or the supervisor who insists that Christmas is really secular and so really EVERYONE must love the tree decorating contest. Or the kind of policy that effectively requires that people attend after work booze fests and that the women throw baby showers out of their own pockets, etc. OK, that last one is really extreme, but even without that, there are enough other, bigger battles that would be needed to be fought, and that’s what I would concentrate on.

    2. Not me*

      I’m not sure about this, but I did pause on that sentence, too. I’m just wondering what else has happened.

      Pick your battles. I can’t decide for OP, but I don’t think this is worth it right now.

      1. Observer*

        I agree. I do suspect, however, that there might be battles around this that will need to be fought down the line.

        If the OP and her contract manager are correct, some level of the company seems to becoming more pushy about this, and that kind of thing can spill over. Bland religious quotes on an invoice are one thing. Calls to repentance, admonitions about judgement, personal comments are at a whole other level. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I would be far from shocked if it did.

  46. Salyan*

    Just gotta say.. a truly welcoming and inviting work environment will be accepting of ALL beliefs – even religious ones. If a workplace doesn’t prefer to receive religious quotations, that’s fine – just so they recognize that they are not, in fact, being truly inclusive.

    1. Temperance*

      It doesn’t work like that, though, because if you are allowing evangelizing, you are effectively telling anyone uncomfortable with the practice that they need to suck it up and deal, and that their own religious and personal beliefs don’t matter.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Something about this statement and your and ali’s comments in this vein really bothers me, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I need to think about it some more.

        1. Temperance*

          I’m happy to engage further if you would like. I’m coming at this from the perspective that I’m an atheist, and that my atheism is just as valid and important as someone else’s Christianity. I’m also an ex-evangelical, so I really side-eye any “innocent” actions that try to sneak God into inappropriate places.

    2. INTP*

      This is only “un-inclusive” if they’re accepting of some statements pertaining to religious belief while excluding others. I doubt someone writing “There is no god” at the bottom of invoices would go over well, either.

    3. OlympiasEpiriot*

      If your religion requires that you constantly remind me of your religion, then it is like the bit about “your freedom of whatever ends at the point of my nose”.

      Everyone is ALSO entitled to freedom from religion.

    4. fposte*

      I agree with what may be your underlying theme, which is that “inclusive” gets used without a lot of explanation sometimes. But it’s not logically or even morally possible to accept all beliefs. You can tolerate and even happily coexist with individual people whose beliefs counter yours, but you can’t simultaneously accept the value your racial minority co-workers and bosses bring and accept somebody signing off with “White is right.”

      Sometimes I see this offered as a moral “gotcha,” though, and I don’t think it really works. You can be devoted to inclusion without having to believe that every viewpoint or action has an equal value or deserves representation.

  47. the.kat*

    Do you have a good relationship with the individual(s) issuing the invoices? If you’re able to have a conversation with them, why not ask why the invoice changed? You could mention that your employees noticed it, some were concerned about the change and would prefer not to have religious quotes on invoices. Frame it however you want, eg: inappropriate, nonstandard form, etc.

    Religion can be polarizing. Until you know why the invoice was changed, people (myself included) tend to jump to conclusions that are often the worst case scenarios. Sure, you might be considered the “PC Police,” but your comfort and understanding are important. If you don’t have a good contact there, ask around to see if anyone else does. Get your questions answered and voice your concerns. You don’t have to end a 10 year relationship or get everyone’s bosses involved right away. There might be a time to elevate the conversation, but it doesn’t sound like it’s right away.

  48. OlympiasEpiriot*

    1) Check with the parent company. Seems odd that there’s just Oh. Changes. Out of Nowhere. …of any kind on the invoices. Those usually have a format made by the Central Accounting Department.

    2) This would annoy me, too. But, I’d be more likely to put a dark slash through the trite epigram and write “MATTHEW 6:5!!!!” heavily on the invoice and send it in.

    3) I avoid doing business with any company that makes a big production of telling me about their faith. It is a company. It is most likely incorporated. So, imo, its only religion is capitalism. Now, people who work there possibly have religions but, they are working and possibly have a variety of faiths (including different sects of the same faith which can mean enormous differences…I go to Friends Meeting and have had relations with a family of the Apostolic Lutheran Church and HoooBoy! do we have major theological differences.) This sort of thing makes me very uncomfortable not so much for what *I* feel (as I tend to speak up for myself quickly) but for others, especially their own employees. Years ago, I noted that shipping company G.O.D. (“Guaranteed Overnight Delivery”) and first thought ‘what a pun!’ and then learned that the owner did that on purpose as some kind of ‘missionary work’. So, honestly, that likely would keep me from hiring them.

    This is not something common to other religions. Most Jews and Muslims I know would, I think, consider that idolatry. If I think for a few minutes, I could probably come up with some names that contradict that, but, none come to mind immediately unless having “kosher” or “halal” in the name of a food purveyor counts…and there’s no way anyone could regard that as proselytizing, could they?!

        1. AMG*

          It’s basically saying, keep finances financial and keep religious talk in the church. It was about taxes, but it was also saying that these are 2 different topics.

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Well, my response was a flip comment back; but, since you brought it up, yeah, that’s one way of dealing with it, but we no longer have Caesar’s head on a denarius and the figures on our money are far more populist, so I think the quote ends up being more about “government matters” than “financial matters”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      G.O.D. was delivering some items to us. We did not get them when we were supposed to. Days passed, still no delivery. I said, “Even God could not get them here. How bad is that?” I think their name works against them in some instances.

  49. Lauren*

    This would go beyond annoying me. I would demand they remove it but if I wanted to be particularly forthright (and whiny)–I don’t but I do fantasize–I might cross out any religious quotes I came across and write above them “Complete bullshit.”

      1. Tea*

        …what are you even talking about? While that’s certainly an aggressive move to do, that would be a pretty wild escalation for crossing out a religious line form a vendor’s invoice.

  50. Stellar*

    If the OP’s company decides to push back with this vendor, it might be worth taking the stance that all materials unrelated to the invoice are not welcome– religious or not. The quote changing from invoice to invoice suggests to me that the vendor could just as easily to not include it.

  51. animaniactoo*

    Sorry if this was raised before, but what about approaching it from the standpoint of asking them why they have it on there?

    “Hi, we’re curious about why you’re including religious quotes/messages on your invoices?”

    and then moving from there on the basis of having more info – maybe somebody higher up hasn’t realized this is being done and it’s a problem that takes care of itself based on your inquiry, or maybe this is when you push back and say “I see, well, we value our working relationship with you, but it’s making some of our employees uncomfortable. Would you mind leaving them off?”

    If you get a strong enough feeling about their entrenchment on it, maybe you drop it without doing that, but send a query to the parent company about whether this is their direction, or encouraged or allowable within the franchisee’s discretion. Etc.

    Ultimately, you might want to point them to somebody like B&H Photo – This is a nationally known Photo & Video equipment store with owners who are Orthodox Jewish, along with many of the employees. However, if you look at their website you cannot find a single religious reference or anything that tells you that unless you look at the Holiday Closing schedule. It certainly doesn’t appear on their invoices.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      B&H is an EXCELLENT example. (…says someone whose ass has been saved several times at their brick n mortar store when I have a tech crisis of some kind.) In person, a majority of the employees are orthodox, too, but no one is making a big deal about religion…they are all too busy helping customers and selling everything from Faraday pouches for your valuables with RIFD chips to HD tvs.

      1. animaniactoo*

        In particular, I thought of them because their store is in the heart of Manhattan, and yet they close early on Fridays and are closed on Saturday. There’s no reference as to why, they just post the hours and done.

  52. Jill*

    I wonder whether OP was a decision maker in using this company…before making any kind of statement to the vendor OP may want to check with the decision makers here and see if they knew that they were dealing with an openly faith based company when they made the decision. If OP’s company has no problem with it, it’s doubtful they’d want something said to the vendor.

    Personally, I’d let this one go. Anyone with any sense of logic would look at that paperwork and see that I’m signing it in my capacity as an employee doing my job, not in my capacity as someone officially endorsing the religious quote. Acknowledging a religious sentiment and agreeing with/endorsing it are two different things and, in this context, it’s pretty easy to separate the two.

  53. Denise*

    It’s difficult not to see parallels between this and some sentiments recently expressed on college campuses that merely encountering things one does not like is somehow an offense or an infringement on one’s rights. What people feel about religion is actually not the issue here, it’s the expectation that if they don’t like it they will never have to encounter it. That’s just incorrect. The employees could refuse to do their jobs in protest or quite. The owner could also cancel the contract or request the messages to be removed. But, I think that she would look petty doing so, and if they chose not to remove them, then what? Again, it’s completely her prerogative, but the businessowner has to figure out whether this issue is worth it to her business or not.

    And to be perfectly honest, I would question the ability of such employees to get along with people of different backgrounds since a quote on an invoice is so bothersome. Would they be offended by a co-worker’s religious jewelry, their inspirational quotes calendar, overhearing someone talk about a religious service in the cafeteria? My question for such an employee would have to be exactly what are their expectations when it comes to not encountering things they disagree with.

    1. Ad Astra*

      It’s not really about the employees’ desire to avoid people who are different from them. It’s about being put off by an unprofessional and somewhat unusual practice on the part of the vendor. Work is generally regarded as a place to avoid unsolicited talk of personal matters and differences, and religion falls neatly into both categories.

      It would be like putting a political quote on your invoices. It’s a weird thing to do, and much of the discomfort comes from violating that social norm. The most troubling part isn’t even the religious aspect, it’s the fact that this vendor — presumably an experienced professional who’s worked with a variety of clients — didn’t anticipate (or possibly didn’t care) that adding something like that to an invoice might make people feel weird.

      1. Denise*

        Whether it’s a weird thing to do or not depends on who you ask. Clearly it’s not weird to the vendor as they are doing it. There are also plenty of organizations that actually are religious in nature. My point is that such organizations exist and such practices exist despite some people finding it odd. So, the businessowner has to decide whether choosing not to do business with this company is worth it to her. And atop of that, she has to figure out what kinds of complaints she will accept from employees in the future. I think that if someone is really bothered by a quote on an invoice that it is perfectly fair to ask them what other religious references offend them.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I think you’re misunderstanding which part is odd. Nobody thinks it’s weird that religious people and organizations exist. A lot of people think it’s odd to bring up religion during a business transaction, or in other situations when you’re interacting with someone you don’t know well.

          Social and professional norms exist. Violating social and professional norms makes people uncomfortable. The fact that a business is choosing to violate these norms (or perhaps is unaware of them) does not make this an “what’s weird to some is normal to others” situation. Not all behaviors are equally valid. Ideas about what is and isn’t acceptable will vary from one culture to the next. It might not be odd in a different country, or a different industry. But OP and the vendor are presumably operating within the same culture — so the rules are the same, and vendor is being weird.

          But you’re right that the OP has to decide if it’s worth dropping this vendor, and it doesn’t sound to me like it is.

      2. writer of the religious question*

        I agree with Ad Astra. this is not about people wanting to avoid people- this is about a normally secular work environment now having religion as a part of their daily work. that isn’t what they signed up for. Everyone agrees not talk about politics and religion at work as an informal rule- it keeps the peace. People do say “merry christmas” or “happy easter” and no one gets offended because they have REAL relationships with these coworkers- they are not some random person that is throwing an invoice at you to sign with a brand new religious quote each day for you to read- which you must because it is ***RIGHT THERE WHERE YOU SIGN*** it is unavoidable. If the shoe were on the other foot- and these were quotes from Muhammad, the outcry would be enormous, because that is not a dominant, accepted form of religion. Added to that- some of our non religious employees do not want others to know that they are non-religious because there is a stigma attached to that in this area, and we’re careful not to put an unwanted spotlight on anyone. at the end of the day- this is just work, i want to make a comfortable space for everyone- religious or not. tattooed or not. gender conforming or not.

        1. Meg Murry*

          I think another commenter brought up a good point – is it the signature that is the problem, or the reading of the quote? Because if it’s the signature that’s the problem, someone upthread brought up the good idea of getting a stamp that says “Approved”, or even custom stamps for each employee that say “ok to pay $_______ from account $__________” and the employee’s initials.

          If the quotes were actually threatening (Accept Jesus now or you will spend eternity in hell!, etc) or were bashing a protected class (We hate gays! They will be punished for their sins! or A woman’s place is the home) I think you could push harder on this, but otherwise, I think this probably has to go in the “things you can’t change” list.

          Only half joking, but maybe you could make it fun by making a bingo card out of it, and trying to guess what the next quote will be? Or come up with a way to make it ridiculous, like how you add “in bed” to the end of fortune cookies?

    2. Temperance*

      I would assume that the person stamping Christian messages on teh invoices is the one less likely to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs, actually.

  54. LawLady*

    Ugghhh I just got an email this morning with the following at the bottom:

    Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
    1 Corinthians 10:31

    It’s irritating and makes me assume that whoever I’m working with lacks basic professionalism, but I just give it an eyeroll and make a mental note to talk to someone else at the company if I need substantive help.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I had a guy a few months ago sign an email applying for a high-level manager job in my organization with “Your brother in Christ”. I sent it on to the CEO and the VP of HR (my boss’s boss) as I was supposed to, but then also emailed the VP privately to mention that I found that signature inappropriate for a professional email and I’d be concerned about putting that person into a position of authority over other employees since he’d already demonstrated poor judgment in crossing the line between personal belief and professional interactions. He agreed and said he would talk to the CEO. They ended up not moving him forward.

      1. LawLady*

        Yeah, I think that’s my exact reaction. Do what you want in your professional correspondence (emoticons, bible verses, comic sans), but:
        1. If I’m your boss, I will tell you to stop being so obnoxiously unprofessional.
        2. If I’m your friend/coworker, I will try to politely tell you you’re being unprofessional.
        3. If I’m evaluating you (as an applicant, vendor, whatever), I’ll factor it into my understanding of your professionalism.

        1. Temperance*

          I highly doubt that’s the case. This man demonstrated a.) an amazing tone-deafness towards established standards of business communications and b.) a presumption that the commenter herself was a Christian, which is a really common microaggression.

  55. Rusty Shackelford*

    You know, I understand why the people who have to approve these invoices would rather not see the quotes. I find them annoying, often condescending, and unprofessional. But several posters have said that approving those invoices would make them feel like they were endorsing that sentiment, and I really don’t get it. The OP’s coworkers aren’t being asked to sign their names to invoices that are being sent out to others. They aren’t using letterhead with a Bible quote. They’re taking an invoice from a vendor, an invoice that has all of the vendor’s information on it, and saying “Yes, pay this.”

  56. Fawnling*

    I am currently employed at a heavily faith-based company and I am non-religious. I can understand how it may make OP uncomfortable because I was a bit unnerved when I first started working here and saw that my business card had a bible verse written on it as well as the company’s new motto which begins “To honor God…” Now it’s something I can mostly ignore. I no longer feel uncomfortable when I get the daily prayer emails and skip past them.

    But I will say I am still a bit bothered by my boss saying “We hope that our new motto will attract the kind of people we want to do business and weed out the rest.”

  57. J*

    I would push back myself. What bothers me most is that this is a franchisee and presumably the parent company is not known for being a faith-based company. Now if it was someplace like Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-a, maybe you should expect something of this nature but I can’t think of a circumstance where you would be getting regular invoices from either of those companies. Maybe catering from CFA but it seems like you would just be getting a regular receipt? And same if you are getting items from HL on a regular basis. I don’t share their beliefs (political or religious) but I will occasionally spend my money at either business.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I would be tempted to take a Sharpie to redact my personal customer information and invoice number and send the invoice along to the corporate office with a note that says “Did you know your franchisee in [City] is putting religious quotes on their invoices?” Maybe nothing will come of it, but I feel like if I worked in the corporate office I would want to know.

  58. DMC*

    This whole thing reminds me a bit about the first time I went through an In N Out drive through and did a double take at the religious messages on the packaging. I still ate the burger and drank the soda, though, even as I did my eye roll.

    1. Fawnling*

      Cookout is the same way. There is a verse stamped on the packaging. Kind of caught me off-guard the first time I ate there.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I did not know InNOut did that. So many people rave about their food but now I know not to go there if I’m in LA. Unless, is it possible to ask them for wrappings without that stuff?

        1. DMC*

          I’m not sure. I found it a bit silly to put denominational spiritual messages on a waxed paper beverage cup and fast food wrapping. But, I also firmly support freedom of speech (and I realize that restricting speech applies to the government rather than private parties), but if someone wants to express themselves with a religious quote, it’s no skin off my back, even if I find the context slightly silly (such as fast food and christian verses). Now, I suppose if they chose particularly controversial verses surrounding women or homosexuality, that might make a more negative impression on me. At the time, it was mildly off putting but mostly just made me inwardly roll my eyes as I sipped on the soda. I kind of find the whole thing a bit demeaning to religion (and any deity, if there is one) but that’s just my perspective.

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Freedom of speech, whether the Constitutional kind or just the Enlightenment kind, is properly assigned to individuals. A company should remain secular. They are incorporated. That is a non-religuous concept.

            1. DMC*

              Corporations have freedom of speech, too (courts have ruled) and of course not all corporations are secular. Some have missions based in religion. Of course, nonreligious corporations are wise to remain as secular and religiously neutral as possible, but there is supposedly separation of church and state and yet we have “In God We Trust” on our money and “one nation, under God” in the pledge of allegiance.

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                (1) That Supreme Court ruling is, true, currently the law of the land; but philosophically (legal philosophy, basic epistemology, or even — a case could be made here — aesthetics) the idea that a legal fiction that does not have a natural lifespan, varies in its nature between governmental jurisdictions and can be infinitely perpetuated be counted as a person is at a minimum arguable.

                (2) Religious corporations are a special type of fiction. As someone who performed Service for several years for a Christian religious institution on the Committee most bound up with Concerns of the Flesh (we dealt with the actual real estate owned), the biggest thing I came away with was that owning property is weird for a religious group. From my version/personal revelation of Christianity, Matthew 18:20 pretty much sums up why property or, indeed, anything that would intersect state or federal corporation laws is a non-starter: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Missions should be undertaken as individuals gathered (or Gathered) for a common purpose, not with strange financial law protections provided by incorporation codes. Not every society has these constructs.

                (3) The “In God We Trust” baloney and the idolatrous Pledge of Allegiance was brought into US culture at various times of fear of ‘the other’, immigration and waves of anti-communism. The “under God” part to the pledge was added in 1954 right before Joe “Find a Commie Under Every Rock” McCarthy’s downfall as a result of the Army-McCarthy hearings. Fearful people were scared of having the long fingers of the FBI and the John Birch Society pointed at them. In God We Trust was added to the money during the Civil War. It didn’t become the US motto until the fifties and the — wait for it — anti-communism hysteria.

                I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. I also don’t stand for it. When I was in school and we were forced to say it, I didn’t, frequently was sent out of the classroom, and my parents were called to school. They hadn’t told me no to, but they were perfectly happy with me not saying it. My mother had (I was told) been subpoenaed by a Un-American Activities Committee (not the Federal one, there little jumped-up committees all over the US staffed by wannabe Hauptsturmführers) and my father was very active in a large labor union and was perpetually being ‘investigated’ by FBI goons or even the Ag’s office. I had picked up that even though we’ve been in North America since before the Revolution, we weren’t ‘good enough’ for ‘Murica.

                And, Supreme Court case law can always change with another petition brought before them. Just because Citizens United v. FCC is ruling now, it doesn’t mean we can’t return to the state of the decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

              2. OlympiasEpiriot*

                PS: Ooops. That screed should have had “, for example” at the end of the last sentence. AvMCC wasn’t a wonderful case, either, but it was better than CUvFCC and I didn’t want to go into a long thing about corporate speech and the courts.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I first encountered this with a bible verse in my (terrible) sandwich on Alaskan Airlines. My first thought was “I hope the pilot and maintenance staff rely on more than prayers!”

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Oh, looks like they’ve phased it out now (I haven’t flown with them for ages).

        “This difficult decision was not made lightly,” the airline’s top executives said an email to frequent passengers. “We believe it’s the right thing to do in order to respect the diverse religious beliefs and cultural attitudes of all our customers and employees.”

        “We also know some of you consider the cards to be a tradition that reflects your own spiritual beliefs,” the email said. “At the same time, we’ve heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane, and some are offended when we hand out the cards.”

  59. Chickaletta*

    Eh, I could go either way on this debate. To me, simply placing a religious statement on a piece of paper isn’t evangelizing (although I can see how it could be to others, so I’m not trying to start a debate here). Evangelizing to me is when someone is actively trying to convert another person to their religion: inviting them to services, asking them to pray with them, asking them to believe in their God, etc. A quote on an invoice doesn’t do that; the reader isn’t being asked to take any action or believe in anything (other than pay the invoice). If you think you are being asked to believe in that quote, then consider all the signs and messages you see all day long and ask yourself if you feel that much pressure to follow every single one of them.

    Christianity has been developing a bad rap among non-believers for quite some time because of the small group of people who really do push it while being intolerant of other beliefs. I have noticed among my social media friends that the atheists are more sensitive to Christian propoganda than Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/Tao/Native American propoganda. They push for the religious freedom of the latter while rolling their eyes at the former, yet it’s so subtle that I’m not sure they realize they’re doing it. The litmus test is this: replace the Christian message with a message from another religion and see if you’re still offended. Be honest. Are you happy that the Taoist feels free to state what they believe? Would you really consider asking them to stop?

    1. Temperance*

      The problem with your hypothetical is that they aren’t comparable, though. Christians are the majority – the vast majority, which is why they feel comfortable to slap inappropriate messages in their email sigs and on invoices. Your friendly neighborhood Satanist isn’t going to do that, because they ahve to fear retaliation.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        But a Christian could use that same test successfully. If I feel a bit awkward seeing that imagined Taoist quote, then maybe I understand better why I shouldn’t put my own quote on the invoice.

        1. fposte*

          Or would gender would better as an analog, at least for women? If you worked with a vendor who put We Epitomize Manhood! and Don’t Be a Beta Male! at the bottom of their invoices, what would you think? (Aside from holy cow, compensate much?)

          1. A Cita*

            LOL, you’re in rare form tonight!

            I’m now imagining a new Geiko commercial: Alpha males epitomize manhood. It’s what they do.

        2. Temperance*

          Please take this with a grain of salt because I was raised evangelical, but my feeling is that the type of Christian who would slap those messages on an invoice would also believe that his or her faith is the only “real” faith, therefore the hypothetical Taoist is trying to trick people into following false gods.

  60. Megan*

    I really think that if there was an “acceptable” religious reference on the invoice, the PC Police wouldn’t have a problem. Islamic? Diverse! Buddhist? Spiritual! Christian? Boo, hiss!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think lots and lots of people would object to Islamic quotes on invoices, as our recent political discourse has made pretty clear.

      But it’s certainly true that when it’s the dominant religion, there are power dynamics at play that can make it more troubling.

      1. writer of the religious question*

        thanks for taking on my question. It has clearly stirred a lot of people up, so thanks for taking it on. Its sad to me that people think we’re being ridiculous for questioning it, but it is complicated question, and full of emotion for many.

        1. Temperance*

          Thank you for actually considering the impact on your nonreligious/minority religion employees.

      2. Megan*

        Christianity is the dominant religion but it is also the one that is acceptable to make fun of and belittle, as evidenced by this thread. I have found that a lot of workplaces that talk about diversity don’t count the majority as part of it and either work to suppress it on the basis of being non-offensive. For example, at my workplace, the “Diversity Committee” put up a holiday board by the vending machines to list all of the holidays for the season, religious and non-religious. Christmas was left off, as is Easter on the current one.

        1. Marvel*

          Can you point out the comments in this thread that are making fun of or belittling Christianity? Because I haven’t seen any, and I think Alison has made it pretty clear that such things are not welcome here.

        2. INTP*

          It’s a matter of privilege, though. When you’re the privileged and you refuse to see privilege, you of course think you are persecuted and belittled more than other groups, because all you see are the slights to yourself. But the thing is that for every vocal negative comment about Christianity, often a result of frustration with the negative effects of the Christian majority on the vocalizer, there are many, many microaggressions against minority religions and nonreligions.

        3. Temperance*

          I haven’t seen one single comment “making fun of” Christianity here. I have seen many snide remarks about atheism, though.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, I’d say the snideness has been tied to the “you are overly sensitive for caring about this, and you should suck it up and deal” way of thinking.

              1. Temperance*

                My apologies – I’m admittedly touchy on the subject as an atheist, especially the “overly sensitive” accusations.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  No, no, the snideness I’ve seen is coming from people accusing others of being overly sensitive. But sure, if you’ve been snide too, you may take the lumps as well :)

        4. Katie the Fed*

          So did you tell them that your holidays were left off? Or just assume it was an intentional slight? I’m also not seeing the persecution of Christians in this comment thread that you’ve claimed to see.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        Speaking of Islam, I was thinking about this earlier today and how it would be hard to speak Arabic as an strong atheist, because the language itself is really tied into Islam, and full of references to God (bismillah, inshallah, mashallah, etc.)

        1. fposte*

          But maybe it’s like “Goodbye” and English–it’s not necessarily heard as its initial meaning.

    2. Kelly L.*

      We actually talked about that a lot upthread! Both the prospect of different religions and the “PC Police.”

    3. Tea*

      Considering we have actual political figures of note in the United States advocating for the deportation of Muslims from the country, I somehow really, REALLY doubt that is the case. Playing up the martyrdom of the so-persecuted Christian majority isn’t a winning argument here.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, that’s an eye roll all on its own.

        I also agree with Alison that the power dynamics that come into play when it’s coming from the dominant religion make the situation more sensitive.

    4. INTP*

      Actually, if “Praise Allah” or “There is no god” were written on an invoice, I think that many people would have a problem with that. It probably wouldn’t be the highest priority of the PC police because political correctness is more about protecting the disadvantaged from the privileged than vice versa, but many, many people would take issue with that. It just isn’t an issue because it would offend or otherwise turn off so many people that it would be disastrous for business, so it rarely happens.

  61. Hillary*

    So I make decisions on a daily basis about what companies we’re going to do business with, buying a secular service for a secular company. Vendors that include evangelizing in their materials (and yes, I consider it evangelizing to declare your faith on an unrelated document) have the same level of distrust from me as the people who talk politics during sales pitches. To me it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the audience and the reason for the conversation. I don’t care if my carpet cleaner is an evangelical Christian, devout Muslim or Pastafarian. I distrust anyone who thinks that identity politics are the best way to market, because I want them to sell to me on quality and cost. It raises the bar they have to overcome to do business with me.

    I don’t get worked up over the rogue AR person with a religious quote in their signature, but I do raise an eyebrow at it. My expectation of professional includes a secular environment. It’s the same as if they can’t turn their caps lock off or take five days to respond to yes or no questions.

  62. Toby*

    Wow, our money here in the United States says in God we trust…do the employees at your company find it offensive or do they just spend it? This post is a tad bit petty. As long as they aren’t attaching pamphlets, let it go and keep getting that money that has God on it too.

    1. keri*

      A lot of people do find it offensive and are working to change the motto. Others find it offensive and make it a point to use cash as little as possible. Others find it offensive and recognize that it’s far too big to change on their own, and so they’re resigned to it.

      Religious mottos that are new to invoices may be offensive or upsetting, but as a new/small thing, it is something they can speak up about. Obviously they can’t avoid it and they can’t change it themselves.

  63. Incunabulum*

    “Some people are uncomfortable signing invoices with religious quotes because they are non-religious, and have likened it to feeling like they signed up to work in a non-religious place but now have religion foisted upon them on a daily basis.”

    “Our department has been accused in the past of being the “PC police” and being overly “sensitive” to every little need. We value diversity and inclusion, and those are not just buzzwords to us.”

    1. Those don’t exactly sound like they go together. You value diversity and inclusion – except for these people. Is there something particularly offensive about their ideals? Because IMO most Christians (and that seems to be the religion based on the quote uh . . . quoted) are pretty live-and-let-live in person. Those people who signed up to work in a ‘non-religious workplace’, yeah, explain to them that its a *workplace* and they’re going to have to learn to get along with (not *like*, not *accept*, merely get along with) all sorts of people because you’re running a *business* and not an organization for social change.

    2. As an atheist myself – just let it go. Tell your staff to nut up and respect these other people’s culture and religion.

    Signing an invoice is not saying you agree with this stuff. Them sending it out is not (necessarily) some sort of passive-aggressive attack on your office. And getting into a huff every time you encounter someone who doesn’t tow your lion only hurts *you* and your business.

    3. If you *must* get into a fight with them, then just send out your service requests with your own quotes appended. NOT anti-religious quotes, but ones that promote Secular Humanism or whatever. Then you can both look like . . . yeah, I’ma be nice and smart and just not finish that.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “Because IMO most Christians (and that seems to be the religion based on the quote uh . . . quoted) are pretty live-and-let-live in person. ”

      Ehhh…I don’t know that I agree. To me “live and let live” means not subjecting me to your religious views. And I’ve gotten plenty of that.

      1. Incunabulum*

        Its life, someone putting a quote on an invoice is not (IMO) subjecting me to anything. Hell, they could probably say something similar about you *not* replying with a religious quote – now you’re subjecting them to Godlessness.

        It does give you some valuable data about the business you’re dealing with and you can use that to manage your relationship. “Illinois Nazis 4 Eva!” is a sign that you need to look for a new vendor, ‘God is good’ is trite and harmless.

        But the *beauty* of the free market is that you can exchange surpluses to mutual benefit *without* having to get into bed (metaphorically) with these people.

  64. Rey*

    Whether or not you choose to speak to the vendor, I’d like to encourage your department to touch base with the people who are uncomfortable with the invoices. This, of course, is colored by my own experience as an atheist in the Bible Belt of the US, but hear me out:

    Along with discomfort, irritation, or a general dislike of seeing religious references in the workplace, if I were in their place I would be experiencing fear. A small and irrational fear, perhaps, a gut reaction rather than a logical one, but it would still be there. There can be real consequences to not belonging to the dominant religion, especially if you’re an atheist. I would be wondering if my workplace considered this kind of casual evangelism to be normal. Do I not belong here? Do my coworkers think I don’t belong here? Would my job or my relationships with my coworkers be affected because I don’t believe the same way? In their place, I would really appreciate being told that other people where I work, and especially the people above me, thought that these invoices were weird and inappropriate, too.

    I don’t mean to imply that anyone should base who they work with on personal religious beliefs, or that nonreligious people need protection from the religious beliefs of others. It’s just that there’s a big difference between “Fergus, Taylor, and Joanie all believe X” and “Fergus, Taylor, and Joanie all believe X and they assume I believe it, too” and the difference is the gut-wrenching thought, “What happens when they find out I don’t?”

    It’d be nice if you could let your concerned employees know that the answer is “We roll our eyes internally while dealing with this one client.” and not “This is the first of a series of microaggressions designed to emphasize the fact that you don’t belong until you give up and quit.”

    1. Jillociraptor*

      This is a really great articulation of why this kind of think irks. I think there’s also the element of, “Is success in this industry going to depend on me hiding parts of myself or being okay with being ‘other’?” It’s not just one statement on a page; it’s part of a larger set of experiences that just nibble away at you.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Yes, thank you Rey. You explained this really well. And for anyone who doesn’t think Atheists can be targeted, you should read up on the Air Force Academy shenanigans.

    3. Observer*

      The thing here is that everyone understands that these quotes are not coming from their employer, but from a vendor who was pretty clearly not chosen for their religiosity.

      On the other hand, acknowledging to staff that this is not something management is too pleased about and that it is legitimately inappropriate is a good idea. Let’s face it, they do have to deal, but it really is inappropriate. When dealing with reasonable people acknowledging the elephant in the room goes a long way.

      1. Rey*

        Oh yes, obviously their employer isn’t responsible for the religious quotes. For me, the problem of this letter was less that a vendor put religious quotes on an invoice and more that there were employees who were made uncomfortable by having to deal with them. If I were in the employee’s positions, having my employer validate my feelings and back me up at least as far as saying “Yes, this is not what we expected in our professional dealings with this vendor and we also find it off-putting” would ease my discomfort and make the whole thing easier to handle on a personal level. I think a little support, even if nothing else changes, can go a long way.

    4. keri*

      I think you have the best advice here with It’d be nice if you could let your concerned employees know that the answer is “We roll our eyes internally while dealing with this one client.”

      Not to get into my own story, but I have PTSDish responses to this kind of passive-aggressive religiosity (in addition to more blatant proselytizing or the like), and I would most assuredly resent having to look at these quotes all the time. I mean, it upsets me a lot when I encounter this kind of thing as it is. I would never make a fuss about it (as a non-religious minority in a very religious city), but just knowing that my coworkers/supervisor also thought it was off-putting would be a major relief. We can’t do anything about it, but at least we’re in it together.

  65. Shami*

    It’s amazing how some people can get their knickers in a twist over a totally harmless quote, which is basically their motto, i.e. “Honor God in all we do.”

    Would these same individuals even object to a co-worker having a daily calendar displayed on his desk having a Bible verse for each day?

    Atheistic’s claim that Almighty God doesn’t exist and yet they get so upset at even the mention of God. Strange to get so upset if supposedly (according to them) God didn’t exist.

    An atheistic has questioned himself why it is so important to atheistics that God should not exist. Is it because the idea of a God who will judge them and hold them accountable for their actions, is what really makes them ‘uncomfortable’?

    1. A Cita*

      Is it because the idea of a God who will judge them and hold them accountable for their actions, is what really makes them ‘uncomfortable’?

      That sounds a lot like claiming atheists are immoral.

      1. Shami*

        The reality is that everyone will be judged.

        The point is that unbelievers are hoping to escape judgement simply by ‘not believing’.

        1. A Cita*

          I’m pretty sure that’s not why we’re atheists. But your posts are provide excellent evidence for the those who don’t want to see religious quotes in their secular lives.

        2. fposte*

          The point of what? The invoices? Does that mean it’s okay if the OP’s company doesn’t pay them?

        3. Temperance*

          Nope. As someone who is not an unbeliever, you cannot possibly know what we think or believe, and I can already tell that you are not rational enough to ask or listen.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oooh, no, it’s not okay to say things like that here. I see that you are new to commenting here, but I’m going to put you on “all your comments must be moderated from now on” status because insulting others’ religious beliefs or lack thereof is really out of sync with how we talk to each other here.

        5. Incunabulum*


          We *know* that that’s not how it works.

          If God exists, its pretty explicitly stated that he doesn’t take ‘uh, I didn’t know *shrug*’ as an excuse.

          We simply understand that

          a) ‘God’ is not a very well defined term.
          b) Pascal’s Wager is woefully incomplete
          c) The evidence claimed for God’s existence can (currently – this is, as all science, subject to change) be explained without reference to God .
          d) Faith is insufficient.

          That’s it. We’re not running a cosmic scam, deliberately ignoring evidence, anything like that. Its not even that ‘we don’t believe in God’ as a positive act. We simply see no evidence of God’s existence and so don’t factor Him in – any more than I factor invisible pink unicorns into my worldview.

          We simply interpret the evidence differently and that leads us to reject (provisionally, subject to change as more evidence comes in) the existence of the supernatural.

    2. Rey*

      This is inappropriate, incorrect, and a fairly tired argument. No one is suggesting that the vendor is wrong in their beliefs, simply that an invoice is not the best place.

    3. fposte*

      And we were being so good about not atheist-bashing! I even defended the charge earlier. Oh, well.

    4. Temperance*

      We’re atheists, not “atheistics”. Your lovely comment shows perfectly why so many people would find the practice of including unsolicited and unwanted messages about God on an invoice “uncomfortable”. It’s funny how someone like you, who is taught to love thy neighbor and judge not, has clearly missed out on that part of the bible.

  66. Girasol*

    Here where the Bible Belt is buckled a lot of small businesses have company names that refer to religion (“Son”-something), or a cross or a fish or a Bible reference painted on the sides of their repair trucks. Around here that’s not considered unprofessional. I don’t see how it hurts anything unless they say (as an unfortunate few do) “I’m not serving you if you’re not of my faith or if I think you’re a sinner.” Most of them “do unto others” without being judgmental and they’re good people to work with. It seems only right to get on with business without judging them. Does that seem so odd in other parts of the country (USA I mean)?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know exactly what OP’s co-workers are thinking, but I do think it’s a little bit different when you’re seeing stuff out and about than when you’re seeing it in your own business, especially if it’s couched as an exhortation. I also don’t think judging them is inherently wrong–presumably people emblazon beliefs in big letters on their trucks or on their bumper stickers to announce to the world what they believe and they’re prepared for people to think what they will of somebody who considers it worth big letters on a motor vehicle.

      That being said, I’m in a part of the country that’s pretty big on this kind of thing too, and I only object when it’s tied to a claim they’re better because of it (I believe I’ve mentioned the Christian roofers who claimed their religion was why they were worth higher rates) or if it’s tied to an action or stand that I find offensive. You’re also making me contemplate the fact that there is a cultural and class element beyond “mere” religion here (not like they’re completely separate anyway), in that display and self-advertisement have been considered vulgar in some circles, usually the more historically privileged ones; see also: not using “Dr.” if you have a PhD.

  67. sam*

    I would just like to point out that this is a really good argument for everyone moving to an entirely electronic invoicing/billing system. :)

    (We actually kind of hate our various e-billing systems, but…I rarely have to look at paper invoices!)

  68. 2horseygirls*

    I used to work with a vendor who had a semi-religious email signature. He was the owner, it was his company, and he excelled at what he did. It surprised me, but honestly? Sometimes it was the first nice or positive thing I had seen or heard all day, so other than making a note of it, I didn’t devote a lot of time to thinking about it.

    I’m thinking might be a valid email signature for OP’s company “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.”

  69. Justin*

    They are words on a page…. Do the vendors products work? Do you sell them and make money? Move on to something productive that actually matters.

  70. Rosa*

    As a Christian I came upon this site in search of how to share God’s Word through my business. We do not share scripture to try to annoy people or impose our beliefs on others. We are following God’s will to spread His Word. There are those who will be touched by the scriptures because God has used those words to open your eyes and your heart to the truth and there will be those who will not be affected by them or perhaps be negatively affected by them. How are they negatively affected? They are annoyed. And so the way I see it is I’ll risk annoying a few people who are not ready to see the Truth in the chance that God used me to save a soul. As a nation we are working so hard to take God, our creator, out of everything…look around to what is happening in the world, we’ve given evil free reign and lost our trust in God. If there is a person standing in the road and a truck is headed their way, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to warn that person or even go as far as tackle them out of harm’s way? Followers of Jesus, children of God, that is what we believe, be saved or spend eternity in the lake of fire, believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and mine and submit your life to Him. How can one whole heartedly believe that and keep that to themselves. If for a moment you would entertain the idea that it may be the truth you would appreciate that someone would try and intervene to share the Truth with you. I love you all and pray for this world to unite under God, our creator, our Heavenly Father.

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