smokers in a shared conference room, giving bibles as gifts to employees, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Giving bibles as gifts to employees

I have a question about Christmas gifts from the boss to employees. It is inappropriate to gift a bible to each person in my office? I also wanted to engrave their names on it.

Sooooo inappropriate. Religion is personal, and it doesn’t belong at work. Especially because you’re the boss, this is likely to be incredibly uncomfortable for some people because there’s a power dynamic involved, and you risk making people feel uneasy at best and downright alienated at worst. Stick with non-religious gifts.

2. Smokers in a shared conference room

I work as a consultant, which means that I usually work in the same conference room with my team. When I’m at the home office, this means it’s about 6-8 people in one conference room. I’m not always working closely with them, so if I’m just working on something individually I could be in the lounge outside or an individual room (both places where people go to work) and it would not affect performance. We do not have assigned desks or offices — we use hoteling instead.

More than half my team smokes. They always leave to smoke so that’s not an issue, but the room and everyone’s clothes, etc. smell of smoke, to the point where my clothes and hair smell of smoke every day and it can be uncomfortable to breathe, especially since I had asthma as a child and these types of things still bother me.

Would it be ridiculous to step out at times to another room just because I can’t stand the smell? I haven’t wanted to create waves because I am new to the company and by far the youngest member, there’s not really much they can do about this, and they’ve been working like this for a while. Is there another way to handle this?

Not ridiculous at all — just the opposite. There’s absolutely no reason you should have to deal with your clothes and hair smelling like smoke. Then throw in the impact on your breathing, and your case for moving is unassailable. If you think it might ever be something people notice and wonder about, you should just give your boss a heads-up: “Hey, I’m pretty sensitive to cigarette smoke and I’m finding that the smell that clings to the smokers in the conference room makes it uncomfortable for me to breathe. So I wanted to let you know that when I’m at the home office, I’m going to work out of the lounge or one of the individual offices.”

3. Performance ratings for someone who’s new to the job

I’m a first-time manager and struggling with applying my company’s annual performance appraisal rating system, which must be followed at year-end regardless of the length of the employee’s tenure. I’ll be discussing this with my manager, but would love to hear your philosophy about these things as well.

We’ve got a standard five point system — unsatisfactory, needs improvement, satisfactory, excellent, outstanding. There are definitions for all, which are great, until you try to apply them to an employee who’s been in a complex professional role less than a year.

Compared to the job description, this employee is just about performing the bare minimum requirements satisfactorily and still needs to improve significantly. However, I consider them an awesome employee — they show great initiative and work ethic and are building skills much faster than I expected. I feel like I could justify giving this employee just about any rating, depending on how it’s framed, which makes the whole thing feel contrived. How would you approach this?

Well, it depends on what you’re measuring her against. Are you measuring her against the expectations for her job in general? Or are you measuring her against the expectations for a person who’s been there however many months she has?  Ideally she has goals for this time period, goals that are based on a realistic assessment of what a new person could achieve in this amount of time — and you can assess her progress against those goals, and draw a rating from that.

I wouldn’t give an “outstanding” to someone new to the role who is “just about performing the bare minimum requirements satisfactorily and still needs to improve significantly.”  I suppose if you think she’s out-performing the basic expectations for someone new to the role, you could make a case for “excellent.” But if you’re comparing her to the overall mastery of the job that she must achieve, that’s a case for “satisfactory,” although I’d make sure that’s accompanied by very enthusiastic narrative about her performance, an explanation that she’s clearly working toward an excellent (and possibly outstanding) level of performance and that the rating is a function of her newness in the role, and commentary on how thrilled you are with her initiative, work ethic, and progress toward mastering the job.

4. The ethics of wearing company-purchased clothing outside of work

What are the ethics of wearing company-bought clothing outside of work? I’ve moved to a city with a colder climate than I’m used to for a new job. Part of my job duties involve spending time outdoors, so the company policy is to purchase appropriate, non-specialized clothing (in this case, winter jacket, winter boots, etc.) for employees. There’s no company logo on the clothing, and no designated place to buy it from — basically, they say to go to any good quality clothing store in town, buy something that’s warm and fits you, and here’s the company credit card.

Needless to say, this is quite generous of them! But would it be okay to wear the coat and boots outside of work for personal, everyday use? I’d likely buy the same clothing at my own expense, but it’s certainly nice not to have to pay for it myself. My boss knows I’m not from around here and not as used to the cold, so I don’t think he’d say no if I asked him directly, but would it be ethically wrong to be taking advantage of this? I’d only be spending a small fraction of my time outside, so otherwise it would just sit there. Also, because I’m petite, nothing I buy for me is likely to fit anyone else — would I be expected to return the clothing if I ever left?

Unless they’ve asked you to reserve the clothes exclusively for work (which doesn’t sound like the case), there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to wear these clothes outside of work. Go forth and wear them without worry.

And I doubt you’ll be asked to return them when you leave, but if you’re wondering about that, it’s fine to ask your manager that question. (I’d strongly suspect the answer will be no, though, in part because you’ve been told to pick out what you want and these aren’t uniforms, in part because you weren’t given hand-me-down’s yourself, and in part because it just doesn’t sound like that kind of arrangement.)

5. Not so zen at my part-time yoga job

In addition to a traditional 9 to 5 office job (that I love!), I also teach fitness classes at a well known studio with multiple locations on the side. I don’t rely on the income from it, but I love doing it nonetheless.

I’ve been with my current studio for two years. While I don’t want to generalize too much, I’m something of an anomaly. There is very high instructor turnover and I’ve seen firsthand how flaky and unprofessional fitness workers can be. I’m diligent about covering classes for other instructors, have gotten involved in and lead programs for the company, and am proud of the fact that when I get a new class on the schedule, I stick with it.

I had been teaching two 6 a.m. classes at one of the locations. When a new batch of instructors was hired, I was asked to give up one of those classes. The rationale I was given was that they wanted variety and that it was company best-practice to not have the same instructor in the same time slot for more than one class a week. I had never heard this policy before and the manager apologized for not being more clear (though I was offered both classes by management, it’s not like I demanded them or anything). I reluctantly gave up one of them and asked about plans to give me a replacement class. That was in July and I’ve yet to get a new class.

The other day, I noticed that the instructor who took over my second 6 a.m. class is ALSO now teaching another 6 a.m. class at the same studio, in direct contradiction to the policy I was informed of before. Needless to say, I’m very frustrated. Should I approach management about this, and if so, what do I say? I’ve always gotten great feedback and am very involved in the studio and other programs and events that we offer. If there was any issue with my teaching, it was never brought to my attention and my attendance in the classes I do still teach has been solid. I hate to play the “it’s not fair” card, but I’m upset that a brand new instructor is being given priority over me when I have a proven track record of being committed to my both the company and my classes.

Yes, ask your manager about it. It’s possible that it was an oversight, or that the policy has changed since you last talked about it, or that there’s some special reason for the other instructor to have an exception to the policy.

Say something like this: “I’ve noticed Jane is teaching two 6 a.m. classes. When you asked me to give up one of my 6 a.m. classes a few months ago, it was because there was a policy against having the same instructor in the same time slot for more than one class a week. If that policy has changed, I’d love to talk about picking up another class.”

Depending on the answer, you might then say: “I hope that my seniority and track record here — and the fact that I got bumped from my old class for Janet to take it — mean that I can have first shot at the next early-morning slot that opens up. Do you think that’s something we can do?”

And if you feel like you’re not getting straight answers, you might want to say this: “If you have any concerns about my teaching and that’s part of the reason I’m having trouble getting another class, I’d be so grateful to know. I really value your feedback and want to make sure that I’m doing the best job for you that I can.”

{ 696 comments… read them below }

    1. Uyulala*

      And even if everyone is Christian, there isn’t just one translation used by all. Keep Bibles as gifts only for those within your own congregation.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          And the Catholic and Protestant versions are different in all translations – there are some extra books in the Catholic one.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            This isn’t entirely true. Some Protestants do occasionally use those extra books. They call it “the Apocrypha” and you can find Protestant bibles that contain them.

            But it’s still a bad idea. I wouldn’t even want a Bible as a gift from a fellow church member!

            1. Gaia*

              That is what the Apocrypha is! I studied all of the major religions in college and still have my old Oxford Bible from that class. It includes the Apocrypha but I could never remember what made that section different. Thanks!

            2. Callalily*

              Usually there is an assumption that fellow church members have bibles – so unless it is a super special bible or you know someone that wants a bible then it’d be borderline appropriate.

            3. paul*

              they’re generally appended at the end though with a note explaining th at there’s disagreement about their validity. Is that how Catholic bibles do it?

              1. Maxwell Edison*

                The New American bible, which I use (I’m Catholic), does not include any disclaimers about the Apocrypha.

          2. Megan Schafer*

            Wow. I would actually enjoy a book on how all the versions are different, but not the Bible itself.

        2. nutella fitzgerald*

          Oh wow I just got the joke about the “Ving Rhames Bible” on a recent Bob’s Burgers episode.

      1. Liane*

        Even in our church congregation, Bible gifting is very limited. Mostly when we recognize the young people advancing in school. They are given Bibles geared towards their new stage, such as one of the teen oriented versions for kids moving from elementary to middle school.

        For even an adult believer, as others have said, the version choice is a very personal thing. So even, OP1, if all of your employees share your faith, don’t give them Bibles.

      2. mazzy*

        I am christian and my thing is, anyone who wants one already has one. Or multiple. I have a regular one, a small travel one with a plain cover so I don’t “show off” how I’m holier than thou in public, a picture one from the 50s that is really nice and was my mom’s, and a Joyce Meyers amplified version. Anyone who has one probably also has one, and anyone who “needs” one doesn’t want one.

        1. Amy the Rev*

          Yeah, I already have enough study bibles…if someone wanted to give me a religious gift they could get me a volume from Feasting on the Word (best sermon-writing resource ever and the entire 12-volume set is crazy expensive), but most folks who would appreciate a bible as a gift already have all the translations/editions they want. Only context I could see this being appropriate is if it is a Senior Pastor giving gifts to the rest of the ministry staff (Associate Pastor, Music Minister, etc) at a church, or a Field Education supervisor giving a gift to their student minister, because study bibles can be expensive and we often need multiple translations/editions for various seminary classes.

        2. Honeybee*

          Mmm I don’t know. I grew up Christian and a really nice Bible was a common gift for the holidays. I gave my father-in-law one when he became a pastor because it was a special (and expensive) study edition with full color maps and translation notes and such.

          That said, you’d only want to buy one for someone that you knew very well and knew would appreciate it. Definitely no employees, and not across the board.

        3. sarah*

          I agree with this. I have probably…4 or 5 Bibles in different translations/for different uses. I could see purchasing another one at some point if a particularly nice version came out or a new translation that was something I particularly wanted or if I lost one of my copies, etc. But that would be specific to me and what I was looking for at that time. I don’t really have a need for an additional generic Bible selected by some other person. And I especially don’t have a need for a Bible selected by my boss! The only way I can see this being appropriate is if, say, the letter writer is a priest and the employees he’s talking about are church employees. But I assume if that were the case, a) the LW would have said so and b) it wouldn’t need to be a question because the priest would know if that was appropriate in his church.

        4. Kat M*

          Heck, I’m not even Christian and I own two. One that was my grandmother’s from the elementary school she taught in (when all the schools in Montreal were either Catholic or Protestant, never mind that my grandmother and a third of her students were Jewish), and the other is a more attractive volume in a translation I like. It sits in next to the Qur’an and the Kitab-i-Aqdas on the bookshelf where I keep religious books.

          There are always so many for sale at any thrift store or secondhand shop, plus organizations that give them away for free. I’d be really confused about someone spending so much money on purchasing a new Bible for me and engraving it with my name. I’m not likely to lose it, after all.

    2. MillersSpring*

      No. Even if the manager is 100% certain that all employees are church-going Christians, this is an extremely overbearing and pushy gift. Generally, people who want to have a bible already have one they like. Even if this is a special bible, such as an expensive study bible or devotional bible, please just don’t.

        1. Xay*


          I am a Christian and I already have multiple Bibles that I like. I don’t need another one from my boss.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yep. It makes some sense at, say, a Confirmation or similar childhood ceremony, since the giftee is a kid and might not actually have one yet! But even then, I knew a kid who got such a massive pile of Bibles for hers that her parents were thrilled to see a couple of non-Bible gifts mixed in. LOL!

        2. Koko*

          Yes, which makes the gift come across very “this isn’t really a gift that I expect you to value so much as it’s a pointed statement about how I think you should be living your life.”

          1. Spooky*

            Thisthisthisthisthis. This so much.

            Nothing says “I feel I should have complete control over every aspect of your life” quite like this.

    3. Erica*

      Same here. Giving me a bible would be the fastest way to convince me you had no respect for me or my work at all. That’s the makings of a toxic work environment, right there. The bible would go straight in the trash, and I’d be dusting off my resume.

      It is really, REALLY arrogant to assume that everyone practices your religion.

      1. Filmgal*

        SAME HERE. Straight into the trash after I documented it, took said documentation to HR, this person’s boss, their boss, and on up to the owner of the company, because that is so entirely OUT OF LINE that everybody needs to know about it immediately. I can not even believe that was a question on this website.

        1. Charlie*

          Yeah, it’s pretty bonkers. It’s not just over the line, it’s jumping it on a red, white, and blue Harley, on fire.

          1. Sci-fi_worker_girl*

            I take it as a good thing that they asked and yes, it was posted here . Often people who are convinced about lifestyle / religion / etc. can find it challenging to recognize the differences. She / he asked. Kudos for thinking to ask before doing. And hopefully not doing.

            1. KWalmostB*

              I agree completely. This is definitely the best place to ask.

              I’m an atheist and would be so offended by the presumption of such a gesture.

      2. Kore*

        “It is really, REALLY arrogant to assume that everyone practices your religion.”

        Even if you live in a very religious, bible belt-y area, it’s still completely inappropriate – there are still people who aren’t Christians there. One of my best friends lives in a VERY religious area in the south and she’s as atheist as can be, but she’s not as up front about it as she is with her friends because it’s difficult for her. So even if you think “oh, all of my coworkers ARE Christian, though” they may not be.

        1. Karo*

          Yup. I’m agnostic in the Bible Belt and only really discuss it with people that I know also aren’t religious. I said something to the effect of “you know me, I’m not religious,” to a *friend* a few weeks ago and she was genuinely surprised because I had apparently never mentioned it to her before.

        2. many bells down*

          I worked 5 years for a YMCA and I am not Christian. No one ever gave me a Bible, even though they had assumed I was Christian right up until my boss accidentally let it slip that I wasn’t.

        3. Honeybee*

          Yes, I grew up in the Bible belt and after I became agnostic/atheist, I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut about it. Most people assume I am Christian – particularly because my husband is religious and my in-laws are pastors. But I am not! and would be offended by a bible as a gift.

        4. ScholarlyCactus*

          I’m pagan in the “buckle” of the Bible belt. So yeah. Although now it’s turned into a joke in a lot of my classes (since a lot of “clear” religious symbolism goes straight over my head) it’s frustrating to constantly be having to go, “no, sorry, not anywhere near Christian”. Funnily enough, I DO own multiple Bibles, but one is antique and is several decades old (belonged to my great great grandmother) and one is a metal Bible for soldiers from the Korean War (or maybe it was WWII, I have relatives that fought in both). Either way, I don’t keep them for study. I keep them as a connection to the past I wouldn’t have otherwise.

      3. Spooky*

        Exactly. I’d probably respond with a cheerful Christmas card with my resignation tucked inside. “Sorry, the Lord’s calling me to another company.”

          1. Chomps*

            “…anyone else remember the Secret Santa sex toy?”


            I still think the bible is less appropriate. :-)

      4. Mel Mel*

        Same here. I would thank the giver politely and recycle it the second I got home. Then, I would seriously reevaluate my relationship with the company.

    4. Amber*

      I’m also not Christian and to me a bible is just another book (a book I don’t want) so it would go directly to Good Will.

      1. Meow*

        To me it sounds like a gift for the gift giver. She is doing it for herself and her own personal need to serve the lord.

        1. Jadelyn*

          This is 100% it. The OP wants to feel like they’ve done something for their god and their religious beliefs, it’s got nothing to do with whether the recipients would actually appreciate such a gift.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      I am not Christian and I am not fond of making waves but a gift like that would have me in to HR in a heartbeat. I have been religiously harassed before and I will not put up with it again.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        After reading my response, I shouldn’t have stated that so harshly. I should have not assumed that it was automatically given from a harassment objective.

        1. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

          Yet I do agree with you. I am guessing you live in America, and your harsh answer comes because you feel that, in America, Christianity is pushed into everything. Man, I come from a deeply catholic country and we think of Americans as religious extremists.

          1. Allypopx*

            Yeah I think we as Americans can react to this as sort of a hot-button issue, but the LW wrote in asking for guidance, so I think we should assume that this isn’t meant to be a form of harassment. From LW’s perspective it’s a nice gift, it just happens to be misguided.

            1. SG*

              It’s misguided sure, but it sounds like it’s also from that place of Christian American privilege, and is honestly offensive to those of us who deal with micro-aggressions and actual aggressions that stem from that privilege. I think it is important for LW to realize how offensive that can be, especially in a secular workplace.

          2. Anonhippopotamus*

            Yep. My partner is from Europe. He didn’t even know that one of his good friends was Jewish until like 5 years into their friendship, because people keep that shit to themselves, like they ought to.

        2. Xarcady*

          I’m a practicing Catholic and the only circumstances that I could see a Bible as an appropriate gift would be in a Christian religious organization where the gift-giver was absolutely positive that everyone was a member of the same religion. And even then, it’s an odd gift.

          Or in other words, I agree with you.

          1. St. Goodwill*

            And even then, I would only consider it if someone’s house had recently burned down, as it’s something that most people of faith have as a personal item, often as a gift from a relative or someone who has been instrumental in their faith formation such as a godparent or Confirmation sponsor. This likely scales to other faiths with the Koran, Torah and other writings that are considered sacred. If you are outside of the giftees immediate faith-formation circle (which DEFINITELY includes bosses) find something else that represents what you respect about them, even if it’s a gift card to take a break from work.

            Do I sound like I’ve donated bibles to my parish recently?

          2. SignalLost*

            Hah, I was offered a job at a deeply Christian company (the agency was having trouble finding people willing to attend daily prayer meetings both formal and informal) and I had all the other skills. I am super not religious. I also did not take the job, but I thought about it for a couple hours.

      2. Zip Silver*

        Unless you’re management, heading to HR is generally always a bad idea unless something illegal is going on.

          1. Gaia*

            And in this case they would be protecting the company. Managers handing out Bibles is bound to make people feel like they are going to be discriminated against if they don’t fall in line.

          2. Juli G.*

            Management giving out Bibles is a great way to put the company at risk so I think HR would be concerned here.

          3. MsCHX*

            Sorry you’ve had a poor experience with human resources! That is not true of our profession as a whole.

            1. HRChick*

              Thank you.

              If something like this happened, I would be having a strong conversation with the manager about respect and appropriate gifts. I would hope that employees know that I’m here for them as well, since a lot of our goal is to make sure discrimination and harassment don’t happen.

            2. Natalie*

              I don’t think you need to have had a bad HR experience to understand that their primary purpose is protecting the company. That doesn’t make them the employee’s enemy – many times the employee’s needs and the company’s needs align – but protecting the company is their raison d’etre.

              1. MsCHX*

                Aaaaaand there are several people on this very thread who actually work in human resources saying – NOPE. Not the case.

                Everyone is there FOR THE COMPANY. HR protects the legal interests of the company, HR protects the employee, HR assists employees and management in whatever capacity needed.

          4. Retail HR Guy*

            I never understood this complaint about HR. Aren’t ALL the employees there to protect the company’s bottom line in some way, shape, or form? Yet you never hear, “Maintenance isn’t there to fix things to make YOUR life easier as the employee. They are only fixing the things they have to so that the company can be protected from things like roof leaks. It’s all about protecting the company’s money with those underhanded maintenance people.”

        1. Graciosa*

          It’s true that HR is there to protect the company, but that means that it is part of HR’s job to protect the company from EEOC issues – and this is a religious discrimination claim in the making (assuming the company is of qualifying size).

          I would absolutely expect competent HR to intervene in this case, while I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to take seriously “My manager doesn’t like me and is on me every time I make a mistake.”

          1. Zip Silver*

            My HR department has written up a list of religions that do and do not have an actual requirement to bot work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so that we can be covered when we tell people that they have to work.

            1. fposte*

              Your HR department is asking for trouble if they deny somebody religious accommodation just because they don’t fit their list.

              1. Juli G.*

                Agree! Religious accommodations aren’t about specific, state sanctioned, organized religion, they’re about sincerely held religious beliefs.

                1. fposte*

                  Not as stated–it’s not only not necessary but risky. You don’t legally get to tell people that their religion isn’t associated with Saturday devotions and deny them time off. The law is based on the individual’s sincerely held belief, not the common tenets of the faith, and if your HR is telling people they have to work despite them stating a religious need your company is seriously asking for trouble.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Listen to fposte—if they’re doing what you’ve described Zip Silver, your HR is setting itself up for a different kind of religious discrimination claim if it’s trying to “verify” a person’s faith and then impose its understanding of what it thinks an employee’s religious practice requires on that employee.

            2. LBK*

              Yikes – that’s a pretty flagrant violation of the “sincerely held belief” standard set by the EEOC. You can’t tell someone what their religion requires them to do if they’re saying otherwise unless you have very good reason to believe they’re lying (and just saying “most people who follow your religion don’t take this day off” doesn’t cut it).

            3. Jessen*

              This is definitely risky. For example, I’m Catholic, and I’ve seen a wide variety of opinions within Catholicism on the permissibility of working on Sunday. Some believe it’s absolutely forbidden to work on Sunday, while others are more ok with it. You could get in big trouble for denying the former an accommodation because the latter are ok with working on Sunday.

              1. SimontheGreyWarden*

                This. I have always preferred Saturday mass (fewer kids, more ability to enter into the Mass) to Sunday, but if I was told I had to work Saturdays because Catholics go to Mass on Sundays I would flip my lid. Luckily I’m no longer in an organization that would ever mean this is an issue, but I would be incredibly put out and looking for something else.

            4. Lazarati*

              Most employers track this as advisory information. When an employee requests a change in hours or reporting (notice it’s an employee request, no presumption) it’s a consideration of the totality of circumstances. Employees often negotiate their own religious situations by working with their clergy/rabbi/imam and lay professionals, so employers should not presume anything. However if working on weekends is a requirement, that lets applicants know and make decisions, including questions to ask, accordingly.

              We do this each year with major religious and cultural holidays as we have 3000 employees from diverse backgrounds.

              1. doreen*

                Yes, it really depends on the purpose of the list. The agency I worked for 30 years ago had a list of various religious holidays (along with a few non-religious days) – but purpose of the list was to allow employees to designate which days they celebrated and get priority for time off on those days (although they still might not be able to get the day off depending on coverage needs and where they fell on the seniority list compared to others who had the same priority). It was not at all used to say “Your religion doesn’t prohibit working on ________ day”.

                Of course, it did not work anything close to perfectly, as there was no shortage of people who claimed to celebrate every holiday on the list just in case they wanted one of those days off for unrelated reasons.

    6. Lebkuchen*

      A supervisor I worked under but who isn’t my direct boss is a devout Catholic, she went on a trip to Lourdes and brought me back a miraculous medal. I accepted but felt super awkward about it because I’m not religious in the slightest

    7. Engineer Woman*

      I’m Christian and I still think getting a Bible from my boss is inappropriate. Even worse is if it’s engraved, then it’s harder to get rid of… I’d feel icky having to throw it out (especially if not a version I’d want) but then it can’t even be donated to Goodwill or anywhere else!

      1. Just Another Techie*

        Ditto. It’s such a white elephant of a gift. I’d look at it as a kind of nasty power play from the boss because as a Christian I’d feel very squeamish about throwing away or recycling our scriptures but I wouldn’t want to keep it either. Also I feel super weird about engraving anything with my name, bug putting my name on the Bible? What on earth? I know it’s traditional in some subcultures but I have a knee-jerk ewwe reaction to that.

        1. Nonprofit pro*

          Yes! My deeply religious MIL gave us an incredibly ornate crucifix that is covered in gilt and semi precious stones. She clearly meant for us to hang on our wall or something. The problem is, while we’re both catholic, my husband and I are not as religious and are not big on being showy with faith. We don’t feel right throwing it out or donating to Goodwill, but it’s just sitting in our storage closet.
          Such a power play.

          1. Marcela*

            Yeah. My mom gave me a wooden Christ, an exact reproduction of the one she had hanging over her bed all my life. It was a gift my father gave her because of their marriage, and it was a symbol of their relationship. At the time she gave it to me, she knew I had abandon religion and I had a very deep hatred for the Catholic church in my country (mostly for their opposition to divorce and abortion, given the consequences the latter had for one of my dearest friends, but no less because when in my last year of high school a friend of mine committed suicide, the church refused to say a mass for her or do anything to comfort her parents). She gave it to me anyway. She forced it on me. I was so angry that it’s hanging in our garage, close to my husband’s tools, for he is truly an atheist, and doesn’t care. I can’t even donate it, because she wrote something on the back. Grrr. I should put it into the trash, but it feels so disrespectful for all the non crazy and non narcissist Catholics…

            1. Ex-Cath*

              Could you donate it to a Catholic organisation that could use it and respect it, so you cna get rid of it without feeling disrespectful?

      2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        Same here! I already have multiple Bibles, I wouldn’t want another, engraved or not.

        In my office, if Bibles were passed out as gifts, I would imagine most of us would be politely (or not-so-politely) unsettled at the implication that our boss was trying to bolster/improve/inform our beliefs and practices. The absolute best-case scenario is alienating at least a few workers who don’t want their religious lives commented on during a work setting, and that’s before taking into account that there’s probably at least one person whose beliefs aren’t a neat check-box.

      3. TootsNYC*

        yeah, especially engraved. I’m not a fan of engraving almost anything–I feel like it’s an instant death sentence for the object; it can’t be regifted, sold, handed down, etc.

      4. Moonsaults*

        Oh it can certainly still be donated to Goodwill.

        I collect Bibles and Goodwill has it’s fair share of specialized Bibles, I’ve found some family Bibles before. They don’t care one way or another >:D

    8. Band geek*

      I am a Christian and I do go to church regularly. I already have a bible, in a translation I like. I’ve had it for years and it has notes everywhere in it from sermons and from my own personal study. So even I would not use such a gift. Unless you work at a church or religious organization, Please consider a non-religious gift.

      1. Clinical Social Worker*

        Even if you do work at a “religiously affiliated” organization, plenty of people work for those orgs who don’t identify with that religion, e.g. Catholic Human Services, Catholic Charities, hospitals, colleges etc.

    9. BananaPants*

      The ONLY possible situation in which this might be acceptable is if OP#1 is employed at a church and everyone else employed there is also of that denomination.

      Otherwise, no no no no. This is a really bad idea. I’m Christian myself, and I would not be happy to have my boss presume to give me a Bible with my name engraved in it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Even then, it might not be a horribly inappropriate gift but it’s still (in my opinion) a bad gift for reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that it’s religious. As others have said, people who want a Bible generally have one. And having it “engraved” (embossed, I think) means it can’t be regifted or returned. So even outside of the context of religion, it’s still a poorly thought-out gift.

    10. Temperance*

      Seriously I would probably give my notice right then and there. I’m an atheist, and this would be greatly offensive.

      1. Katniss*

        I would definitely be job searching, unless everyone else on my team was clearly as baffled as I was.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Honestly, receiving this kind of gift *from my boss* would be a clear signal to me that I don’t belong and if I didn’t quit on the spot, I’d be resigning as soon as I possibly could. I’m a pagan – Luciferian witch, if you want to get specific – and receiving a personalized Bible would be super upsetting. I deal with enough disrespect to my non-mainstream religious beliefs, I don’t need it from work too – especially someone who has power over my reviews and pay and such.

    11. aebhel*

      Yeah, I’m an atheist and I’d probably just roll my eyes and dredge up a ‘thank you’, but plenty of people will be offended by this. Christianity isn’t universal, and even among Christians this would be an inappropriate gift, unless you all work at a church.

      1. fposte*

        The other point is that the OP is presumably thinking of this as a meaningful gift, à la confirmation presents, that conveys respect and shared values. And it’s not doing that even in the best-case scenario.

      2. Julia*

        I think whether you can find the gift simply annoying or threatening depends more on your workplace than on your general disposition. Are you expected to become a Christian now? That would warrant more than an eye-roll for most people.

    12. LQ*

      Sign me up for the no train. I’d much MUCH rather have nothing than a bible. If the bible is the only gift you can think of, it is 10000000% ok to not give a gift. You aren’t obligated to give a gift. It’s ok to just say thanks, or even to say nothing. Seriously. Don’t do it.

    13. Maris Von Scharis*

      I would also be offended by a bible as a gift. Getting one from the boss would be the impetus for a very aggressive job hunt.

    14. lawsuited*

      Alison – could we perhaps do a reader poll for “strangest holiday gift received from your boss”?

      I once received a 17″ x 17″ framed caricature of myself as a Peanuts character from my boss. He’d had it specially commissioned and I was required to hang it in my office.

      1. the gold digger*

        My husband’s parents gave us a photo of themselves for Christmas a few years ago. We had the option of one of two frames.

        And they also gave us a cast-iron cat.

        It was a bizarre Christmas.

        PS That photo has been in a drawer since we brought it home. If Primo dies before I do, I will take it outside, open the grill, light a match, set it on fire, and watch it burn.

            1. SebbyGrrl*


              I recognized the reference right away and thought, “OMG I AM behind on my Gold Digger Blog! An update about the Hummingbird tables!? Merry Christmas to me!

        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          My mother-in-law gave us a picture that we refer to as the funeral picture. It looks like the sort of professional photo that I would envision being set next to a closed casket funeral. It’s just…creepy. I can’t really explain why it’s so creepy, but it is and we shoved it in a closet. It was definitely a bizarre gift to open.

          1. Trig*

            One Christmas, my mom gave us a small frame containing three pictures of her and my dad. She had them because they’d taken portraits for the church directory. And I guess she figured she didn’t have any pro photos of the two of them that weren’t from their wedding, so why not! She brought my dad along (he doesn’t go to church and I don’t think was in the directory), and they did get some nice photos (he’s actually smiling!) but they’re definitely the Lifetouch School Photo or Sears Family Photo Studio type of photo with weird hand poses and gradient colour backgrounds, rather than the more modern/natural professional family photo.

            It was… a weird gift. I think it’s in a box somewhere? I like hanging photos on my walls, but, like, nature or travel landscapes, not stilted portraits.

      2. Joseph*

        That would be a really interesting topic. Maybe post that in the work open thread on Friday – I can’t even imagine some of the weirdness people have gotten.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Your boss did this, too??!

        Seriously: The husband for one of our managers said the Exec. Director reminded him of Peppermint Patty. When she shared the observation, everyone else asked ask which Peanut they were, and of course some of the associations made people upset. Later that year, staff received digital prints in which they were “Peanutized” to look similar to their Peanuts character.

      4. Mookie*

        Don’t know if they rate as strangest, but twice I’ve been given mystery audible gifts by highers-up: the jewel case of a used CD (lacking said CD) and a blank, label-less LP (I’m assuming was meant to be a bootleg of something interesting and rare given the context of our working relationship). It infuriates friends who learn about these because I absolutely refuse to ever ask the gifters what they were intending; I’d rather bask in the warm glow of ignorance and imagine what I’m missing.

    15. Marillenbaum*

      I’m technically Christian, but I wouldn’t even want a Bible as a gift from another congregant at my church! I’ll buy my own. If it’s going to be a gift from anyone, it would need to be a close family member. Heebie-jeebies, big time.

    16. bkh*

      I’m not Christian, and if someone gave me a Bible or Talmud or Quran, I would accept the gift in the spirit it was given, receive it with grace and thanks, take it home, and store it with all such gifts (after a quick skim through to ensure that no bonus cheques or other notes were hidden in the pages).

      I would also critically evaluate my work environment and determine if I needed to move on. But for the most part, I would smile, say thanks, and never speak of it again.

      1. CeeCee*

        This is how I would react as well. I wouldn’t be offended, I would say thank you, then I’d take it home and stick it in my “To Donate” pile. In general, you can’t police what gifts other people give you. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss. Say thank you, smile, let it go.

        I’d also probably make sure my resume was up to date.

        1. MsChandandlerBong*

          We can’t police what gifts other people give us, but oh how I wish we could! I would have been able to avoid the abominable snowman potholder with the (expired) cookie mix attached, the cranberry-sauce-scented antibacterial hand gel purchased “for 10 cents after Thanksgiving,” and a whole host of terrible gifts.*

          *These both came from my best friend, who is a lovely person. She just has this thing where she gives people gifts that SHE would like.

          1. CeeCee*

            Sure you could. I’m sure someone else out there with your name is looking through Goodwill or a Thrift shop for a bible with their name on it right now!

            (And that’s exactly what I would tell myself when I donated it!)

      2. HannahS*

        You’re assuming that the spirit in which it’s given is “This means a lot to me, and I want to share it with you.” But speaking from experience, the spirit often includes a big dose of “You should stop being Jewish. It’s wrong, and Christianity is right.” That’s not something I’m willing to respond graciously to, especially when there’s a power dynamic involved.

        Also, can we please stop talking as if other religions are equally guilty of this kind of behaviour? There aren’t equal numbers of bosses wondering if they should give out Talmud sets and Korans. Whenever we see inappropriately religious gifts, they’re Christian (my boss gave me a cross, my boss insisted I decorate my cubicle for Christmas, my boss wants to give me a bible), and that’s relevant! It plays into the dominance of Christianity in North America, and involves a power dynamic that isn’t present in other situations.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Yes, it’s the same as the Santa Claus thread drift the other day – in the USA/UK no one is having to have mandatory traditions from non-Christian religions presented as part of the day-to-day life that they should just suck up.

          In fact, there’s the opposite, all the “war on Xmas” media outrage that eg a primary school has a multicultural winter celebration instead of a nativity play.

        2. Sas*

          Eh, I think “Also, can we please stop talking as if other religions are equally guilty of this kind of behaviour? ” seems like nit-picking in a way. All religions have down sides. You’ll notice people sort of saying one is not like the others, when really that is not true.

          1. HannahS*

            I disagree. I’m talking about the specific behaviour of proselytizing in the workplace, in the US and Canada. That’s not something that all religions equally do, because not all religions are equally privileged here.

            1. Sas*

              This is off topic. I don’t know as though one religion is comparable to another in any one small aspect or another. That is why we are adults.

              1. Silmaril*

                I’m not sure if you are just communicating poorly or being deliberately obtuse here. You seem to be missing the point rather spectacularly, in any case.

          2. Sas*

            I had plenty of friends who were one religion that said, religion– doesn’t have as much of an outreach as Christianity. Well possibly, but who says that more closed off ones don’t have their equal amount of unpleasantries? (Think abounding mamma’s boys.) You can see why generalizations are good and not.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Sas, I don’t know if you’re doing this on purpose, but you’re taking HannahS’s comment and going way off track, and you’re definitely not engaging with what she actually wrote.

          3. MashaKasha*

            While it’s true that all religions have downsides, I have only ever seen one (here in the US) continuously trying to assert itself as the state religion, while simultaneously complaining about being oppressed by other religions, or by the non-religious.

            This is not nit-picking or off-topic, because giving everyone in the office an artifact of the “power religion”, if you will, sends a different message.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Sing it, Hannah! As an infidel, the relentless onslaught of behaviors and comments completely degrading one’s belief system are exhausting… and I grew up in the “liberal” Bay Area. There’s the straight up harassment, which is easy to identify, but the seemingly benign practice of normalizing Christian icons as somehow “neutral,” thereby erasing other belief systems, is like Promethean eagles.

        4. SarahTheEntwife*

          I’m kind of delighted at the mental image of someone giving out Talmuds, just because the darn things are huge. “Hi, I built a book fort on your desk; happy Hannukah!”

      3. SG*

        lmao if someone gave you the talmud- you know that’s a TON of books right?? also hang onto that- it’s hard to get a complete talmud for less than a few hundred bucks.

        I think you’re thinking of the tanakh ;)

        1. HannahS*

          That made me laugh too! A Talmud is, like, a wedding present. Even my dad’s “pocket” version is a set of books that takes up half a bookshelf. Not a casual gift at all.

        2. Mookie*

          It’d be kinda cool though if everyone at work got a different book, so it’d be like a puzzle to put together. Once the set was complete, scavenger hunt-style, it could be raffled off for charity or donated to a school or university.

    17. Bonky*

      I am not a Christian, but I have a couple of different translations in the house…and a Koran, and a Lotus Sutra, and a Bhagavad Gita. This gift wouldn’t just be weird; it’d be superfluous – and I’m guessing it’d be the same for a lot of other non-Christians. (I also assume that Christians would already have their personal Bibles, and so it’d be superfluous for them too.)

    18. Retail HR Guy*

      What would be the point of giving a Christian a bible, anyway? It’s the one book they are guaranteed to already have.

        1. MashaKasha*

          Can we just give the bible giver’s home address to a local JW congregation, tell them this person is very interested in learning more and joining, and they will take it from there?

  1. Artemesia*

    #5 Two things jump out at me — one is the cold freeze out the OP is apparently getting. For whatever reason they are not enthusiastic about her teaching and are dealing with it passively. The fact that they haven’t tried to add another class or discuss it shouts this.

    But another possibility is that the new instructors are full time employees and thus get priority. But if it isn’t this, then it is the first and perhaps it is time to have a frank discussion with the manager — perhaps not asking if they are happy with the teaching, but at least an idea of future plans.

    1. Cody's Dad*

      I see it more as how the place is dysfunctional which is why there od such high turnover in staff. They over hired in anticipation of people leaving and then needed anot her class for a new employee. For what ever reason the new employee got another class a few months later at the same time slot. OP should say something about wanting another class while watching closely how the facility is run. If she is as good of an employee she says she is maybe it’s time to move on to another gym like all those employees before her.

      1. OP5*

        Yeah, I’ve been thinking about looking elsewhere but I do really love the place. I get why they have turnover (and part of it because teaching isn’t for everyone; some people will start and then quit after just a few weeks because they realize it’s not what they expected) but it’s frustrating to be an anomaly and not treated as such.

        1. animaniactoo*

          OP, I think you need to be very very careful here not to expect any difference in the handling of your schedule for “being an anomaly”.

          The same as all other employees? Yes – and you have an argument on that basis. But being an anomaly should mean that you get a little more leeway when it comes to something like having needed a sub 2x in a short period of time. You have a track record that means you shouldn’t be considered unreliable for that.

          But as far as scheduling goes – yes to wanting to retain you, no to all the opportunities you may want or see available. Because they need the freedom to try and make opportunities available to others and retain other teachers on that basis, without you essentially calling “dibs!” for having a strong track record with them. (I know that you’re trying to avoid being in this mindset, so putting this

          Towards that end, think also about whether the studio can *support* a 4th morning class before you proceed. Would there really be enough demand to fill all 4 classes, or would you just be taking away from one of the others? Because in the latter case, then all you end up with is paying an additional teaching fee for the same amount of clients, and that’s poor business practice. And is there any possibility that Janet is teaching a 2nd morning class because she brought in the clients that make it possible?

          If they can’t really support another class, I think I would approach this as “I noticed Janet is taking a 2nd class. I was told that the new setup was that teachers aren’t supposed to have two morning classes, so I’m curious why she has two?”

          Maybe she’s super-tight on bills and they’ve granted her a one-time exception. If so – let it go. I would only really challenge this if it becomes a pattern vs a potential one-time exception. At which point, you could ask to switch off doing the extra morning class for each session, or some other arrangements which gets you *back* the same opportunities that she’s getting.

          1. OP5*

            To be clear, I don’t expect special treatment nor am I calling “dibs” on classes; I was offered both morning classes and accepted them and given my strong track record, I was frustrated that I was asked to give up a class that I taught consistently. The timeslots are set and as teachers’ availabilities change, classes are filled with other instructors. There is a 6am class every weekday morning and attendance in the class that she took over has dropped significantly. I’m planning to bring it up with my manager and I think Alison’s approach is the direction that I was looking for.

            1. animaniactoo*

              Right, and I apologize if this came off wrong (and I see I left unfinished the part where I started to talk about it), but the thing is that you were offered both morning classes – and expect(ed) to keep them rather than expecting that things might get shuffled in a way that is completely normal for most gyms. I called it out for your consideration because of this “it’s frustrating to be an anomaly and not treated as such”.

              In part, some gyms do this because they don’t want people to get too attached to one instructor. Because if the instructor leaves, they don’t want the clientele following them to their new location, they want the attachment to be to the gym itself.

              Based on the falling-off-attendance, I think you could talk to them about the idea of helping to mentor in and transitioning off to new instructors. So that the new instructors get a sense of what the people who come into that class are expecting, and the clients get a handoff so they don’t feel like they were just suddenly switched to somebody else. New instructors can then experiment some within that framework “let’s switch it up today, I want everybody to X for 5 minutes” and see what the class is willing to accept as part of the change.

              1. Hrovitnir*

                This is off-topic, but I thought the point about not wanting clients to get too attached to one instructor was interesting. I would be deeply unimpressed if I went somewhere where they changed instructors on the regular and absolutely would not stay – I do get attached to the instructor and given that there is absolutely no way to make all instructors appealing to everyone you’re just not going to change that tendency. For me my feelings about the instructor are about 80% of my decision of where to train.

                /completely irrelevant ramble

                1. Dolorous Bread*

                  Yes, I agree with this. I specifically go to classes of instructors I like, sometimes even “following them around” to different studios if they’re teaching there and I can make it. If I don’t like an instructor, I don’t go to the class. Even if it’s the only time frame I can make. Sometimes that means I don’t go to the studio at all.

        2. Beck*

          I wouldn’t be surprised if Janet got the extra class because they’re paying her less as a newer instructor. Do you know if the rate per class are the same for every teacher or dependent on experience?

          1. OP5*

            The pay rate is the same. I’m less frustrated that I was asked to give up a class for a newer instructor and more frustrated that they allowed her two classes at the same time when I was told that that wasn’t an option.

            1. MillersSpring*

              It seems like several months passed between you losing the class and Susie gaining it, so when talking to them you can assume that they possibly forgot the reason they gave you.

            2. catsAreCool*

              Is management also flaky? Maybe they took your class because they thought it would be more fair to give one to a new person, and just gave that excuse, then they didn’t think about it when they gave her another class. It might not be personal or policy, just flakiness.

    2. OP5*

      OP5 here. There’s almost no one who is full time so that’s not the issue. I’ve been asked to lead/participate in other programs so I don’t feel totally frozen out. It’s very odd and I think it’s more of a management issue than anything e;se. But I wasn’t sure how or if to approach my managers about it since it felt like an “it’s not fair!” kind of move to pull.

      1. AMD*

        I think part of the key to Alison’s approach is that you go in with a tone of genuinely assuming there is no unfairness, but that since circumstances are different now you would like to take advantage of that as is totally reasonable. Does that make sense?

      2. Whats In A Name*

        I work as a PT instructor as well and have for years. One thing I have learned is that policies change based on what works most conveniently for the club and what gives the group fitness coordinator the least headache. Period.

        Whether or not or an instructor is popular/reliable/ethical doesn’t really play into it. I have been told back-to-back classes is forbidden and then months later scheduled back-to-back with the explanation that it’s “frowned upon” but can be justified.

        My bet would be that this newer instructor B went to group ex coord. and said “I heard Suzie is giving up the 6:30 a.m. on Thursday and I am willing to take it.” She just handed management an easy solution to an upcoming problem and they didn’t have to risk her bailing out if they said they wanted to ask around for someone with more seniority first.

        Asking wouldn’t hurt but I 100% wouldn’t take it personal – it’s just how it works.

        1. OP5*

          I’m definitely realizing this now. It’s frustrating coming from a more traditional “corporate” world into one that is much more driven by emotions.

    3. Emmie*

      Is there a difference between attendance at OPs classes and the other instructor’s classes? Higher class enrollment may trump seniority. OP has my sympathies. Fitness employers are dramatic with high employee turnover and usually unprofessional in my experience.

      1. OP5*

        Morning attendance is pretty consistent between days. Attendance in the newer instructor’s class has been much lower which is to be expected with a new teacher. There’s a reason I only do this part time…it’s a lot to deal with and doesn’t pay nearly enough.

        1. Product person*

          For what’s worth, OP5, I’d also be very frustrated with the situation. Even if there is a good reason, a good manager would have paid attention to the fact that you (a reliable / long tenure / etc. instructor) had had to involuntarily give up a 6am slot to the new instructor, and taken the time to explain the situation to you.

          Let’s say the new instructor learned of the vacancy and asked for the slot. The right thing to do would be to check back with you if you didn’t want it, since you had to give a similar one up earlier. If you did want it, the manager should explain to the new instructor that because of your seniority, you had priority to get the slot.

          Unless there’s a hidden business reason (which should have been explained to you) or the company for some crazy reason prefers to have a high turnover rate (and is trying to get rid of you), I don’t see any logic in what they’re doing. I hope you’ll use Alison’s suggestion and come back to update us!

        2. Emmie*

          Best of luck to you, OP 5. It seems like you care a lot about your yoga craft, and it’s too bad you have to deal with the drama.

  2. Naomi*

    At least OP #1 wrote in to AAM before actually giving out Bibles! That’s preferable to seeing a letter in a few weeks that says “Dear Alison, my boss gave me us Bibles as gifts and now I’m feeling really uncomfortable with them bringing religion into the workplace.”

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I suspect, like many inappropriate gift ideas, it comes from a well-intentioned place: someone thinks “I would love to get a gift like this! What a beautiful Bible/delicious ham/trendy miniskirt/adorable rice sculpture,” and doesn’t even imagine that someone else might be non-religious/keep kosher/not wear miniskirts/have different sculpture tastes.

        It doesn’t mean the gift becomes appropriate because the intentions were good, though.

          1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

            So do I. With Alison’s references to rice sculptures I always pictured them as an individual grain, as opposed to a larger sculpture of a human figure, for example, made out of a pile of sticky rice or something.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Oo! I had been imaging them as giant sandcastle type things, but an individual sculpted grain sounds amazing.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I’m Christian, and I prefer to select my own Bible, not have one given to me that someone else thought everyone would like.

        2. MashaKasha*

          Right. I made that mistake once. Back in my church years, I went to a bible study group once where they were giving away bookmarks with the Lord’s prayer printed on them. I brought a handful to work, pulled aside a coworker who I knew was Christian, and asked her who in the office, to her knowledge, would appreciate this bookmark as a gift. She gave me a list of names and, as it turned out, her information was only off by one person. I went to give a bookmark to this one woman and she looked horrified, and flat out refused to take it. I was mortified as well (still am ten years later). But honestly, all that went through my head was “what a pretty bookmark with flowers on it, I love to have one and I’m sure a lot of people would love one too”. It’s good that I tried to get the intel first, but a better idea probably would’ve been not passing them out in the office at all.

      2. Princess Carolyn*

        In addition to Elizabeth the Ginger’s explanation, I have a hunch that OP may live in (or originate from) a community where this religious gifts are common in secular environments.

        I think the best case scenario is that OP’s employees receive the Bibles, think “Oh, what a nice Bible,” and then continue using whatever Bible they were already using. It’s likely to to just sit on a shelf for eternity even if the employee is a practicing Christian. I don’t think I’d give a Bible to anyone unless I knew they were looking to replace a worn-out copy or they were a collector or something.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Yep, I grew up in an area that was predominantly one religion and everyone just assumed everyone else was a believer of said religion. As a non-believer of that religion, it made for some awkward times. OP, even if you think you know every single person on staff believes in and appreciates the Bible, I promise you that is not the case. Sometimes it’s easier just to not mention anything to blend in.

          1. Anomnomnomymous*

            *atheist from the Bible Belt slowly raises hand* Yup, I’ve definitely done that, especially if it’s the boss that’s pushing the religion. You don’t want to get fired (and even if they can’t fire you for religion, that’s usually enough to get you on their bad list and make them start looking for problems) so you just grit your teeth and bare it, then come home and apply for jobs until 3am every night.

            But honestly, if OP is pushy enough about her religion to force it on her employees like this, then my guess is she’s not willing to work with people of other denominations anyway and would see flushing out those who believe differently as a good thing. (OP, if that’s not the case, please be aware that that’s how forceful, single-minded and insensitive you look to outsiders.)

            1. Honeybee*

              Yes, this. I grew up in the Bible belt but became atheist in high school. I made the mistake – one time – of casually mentioning this in a class one day and got yelled at by 4-5 of my classmates for 20 minutes until the teacher returned to the classroom and broke it up. That was all the lesson I needed to keep my beliefs to myself in the South.

              However, I wouldn’t assume that a person who wants to give bibles as a Christmas gift are unwilling to work with people of other denominations and would want to fire nonbelievers. It’s simple privilege – Christians in Christian-dominated areas don’t even consider the possibility that someone would be a different religion from them; moreover, many of them genuinely believe that giving out bibles and witnessing to others is an act of love and kindness. Often I think it’s more ignorance (sometimes willfull) than malice.

              1. Jean*

                It’s hard to be atheist in the south. I was in a survivor’s group once, and I mentioned about halfway through that I didn’t believe in God, and I was cold-shouldered the rest of the meetings, and in fact, I stopped going early.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  A survivor group, of all places! How awful.

                  An ex’s family, also in the South, staged an intervention when they realized he’s serious about remaining atheist. He was a grown man with a family and kids. He came to visit once and the family was gathered in the living room and had a pastor with them.

                  I grew up in an atheist society and my brain just refuses to process this kind of stories.

      1. Sarah G*

        (Meaning, I think it’s great that OP1 had the forethought to ask AAM, and the conscientiousness to want to do what’s appropriate. Also, keep in mind we don’t know all the context. Regardless, it is not appropriate, but there could be circumstances that could better explain why she *thought* it might be okay. Like maybe it’s a small group and she knows they are all Christian. Still, not an appropriate gift, but just saying.)

        1. Temperance*

          My Jerk Boss at my last job thought I was Christian because she default assumed everyone was. My current boss knows that I’m ex evangelical and an atheist. Too many see Christian as default.

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Yeah, I feel a bit sorry for OP, because they’re going to get a whole load of people (like me) saying NOOOOOO!!!, and I hope they don’t feel bad about it – but it’s really great they asked first.

      1. Temperance*

        I’m really glad she asked! It doesn’t sound like she’s proselytizing. Someone upthread suggested it as a gift LW would want.

      2. Harper*

        Yes, I think the OP really wanted to give people something special with a personal touch, but this is probably a little too personal. I don’t think the OP wanted anybody to feel uncomfortable, which is why the question to Allison! So, good all around.

        1. Spooky*

          Definitely agree that it’s too personal. I think of religion in the workplace as on par with hygiene: you can bring in whatever products you like to keep you happy and comfortable, and you can certainly share your opinion or even give something like a tampon if someone directly asks you for it, but it’s discreet, and not something you really talk about casually and loudly. And nobody wants engraved deodorant as a gift.

          1. AnonymousAndroid*

            I think I’d prefer engraved deodorant than a bible! After all, everyone needs personal hygiene products of some description, but religion is optional.

            But in terms of covering all the bases, I once received a Christmas card with a heavily religious picture but with a message carefully written inside highlighting the sender’s pagan beliefs. While respecting people’s rights to celebrate the festive season how they wish, I found the juxtaposition somewhat bizarre.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Haha, maybe the cards were on sale?

              I usually don’t mind if someone sends me a religious card–I just figure that’s the card they sent and am glad they thought of me. If I give anyone a card, it’s just a generic holiday one with no religious connotation. Or a Santa or something secular. But a bible as a gift would make me uncomfortable, because though I believe in God, I don’t practice my religion anymore and am squicky with overt expressions of faith in general.

            2. I am the Infanta*

              I, an out atheist, accidentally bought some religious holiday cards because of the beautiful artwork. I thought they were blank but the inside had a bible verse and some rendition of jesus being the reason for the season. I sent a few to friends knowing how puzzled they would be to receive something like that from me. I did not send them to my Christian family in case they got the impression that I’d finally “come around.”

    2. JMegan*

      Yes, agreed! I believe OP1 has good intentions here, and I’m glad s/he checked with a neutral source before going ahead with it.

  3. Just a bystander*

    Wow. #1. No. So offensive.

    #5. Talk to your manager. Either you are part-time and bumped from seniority compared to full timers OR they’re slowly icing you out OR you just work at a terribly managed place. Could be all three.

    1. OP5*

      I don’t feel totally iced out because I’ve been given other opportunities at the studios. But it’s been frustrating and I wasn’t sure how/if to broach the topic with my management.

      1. Artemesia*

        given this, you just go to her and tell her what you want. You don’t have to imply the current policy is ‘unfair’ but you can note that you did this previously, it works well for your schedule and you would like to add a class since apparently the policy has changed since others have this type of schedule. Just make clear this is what you want to do. And consider if it is not possible looking for other opportunities. In my city there are dozens of yoga studios, I image a good instructor with a track record could find employment elsewhere if the schedule didn’t mesh with their needs at one place.

        1. OP5*

          I’m planning to look at other studios as well. Because I don’t pay my bills with this side gig, I’m very picky about where I teach because I do enjoy being able to commit to a studio/class and definitely don’t want to be in a situation where I’m the one bailing after a few months.

  4. Gaia*

    OP 1, I believe your heart is in the right place. I’m sure you even think they’ll all appreciate it. Maybe you even have reason to believe they all share your faith. None of that means this is a good idea. You might make someone uncomfortable, or feel excluded. Even if no on there now would be upset, future employees who hear (or see) of this gift may feel awkward.

    Bibles, when given, are incredibly personal and should not be gifts from employers unless you work in a religious institution like a church.

    1. katamia*

      Yep. I don’t “look” non-Christian (no religious clothing or jewelry or anything like that), and when I used to live in a more homogenous/Christian-heavy area than I do now, I’d get a lot of people just assuming I was Christian and asking me what church I went to and such. If I worked in OP1’s office, she might assume I was Christian and would appreciate such a gift (I would not and would start job hunting that day no matter how much I otherwise liked the job). Plus even if OP1 knows all her direct reports go to church, she doesn’t know if they’re questioning their faith or planning to convert or have decided they don’t believe in God but still want to go to church for the community aspect.

      The only exception I can think of would be if someone told OP1 in conversation (unprompted) “Gee, I’d love a nice new Bible,” but even then it would be pretty weird to get a Bible from your boss.

    2. Anon for this*


      Besides, anyone who wants a Bible already has one. It’s not exactly a rare book. I’m not Christian and at one point I had four: one I bought, a gift from Christian relatives, a gift from Christian friends, and a different translation that I needed for a college class on the Bible’s history. There’s even a Bible app if you want to read it on your phone.

      I also don’t like being preached at for reasons people have already explained here. You might think you’re the first person to do it, but if someone is a non-Christian in a majority Christian country, I promise that others have reached out to them and they know the resources available if they’re interested.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Oh man, yes, this: “if someone is a non-Christian in a majority Christian country, I promise that others have reached out to them and they know the resources available if they’re interested.”
        Yes, I have heard the “good news about Jesus Christ” and living as I do in the American South I know about a thousand people/places to go to if I ever become interested in hearing more. Many of whom are relatives who mean a great deal more to me that my boss or the dude I got stuck next to on a plane two weeks ago, who told me I should “at least read the book” before I reject it. I’ve read the book, seen the movie, and been to the theme park… it wasn’t as convincing for me as it was for you.

        1. AMPG*

          Heck, I *am* a practicing Christian and have still been proselytized to by people wanting to convert me to their particular denomination. One woman even said to me, “Don’t you find [your denomination’s] rituals devoid of meaning, though?” Um, no, which is why I keep doing them.

        2. BananaPants*

          My brother has lived in various parts of the South for the last 10 years, and without fail whenever he moves, the first questions from his new neighbors are along the lines of, “Have you found a church?” or “Come join us at church on Wednesday!” With the exception of some of his coworkers (he’s active duty military), it seems like EVERYONE is an evangelical Protestant and many of the locals’ social lives seem to revolve around their church.
          We were raised in a fairly liberal mainline Protestant denomination and now he’s nonpracticing/borderline agnostic. If he changes his mind on religious practice and belief, he knows what to do and where to go.

      2. Jennifer's Non-Religious Thneed*

        > Besides, anyone who wants a Bible already has one.

        And also, there are different types of Bibles (King James; modern translations from the KJ language; modern translations from the original ancient languages; other stuff I don’t know as a non-xian) and my guess is that people who want Bibles are particular about which sort they have.

        It looks like the OP hasn’t checked back in. I hope they are reading these comments and taking them to heart.

  5. Cat steals keyboard*

    #1 Why do you want to engrave them? I’m curious. That will mean they can’t be given away which isn’t wise with any gift really.

    1. NicoleK*

      Even if it weren’t engraved, what would non Christians do with a bible? It’s not a practical gift and may be offensive.

      1. GiantPanda*

        Reading it? I’ve got a bible on my shelf right beside copies of the Quran, an introduction to the Talmud, the Book of Mormon, the Four Noble Truths and the Communist Manifesto.
        That doesn’t mean I’d like either of these as a present from my Boss.

        1. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

          Also, something tells me that if a boss gives away several copies of a Q’ran instead of a Bible, half his/her employees will be running to the closest FBI office. Leave religion out of the workplace.

          1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

            I had that exact thought. Play this scenario out with a Quran and think of how that would go down. Dollars to donuts it would end up on the news.

                1. People!!*

                  Responding to Hellanon–I thought of that when I posted my comment. (I’m a manager and I know that one of my employees can’t/wouldn’t eat donuts.) But here’s the thing. Someone can’t eat donuts? More for me. :-)

        2. Gaia*

          Agreed. Intellectually, I’d love any of those books. But not from my boss. Only from someone that knows why I want them – to better understand a significant part of our history and social evolution.

        3. Marillenbaum*

          Man, I would not totally mind getting a copy of The Communist Manifesto as a gift. But it does make me think of that line from Fiddler on the Roof when the tutor says “So the Bible clearly tells us never to trust an employer!”

      2. copy run start*

        All I can think of is as a reference if you were interested in knowing the text. Even then, it’s all online or in apps these days. I am not the sort of atheist who cares to study or argue anything about religion and therefore don’t need any sort of reference, so I would not keep it.

        I would only be offended if the person knew first-hand that I was an atheist. Otherwise I would say extremely uncomfortable and awkward would be my feelings.

    2. Oryx*

      Engraving Bibles is common — the one I got for my confirmation was engraved and it’s done under the assumption the person won’t want to give it away.

      But I’m an atheist now, so I have no idea what happened to mine.

      1. copy run start*

        This has got me wondering about the one copy I was given as a baby. It was a Precious Moments version. Pretty certain my name was on it somewhere inside, but I haven’t seen it in 10 years and 7ish moves…

      2. Cordelia Naismith*

        Yeah, but usually you receive an engraved Bible from a parent or other family member. Receiving one from your boss would be weird.

        1. JayemGriffin*

          Yeah, that’s a really intimate (for lack of a better word) gift. I’d expect to receive that from someone who is familiar with my spirituality and personal practice, which a boss shouldn’t be.

  6. FTW*

    For #3, I would strongly disagree with giving an ‘excellent’ rating.

    As great as this employee is, they are just meeting the expectations of the role. As HR analyzes the talent of the population, these types of ‘excellent’ ratings risk skewing the results, which can impact decisions around training and future hiring needs.

    As tough as it feels, ‘meeting expectations’, with lots of context and encouragement is the right way to go here.

    1. NicoleK*

      Yes, I’ve used ‘meeting expectations’ or ‘satisfactory’ when completing a review on a newer employee. During the discussion, I’d say things like, “you’re where I’d expect you to be at X months”.

    2. cncx*

      i totally agree with this. i had a job that was forced to give me a review at the three month mark because big corporation. they rated me at meeting expectations as well, but like you said, lots of positive reinforcement and lots of “you are where i expect you to be at this point in the game” like NicoleK said. i appreciated it and came out of the meeting happy because i got the right kind of feedback and understood why they were doing what they are doing.

    3. Nerfmobile*

      Yep. In my current job, I had two promotions under the same manager. Each time at the first review after the promotion, I got a ‘meets expectations’, even though before the promotion I had been at the highest level. She explained it as “even though you are still awesome, at this level the expectations are higher and you need some space to grow In performance over the next year or two”. It made total sense, and the same applies to new employees too.

    4. Purest Green*

      As an employee, I wouldn’t honestly expect anything more than a satisfactory rating during my first year of a complex job, especially if I were still in training, unless I’m doing something obviously rockstarish.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      The thing that would come into consideration for me, if I was OP#3, is the amount of levels within each job family, and how the employee compares to others at her level.

      We have different descriptions and expectations for Teapot Engineers 1-5, but outwardly, they all are supposed to do the same Teapot Engineering task. My manager has us provide feedback for the TEs working on our jobs and we must provide 2 strengths and weaknesses for each, but I don’t know if Joaquin is a TE 4 or a TE 5. I know Samir is a TE 1-2, but not specifically a 1 OR a 2. I know my manager knows everyone’s specific classification, as I’m sure the OP does, but from my position it’s really frustrating to rate people when someone who is a 2 might be struggling, but you’re asking them to do “3” work and someone who is a “4” is crushing it, because they’re doing the same “3” work.

    6. BRR*

      That’s a really good point. I’ve now had two jobs in a row where I started right before annual reviews. Both times my managers have basically said that as a new employee they can’t really give me a high rating but stressed that I’m doing well.

      1. AMPG*

        There really should be official language around this, if the company insists on following the same protocol no matter how long an employee has been on the job. At my old job, part of the write-up on the different classifications noted that “Partially Meets Expectations” should be the default rating for new employees, and that it was in no way indicative of a performance issue.

    7. Dot Warner*

      For employees that have been on the job less than 6 months, my employer only has two options for performance measures: Meets Expectations or Does Not Meet Expectations. I didn’t see anything wrong with that; hardly anybody is a rockstar at that stage of the game. Unless this employee is new to the workforce, they probably understand that “meets expectations” is all they can expect at this stage, and unless HR promised them a raise at 6 months, they probably understand that they won’t be getting one this year.

      OP, it sounds like your new person is in a job that a lot of people struggle with but is struggling significantly less than others have and is motivated to improve. That’s great! Give them a “satisfactory” and explain how they’ve done well so far and what improvements you’d like them to make by next year.

      1. Suzannabanana*

        I was in this position as an employee last year, and this was exactly the review I got. I really appreciated the encouraging feedback, and completely understood the “meets expectations” designation.

    8. miss_chevious*

      I agree. I have a lot of qualms with my current employer’s evaluation practices, but they encourage us to rate new employees as “satisfactory” unless there are strong indications and evidence to the contrary. New employees may show good or bad tendencies, but there’s rarely enough evidence to support a very high or very low rating.

  7. Mike*

    When I left a previous job a coworker that I was really close to gave me a Book of Mormon with an inscription. Since we had talked at length over the years about religion and our faiths it was deeply touching. He was giving something that meant a lot to him so I’d remember him. Unless you have that level of connection please don’t give religious material at work.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      That sounds like not only extenuating circumstances around the book itself, but also different from the OP because your coworker wasn’t your boss. The power differential adds another whole layer to the OP’s proposal.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      I think it also helps that you were leaving the position–that way, if you weren’t interested, it doesn’t become a source of tension in your professional relationship.

  8. Dan*


    FWIW many places pass on reviews for employees who have been at the company less than X months. Something to float up the food chain for the future if you have any standing to do it.

    Now… I hate the politicking involved with reviews and raises, but one thing to take in to account is how much of a raise you will need to give in accordance with the rating. The issue I have is that often times, raises are a zero-sum game — a raise you give to one person is money that you can’t give to someone else. If you give this person a top rating, and would subsequently be required to give that person a 5% raise, would you do that knowing that someone else will be getting a lower raise?

    If you stick with “meets expectations”, you’ll give yourself more options politically. Besides, if a person is new and this isn’t their first job out of school, they’ll understand that they haven’t had a long enough track record to really establish a higher rating, and besides, with just a few months on the job, shouldn’t expect much of a raise unless they were otherwise promised one.

    1. babblemouth*

      My company systematically gives new employees the objective “Get Into The Job.” That means that whatever your job is, your priority is to get to know people and the environment, understand how the company works with processes both explicit and implicit etc. This reduces pressure to get high sales numbers right away, and really helps with stress during your first year.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Some companies only give raises to the top tier, or don’t give raises at all based on the reviews, and stick to straight percentages across the board. I wish I’d ever worked someplace where I was “guaranteed” a raise based on performance!

    3. Princess Carolyn*

      I agree that OP should consider how, specifically, her company uses performance reviews. If the goal is truly to give honest, constructive feedback, a “meets expectations” sounds perfectly appropriate — but at some organizations, that would tank an employee’s chances at promotion or put them first on the list when layoffs come around. If it’s going to affect compensation or potentially limit the employee’s opportunities in the future, it may make sense for OP to lean a certain way. Hard to tell from the outside.

  9. Marisol*

    OP #1 – a way to think about the idea of giving bibles as gifts is that religious items are often very personal. It would be kind of like giving underwear as a gift. Most people wear underwear and some people give it as gifts, but you’d only do that with someone with whom you had a certain level of intimacy. A bible is not an inherently bad gift; it’s just too intimate an item to be appropriate for the workplace. You might feel strange about receiving a present of lingerie from someone you didn’t know very well, right? Some people, I think quite possibly most people, would feel similarly about receiving a bible from their boss. It would be forcing an intimacy that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exist. But I agree with Gaia that your heart is in the right place.

    1. Amber*

      My dad’s girlfriend (whom I didn’t really like) once gave me a red lace thong for Christmas. That was super weird.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Ack! My sister used to give me underwear as a present, but she stopped when she got married. Her logic was: now, gifts I give are coming from both of us, and it would be weird for your brother-in-law to be gifting you knickers (even the fun ones with anthropomorphized pancakes on them).

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      This is a good point — I was intending to make a similar comparison, but with soap. Can it be a lovely gift? Absolutely! Can it have really unfortunate implications? Yeeeeeeah.

      (Are you free to think, in the privacy of your own heart, that some people really heckin’ need it? Yes, but for the love of monkeys don’t say so!)

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep! It could be a lovely gift, it could be an insulting gift, or it could be a gift that is actually harmful in some way. Not a good roulette to play!

          1. KL*

            Or, you could end up like my high-school best fried at her sweet 16. Everyone knew how much she loved Bath and Body Works, so everyone got her soap for her birthday.

      1. Science!*

        I had a similar thought about perfume as a present. Some people love perfume and some hate it; some love getting it as a present and some prefer to pick out their own scent. And some people can’t wear certain scents due to asthma, allergies or other sensitivities. As a manager, you might know that some people wear perfume, but you don’t know who would appreciate the gift and who would not.

        1. MillersSpring*

          And some people would be offended because a gift of perfume or soaps can imply “You smell!”

        2. Rater Z*

          I used to say that a bar of soap was the appropriate gift to give for a wedding shower or baby shower.

    3. Alton*

      I think this is a good point. Even if the OP knows for certain that all the employees are affiliated with the same faith (say if the workplace is a church and they’re all members), it’s still good to keep in mind that faith can be a very personal, intimate thing. And you don’t always know what sort of relationship someone has with with their faith. I think another comparison would be something like giving all your married employees picture frames with sentimental quotes about marriage on them for Christmas. This might be great for some people, but might feel too intimate for others. And what if one of them was actually considering a divorce?

    4. Ellen Fremedon*

      I had a friend whose crappy college retail job was at the local adult video store. Everyone on her Christmas list got vibrators, because she had an employee discount and she was going to use it, dammit.

        1. Oryx*

          I gifted my sister her first vibrator (I won it at some Sex and the City party and, well, it was smaller than the one I used so I never bothered taking it out of the packaging). She was a little mortified but later thanked me for it.

      1. Ask Me How I Know*

        Were they at least GOOD vibrators? Because nothing is more disappointing than a poor quality vibrator ;)

  10. Susan*

    #4 – I think it’s highly unlikely that your employer will care about where and when you wear your company-purchased clothing. It is pretty common for companies to give a clothing allowance for employees who need specialized attire for work. The point is to help defray the cost of a special job-related expense. My company gives me $100 every year for safety-toe shoes, no questions asked. The shoes are mine to use as I want, and the company definitely doesn’t want my shoes if I quit.

    The only potential ethical issue I can see is if you were to purchase something with the company credit card that is mainly for personal use (something you wouldn’t get if you were only allowed to use it on the job). For example, if you need a coat and gloves for work, it’s fine to wear them to go skiing, but not ok to buy the matching ski goggles with the company card. If you need gloves for work, it’s fine to wear them while snowboarding, but not ok to spend twice as much on specialized snowboarding gloves.

    1. MK*

      The only issue I can think of coming up is if the clothing is damaged or lost when the OP wears them. If they are at work, it would make sense to ask for a replacement, but if it happens in their private liefe, they should replace them themselves.

      1. sstabeler*

        Frankly- and this addresses the issue of it being appropriate to wear it off-duty as well- I would treat it as if it was relocation assistance, because I suspect the reason the company pays for warm clothing is to ensure all employees actually have warm clothing, and they don’t have employees who are unable to work their best due to the cold. As such, I would both shop around (and/or ask my boss for any recommendations) when getting the warm clothing ( the rule I go by is when buying something with my own money, it’s my own choice if I get the best deal or not, but when using someone else’s money, there’s an obligation to keep the cost down.) and if it got damaged, I would treat it like any other clothing I wore to work, so would probably replace it myself.

      2. nofelix*

        Yeah and OP should keep in mind that the other side of this perk is her employer will expect her to have warm clothing whenever needed for the job. So if she takes the jacket snowboarding and damages it, she will *have* to replace it even if she could have otherwise gone without. If it were me, I’d limit personal use to safe activities only for this reason. And maybe research if this stipend gets repeated after x years of service.

        1. Joseph*

          “And maybe research if this stipend gets repeated after x years of service.”
          In my experience, when there’s stipends for safety gear, there’s usually a set reimbursement amount and schedule (“we pay a maximum of $150 every two years for work boots”). And the gear you purchase with that stipend is expected to last the entire length of the schedule – your $150 work boots better last two years or you’re purchasing another pair.

      3. OP #4*

        That’s a good point (and the responses below, as well)! We don’t specifically get stipends, but I’m pretty sure I would have to replace anything damaged if it’s within a shorter amount of time. Some (but not all) of the things we get to buy on the higher end, so that’s something to keep in mind as well if I’d have to pay out of pocket for it. And I’d be out of luck if I did damage anything during my personal use and would need to use it the next day.

        Thanks for all your responses!

    2. OP #4*

      Thanks, that makes sense. I work in a small satellite office, so we don’t get a stipend — it’s more on a who-needs-what basis, but the purchases are definitely scrutinized. I have a now have an approved list, so there’s nothing on there that’s mainly for personal use — that takes some worry out of things!

  11. MadGrad*

    OP #1 reminds me of my table waiting days and the people who left religious pamphlets instead of a tip. I am fully willing to believe that you mean well and truly do think it might be appreciated… but I guarantee you, it’s like the tipping thing: 90% of time it is somehow MORE uncomfortable than getting nothing. Plus, getting something that I feel is invasive with my name engraved on it would be especially unpleasant. It’s wonderful of you to want to share something personal with your employees (unlike those diners, grr), but better to err on the safe side OP.

    1. Juli G.*

      The lamest form of evangelism. My mom leaves that stuff sometimes but at least she includes the 18% with it.

    2. No, please*

      I got so tired of getting those pamphlets and scripture quotes as tips. I’m atheist, for one thing, but mostly needed my tips to survive. It’s like a slap in the face.

    3. Annie Moose*


      If you’re gonna do that, you’d better leave a fabulous tip. My mom does it, but she always leaves a 20% tip along with it, so I figure it evens out.

    4. Parenthetically*

      A friend of mine used to work at a church that had a fun expense policy with regard to tipping. Work-related meals would be reimbursed fully by the church ONLY IF the staff members left a 25%+ tip.

      1. Rater Z*

        Am I the only one who thinks tips should be increased quite a bit if you eat out on a holiday?

        Minimum wage for a server is only $2.13 an hour so they absolutely survive on the tips.

        1. Candi*

          In six states (plus whatever Nevada’s doing) legislation insists that all the wage comes out of company without even glancing at tips. So it’s wage + tips, not crap + tips = wage.

          In Washington, at least, I’m not entirely convinced it was altruistic; WA has state and county sales tax, on nonfood items and stuff like soda. More money in the pocket means more available for necessities like toiletries, clothes, and such -all of which are taxed.

    5. Honeybee*

      Now that is one of the instances in which I do not think people mean well. If they leave a pamphlet in addition to a tip, that’d be one thing, but *instead* of a tip? That’s just awful.

      1. Marisol*

        It’s a pretty ineffective way to proselytize too. Who’s going to be persuaded by someone who stiffs them?

        1. Parenthetically*

          In my experience, stuff like that is 100% not about actually converting people, it’s completely about bragging rights and self-righteousness. As a teenager my church’s youth group went on a service trip with another youth group from what turned out to be a really scary fundamentalist church (sample opinion from one leader: “We believe that all women are obligated to obey men.”) and they would buttonhole the freaking cashiers at the grocery store with intense, rapid-fire “evangelism” questions, and if the poor terrified cashiers gave the slightest nod of affirmation, they would count it as another person who “got saved” on the trip. It was ALL ABOUT the high fives back on the bus, and nothing to do with the other person at all.

    6. Candi*

      I hate that. It is infernally rude.

      I used to find those “ten dollar” ones in the plants when I was housekeeping, folded up to look like a bill. Urge.

      BTW, some cleaning chemicals have interesting effects on paper dyes.

  12. Andrew*

    The company I was at before I was laid off gave out a book on xmas s a gift to all employees. I think if there wasn’t any religion laws, they’ve give out bibles instead lol. I know a lot of company literature had bible verses and mentioning of god, or the founder’s strong christian faith. I think verses may have been on invoices also…

    Being non religious or christian, it was tough sitting at the lunches b/c they’d ask people to stand and close their eyes during a prayer.

    1. Jean*

      So this wasn’t a company that dealt with religious items or whatever – just b/c the founder was Christian, you all had to pray? Yeah, not happening.

  13. Asian J*

    #1. I would be highly offended if you engraved something as personal as a name to a religious book of a religion I do not belong to.

    1. Graciosa*

      Ditto – but probably less offended than you would be to find out your relatives were being posthumously baptized into religions to which they did not belong (and yes, this happens).

      Religion is one of the areas where people seem to have blinders about how insensitive it is to do something they believe is a kindness.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, as offensive as it was (They have officially stopped doing this after some fairly ugly publicity), I would find the Bible far more offensive. I don’t believe that the baptism really changes anything, but what your boss does has an immediate effect in the here and now.

        1. HannahS*

          I mean, they were “baptizing” Holocaust victims. Like, it’s not enough that they were killed specifically for being Jewish, now they weren’t allowed to be considered Jewish after death.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, I agree. And, my grandparents (all four of them) were deeply religious, and would be HORRIFIED. Forced baptisms are really sore point for folks with a sense of history.

            The publicity was ugly for a reason. I wasn’t defending or minimizing it. What I was trying to say is that the here and now is EVEN WORSE, no matter how well meant it may be.

            1. Graciosa*

              On the other hand, the recipient of the Bible (unlike the recipient of the posthumous baptism) is in a position to reject the gift when presented.

              1. Observer*

                Well, that’s the real problem in this type of situation. When it’s your boss (as opposed to some guy on the street, or even a colleague), you may not be in a position to refuse it.

  14. Fire*

    #1 – Look, I collect Bibles (not Christian, just academically interested/a Book Nerd and people have put effort into making Bibles throughout history), and that’s absurdly inappropriate. Like someone said upthread, anyone who wants a Bible will already have one. I really don’t need another random KJV or NIV, even if it’s – ooooooh! – engraved. A weird translation that I don’t already have, sure, or a copy like mine from the 1700s (!), sure, but then we get into individual gift territory and not blanket gifts. A Bible as a blanket, cookie-cutter gift just doesn’t work.

    1. Fire*

      And this is just from the perspective of someone who’s okay with Bibles! Like, ARE all of your employees cool with Bibles? Are you SURE? And no, living in a particular region doesn’t mean you’re automatically cool with Bibles.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Even employees who are otherwise ok with Bibles may not be ok with them in this context.

    2. legalchef*

      Right – this is maybe only appropriate if someone has a convo with your boss about how they spent their weekend combing used book stores for a particular version of a bible that is now out of print, and then boss happened to spot it somewhere. That’s really the only situation where I could think this was maybe sorta okay.

      1. SimontheGreyWarden*

        I have so many crappy little fleece blankets. Just give me a little extra PTO or even a walmart gift card so I can get more tea for my desk.

  15. Chris*

    #1. While I’m not a Christian, my concerns aren’t purely from that standpoint. I’m not a fan of gifts that are “see, I bought you a thing!” As others have said, people who want a Bible have one. It’s not like they’re hard to find. You want to show your appreciation to your staff, and that’s great, but do something they will honestly appreciate. A bonus, Amazon gift cards, an extra day of PTO. I.e., cash money.

    Gifts like yours, along with things like “I donated to a charity in your name!” drift more towards showing your own credentials as a good person, by whatever standards you personally hold, than a real gift. Give your people something they will appreciate regardless of personality or interests, and not something that’s likely to be unwanted, and pretty odd for most office environments.

    1. Grayson*

      This year for Christmas my partner has asked that people donate to a charity in his name instead of receiving a gift. That is one of the few times I think it’s acceptable to donate in someone’s name for charity. Now, I also did this years ago for a young woman who loved Audrey Hepburn. I gave to Audrey’s charity in her name as a birthday gift, and she got a cool certificate and picture of Audrey out of the deal. (She was 16, so it was a bit cooler I think than if she had been an adult.)

      But gifts/videos/Facebook posts about people actively being good people is sanctimonious. (The internet makes a lot more of these sorts of things public when they happen.)

  16. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    #1 – one thing to keep in mind is that with a gift like a bible, anyone who wants one already has one. So you’re ultimately going to push something on them that at best they don’t want, and at worst would find very off-putting.

    On the other hand, 8 extra hours of vacation would be very well received by everyone, and some people might use it for religious observances. So, win!

  17. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    #3 – do you rate on specific criteria or just across-the-board? Because you might be able to differentiate those specific areas where she meets expectations but call out the 1 or 2 things where she’s excellent. Those systems work best I think. But be wary of ratings inflation – it sounds like she should be in the “meets expectations” category.

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I agree with this. I was in this situation last year as the new employee being reviewed on two months worth of work. My boss was really pleased with how I was fitting in with the office and how I was approaching my work but honestly didn’t have very much to evaluate based on two months of employment. She gave me “meets expectations” across the board, a 1% raise, and told me that she fully expected my marks to go up to “exceeds expectations” at the next yearly review based on how I was doing so far.

      I thought this was fair and was thrilled to receive even a small raise two months in. I also appreciated that she didn’t inflate my ratings because she gave me a true marker and something to work towards during my first year.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I also appreciated that she didn’t inflate my ratings because she gave me a true marker and something to work towards during my first year.

        This is the thought I had. You may be very happy with the progress she’s making now, but it’s nice to give her somewhere to grow up to.

  18. Cynicaal Lackey*

    #2—-If you Google “Third Hand Smoke”, you will see this a common problem, and more than just an annoyance. This is a legitimate health risk. While research is still being done, enough is known, that your employer may want to join the growing list of employers which does not allow its employees to smoke on the property or at all during business hours.

    1. KR*

      My boss smokes a few cigarettes a day and while I don’t really notice the smoke anymore there is a real clear difference in the air quality of our small office when he’s not there.

      1. Callie*

        There is a guy two offices down from me who smokes. He doesn’t smoke in the building, but because he smokes so much, his hair and clothes reek with it and you can smell it if you’re walking down the hall and his door is open. I hold my breath when passing his office and I try not to get sucked into conversations with him. :/

    2. Misc*

      *nods* I’m asthmatic and I have a flatmate who smokes and he HAS to change out of his clothes after he hangs around his smoking friends because otherwise I start dying when he walks past me. It’s a very real issue.

    3. Katniss*

      Yup. I’ve been on crowded trains next to people who clearly smoked just before they got on before and felt gross and sick for awhile after. People don’t realize how strong the smell can be even after they’re finished smoking.

    4. Temperance*

      Yep. I was coming here to suggest just this. I had severe childhood asthma and allergies, all because of second- and third-hand smoke. My health is vastly improved when I can avoid smokers, and without fail, I will get a sinus infection when I spend more than an hour or so at MIL’s house (her boyfriend is a chainsmoker).

    5. OP 2*

      Well this situation has just come up. I’m in an even smaller room (4 people total) and the 3 people who are not me just came back from a smoke break. I have a conference call at 11am so I think I’ll take that as an excuse to sit somewhere else for a while.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        When I smoked, I always went outside and stood/sat where the smoke would blow away from me–even at home. I also had a jacket I would wear at home ONLY to smoke outside in.

        People said they couldn’t tell (though I’m not sure that’s entirely true). But it did help a little.

    6. Crazy Canuck*

      I am unaware of any study directly linking third-hand smoke with disease. It is a theory, not a proven fact or legitimate health risk.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’m willing to believe someone’s account of their own body’s reaction to third-hand smoke. And I don’t require a disease link to say that people shouldn’t have to suffer in the here-and-now because of it.

        1. Crazy Canuck*

          There are people who sincerely believe that Wi-Fi causes unpleasant physical symptoms in their bodies. Are you willing to give up your internet because of them? Or are you going to insist that they prove that the Wi-Fi causes their problems? After all, they shouldn’t have to suffer in the here-and-now because of it.

          1. OP 2*

            Is this directed at me – that I’m making stuff up? Allergies (and being sick) trigger my asthma, and cigarette smoke, if not an allergen, is at least an irritant for me. And there is plenty of evidence that cigarette smoke is bad for you, there is no evidence that wifi is bad for you.

            1. Crazy Canuck*

              No, I absolutely believe that smoke is causing you discomfort. You are also absolutely correct that there is a lot of evidence that cigarette smoke is bad for you. All I am pointing out is that there is no _evidence_ that third-hand smoke causes the same health issues that second-hand smoke does. This might be relevant if you push back at your smoking co-workers.

              1. OP 2*

                I never thought it had the same issues as second-hand smoke; I just know full well that third hand smoke has some affect on me. With the asthma I’m allergic/sensitive to a lot of things most people wouldn’t be.

              2. Hrovitnir*

                Well, I’ve found a review – according to Springer the link should be accessible to anyone I send it to, but I’m not guaranteeing you don’t need academic access:

                Basically the jury is out, but it’s not implausible, and regardless of long-term health risk my personal experience as someone with asthma is it can cause bronchconstriction: probably from a psychological association, but nonetheless unpleasant.

                Third-Hand Smoke: Old Smoke, New Concerns, Acuff et al, 2015. DOI: 10.1007/s10900-015-0114-1

                “To this point in time, no studies have been identified on humans to show the negative health effects of THS. Ramírez et al. [21] measured the presence of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in house dust samples and found that THS is a major exposure pathway of TSNAs.

                As THS remains on surfaces and in dust in the environment, chemical reactions with this residue occur that can actually produce additional toxins. For example, “surface-bound nicotine, a major constituent of THS, can form mutagenic and carcinogenic TSNAs when it reacts with nitrous acid (HONO), a common indoor pollutant” [25].

                A study using an animal model exposed to THS found pathological alternations in the liver, lungs, skin, and behavioral changes in exposed mice [16].”

              3. Misc*

                Smoke is smoke. It doesn’t magically become not cigarette smoke because it’s not being actively smoked right then, it’s just hanging around.

                1. Misc*

                  (You might be breathing less of it, but as every person with asthma can prove easily, it’s still strong enough to get into your lungs and cause problems and can still travel a surprisingly long way).

            2. MsChandandlerBong*

              I have a terrible reaction to cigarette smoke. I know you can’t truly be “allergic” to it, but I am definitely sensitive. The worst part is that people get so mad if you say anything about it. Believe me, I wish I could function normally while surrounded by smoke and Glade plug-ins, but I can’t!

              I dated exactly one smoker in my life, and I would never do it again. The smell of the smoke on his skin reminded me of the pig I had to dissect in high-school biology. Maybe because of the formaldehyde in the cigarettes? In any case, it was gross.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                It’s a deal breaker for me as well, because I’m a reformed tobacco addict. I can’t just smoke a few and stop. If I dated someone who smoked, I’d start up again.

          2. Morning Glory*

            I am writing this in good faith that you are receptive to new information. Berkeley Lab published a study in 2013 finding that exposure to third-hand smoke causes DNA damage, and chronic exposure causes more serious DNA damage.

            Also, wifi does not cause discomfort or irritation. I would hate second-hand and third-hand smoke even if it did not pose a health risk, and I think people smoke without consideration of others are rude.

            1. Crazy Canuck*

              That is correct, components of third hand smoke have been shown to cause damage to human DNA in the lab by a group who has a strong political interest in banning tobacco products.

              There is still no evidence of a direct link between third hand smoke and disease in humans.

              However, this is Allison’s blog and space, and I really doubt she wants this debate here, so that’s all I have to say on this subject.

                1. Crazy Canuck*

                  Berkeley Labs 2103 study and their current study are funded by the TRDRP. From their web page, “The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) funds research that enhances understanding of tobacco use, prevention and cessation, the social, economic and policy-related aspects of tobacco use, and tobacco-related diseases in California.”

              1. Morning Glory*

                You said something factually incorrect and also controversial. Multiple people provided evidence to the contrary. You say more incorrect things and then say you don’t want to derail the discussion.

                It’s good that you do not want to derail the discussion, but maybe you shouldn’t say factually incorrect and controversial things to begin with.

                1. Crazy Canuck*

                  I hate being called a liar, and I stand by the facts I stated. I’ll agree that my opinions are controversial, but I do try to make sure my opinions are informed. No Berkeley Lab study, either the one you cited from 2013 or the previous two from 2010, linked third hand smoke to disease. It is possible I’ll be eating a lot of crow in the future if their current study does link third hand smoke with cancer. As of this date however, that link does not exist.

                  So please don’t call me a liar just because you don’t like what I am saying.

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            No, but if they say “I can’t work in this room because the wifi bothers me, so I’m going to move to a different conference room,” I’m going to say “okay, whatever.” The OP isn’t asking anyone to give up smoking.

          4. Candi*


            With my first wireless mouse (three AAs) 8 years ago, the skin on my right hand constantly reddened and peeled. Removing my hand from the mouse when not actively using it lessened the symptoms; using a wired mouse completely reduced them. I had not had such problems before.

            After disposing of that mouse, and with newer and less power-hungry mice (1 AA, 2 AAA, now 1 AAA), I have not had that problem.

            I believe some people at least may have genuine symptoms because of wifi -and that there are others who cause problems for the genuinely afflicted by pretending they do.

            As for third-hand smoke, I’ve had repeat bronchitis, and pneumonia. Before I started on my thyroid supplement, germs didn’t visit, they took out a lease. Even now, third-hand smoke can set me coughing from just a breath or two. And I don’t have any diagnosed conditions.

            Aggravating known health issues, such as asthma, is a problem, whether from second or third hand smoke. It’s also just rude to deliberately do that to someone.

      2. Judy*

        I get a similar reaction, though not as strong, to third hand smoke as I do for second hand smoke. My asthma is induced by allergies. Something in cigarette smoke is an allergen for me in particular. I’m not allergic to wood smoke from a fireplace or campfire.

        1. blackcat*

          I’m allergic to tobacco. I’ve handled tobacco leaves and immediately gotten hives. Cigarette smoke–in any form–is a nightmare for me. But I’m okay next to people smoking other substances. I don’t *like* it, but it doesn’t cause significant problems.

        2. JanMA*

          Yes, *smoke* can trigger allergies but we’re talking about the smell of cigarettes. IMO people have gone crazy confusing the two. The smell of cigarettes (after the fact) doesn’t fill your lungs and make you cough like being in a smoke-filled room might (and probably shouldn’t if you’re a healthy person). 30 years ago people smoked everywhere and no one complained – they were just used it. Now it’s like the plague to smell the faintest hint of tobacco. If I was new to the company and most of my colleagues smoked, I’d tread lightly or they’ll hate you!

          1. HannahS*

            It’s not true that people didn’t complain. If they hadn’t complained, people would still be allowed to smoke everywhere. But they aren’t, because large numbers of people complained!

            1. Candi*

              We see lots of people on here who didn’t complain about something, sometimes when it negatively affected a disability, because they didn’t want to be seen as disruptive or high maintenance or a troublemaker or…

              Just because people weren’t complaining didn’t mean they weren’t suffering.

          2. Misc*

            “The smell of cigarettes (after the fact) doesn’t fill your lungs and make you cough like being in a smoke-filled room might ”

            No, but the smoke can travel from two rooms away and start me coughing to the point of wheezing and vomiting without me even being able to smell it. In fact, it’s often the first I know of anyone smoking. The smell isn’t the issue (unpleasant as it is), but it’s a massive warning signal to get out of there holding my breath as quickly as possible. Holding my breath works on the street, but it’s not a great long term strategy if you’re sitting next to someone.

            People 30 years ago were used to a lot of things. And a lot of people died of asthma and other ‘manageable’ conditions in the past so nobody ever had to accommodate them.

          3. SarahTheEntwife*

            It doesn’t make me cough as bad as being in a smoke-filled room does, but it does make me cough and sometimes get wheezy and I don’t even have asthma. Some people are much more sensitive to lingering smoke than others are.

      3. INFJ*

        Nothing in science is a proven fact. There is evidence to support/not support whatever hypothesis is being tested. Even if there is no link to long-term or serious health risk in a study that meets your standards, clearly the discomfort and sickness it causes people who are asthmatic (or have other respiratory diseases, like CF) should be enough to recognize that this is A THING to be taken seriously.

    7. Katie*

      This bothers me all the time- I take public transportation and I have to get up and move if someone who smells like smoke sits next to me. So many people who smoke think they’re not hurting anyone if they’re not smoking directly in front of them, but I don’t think they realize how awful they smell and how sick that smell can make people.

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        When my second cousin was little, he had a ton of ear infections and respiratory problems. His mom smoked inside the house and couldn’t understand that the smoking might be affecting him because she “only smoked in the kitchen.” I felt like asking if she lived in a magical house where air didn’t circulate from one room to another.

        I used to live in a duplex, and I would wake up at night coughing if the neighbors had people over and some of them smoked. The smoke came through the cracks in the wall and ended up on our side.

        1. Rubbery Dubbery Smiles*

          This! Some new neighbors just moved into the apartment next to mine, and somehow the smoke gets into my place. I had terrible migraines for the first month. Luckily those have gotten better, but I still have to smell the smoke anytime they decide to indulge.

          (Management will not do anything, because “neighbors have the right to smoke in their own home.” Apparently that trumps my right to live in a smoke-free environment. Ugh.)

  19. anon for this*

    re: #1 and any other posts discussing religion

    Hi. I’ve been a long time reader/lurker on this blog, and most of the time I enjoy and appreciate the insight and commentary here. However, when it comes to posts discussing religion, the comments tend towards Christian-bashing – and as this is my faith as well, I’m sad when this happens (and seems to be the sentiment here).

    Before I go on, let me clarify: I don’t agree with what OP#1 did, or most similar posts for that matter. In most cases, I think that these folks were zealous but acted on their zeal unwisely.

    I’ve lurked/read this blog long enough (> a year, almost daily) to guess that the readership of AAM skews American/Western nation, liberal, and areligious. Many are ex-Christian or were brought up in Christian families but then later left the faith.

    So when someone mentions something invoking this faith, it’s mostly held in contempt. You think of, I don’t know, white old conservatives in the South? (who might just be the annoying parents or grandparents of some here?)

    Obviously it is a lot to comprehend everyone’s bad experiences with Christians at some point. I don’t even want to attempt to do that; if we were friends, I’d listen and try to commiserate.

    But I’m compelled to comment that there are Christians who don’t fit the stereotype of old white people, and have the privilege of speaking freely about their faith like you Westerners do. I am one. I’m not old (in my twenties), live in an urban area and attended public school, am female, and hold morally conservative beliefs. I’m both a racial and religious minority in my country. I also live in a country where religious freedom for my faith is legally and socially curtailed.

    tl;dr please don’t sterotype and pile on Christians. Address the issue yes, but move on from that person’s faith. I’m probably not the only Christian reading this blog, but I know I’m in a minority here. I’m sad to have to browse through yet another blog where commenters pile on on believers.

    PS: to OP1, my knowledge of my faith tells me your gift is offensive (or will be perceived as offensive) because our faith is counter cultural (yes, Christianity isn’t only an American faith) and offensive. Jesus offends. It shouldn’t surprise you. In my humble opinion, the best way to reach out to those around you is to walk the talk and be a living witness first. A more suitable place for Bibles might be for people who you already have a good relationship with AND express interest in knowing more about what it says.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Uh, where have you seen Christianity bashing on this blog?

      I’ve been here a while now and all I’ve ever seen here is ‘keep religion out of the work place’.

      It doesn’t matter which one.

    2. katamia*

      I’m not offended by Jesus. I’m offended by people either assuming they know what my religion is or trying to convert me, which are the two main motivations I can see for gifting a non-Christian a Bible unless they’ve actually said they want one.

      1. blackcat*


        I’ve been given bibles by family members. It has always been offensive and never gone well–because the bibles were a reminder that we did not share the same faith and they saw that as a problem. I felt judged, treated as less than.

        I’m not offended by Christianity or by Christians who respect my lack of faith. I studied the bible in college, and I have a really great study bible (it’s full of footnotes with alternative possible translations! And maps! and family trees! everything someone interested in the early history of Christianity could want!).

        Giving a bible isn’t really about giving a bible. It’s about sharing a religious connection with someone. All people are saying here is that the workplace is not the right place to share a religious connection.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            I don’t know if mine is the same as blackcat’s, but when I did my religious studies major, we used the Harper-Collins NRSV Study Bible, student edition. The thing looks like a phone book for the entire East Coast, but the footnotes are massive and it includes basically everything but the Dead Sea Scrolls.

            The translation is also very high quality, and quite readable. I highly recommend it.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        This. I’m not offended by Jesus or Christianity. I am offended by people either assuming that I am Christian or attempting to push Christianity on me. Not to mention the whole “War on Christmas” thing that always seems to crop up this time of year.

        Christianity has had, and still has, an incredibly privileged position in the US, so the expectation that Christianity should be no more – and no less – important in our culture than any other belief system (including atheism) does feel like an attack. I do understand that. But it’s not an attack, really; it’s more a “hey, we’re here, too, and we’re not asking you to go away – but we do expect to be on an equal footing.”

        Honest suggestion, although I can’t think of a way of saying this that won’t come off at least somewhat snarky: For those who are saddened and upset by those of us who have negative experiences or perceptions of Christianity/Christians, how about speaking up more when your coreligionists step over the line? That’s a lot more effective than the “not all Christians” defense.

    3. Jilly*

      I have to agree with the other responses. In this particular instance people are saying that giving a religious text as a gift to people you supervise is inappropriate. No where is anyone saying that Christianity is bad. I own 4 bibles because I have a degree in religion, and I am active in my faith community (which is “Christian-adjacent”), and I would be offended if my boss gave me a bible or Qu’ran or Bhagavad Gita because I don’t come to work to be prosthelytized to. Not the place, not the time. But if my Hindu uncle wants to share his Gita with me because he knows of my life long interest in world religions, or if my aunt who is more Catholic than the pope wants to give me a New American Bible because mine is falling apart and she doesn’t want me reading Protestant bibles and hopes it will bring me back to the Church, well those tow things are appropriate (if somewhat misguided in the case of my aunt).

    4. katamia*

      And another thought: how would you feel if your boss gifted you the main religious text of whatever the majority religion in your area is? Would you be happy about it?

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Uf da. Where to start.

      First off, you don’t speak for all the Christians here. I’m intensely Christian and always have been. And I really have not seen any moments where there was any appreciable level of Christian-bashing going on here (unlike many other parts of the internet, may I add!) Alison has even fielded questions from employees in religious fields that have been handled with perfect respect and dignity.

      This is a work advice blog. Meaning, when the topic of religion in the workplace has come up, the answer is generally going to be negative, because religion should not be publicly bandied about on the job. The combination of religious pressure and the power dynamics of a job mean that there’s really no way for it to be anything but fraught and potentially very, very ugly.

      No one is stereotyping here, no one is telling the OP that her faith is wrong, and no one is mocking believers here. They are pointing out that gifting a Bible is in extremely poor taste (which it is).

      1. Gaia*

        I have to say the (very) few times a poster has made an ugly comment bashing *any* religion, Alison and the rest of the community have been quick to shut it down. This is an incredibly respectful place, especially considering the diversity of the community when it comes to matters of faith and culture.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        May I just say how much I appreciate your using “ufda”? Because it’s a lot. Midwestern high five!

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Awkward… I’m not actually Midwestern :) Scandinavian by way of New England, so I still have some of the Scandinavian-American quirks more common in the Midwest though.

    6. Cynicaal Lackey*

      You really need to learn the difference between “bashing” and simply choosing not to participate in your religion. Here in the USA, Christianity is the majority religion with 70% of people who identify as such. That leaves 30% if us as Non-Christians. And yes, many of us will speak up for ourselves when we feel slighted. I don’t want an engraved bible from my boss; just as you probably wouldn’t appreciate an engraved Quran (and the message implied with it) if yur boss was a Muslim. You need to accept the fact that in diverse societies, not everyone is goign to belie what you believe and believe it in the same way you believe it. Happy Holidays.

      1. Allison*

        It’s also not “bashing” to defend people who choose not to be Christian against people who are trying to convert them, gently or rudely.

        I know plenty of very nice Christians who are open about their faiths. Being Christian makes them happy, and may even be guiding them to be nice people. But they’re not obnoxious, they never tell me I should consider attending church or open my heart to Christ. They are respectful of my decision not to participate in their faith.

        I have no real problem with people who choose to follow religious paths. I do, however, have a problem with people who assume everyone follows their religion, or believe everyone would be better off if they did.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I agree, Cynicaal Lackey. I’ve occasionally encountered the idea that if I don’t practice Christianity, I either haven’t heard of it or am angry at it. Neither is the case. I’m quite familiar with it, don’t have strong feelings about it, and have chosen to practice something else. That’s all.

        1. Gaia*

          Ah yes, the question posed to every atheist at some point: “Why are you angry at God?”

          I’m not even an atheist and I roll my eyes when I hear that one. How can someone be angry at something they don’t believe in?

          1. Temperance*

            That’s one of my favorite questions/stereotypes. Because I actively do not believe in God, I’m angry or confused or, my personal favorite “hate God”.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, I’ve heard that one too. Not atheist, but when I say “I don’t go to church.”
            “Why? Are you mad at God?”
            No, it’s because I like to lie around in my jammies on Sunday and read the news online and eat pancakes. I just don’t wanna go.

            It’s not like I NEVER go. I was walking around St. Paul’s Cathedral on St. George’s Day and they invited everybody to the Anglican service–didn’t matter what you were, you were welcome. I went just out of curiosity (and they had a choir, which was awesome). It was close enough to a Mass that I felt comfortable and enjoyed participating–I even took communion just because I felt like it. No pressure; just a nice cultural experience.

            I’m leaning more toward spirituality these days anyway. I think I’d like to explore some Buddhist concepts. Just imagine what people around here would say about that! I won’t be talking about it at any NewJob, that’s for sure!

      3. katamia*

        Yeah, I think that anon is identifying with Christians because she is Christian without taking into account that, unlike in her area, Christianity IS the dominant religion in most of the US. It’s not anti-Christianity that I see here on AAM, it’s anti-people in power (normally bosses AFAICT) forcing their religious beliefs on others, whether out of lack of awareness (as it seems to be in OP1’s case) or malice. And because Christianity is the dominant religion, in most places the people who are most likely to be doing that are Christian just because there are so many more of them.

        1. Julia*

          And even IF Christianity was a minority religion in the US (do we even know where OP1 is from?), it would still be inappropriate to gift Bibles, just as it would be inappropriate to gift any other major or minor religious book or symbol.

      4. SimontheGreyWarden*

        Similarly, I don’t want an engraved Book of Mormon (as they consider themselves Christian, but mainstream denominations would not consider them Christian due to doctrine of the trinity among other things). I know some wonderful RLDS people and a very close family friend who was RLDS actually gave a reading for my wedding (which was nondenominational as my husband is agnostic and I am Catholic). I have a Book of Mormon. But I don’t want an engraved one; I don’t want the assumptions that go along with it. Likewise I studied comparative theology and have a Qu’ran, but I don’t want an engraved one because I feel that is something meant for someone who cares and believes in the scripture in a way that I never will.

        And for what it’s worth, none of my Bibles (the one I use, the study bible from school, the ones I got for First Communion and Confirmation, the one my grandma bought me before I went to Italy, the one I inherited when she passed, the one I inherited from my other grandma, or the one I picked up at a thrift store due to the illustrations) are inscribed. I don’t even want that.

    7. BananaPants*

      I’m Christian and always have been. I’ve been reading here a long time (like, years) and I’ve never read any significant Christianity-bashing. I’m not sure where you’re seeing it, but AAM is better than most corners of the Internet in that regard.

    8. LarsTheRealGirl*

      This reminds me of the statement floating around online that “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression.”

      I think what you’re seeing on this site is a lot of people advocating for the removal of religion from workplaces. That’s done to provide equality to those of other faiths, those with no faith, or those who’s Christianity is different than your own. No one is attacking Christianity, or piling on. It might just feel that way because you’re accustomed to Christianity being the norm, so it’s hard to see how little things can be offensive, or at the very least, uncomfortable, for those who don’t share that faith. So you see any statement against those as a personal affront to you and your faith. It’s really not.

      A good litmus, as some people have mentioned here, is how would you feel if you were gifted a Quran, or your office organized an Iftar dinner during Ramadan, or asked you to join their Iftar prayers. I’ve been asked all of those things by Christian colleagues.

      Also to note, this is really an American thing. I’m an Atheist and American living in a Muslim country, and I’ve never had Islam be so prevalent in everyday life and the workplace like Christianity is in the US.

      1. Sandy*

        Your comment about Iftar piqued my curiosity a bit.

        Until recently, I was living in a Muslim-majority country, but working in a non-majority Muslim workplace (about 70% Christian, 25% Muslim, 5% Jewish). We had an Iftar every year, and it was very widely regarded as a cultural thing rather than a religious thing. We also had a Christmas tree at Christmas. No prayers or religious sayings at either one.

        I am firmly of the view that OP1 is way off base with their idea for office Christmas gifts, but somehow that doesn’t fit into the same category as an Iftar. I suspect it’s the intimacy angle that differentiates it for me.

        Where is that line between cultural experience and religious experience? I feel like, for me, it’s one of those “you’ll know it when you see it” things, but clearly not everyone is calibrated the same way! Is there a set of guidelines for differentiating?

        1. LarsTheRealGirl*

          Iftar is one of those toe the line ones. And it’s clearly not hard and fast rules. More just awareness in how you do things and if you have the potential to make someone feel uncomfortable or alienated.

          And while I’ve been invited by coworkers (who I am close to) to join them at Iftar – which I have on occasion – the companies I’ve worked for have never made it a “holiday party”-type event.

          And where I live, a restaurant Iftar is really just a reason to go out and eat yourself silly (pretty contrary to the message of Ramadan). The smaller, private Iftar dinners would be too religious for me to feel comfortable, unless it was an invitation from a friend to show me their culture and religion.

        2. Misc*

          I feel like the difference is mostly in whether you can take part without it being a Religious Thing. Like, ‘come enjoy the food and have a nice time’ vs ‘now take part in prayer’. Generic celebration that means different things to the participants vs ‘if you take part in this you have to do it the Right Way’.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        You make a lot of good points, but the commenter said that she is a religious minority in her country, so your statement that “It might just feel that way because you’re accustomed to Christianity being the norm” is not relevant to her.

      3. NextStop*

        The person you’re responding to said that Christianity isn’t the dominant religion where they are, and that in their country religious freedom is restricted. I don’t think they’re coming from a religiously privileged place.

    9. Oryx*

      There’s a difference between telling someone not to do X because they are Y and telling them not to do X and they just happen to be Y. The OP isn’t being told not to do this because they are a Christian, they are being told not to do this because it’s inappropriate and their book just happens to be the Bible. The advice would be the same whether it was the Book of Mormon, the Qu’ran, etc.

      This isn’t about Jesus. This is about not bringing religion into the workplace.

      1. Garrett*

        It would even be the same if it was the Joy of Sex or the Kama Sutra. Some things just aren’t appropriate for various reasons.

    10. MissGirl*

      I’m a Christian and so far I think the comments on this post have been respectful. Sometimes I do see it go off track with subjects such as these. I know one LW wrote in about not drinking for religious purposes and how to handle happy hour. The comments started out helpful and then sidetracked into why the religion doesn’t drink, is it really expected, judging and a little mocking of such rules, and even liquor laws.

      It’s usually only a few people who high jack the comments in a back and forth. The majority stay respectful. It can feel a bit piled on when the subject is something you relate to. And lately there’s been a lot of pile on when it’s a more obvious answer. Look at last week’s poor woman who wrote about blind dining. Piled on to but wasn’t a religious question.

      If you feel the comments getting too much it’s good to walk away. I appreciate you writing in and don’t want you to feel discouraged. It’s always a vulnerable thing.

      1. anon for this*

        Thank you for the encouragement :) perhaps I should take a break from AAM for a while. Having said that, I still very much appreciate this blog and will come back soon when I’ve calmed down a little!

      1. Sadsack*

        I don’t see any of these comments as “jumping on.” All that I have read here are explaining that they have never seen bashing, just requests to keep religious talk and items out of the work place. Does that seem unfair to you somehow?

    11. Misc*

      ” that there are Christians who don’t fit the stereotype of old white people, and have the privilege of speaking freely about their faith”

      That’s… an enormous assumption, are those the only kind you personally find annoying? All the Christians I think of that annoy me are mostly pretty young/my age/the parents of people my age/entire families raised that way. Some of these people are close friends. I know a few who don’t annoy me at all, but they tend to come from very different backgrounds with less emphasis on evangelicalism (e.g. Irish Catholic). There’s definitely a …type that people think of, but it’s pretty widespread demographically.

      1. Misc*

        Also I’m very tired and it’s 3am and the above comment is a bit rambly and sidetracky; but it just seemed like a pertinent example of being on very different pages when approaching this stuff.

      2. Julia*

        Plus, there’s a difference between ‘speaking freely of your fate’ and ‘trying to evangelize everyone around you’. Christians aren’t oppressed or forbidden from speaking of their Religion over here.

    12. aebhel*

      I don’t think anyone has been bashing Christianity in this thread, or in any other threads I’ve read on AAM. Everyone here seems to be presuming good faith from OP1; we’re just explaining that this is a gift that would be wildly inappropriate for the workplace, and may be offensive. ‘I’m not Christian, and I’d be offended if my boss bought me an engraved Bible for Christmas’ does not in any way translate to ‘All Christians are old white Southerners and I hate them.’

      I agree that this blog does come at the issue from an American-centric perspective, and in the U.S., Christianity is the dominant religion and Christians are not an oppressed class. It’s useful to remember that this isn’t always the case elsewhere, but I don’t think that’s really relevant to this particular letter.

    13. Temperance*

      Okay, no. There hasn’t been any Christian-bashing on this site generally or even on this post. I’m an ex-evangelical and I’m open about my experiences and my strong support of a secular society. If someone proselytizes, of course I’m going to judge and condemn them, but otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, your religion is like your penis: fine to have, just don’t wave it in my face.

      Putting that aside, you are not part of an oppressed group because you’re a Christian. Your faith isn’t “counter cultural”. In fact, your faith is so not “counter cultural” that your group puts the majority of politicians in office, and those who don’t belong to your group are discriminated against.

      1. Emi.*

        Are you addressing this anon in your second paragraph, or the OP? It seems pretty clear that being Christian *is* countercultural in anon’s country.

        1. Temperance*

          The anon – I was reading on the train and totally misread that. I’m ex-evangelical, and Anon’s lines are the same ones we would spout off, in America, which is why I assumed she was an American evangelical.

        2. blackcat*

          Yeah, and I think anon may be projecting the (quite real) oppression she feels as a Christian in her country onto US Christians. While there are some conservative Christians in the US who will argue that they are oppressed, that is not generally true in the US. There are branches of Christianity that have been historically oppressed in the US (eg, Catholicism) and some that are currently marginalized (Jehova’s Witnesses), but, for the most part, Christianity is pretty central to a lot of US culture. While there’s a lot of data suggesting that the US is becoming more and more secular (google “nothing in particular US religious affiliation” for info), it is still far more religious than many other Western democracies.

      2. J.B.*

        “Fine to have, but don’t wave it in my face” is a fantastic saying. Personally I am an agnostic who attends church (so culturally religious rather than believing that Jesus is the literal son of God) and a former coworker put something on Facebook about those who are culturally religious going to hell. Good thing I don’t believe in hell huh?

      3. Scotty Smalls*

        Actually this commenter is speaking from a place where this is the case for them. This is isn’t someone from America whining about being persecuted.

      4. Jesmlet*

        “and those who don’t belong to your group are discriminated against.” This is probably the type of comment they’re referring to when talking about “Christian bashing”. While some view this as a fact, others don’t, and I can see how they would interpret this as bashing. It’s a generalization and is probably not true of the majority of Christians so it’s something we should avoid saying.

        1. Temperance*

          I don’t see how it’s bashing to point out that, especially in America, Christians have oodles of privilege that others simply don’t. It’s not a generalization, nor is it somehow untrue.

          It’s considered a novelty when someone who is not Christian gets elected to public office. Local governments push Christianity and Christian prayer, in violation of the First Amendment. I could go on, but I won’t.

          1. Jesmlet*

            Not disagreeing, just saying that I can see how that comment can be interpreted as a dig against Christians, especially if they read it like you’re implying they’re the ones who are discriminating. It reads as one of the “all ___ do/have/are ___” statements. While there are many privileges associated with being Christian, not all Christians are privileged and if you identify as Christian and are otherwise disenfranchised due to other factors, I can see how you could interpret this as bashing.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Wait, pointing out the fact that minority groups are discriminated against is bashing the majority? No, it’s just a fact. It’s a fact. Being Christian (and I am one) means you avoid a certain kind of discrimination in the US. It’s *not* bashing Christians to say so, and it doesn’t read as an “all ____ do” statement.

              But on that note, if you live in the US and are a Christian, and you are blind to the ways that non-Christians are discriminated against, and you don’t stand up for non-Christians when you see the discrimination, you are passively participating in that discrimination. I’m not saying non-Christians are persecuted or anything like that. But there are many small, real ways that discrimination happens.

            2. hbc*

              “It reads as one of the ‘all ___ do/have/are ___’ statements.” Sure…if you choose to put those words in the mouths of the people complaining.

              It’s just as easy to read in “this isn’t true for all of [majority/powerful]” as it is “all [majority/powerful] do this,” so why not choose the option that gives some benefit to the minority/powerless who suffer from real oppression and not change the subject to the poor, suffering majority who are indirectly tarnished by the bad actions of others in their group? Save the objections for when people actually start generalizing.

        2. Katniss*

          But it’s just a statement of fact. She didn’t say “people who aren’t Christian are discriminated against by all Christians”, she said people who are not Christian are discriminated against. In much of the world, they are.

          1. Jesmlet*

            If we’re making statements based purely on what happens in much of the world, we could rattle off a whole host of stereotypes and generalizations that would offend many people. My point is, even if a generalization is based in fact, it’s not okay to lump that whole group in and imply they’re culpable.

            1. fposte*

              This sounds like a faith version of #notallmen, though; I think it’s okay to say that people who aren’t men are discriminated against, even though there are men who don’t discriminate. I don’t see how you’d discuss disparate privilege without naming the privilege.

              1. LBK*

                Usually the opposing argument to this is to cite anecdotal evidence where the situation is reversed or where someone is actually discriminated against because of their membership in a majority group, and then to infer that since it can happen to anyone, it’s not actually a systematic problem that affects certain groups more than others. They usually refocus the conversation to personal responsibility and make it about strength and overcoming adversity – that since there exists out there a Christian who was attacked for their faith and who was able to move on from it, any non-Christians should be able to do the same, and that blaming it on being a non-Christian is making yourself a victim.

                Of course, this ignores things like massive overarching power structures and institutional prejudices that cause less explicit discrimination, or the statistics that show disproportionate targeting of certain groups, or historical context and the accompanying long-term impacts, etc. It’s that micro/macro perspective change that makes these conversations difficult.

        3. Jessie*

          Yeah, see, non-Christians do in fact face discrimination in this country by virtue of being in the minority. The statement you are saying we should avoid is simply a True Thing, and I am not in favor or ignoring True Things on the off chance someone will misinterpret it. Here, I suppose someone could get all angsty and angry because they think “people who do not belong to your group face discrimination” means “you personally, and most Christians, discriminate against me and you are a bigot.” But that would be a huge misinterpretation. There is just literally nothing accusatory about noting the actual fact that minority religions in the US face discrimination. Seriously. Doesn’t make Christianity bad (I am Christian, FWIW, so I certainly don’t think so). Doesn’t make Christians bad (again, Christian here!). It’s the nature of majority vs minority – minorities often end up squeezed and squished.

          1. Jesmlet*

            I think when you see that statement and ask yourself, “face discrimination by who?”, the answer has to be Christians and there you have implied that they’re the responsible party (which in many cases is true) and that’s not such a huge misinterpretation. Who else are they going to face discrimination by other than the majority party? That’s the type of thing they’re responding to and interpreting as bashing. Doesn’t mean they’re right to interpret it that way, but it’s really not a huge stretch.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              If a person’s reaction to having very real discrimination pointed out is to feel like their group is being “bashed,” they are probably part of the problem.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I’m scratching my head here; this doesn’t seem any different from white people who get offended about the topic of racial discrimination in the U.S.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Yes. This is like folks who think that being called a racist is worse than actually engaging in racist behavior. It distracts from the actual harm being done to a person/group with less power.

              2. Jesmlet*

                Just trying to bridge the gap between anon and the rest of us who don’t know where they are coming from. Not saying the feeling is justified but if you identify strongly enough with your group, I can see how you get upset when general facts are pointed out. Better to try and understand and then explain our side than to dig your heels in and insist there’s no reason for them to feel that way.

      5. Karanda Baywood*

        … as far as I’m concerned, your religion is like your penis: fine to have, just don’t wave it in my face.

        I am totally stealing this.

    14. Annabelle Lee*

      Thank you so much for this. I have also noticed this. It’s part of the internet anonymity thing where people feel free to say what they wouldn’t in person. I guarantee you the commentators wouldn’t tell someone to their face how offended they are that someone shared something important to them with them such as this. No matter how much they protest they would.
      Good for you for sticking up for your beliefs and giving good advice.

      1. Crazy Canuck*

        Yes, this commentator has told someone to their face that their religious bullshit offended me and they can shut up about it, especially in the work place. I’ve been a practicing Satanist for 20 years in a predominantly Christian culture, so I don’t beat around the bush and I push back hard. Truth be told I probably would be doing better professionally if I didn’t, but that’s just not how I roll.

        +1000 for “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression.” from LarsTheRealGirl above.

      2. Anon for this*

        No, I wouldn’t say anything in real life. I know I’m screwed if I get one of you mad at me for whatever reason. I would silently look for a new job.

      3. Temperance*

        Actually, I would. I’m an atheist, and if you are trying to push Christianity on me, I’m going to get offended and respond in kind. It’s not about someone “sharing something important”, it’s about someone trying to “save” me, and that’s not okay.

      4. Susan C.*

        That’s really not the point though – telling someone who’s trying to be nice “Wow, I’m so offended by this!” is (or can be) rude. I don’t like being rude. But I still AM offended, even if you never knew.

        I guess if your goal in life is to make as many people as possible uncomfortable without receiving any backlash, you’re onto something.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yes, I feel like I’m missing something in that comment. Like, why would you think it’s preferable to be able to use society norms of politeness to force gifts on people who are offended by it? I personally would want to know if I’m offending someone. And as a Christian, I certainly don’t want to turn people off of my religion by forcing it on them against their will when they’re too polite to tell me what they think of me doing so.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            That came out snarkier than I meant. What I meant was, I feel like something got lost in the comment because surely that’s not what was meant?

      5. fposte*

        Of course I’d tell people it’s a bad idea to give their employees Bibles. I’m puzzled at why you think anybody wouldn’t advise somebody away from a legal cliff just because they’re talking face to face.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Yeah, I’m totally bemused by the idea everyone who’s saying “no, please don’t” wouldn’t say this to someone’s face – I absolutely would, every time.

      6. Gaia*

        I certainly would tell someone how offended I was if my boss gave me an engraved Bible. Just like I told a boss that I was offended when she kept inviting me to her church (after I’d asked her to stop). Or the boss that gave me a crucifix. Or the coworker who left religious pamphlets on my desk every Monday. Just my desk. Because I was the only non-Christian.

        No one is attacking Christians. In fact, no one is even attacking the OP. We’ve all said she probably has really good intentions. But good intentions =/= good idea and just because *you* would be okay with a religious gift (and I doubt you’d be okay with an engraved Quran or invitations to attend service at a Mosque) it doesn’t mean everyone will be okay with it or that it is acceptable for the workplace.

      7. Oryx*

        So, someone speaking up for themselves and saying they are offended by a religious overture isn’t sticking up for their beliefs? This works both ways, y’know.

      8. Observer*

        You are right – most people would NOT tell their boss that they are offended. No one says otherwise. But that is the reason the boss should not do this! People would keep their mouths shut, not because they SHOULD, but because the risk of opening their mouths would be too great, for most people.

        It’s a very simple thing. Just because something means a lot to you, does NOT mean it’s ok to share it. It’s even less likely to be ok to “share” it with people whose ability to politely disagree with you is limited because of the power you hold over them.

        I actually have seen a fair amount of religion bashing on this site. But, it’s generally NOT been Christian specific. And, so far I have not seen any Christian or religion bashing on this thread at all. It seems to me that people have been trying hard to avoid that. And, people have been making it ABUNDANTLY clear that this is not about Christianity but about pushing religion in general in a context where there is a troubling power disparity in play.

        1. Lissa*

          I was going to echo your last paragraph. I’ve seen just as much criticism directed at things like the Muslim coworker who did not want to shake hands with women, or certain views that some people think are pseudoscience, etc., as towards somebody pushing Bibles. There definitely is a really strong anti-religion-at-work feel here, which might feel like anti-religion overall, but I’ve never thought it was Christian specific save for the fact that that’s the dominant religion in the countries were most (not all) posters are.

      9. No, please*

        I have let my feelings be known in respectful ways. I’m not going to argue. I’m atheist so please respect my lack of religion. I will respect your choice to practice your personal beliefs. Why would I hesitate to make my feelings known?

      10. MadGrad*

        Woah, that is so not the right attitude to have about this kind of thing. I honestly can’t say whether I’d have the nerve to openly say “wow, I’m super offended” to my boss in the moment, AND THAT IS THE PROBLEM. Not being able to freely say that you are deeply offended or uncomfortable does not negate these things. If I’m being harassed at work – say, a male manager making suggestive remarks – then I likewise might not muster the fearlessness to say anything. Whether I do or don’t doesn’t matter though: I’m upset and offended and suddenly scared for my position if I fight back. Getting a bible with my name on it would, to a lesser extent, be similarly upsetting and threatening in my mind as a comfortable agnostic.

        TL;DR the fact that many people would be too intimidated to say this in person is the biggest part of the problem, not a reason to dismiss it.

    15. Xay*

      Considering one of the first threads about OP #1 consists of Christians (including myself, a late 30s, African American, Christian woman who lives in the Southern US) saying that the gift is inappropriate, I think you are overreacting.

      1. anon for this (original poster)*

        Hi Emi – I’m not sure which of your comments I’m writing to, but I want to thank you for articulating a lot of what I wanted to/meant to say in my original post but that I didn’t know how to say in my thread.

        After reading all the comments several times, I feel that a lot of the commenters here feel that it’s justified to be snarky or diss Christians because in the States (like many have taken the trouble to explain to me – I appreciate the context!) the kind they encounter seem to be the privileged bullies being a pushover to everyone else, and their comments have a minority vent/’serves them right’ feel to it – and it’s justified to diss them because ‘they deserve it’.

        I get this sentiment – even sans religion, in my country it’s normal for minorities to huddle together and diss the majorities for discriminating against us, taking away our legal rights, etc. (Being biracial however, I’ve been subject to racist statements from my own minority ‘races’ who think I don’t speak their language, but I do, so…yeah.)

        But like you said, this easily slips into stereotyping ALL believers, which was my original contention anyway. (to be fair, OP1 may have assumed that all her employees were believers or were receptive to this form of evangelism, so she’s likely stereotyping as well)

        So from one side of the world to another, thanks for getting me. It’s been a relief and I’m very grateful for it. :)

    16. Also anon for this one*

      You’re right, anon for this. Considering how quickly 20 commented jumped on you, I can see how you have a point.

      1. Emi.*

        Especially with all the “No, you’re reading into it/overreacting”–i.e. how people react to getting called out on “microaggressions.”

        1. Katniss*

          Microaggressions happen to oppressed groups. In the majority of the world, Christians are not an oppressed group.

          1. fposte*

            But there are places where they are, and the subthread poster is in one. I think it’s important not to see all global experience through an American lens.

            None of which changes the fact that the OP shouldn’t give her employees Bibles, though.

            1. LBK*

              What confuses me, though, is that the thread starter says she lives somewhere where Christianity is the minority, but then loops herself and the OP into the same group of being “counter culture”. Assuming the OP is in the US as most letter writers are (and since I don’t see any linguistic indications otherwise), Christianity is most definitely not “counter culture” here, and accordingly I think it’s perfectly valid to respond to her letter through an American lens. A comment about what place Christianity has in other cultures isn’t really in providing perspective about the LW’s situation.

              1. katamia*

                There are groups of Christianity (not being Christian myself, I’m not sure exactly who these groups consist of) in the US that like to portray Christianity as being “counterculture,” though, in the sense that it’s opposed to “secular” culture.

              2. fposte*

                Agreed. I think that it’s easy for a group to get a self-perception of persecution that exists even when they’re in power. I just feel it’s worth remembering that “in power” is situational.

                1. LBK*

                  Totally agreed, and I was with the thread starter for most of her comment until the end (although I also disagree about Christianity being bashed on AAM, unless saying that it doesn’t belong in the workplace is considered bashing). It’s certainly true that Christianity isn’t the dominant religion everywhere, I just don’t know what that has to do with the discussion at hand, and I certainly don’t know how that allows the thread starter to paint herself with the same brush as the OP when their situations are completely different.

              3. Temperance*

                I’m an ex-evangelical, and we were always taught that we were oppressed, and reminded over and over that Jesus said we would be mocked, derided, excluded, persecuted, etc. That’s actually how I missed that Anon was not in the US, because she was pretty much quoting evangelical groupthink verbatim.

              4. aebhel*

                Also, in general, of OP lived in a place where Christians are a persecuted minority, I rather doubt they’d be considering giving out Bibles to their employees.

          2. aebhel*

            Also, this is circular reasoning. “People are saying that I’m reading into it/overreacting, which is how people often respond when they’re called out on microaggressions, therefore this proves that people are committing (unnamed) microaggressions against Christians.”

            And ffs, nobody here so far has said anything more aggressive than ‘I’m not Christian, and if my boss bought me a Bible, I’d quit.’ I’d love to hear how that’s a microaggression. I live in a majority-Christian country, and I’m guessing that a significant number of AAM commenters do as well. I don’t have the ability to oppress Christians. The worst I can do is be rude to them, and I’ve gone out of my way here to avoid even that.

            1. Temperance*

              I’m not rude to Christians because of their beliefs until they discriminate against me or try and push their beliefs on me. At that point, I consider their behavior to be ruder and then excuse myself to say whatever I darn well feel like.

          3. Emi.*

            Hm, I obviously should have been more clear about what I meant.

            I actually do think that a lot of comments on this site, while not explicitly “bashing,” do read as anti-Christian in more and less overt ways. For example, one poster said that “your group [i.e. Christians] puts the majority of politicians in office, and those who don’t belong to your group are discriminated against.” Another poster said, “I know I’m screwed if I get one of you [i.e Christians] mad at me for whatever reason.” As of the time I write this, no one has suggested that this person shouldn’t accuse pretty much all Christians of capriciously discriminating against non-Christians or atheists.

            Those are two of the more explicitly hostile comments, but there are a lot more that have an implicitly hostile tone, which is why I used the term “microaggression” as an analogy (although I see it wasn’t clear that I only meant it as an analogy). Non-Christians and Christians who are very privileged might not pick up on it, the way I might not pick up on a microaggression against a black person. I think it’s condescending and defensive that so many people are reacting by saying “No, you’re just wrong,” rather than “Huh, I don’t see this but it would be a problem if it were real, so I’ll take a closer look/can you be more specific or give me an example?” Refusing to consider whether people might be being jerks to Christians, especially in the vein of “Christians are the most privileged and run everything,” implies that being a jerk to Christians is actually okay.

            1. fposte*

              The second one I would agree is personal and incorrect, but the first is simply true, just as it’s true to say white people put the majority of politicians in office, and those who aren’t white are discriminated against.

              That doesn’t mean every white person has discriminated against every non-white person, and it doesn’t mean that every Christian has discriminated against every non-Christian. But I don’t see how saying that the majority politics are allied with a majority faith is bashing. Can you talk more about how you think that opinion could be expressed?

              1. Emi.*

                Well, I don’t think it’s bashing exactly. Most people aren’t bashing, but there is a general tone of this being a space where it’s considered cool to complain about Christians in general (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, considering the diversity of US Christianity). “Your group puts the majority of politicians in office” sounds like the writer thinks there’s some sort of cabal. “Most politicians are Christians” is just as true, while being less accusatory and less misleading. (Heck, lots of Christian politicians got into office by publicly blowing off major teachings of their churches!)

                1. SarahTheEntwife*

                  It’s not a cabal; it’s 70% of the country. Which can be a problem for the other 30% of us.

            2. Temperance*

              You’re misquoting me, but I’m going to respond anyway. I don’t see how pointing out the fact that non-Christians who run for political office are discriminated against is somehow a slight to you, as a Christian, when it’s a simple fact. As is the fact that we’ve never had a non-Christian president of this country, and that the vast majority of those in office are Christian. And that most of us who are non-Christians have, at some point or another, been mistreated or discriminated against for not toeing the party line wrt Christianity.

              It’s not anti-Christian to point out how un-American it is, nor is it somehow condoning “being a jerk to Christians”.

              1. SimontheGreyWarden*

                Also, it’s important to note we’ve only had one Catholic president, and that was A Big Deal when it happened. Likewise Trump used Carson’s identity as a Seventh Day Adventist as a non sequitur fallacy to attempt to discredit him early in the election cycle. There was pushback about Romney being Mormon. So even within the umbrella of Christianity, there are sects that have greater privilege and ones that have lesser, but it would be a mistake to think that American Catholics in 2016 face the same kind of systematic oppression that Catholics faced a century ago, and even that pales in comparison to the oppression of other marginalized groups.

                1. One of the Sarahs*

                  Plus look at the whole “Obama is a secret Muslim” stuff that was explicitly spread to discredit him. If it was ok for the USA to have a non-Christian POTSUS, that wouldn’t have been used as a weapon.

            3. aebhel*

              Christians are the most privileged religious group in the U.S., and as the vast majority of American politicians at least profess to be Christians, I think it’s fair to say that they generally hold the reins of power in this country; that doesn’t imply that it’s okay to be a jerk to them, and reading that implication into such a statement seems like a serious stretch to me.

              ‘Most American politicians are Christian’ is not a microaggression; it’s a statement of fact that can be easily checked. 85% of the U.S. Senate is some flavor of Christian; virtually every U.S. president has been at least nominally Christian. That’s not an attack; that’s reality. That doesn’t make it okay to be a jerk to Christians, but it does mean that in America, no other single group (or collective group, for that matter) has the institutional power to oppress Christians as a group.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                It’s not even virtually every — it is every. We’ve never had a POTUS that was not at least nominally Christian.

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Emi, what I’m hearing you say is that some of the comments are blunt and you’re reading some of them as using a “you people” tone that feels alienating and hurtful. We can of course have a conversation on whether bluntly stating facts is hostile, but I think the microaggression analogy is inapt because microaggressions refer to statements and actions that that reinforce (structural) inequality between those with more and less power. In the context of OP #1, which sounds like it’s U.S.-based, Christians are the group with more relative power. (I’m going to leave aside the second quote because I honestly can’t figure out what the commenter was trying to say.)

              I’m not sure how to respond to your comment re: taking a closer look, simply because I think many people actually did do that. They may have forcefully rejected anon for this’ reading/interpretation of others’ comments as Christian-bashing, but a good number of posters asked for greater clarification and/or sought to distinguish between how the meaning of comments could differ, or sound oppressive, to a Christian who is a minority in their country versus to folks in the United States, where Christianity is the most politically powerful religion.

              If you, or anon for this, or others who read Christian-bashing could specifically identify what’s bothering you, it may help us all communicate better with one another. (Although there’s of course always the possibility that folks simply won’t agree with you.)

              1. Emi.*

                I don’t think everyone just jumped on the thread starter without taking a closer look, and I’m sorry if I implied that. I do think that many people did.

                I think actual Christian-bashing is pretty rare here, but overall I think there’s a vibe where it’s considered socially okay to complain about “Christians” in general in a way that seriously underemphasizes the diversity of (US) Christianity. This neglects disadvantages and even discrimination that subsets of Christians face because they belong to that particular denomination or church, so “Most politicians are Christian” doesn’t really address that. It’s misleading to call Christians a “group with more relative power” or say that “Christianity is the most politically powerful religion,” because that power is so unequally distributed among Christians, and lots of them never get to wield any kind of religion-based political power–especially since so many politicians who officially belong to a Christian church don’t attempt to reflect their church’s teachings in policy.

                There isn’t anything really precise I can point at and say “This bothers me about the comment culture here.” But there is a vibe–from the comments and also from Alison (who’s indulged in some drive-by snark at more traditional Christians’ expense). It’s the online equivalent of a party that would make me want to wear my saint medals under my shirt and pretend I was just spaced out instead of saying grace in my head. But there’s no reason why other people shouldn’t get to throw that kind of party if they want.

            5. Emac*

              I thought the quote “I know I’m screwed if I get one of you mad at me” was from the starter of this thread? The name is the same. I assumed she was talking about getting the commenters on this blog, who she thinks are bashing Christianity, mad at her, which seemed kind of snarky. If it wasn’t her, I apologize. In that case, as someone said down thread, I don’t know what that commenter was trying to say.

        2. Gaia*

          Ah yes, the second largest religion in the world is so terribly oppressed. I mean, they don’t even have 100% of the government on their side anymore in the world’s most powerful country! How ever will they make it through?

          1. Jesmlet*

            It may be the second largest religion in the world but there are countries in the world where Christians are an oppressed minority. Don’t presume that the American experience is the experience of everyone else.

            1. Emi.*

              This. In fact, more Christians have been *literally killed* for their faith in the 20th and 21st centuries than all previous centuries *combined.*

              1. fposte*

                That’s a statement that doesn’t tell you much in isolation, though; what’s the proportion of that to overall members of the faith, for instance, or to people being killed for other faith beliefs? How is “for their faith” being determined?

              2. Natalie*

                The world’s population has nearly quintupled since 1900, so this really isn’t a meaningful comparison assuming it’s actually true.

              3. Hrovitnir*

                Have more Christians been killed for their faith than Muslims have been killed by the extremists in their countries who use religion as their excuse to seize power?

                I genuinely hate to feed this volatile subject but one of my least-favourite things is how Western media talks about Christians being killed by Daesh*, ignoring the fact that they kill many, many Muslims for disagreeing with them or getting in their way.

                *”[Daesh] is an Arabic acronym of al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa ash-Sham – meaning the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams – but Daesh when spoken sounds similar to the Arabic words for “the sowers of discord” (Dahes) or “one who crushes underfoot” (Daes).

                Due to Arabic wordplay, it could also be an insult and IS threatened “to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name”, the Associated Press wrote in September 2014.”


            2. LBK*

              The US isn’t one of them, though, so I’m not sure how that perspective is useful when answering a letter from someone who presumably lives here.

              I’d also venture that because the thread starter doesn’t live in the US, they also aren’t accustomed to how much of a bright line we draw between work and religion. There are certainly exceptions as a result of Christianity being ingrained in our cultural history (like holidays all being based around the Christian calendar) but in general, any kind of religious displays are considered inappropriate in the workplace.

              I get the sense that the thread starter lives somewhere that has a different dominant religion that isn’t kept out of the office so aggressively, so her experience is being forced to see and participate in another religion’s culture when she’s at work, and thus all these comments mirror her experience of being told that Christianity doesn’t belong in the workplace. But the difference is that in the US, Christianity isn’t being pushed aside for another religion – it’s being pushed aside for no religion, as any other religion would be. The rhetoric may sound the same but the way it’s applied is definitely not.

              1. fposte*

                I think both the U.S. treatment of Christianity and the U.S. view of religion in the workplace are very nation-specific, so it’s pretty tough to get the flavor of them from outside.

        3. Xay*

          I said the poster was overreacting and I stand by it. I am extremely familiar with microaggressions as a part of my daily life, and dealing with people who are skeptical of Christianty or non-believers is not a microaggression.

      2. aebhel*

        Serious question: where are you seeing people ‘jump on’ anon? A lot of people disagreed with their assertion, but that’s not ‘jumping on’. As with anon’s original comment, this seems to be translating disagreement as an attack, and I don’t see how that’s the case.

        I have no issues with Christianity. I’m not hostile toward it; I’m simply not Christian, and it’s remarkable how many people interpret my lack of faith as an attack on theirs.

        1. Marcela*

          Well, that’s my experience with Catholic people (from a country where that is the main religion): if you disagree with them, not matter how polite you are, or how much you tried to avoid saying anything, you are attacking them.

          1. SimontheGreyWarden*

            And it’s funny because as an American Catholic, my experience has been exactly the opposite; I have not lived in an enclave where Catholicism was strong since I was very young, so bringing up that I am Catholic has always been met with a slew of invitations to evangelical churches, opportunities to “get saved”, and snide or outright rude comments about being molested by priests and worshipping Mary, and if I try to defend myself then that is attacking them. I think it has less to do with the specific denomination (I believe 100% that you experience this since you are talking about the dominant religion in your area) and more to do with how we as human beings connect our sense of self to our sense of the Eternal, whether we believe in a god, many gods, or no god. So someone questioning our belief structure comes across as someone attacking our sense of self, and that is dangerous to our psyche. Likewise the more a group is used to not being questioned (Catholics in your country, evangelical free nondenominational Christians or Baptists where I live now) the harder it is to accept that questions or disagreements have nothing to do with me as an individual; if I am not used to being questioned, I am even more closely aligned with my belief structure and even more inclined to feel threatened if someone questions it.

            1. LadyKelvin*

              I had a boyfriend in high school who told me I was going to hell because I was Catholic and not a real Christian (um what? They are the original Christians?) Also, he said that his parents wouldn’t come to our wedding because my parents were not the same religion. He must have thought he could convert me or something, because despite me telling him that I was going to get married in a Catholic church and raise my children Catholic, I broke up with him, not the other way around. I was pretty offended when his parents gave me a bible for Christmas one year, because they purposefully gave me a protestant bible and not a Catholic bible. It was pretty insulting. I’m not a christian anymore, but it amazes me still that people don’t understand their own church history.

              1. SimontheGreyWarden*

                Ugh, the “not a real Christian” line. Have heard it so many times. I still consider myself Catholic because I’ve never found another denomination where I felt as welcomed for asking questions, but I know a lot of that was the kinds of churches I grew up in (largely Jesuit based), but I’m really uncomfortable talking about religion anywhere other than with my church friends or my immediate family, and I would say maybe a handful of the people I work with know my degree is in Theology – and they only know because they sat on my hiring committee or it has come up in pertinent conversation such as asking if anyone could tutor a student in Ethics or if anyone could help with comparative world religions.

              2. Natalie*

                My husband and I are both non-believers, but I was raised Catholic and he was raised evangelical Protestant, which (for his community) apparently included a mild anti-Catholicism that he has clearly never questioned before. I was fairly surprised, actually, since I never really encountered anti-Catholic feeling growing up (Bill Donohue’s protestations to the contrary).

                1. Temperance*

                  I grew up similarly to your husband, and I did have a pretty strong anti-Catholic bent due to my upbringing. I mean, I still do, but for totally different reasons now (overinvolvement in secular government, child sex abuse, failure to include women in the church leadership in any meaningful way, etc.)

            2. Maxwell Edison*

              I grew up in an area where religion wasn’t a big deal, so it was quite a surprise when I went to the Midwest for college and encountered the “Catholics aren’t Christians” mind-set. (This was why, at that college, the Jews, Catholics, agnostics, and atheists all hung out together.) I remember having to explain the mind-set to my sister when she made the mistake of going to a Christian bookstore to get a gift for a niece’s first Communion and got the cold shoulder from the sales clerk.

            3. Temperance*

              I’m an ex-evangelical married to an ex-Catholic. My in-laws fit the pushy Catholic stereotype. When we got engaged, they assumed that I would convert, marry in their church, and raise my kids Catholic. I was very offended when I found out that my MIL, who frankly doesn’t have two nickels to rub together, was paying my husband’s dues behind his back so we could have their church wedding. Booth is an atheist, too, and vocal about it. They just don’t care.

              But, yeah, as an evangelical, I was taught that Catholics are idol-worshippers who worship Mary, too, and pray to saints instead of God. Also, you weren’t in the Book of Life, so hell was a real possibility.

              I think it’s all equally wrong, FWIW.

            4. Marcela*

              @SimontheGreyWarden, +1 avogadro number to

              someone questioning our belief structure comes across as someone attacking our sense of self, and that is dangerous to our psyche

              It is a pity I didn’t think of this when I was having a fight with one of my deeply Catholic relatives, for it’s exactly the kind of response that gave me the nickname “the one that would die if she bites her tongue”. Now I’m old and just don’t enter into discussions about religious beliefs. Now you can bait me talking about social injustice, though, which is very terrible for my parents and in laws are getting more and more conservative every second it passes.

      3. Graciosa*

        That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me – if a number of people immediately disagreed, the original statement must have been true?

        I’m missing some logic here.

        1. aebhel*

          If you interpret disagreement as harassment, it makes sense, and the widespread disagreement to the initial assertion would serve as proof–ie, ‘see, here are all these people continuing to harass Christians by disagreeing with my assertion that Christians are harassed here’. That’s the only way it makes sense, imo.

      4. Katniss*

        They jumped on it because it was incorrect, not because they want to bash christians. Considering that many of the people responding here are Christians themselves, I can’t help but read this as a persecution complex wherein you read people not fawning all over Christianity as “bashing” it.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think this may be overly harsh; anon for this is not coming from the same context as those of us living in the United States or other majority-Christian countries. I think LBK’s comment at 10:21 a.m., paired with fposte’s response, really help frame how cultural/geographic context could change a reader’s understanding of the comment convo without it requiring a “persecution complex.”

      5. J.B.*

        For those of us in the US, there are a loud group of evangelicals who want to simultaneously proselytize and claim to be opposed by those who don’t want religion in public life. This morning in the dentists office I saw a bible verse alongside a note demanding $20 per employee for doctors Christmas gifts. The $20 is something frequently discussed on this blog as not ok. If an individual employee put up the bible verse for herself that would be cool. If the bible verse was put up by the employer then that would be coercive.

    17. Anon for this*

      When I talk about Christians, I am not talking about stereotypes that I imagine. I am talking about my own real-life experiences. It might not be understandable to you because Christians are a religious minority where you live. Where I live, they are the vast majority. They hold political and social power that isn’t accessible to non-Christians here. A lot of them are great people. And some of them behave horribly with all of the privilege that being in the majority has given them.

    18. AnotherAlison*

      I can understand your POV. While I fit with the areligious profile, I’m less liberal than the general readership. BUT, presumably someone would read the blog for more than 5 minutes before submitting a question, correct? You would know that Alison is not going to tell you to give Bibles as gifts to employees. I think the readership reaction is fair.

      It’s kind of like the people who call Dave Ramsey (aka the person who demonizes debt) and asking for his approval to take on a student loan because of their unique situation. Know your advice-giver, know the audience.

    19. Phyllis B*

      anon for this; I agree with you. I am an “old white Christian” (sixty-five) but I would never presume to force my beliefs on anyone (and I also think it’s a really bad idea for a boss to give Bibles for a gift!!) Anyone who has known me more than 3 days knows 1. I am a Christian. 2. I am an active church-goer. Is it because I preach to people? No. I live in the South and church/religion tends to come up in conversation more I guess. However, I don’t bring it up first. I also try to be a witness through my daily life and actions.

    20. No, please*

      It sounds like you may be projecting here. I’m not offended by religion or Jesus. I’m offended by people just assuming that I’m Christian and then trying to convert me when I say I’m not. It’s happened many times throughout my life. And not just by white southerners.

    21. paul*

      I’m *really* not seeing that here. I feel like they’d give the same advice if it was a Koran or Talmud or the Gita or something by Crowley too.

      It’s just…ugh, handing out religious text as gifts is *so* not good.

    22. Artemesia*

      I find it interesting that there is such a double standard. A Christian can declare their faith and even explain and justify it with little comment. But if an atheist merely states they would be offended that is somehow ‘Christian bashing’ even though no Christian bashing has occurred on this thread. It is okay to say you are faithful (to this or that religion) but anyone who actually explains why they were not or what their atheism means to them would get hammered. I have seen this in many groups. To Christians, any expression of a contrary view is ‘persecution’ or ‘persecuting language’. It doesn’t show respect to Christianity to explain why one is not a Christian although explaining why one is is not deemed disrespectful to other religions or to a lack of belief.

    23. Violet Fox*

      I’m speaking here as someone is from a minority religion and has lived in multiple places (and multiple continents) where Christianity is dominate.

      The problem is not Christianity in and of itself, it is the evangelism, the Othering that happens when you are a minority and not part of the group. The casual “hey devil go read your bible” in school, the “of course I think you are going to hell but I’m not going to bother reminding you about it all the time” from supposed friends growing up (yes these are some of my personal experiences, and part of why I left there as soon as I could).

      There’s also the little reminders the, “I’m going to open my Advent calendar like a normal person”, implying that because I am not one of them that I do not belong and I’m not really a person like everyone else. Having to explain to coworkers why I’m going to the “Christmas workshop” social event that one of them set-up. Sitting around making decorations for something that is someone else’s religious holiday would be really weird to me. And yes, if that happens again this year I’m going straight to my boss about why this is a problem, and it will be taken seriously as a problem.

      It isn’t about bashing Christianity, it is about having first-hand knowledge about just how much it royally sucks to be constantly reminded that you don’t really belong, you aren’t like everyone else, and are made to feel that you aren’t really welcome. It’s deeply alienating, and this is so much of why the general stance here is that other then religious accommodations that workplaces need to make, that religion is a private matter and does not belong in the work place.

      It is not anti-any religion to say that people should worship and practice their religious beliefs (or lack their of) privately, and not in the work place. It is actually a major protection for people in minority religious groups to do just that.

    24. INFJ*

      To be fair to anon, I think she’s talking mostly about not stereotyping Christians, and other subtle negativity. For example:

      Ditto – but probably less offended than you would be to find out your relatives were being posthumously baptized into religions to which they did not belong (and yes, this happens). Religion is one of the areas where people seem to have blinders about how insensitive it is to do something they believe is a kindness.

      This has nothing to do with the original poster’s dilemma, and is making a blanket statement about people who are religious. It’s not blatantly malicious, but making assumptions about the OP based on religion. See also:

      But honestly, if OP is pushy enough about her religion to force it on her employees like this, then my guess is she’s not willing to work with people of other denominations anyway and would see flushing out those who believe differently as a good thing. (OP, if that’s not the case, please be aware that that’s how forceful, single-minded and insensitive you look to outsiders.)

      On that note, the comments would be a lot more productive if they were less like this

      Wow. #1. No. So offensive.

      and more like this

      OP 1, I believe your heart is in the right place. I’m sure you even think they’ll all appreciate it. Maybe you even have reason to believe they all share your faith. None of that means this is a good idea…

      There is no evidence in the letter that the OP is anything but misguided, so I can see why anon would react the way she did after seeing comments making assumptions like this:

      This is 100% it. The OP wants to feel like they’ve done something for their god and their religious beliefs, it’s got nothing to do with whether the recipients would actually appreciate such a gift.

      I agree that I haven’t seen anything really reach the level of Christian-bashing, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to keep assumptions in check.

      1. Natalie*

        None of the comments you’ve identified here as bad examples seem more assuming or generalizing than the tone we typically take here, whether in other letters about religion specifically or any other potentially sensitive issue. I’m not really sure why Christianity specifically needs to be treated with extra special kid gloves.

        (Obviously this is all Alison’s call ultimately)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, the test I use is whether those comments would be generally in line with the discourse here if they were about something less sensitive than religion (and I believe they would be).

      2. Lissa*

        I think also that a comment that might go unnoticed by itself starts to sound harsh when there’s 20 of them. I have seen the same thing directed at people who are “parent bashing” — and I sort of get it, it’s why I usually don’t comment if nearly everyone else who has already commented agrees with me. I don’t really see the point of adding *yet one more* comment that just says “No! Don’t do it!” with nothing else, when that’s already most of the thread.

        But, that’s not Christian-bashing. It’s board culture and can be offputting but it happens with many different topics.

      3. James*

        Let’s test this by replacing religion with diet (veganism vs vegetarianism vs raw-foodism vs. normal diet vs ….).

        “But honestly, if OP is pushy enough about her veganism to force it on her employees like this, then my guess is she’s not willing to work with people of other dietary habits anyway and would see flushing out those who have different dietary stiles as a good thing. (OP, if that’s not the case, please be aware that that’s how forceful, single-minded and insensitive you look to outsiders.)”

        Is this vegan-bashing? No, of course not–its simply pointing out the perception of discrimination created by the action. It has nothing to do with Christianity, and everything to do with someone in a position of power indicating–quite strongly–that they only want to work with those who share their beliefs (or the perception of such an indication, which is the same thing practically speaking).

        “This is 100% it. The OP wants to feel like they’ve done something for their personal philosophy on healthy lifestyles by giving out FitBits for Christmas, it’s got nothing to do with whether the recipients would actually appreciate such a gift.”

        Again, this statement makes perfect sense–demonstrating that the issue isn’t Christianity, but the fact that the boss is unconcerned with how the recipient of their gift will react to it.

        In every example presented the issue isn’t religion, it’s a lack of consideration for the recipients of the gifts and for the power dynamic inherent in the boss/employee relationship.

        A comparison would be helpful here. I know several women who were told to stop wearing personal jewelry with pagan symbolism by employers who at that time were wearing crosses. THAT is what religion-bashing looks like.

        I think part of the problem is that non-Christians in the USA tend to keep their heads down, and therefore are much less likely to hand out religious items than Christians. It’s impossible to consider giving out anything associated with Islam, Buddhism, Neo-paganism, or any other religion except Christianity as a good idea in the workplace. It’s simply too obvious that it’s moronic. So the people that tend to err in this regard tend to be Christians. And that means Christians tend to get corrected, while other religions don’t on blogs like this. This can give the appearance of Christian-bashing on a precursory reading, but in reality it reflects the privileged position in our culture. It’s called the Clinician’s Bias, I believe.

    25. The Unkind Raven*

      I agree with you and want to thank you (so much!) for speaking up! I couldn’t think of anything nearly this eloquent to write. I very much appreciate your post!

    26. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Anon for this, I think you may be conflating between “Christian bashing” and de-normalizing religion in the workplace. In this specific instance, the issue is whether it is appropriate for a person in a position of relative power to distribute Bibles as gifts to their employees. But as others have noted, dissemination of any religious book/scripture would be inappropriate even if done in the name of another faith.

      Further, I haven’t seen anyone homogenize or stereotype Christians. There have been comments about practices in specific regions of the United States (including areas beyond the South), but I’d be surprised if the AAM readership thinks all (or even most) Christians are old white men living in the South. I’d also be surprised if the majority of AAM readers were non-Christians—I think you may be transposing your experience as a religious minority in your country to a platform in which the same dynamics are not necessarily at play.

      I think it can be hard for Christians to see/understand the pervasiveness of Christianity in literally all aspects of American public life. It may be doubly difficult to understand the effect of that pervasiveness when coming from a context or experience, like anon’s, that is not analogous to life in the United States. In the same way that you may feel isolated or discouraged as a religious minority in your country, anon, non-Christians often feel similarly in most parts of the United States.

      So when folks are pushing back on Christianity in the workplace, it’s actually not about Christianity qua Christianity. It’s about the imposition of religious practice—any religious practice—in secular workplaces. I think it’s especially helpful to read the dozens of comments by commentators who are Christian explaining why they would also find the gift of an engraved Bible to be inappropriate, as well. Further, the odds that AAM will receive posts in which someone has inappropriately imposed Christianity in the workplace are higher because it’s the majority religion and there are way more Christians in this country than any other faith or belief system. It’s important to consider that context before drawing conclusions that might not be supported.

      If we’re misunderstanding the point you’re trying to convey, anon, please speak up.

    27. anon for this*

      Original thread starter here. Didn’t expect to receive hundreds of replies, but yeah, okay. Few clarifications:

      – a lot of you still assume that I’m an U.S evangelical that is privileged. I’m not. I’m a Christian minority in a majority Muslim country where there are legal and social restrictions to practicing my faith (BTW, which is not limited to public evangelizing). Oh, and because here religion and race are very closely linked, we’re often political scapegoats as well. There are ‘Down with Christian’ protests on the streets and such. Thanks to the posters who have pointed out my non-US context to others.

      – some of you assume that I agree with OP1’s actions (because we presumably share the same faith?). I don’t. Perhaps I didn’t make that explicit enough. I think that it is rash and unwise, and that it burns bridges. So telling me that ‘people are just saying that OP1’s action is unwise, not bashing your religion’, even all the Christians who are telling me so – thanks for the clarification, but like I said, I already get it. And for the record, I don’t gift Bibles or put Scripture verses at work either: too personal + it’s illegal for me anyway.

      – some commenters have pointed out about ‘microaggression’. Thanks – that was what I wanted to convey but didn’t have the right words to. It’s not straight up bashing – I agree that Alison’s replies are respectful and with dignity – but a subtle indication from some of the commenters that all Christians are X or Y, because in the comments it sounds like you’re generalizing your bad experiences to everyone, or (more importantly) assuming all Christians worldwide are privileged. I’m here to tell you that I’m not. My initial disappointment was fueled by the fact that it’s bad enough that I’m discriminated legally against in my home country, but now my faith is piled-on online as well. Some of you recognize this – thanks for attempting to understand my perspective.

      Having said that, I acknowledge that I’m commenting on a culture foreign to mine, and because I have a non-US perspective, I guess that my comments about something a US citizen did in his/her culture is irrelevant. Um, OK. I won’t comment further.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Anon for this, please don’t misunderstand folks’ responses as a request that you not comment. I think your specific situation impacts how you’re hearing folks’ replies, just as their cultural context (living in a majority Christian country) impacts how they understand your post. We can only get better at understanding each other if we keep conversing, so I hope you’ll consider sticking around.

        1. anon for this (original poster)*

          Thank you for your kind words, Princess, and for attempting to understand where I’m coming from. I appreciate it. Now that I’ve read through the comments I agree with what you said about context influencing how I replied vs how most other commenters replied, I rest my case.

          I’ll be taking a break from AAM (need a breather after so many comments directed at me, in my first comment to the blog!) but I’d like to be back – hope my non-Western or English-speaking country’s perspective on the blog (and not just about religion!) is one that readers are willing to hear.

    28. Mookie*

      our faith is counter cultural (yes, Christianity isn’t only an American faith) and offensive.

      How is Christianity both “American” but counter cultural?

      1. anon for this (original poster)*

        Perhaps my wording was not clear enough – all I was trying to say is that Christians don’t just exist in the US, they exist in other parts of the world, too. And they don’t enjoy the same privileges that US people enjoy. So what US Christians do don’t speak for all of us, and yet comments here easily make the assumption that ALL Christians are (fill in nasty describer of choice.) (Proof: look upthread and see how so many still assumed that I was American and privileged.) THAT was what made me upset.)

        Counter cultural because its values clashes with secular society. See above as how some people say that I have a ‘persecution complex’. Erm. Where I’m from, ‘persecution’ is real, legally and socially.

  20. Lily*

    Alison? Would a religious gift be okay if you know which church the coworker visits, etc?
    (Probably not a bible, though)

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Unless you know the coworker very well and are 100% sure that they’d appreciate the gift I’d stay away from it.

      Things like coworker mentioning that they’d wish they had $thing, or coworker A going on pilgrimage somewhere and coworker B asking if they could bring $item.

      Religion is a very personal thing for a lot of people. And considering how many flavours there are for each religion the potential to inadvertently cause offense is very high.

    2. Jilly*

      I like the analogy to underwear another commenter made upthread. A religious gift is intimate. Would you be comfortable receiving/giving any other kind of intimate gift in the workplace i.e. underwear? My boss knows (assumes?) I wear underwear, but certainly shouldn’t give me any!

    3. GreatLakesGal*

      I know this was directed at Alison, but in my opinion, no. It is overly intimate (I agree with the lingerie analogy above) and intruding into the personal lives of employees.

      Giving a specific Bible, as in the OP’s letter, is additionally inappropriate due to the power differential between a supervisor and her direct reports. The implication (although perhaps not the intention) is that advancements or advantages in the workplace may be tied to faith vs performance.

      Those are the optics, despite what appears in this case to be a relatively benign intention.

      I’ve mentioned this before, but my direct supervisor is highly involved in his faith, and is sometimes not diligent in separating his faith-based activities from his work-based relationships. It is extremely uncomfortable to overhear his conversations with some of his direct reports regarding church activities and plans, making it clear that they share out-of-work friendships, and it is uncomfortable, as a direct report, to be invited to his church activities.

      He’s an otherwise terrific boss, but the inability to manage these boundaries demonstrates a weakness in managerial skills.

      OP, don’t give Bibles as a gift to your staff. Your instincts in this matter are spot-on.

    4. Naomi*

      It’s true that part of the problem here is that some employees are probably non-Christian and would be uncomfortable with receiving a Bible for that reason. But also, giving a religious gift to an employee sends a signal that the boss feels entitled to involve themself in the employee’s religious practices, and even employees of the same faith as the boss may be uncomfortable with that. I know I would be.

    5. FD*

      This could be OK in a few rare circumstances. But you’d need to make sure:

      1) The person is a coworker, not a subordinate (so there’s no weird power differential)

      2) You’re either of the same religion or you know enough about their religion and denomination to choose an appropriate gift

      3) The person has mentioned religion being important to them/has talked about it with you/in general you have a relationship that’s also friendly enough that this would be OK.

      As an example, let’s say you have a coworker who’s a good friend. She’s Catholic and has mentioned she has a devotion to St. Bernadette. It came up because she wears a saint’s medal and you asked about it once. You see a very pretty little statuette of St. Bernadette and it makes you think of your coworker. In this case, it’d probably be fine.

      But really, this is the exception more than the rule.

      1. fposte*

        Especially if it’s a specific Bible. Your advisee successfully her divinity doctorate and you give her the Bible your advisor gave you.

      2. LQ*

        I feel like even that might be a bit much. If you were going to a place holy to St. Bernadette and she asked you to get something? Absolutely.
        (But that might be because I’d think that a pretty little statuette is clutter more than anything, my initial thought was who needs more knick knacks? So you’d also want to know what the coworker was into having stuff like that and not someone who was more austere. (I know nothing about St. Bernadette so I guess that might be a part of that idea already?))

        1. FD*

          I think it’s a know your audience thing, really. There has been one situation where a coworker knew me very well and gave me something personally meaningful.

          But if you have any doubt, don’t do it.

        2. Lissa*

          Yeah, but I feel like that’s true of basically all gifts — you can’t be guaranteed anyone will like anything, so she might think it’s clutter but I might think a cat mug is clutter (nope, cats are awesome and so is coffee) so if it’s a miss it won’t be an offensive miss, I think. I mean, in that specific circumstance.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            But not entirely, because gifts related to religion are a different level of intimacy than a cat mug (well, except for some extremely committed and fervent cat lovers).

            Maybe I’m too simplistic, but the only way giving a religious gift makes sense is if you have a deep, non-work relationship with someone (which could create completely different problems). Honestly, I think a bright line prohibition might be easier to implement.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I agree with others, I would tread very lightly here. If you know the specific church your coworker visits, something like a donation to that church (the building/congregation, not the overarching organization) might be nice. Or, as others mentioned, if a coworker said something like, “I really need new rosary beads.”

      In other cases, though, I too would steer clear. If someone at work gave me a generic Star of David or a menorah, I would feel very odd, like the only way they think about me beyond work is as a Jew. On the other hand, if a Jewish coworker gave me a gorgeous seder plate that reminded her of me, or a non-Jewish coworker made a donation to my synagogue in my honor (the one I belong to, not just a random synagogue in the area), I might think that’s lovely. It’s just too subjective, which makes it especially risky in the workplace.

      Stick with socks. :) You can give me Chanukah socks, I will accept those gladly.

    7. Anonymoosetracks*

      I was going to ask if maybe the one exception to the answer to OP#1 was if the OP actually literally worked at a church? Like the OP is a minister and employs church staff? I obviously don’t think that’s the case here since one would imagine OP would have mentioned it. But as a non-churchgoing atheist, I’m kind of curious.

      1. blackcat*

        Even in that case, I’d only opt for it for the staff members who are also members of the church or have a job that involves preaching (the Sunday school teacher, for example). There was a thread a little while back where someone mentioned that churches sometimes seek to hire non-members for administrative roles.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Can confirm. I worked for my church’s major admin center for a summer as a security guard; I was the only one of the dozen summer security kids who actually attended the church. The rest were just getting a nice local job for the summer. Permanent security was about 50-50 attendees or not.

        2. Candi*

          I think that post involved a church administration worker who was also a member of the (small) church, and there was a risk that she would take her family and maybe friends with here if she left.

          The LW was a newly-hired pastor and the worker was being blatantly disrespectful and disruptive, and he needed advice.

          One of the comments advised replacing her with someone who did not go to that church, hence the thread discussion.

      2. Alton*

        I think it’s still important to keep in mind that depending on the circumstances, some staff members might not be members of that faith. Some jobs can attract people from outside the church/faith.

        Also, while I think it’s reasonable to assume that members of the church will probably agree with its core teachings and not find its holy book offensive, I still think it’s still good to keep in mind that you can’t always assume how someone feels about their faith, and that an engraved Bible can be a pretty intimate gift. When I was Catholic growing up, I was given a couple Bibles by my church. One was when I was studying for my confirmation, which made sense. The other was from when I agreed to be a youth group peer leader, which also made sense. If someone had given me a Bible as a personal, engraved gift, I think it would have felt weird. I was active in the church as a teen, but it was mostly a social thing for me and I was actually questioning and losing my faith over that period. I was good at pretending, and impressionable enough to get swept up in the excitement sometimes, but was very lacking in actual faith.

      3. One of the Sarahs*

        There was a great thread in the last month about how a lot of churches deliberately employ staff from other denominations/religions or none, because of conflict of interest, and a lot of interesting rationale put forward for why that’s good practice, so even if they worked in a church, it would be a bit fraught (eg if their church uses the Good News Bible, and their employee uses KJV)

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think this is still risky, including because churches often employ non-members. And even if a gift is between coworkers who are church members, it can create a weird dynamic.

        I think the difficulty is that individuals may have deep affection for someone, and so they’re sharing something that brings them joy/warmth/comfort. But doing so doesn’t really take into account what would make the recipient feel joy/warmth/comfort. And as noted upthread, most folks from the same church will already own the Bible(s) they prefer to have.

  21. Sarah G*

    The BEST holiday gift I ever got from a boss was when my director chose a charity that she thought each person (15 or 20 employees) would appreciate, and made a donation to the charity and wrote a nice note to each of us. It was so thoughtful and so perfect. I’m a photographer (in addition to my day job), and for me she donated to an organization that holds photography workshops/camps for underprivileged kids. Everyone I talked to about the gifts really appreciated her thoughtfulness. She knew us all well enough to choose something appropriate, and I guess if there were a couple newer folks she probably donated to a food bank or something similar.

    1. MNdragonlady*

      Sorry, but that type of “gift” does not say “personal and meaningful” to me. It says “I donated some money and got a tax write-off and am now bragging to you about it instead of giving you sometching you can use.” How does such a gift show me the giver cares about me? Really, it’s not a gift to me; I have not received anything from the giver, someone else did.

      Plus, she did her best to pick something she thought you’d like. That’s a tricky thing to do. I’d bet there are places someone might guess I’d like to see money go, based on how I behave in a job, but they’d be dead wrong. And she’s the boss, so how do you say she chose poorly?

      All around, if you’re my boss, leave me out of such a gift. Buy lunch for the team or give me a gift card for groceries. But don’t give someone else a gift and tell me it’s for me. It’s not.

      1. nofelix*

        Are you sure you can get a tax write-off for donations given in someone else’s name?

        Either way, a lot of people like this sort of donation, particularly if they don’t need money/gifts. Most office gifts are useless knicknacks anyway, so a donation can be refreshing especially if it’s for a cause close to the recipient’s heart. Tricky, sure, but not a bad idea.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t object to such a gift, but you can absolutely get a tax-writeoff for a gift in somebody else’s name.

        2. Judy*

          If you give a donation “In Honor” someone (or “In Memory” of someone) it is still your donation. The donations we give to Habitat (his local branch) are always “In Honor of Dad”, as a longtime volunteer. He gets a notification and always sends an email thanking us. We get the note from the Habitat office thanking us for donating and our tax receipt.

        3. Lily Rowan*

          You definitely get a tax write-off for the donation you make in someone’s honor.

          I also think it might be a really sweet gift, because the note is the real gift. Obviously MNdragonlady disagrees! This is why gift-giving is fraught anywhere, and especially in the office — you really have to know your audience.

          1. Sarah G*

            I wrote a comment below to give some additional context, and interestingly enough, I said exactly that — Boss knew her audience, and knew we would appreciate it! We were a small non-profit who worked with the homeless. I strongly disagree with MNdragonlady and do not understand that perspective at all. I am not wealthy but I have food and shelter and all I need. I would never object to someone who chooses to spend money helping others in need, instead of spending it on me.

        4. BethRA*

          It’s only not a deduction if you get something tangible of value in return. So if I make a gift in honor of you, and all you get is a notice, I can use that gift as a deduction. If I make a gift in your honor that results in you getting a box of oranges, I can only deduct the amount of the gift over and above the value of those oranges.

        5. MNdragonlady*

          The person giving the donation gets the tax write-off, even if given in honor of someone else. If the check comes from your account you’re the one who gets the write-off. There’s no way to transfer credit as far as the IRS is concerned. And if someone gives cash and gives the charity my information instead so I get the write-off, now I have to deal with all the mailings and associated follow-up. Again, not a gift.

          Certainly, giving to the charity is a nice gesture, but don’t call it a gift to me. It’s not, by definition, a gift to me. It’s a gift to the charity.

          A gift to me is something I can use. Also, not an office knick-knack. Lunch for the team, a grocery gift-card, end-of-the-year bonus, etc, is what I was saying. A gift to charity in my name tells me the giver has the money to spend on one of the things I mentioned, but they didn’t. They gave it to someone else. That is not a gift to me.

          But, I suppose it does tell me how much the giver values me.

          1. LBK*

            Hmm, I’m not sure I agree with this line of reasoning. I suppose if you are in need and someone donates to charity on your behalf instead of buying something you would actually use, it can feel like an intended slight, but in general I don’t think the value of a gift is based solely on its utility. I also don’t think a donation to charity is “giving the money to someone else” – that’s a pretty cynical view of the purpose of donations. They’re meant to do good, and frankly it comes off a little selfish to think that a donation in your honor is just a way to show off disposable income or something like that.

            I’m guessing that you’re generally undercompensated and underappreciated and that’s why any dime that your company spends that doesn’t go into your pocket stings. I don’t think that means that donations to charity in general are mean-spirited in the way you’re implying.

            1. MNdragonlady*

              Actually, at my job they love me and I love them. I am regularly told how much they appreciate me and what I do. I’m looking forward to going in to the office later today. Underpaid for what I do, yes, but it’s a non-profit whose mission I believe in greatly, so that’s okay with me.

              I don’t think a value of a gift is based solely on its utility, either. I have four children – plenty of non-useful gifts have come my way that I love. The difference is they were given to me, not to someone else. And, yes, a donation is giving the money to someone else. It’s for a worthy purpose, but it is given to others, not to me.

              And that’s the objection: calling this a gift to me. It’s simply not a gift to me, by definition. It’s a beautiful gesture to the charity. A wonderful gift to the charity so they can continue to do the work they do. But it’s not a gift _to_me_.

              If someone want to give a gift to charity in my name, they certainly can. And I can see that as a great use of their money. But that still doesn’t make any of that a gift to me. It can’t. Because I don’t receive the gift, the charity does. It’s a gift to them.

              And, frankly, by calling it a gift to me, the giver is taking credit for doing something nice for me without actually doing anything for me. That’s what I object to. Do what TootsNYC says below – designate the regular gifts to something close to my heart. I’ll appreciate that as a gesture of good will. Still not a gift to me, but closer than if it’s money that would not normally be given away.

              I know I’m arguing semantics here, but I think it’s an important distinction. If (general) you want to give to charity – give away. Our family gives to charity as well. But do it for yourself and for the charities you believe in, not on behalf of others as “gifts”. Give actual gifts to your family and friends and others. Shoot, even a note of appreciation that shows you’ve noticed them. At the very least, tread very carefully when giving this type of gift. Not everyone in your world thinks it’s a gift.

              1. LBK*

                I guess we just have to agree to disagree, because I can’t wrap my head around this. I don’t deny that this probably *could* be done in a mean way as you outline, but I don’t think it’s the exclusive reason people donate on others’ behalves, or even a common reason. I am actually asking for donations in my name for Christmas this year, so that’s probably part of why I find this so bizarre. It is a gift to me, because it’s something I want and someone is spending money to buy it for me.

                Just because there’s no physical object handed to you doesn’t mean it’s not something you “receive”. You “receive” the same thing you receive something when you donate yourself, whatever that may be – eg, a sense of happiness from knowing that the money will go to a good cause. I just can’t understand the point of seemingly trying to find the worst possible reading of something as generous as giving to charity, which I think is probably the noblest way you could possibly try to slight someone.

                I’m sure the beneficiaries of that money don’t care if it was given in earnest or as some kind of passive aggressive middle finger. It might serve you better to just remember who that donation benefits, especially since it doesn’t sound like you’re particularly hard up for money.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I think the difference, LBK, is that you’re asking for donations in your name while MNDragonLady is not. So it’s about making a gift that the recipient would value/want, as opposed to making a gift that you think is benevolent, even if it is not a gift that the recipient would want or appreciate.

              2. nonegiven*

                I’d be pissed if someone gave a donation in my name.

                You want to give a donation, give it, leave me out of it.

                You want to give me a gift then give it to me.

      2. LBK*

        Geez, I hope most people aren’t so cynical that the only reason they’d donate to a charity is to write it off on their taxes.

        1. LBK*

          (Which, for the record, doesn’t even matter to most people – roughly 70% of taxpayers take the standard deduction anyway.)

          1. LQ*

            Absolutely true that most only take the standard deduction, but I will say the only people I’ve known to do it are absolutely doing it for the tax write off. (I haven’t known a lot, but the 4 people/couples who have absolutely did, there was a weird conversation about it at a Christmas party once, they decided how much to donate/give as gifts based on what their accountant (different accountants!) told them would help with their tax write offs.)

            (I would agree for things like funerary donations it isn’t about the write off, which is the other place I see it happen, but you as the giver can write the check and get your own deduction at that point if you really wanted.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Really? I don’t think I know anyone who does it with the tax write-off in mind. And really, unless you’re donating a sizable amount in the other person’s name, the tax write-off isn’t going to be significant enough that you’ll likely even notice it.

              1. LQ*

                Yes. It was a very weird thing. And it wasn’t the individual donations that were a lot but most of them seemed like they were giving hundreds of gift donations. I’m not saying it is common, but it does happen. It seemed like this was how they did their charity giving for the year. It could have been a regional thing, or a these people all knew each other thing, or something else. But yes, it happens.

                1. Grayson*

                  I didn’t know that. I assume that’s something I can Google? (I just started donating monthly to charities, and was pleasantly surprised that two of them were tax deductible. Though I don’t think it’ll come into account at my income level. To Google!)

                2. LBK*

                  Depending on various factors, there’s a “standard deduction” amount that you can take from your taxable income every year. You have a choice when you file if you want to take that standard deduction or if you want to itemize your deductions (i.e. report all of your individual tax deductions, like charitable donations). You generally only itemize your deductions if the total amount would be more that the standard deduction, which for most people they aren’t, so charitable donations being tax deductible doesn’t make a difference for the majority of taxpayers.

                  Plus, even if you do donate enough to beat the standard deduction, you still may not save as much on your taxes as it would cost you to make those donations. You have to be making a pretty substantial amount and usually have other big deductions (like business expenses) for donating to really be a worthwhile method of reducing your tax bill.

                3. Candi*

                  Donation deductions also have a tax ceiling. (Last I checked it was something like $100,000?) So anything above that is either lost or, possibly, rolled over. If the donations the next year don’t go over.

            2. LBK*

              Maybe once you reach a certain level of wealth where reducing taxable income is a big deal then this would be more of a concern, but I really don’t think it’s something that would even cross the average person’s mind. It definitely was not part of my thought process for the donations I’ve made on other people’s behalves.

              1. LQ*

                Yeah I think it was a wealth level thing. (I don’t remember the exact amounts they were talking about but per person, but I remember trying desperately to not gape because it was more than my entire rent.)

                1. MNdragonlady*

                  We take the deduction each year, but it’s not why we give. It’s a nice perk that allows us to give at the level we do. Without the deduction, a lot less would be going to the charities we support. And I think once you reach the tipping point on taking the deduction, that is probably the case. But we’re a weird case in many ways, so my experience may not be everyone’s.

            3. Marcela*

              Yes, my FIL has some friends in here that are crazy about tax deduction. And they do donation specifically for that. He is very impressed with the amount of things they donate to get tax write-offs, for example once they donated a boat/yacht. Honestly I don’t understand the full picture of it, so I don’t get why would you want to that, since the boat must have be very expensive to begin with, but at the same time, it feels so cheap and immoral, since the ones that pay taxes are the ones of us not rich enough to get accountants. But that’s a problem I have my FIL =^.^=

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I’ve only seen this with folks who run their own businesses and who have to be mindful of the itemized deduction. They don’t actually donate for the deduction, but the deduction can make a major difference in how they structure their gift.

              But as Alison noted, 90%+ of the donors I’ve met don’t do it for the deduction at all.

      3. Artemesia*

        I like the idea of agreeing within a family for example to forego gifts and everyone donates, but donations in someone’s name always strike me as non-gifts. I donate considerable each year in December to carefully chosen recipients. I don’t see any of that as a gift for anyone else. If my boss wants to give me something, I want to receive money or a nice gift — it isn’t a gift to me that he gives to charity. (Although I will say the example that started this is pretty nice and maybe I would not feel this way in that circumstance.)

        1. the gold digger*

          Yeah, Primo and I were not thrilled at his birthday present the year his parents adopted endangered species on his behalf. We got a poster and a calendar for each animal – so three calendars – in May.

          A gift certificate for a fancy restaurant where we would not otherwise eat would have been nice.

          1. Marisol*

            See now, I remember reading your list of the terrible gifts you have received from the in-laws over the years, and the one thing I actually thought was cool was the manatee. I could see how it would be kinda hokey, but at the same time, it’s genuinely doing good in the world, so I personally would like it. To each their own I guess!!

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I give a donation as a gift, but the first part is asking the person where they want the money to go. And if they wanted me to give them the money so they could donate it, I’d be glad to do it that way too.

          I only do Christmas gifts for one sibling and family each year, and in addition to gifts to them, I ask them for a organization that they would like me to support. When I gave to the American Cancer Society right after my brother-in-law’s mother died from cancer, he almost cried. I’m pretty sure he considered that a gift.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Well, it might be that the company always makes a donation of $XX at Christmas time, no matter what.

      So when boss is getting ready to do that, she decides, “Instead of donating to Cause Y because of my preferences, or because of the company’s agenda–like, a publishing company donating to a program that funds student newspapers in high schools–I’ll give to causes that my individual employees might choose.”

    3. Sarah G*

      Huh. I’m the one who originally posted this comment about the gift donations from my boss. Interesting discourse, but I’m surprise by all the negativity around this. Maybe some context would help. 1. This was a very small non-profit that served the homeless, and every person there cared deeply about the mission and giving a hand up to those in need, so unless a donation was to a politically charged organization (which none were), then I cannot imagine any of my colleagues being offended. 2. This boss was not wealthy and most certainly was not making donations for the purpose of a tax write-off. In fact, when she got married, she very clearly and eloquently requested on the invitations that in lieu of a gift, please make a donation to either charity X, Y, or Z, or any other of your choosing. 3. I was friends with all my co-workers — we were very close — any every single person was very pleased with the gift and with her choices of charities. I mean, it was the talk of the town in the office for days, people just loved it. So Boss definitely knew her audience!

  22. Miaw*

    OP#1, how do you feel if your boss give you a Quran as a gift? Let the boss also engrave your name into it so you can’t even give it away to somebody else.

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I think this is the most sensible way to go about it – uncouple the expectations from “This is my faith and I want to share it as best I can in a meaningful way via Christmas gifts with my employees” and turn it into the real question, which is “is a holy book a good gift?” – answer being: “almost certainly not in this context.”

  23. Jen RO*

    #3 – I’ve had a similar conversation with our HR rep, and she told me that managers in different locations treat reviews for new employees differently. Like your company, mine uses a 5-point scale, and 90% of new hires would fall in the “unsatisfactory” range (one of the main criteria is “can they do their job independently”). Some managers apparently rate them as “unsatisfactory”, but the HR and I agreed that it doesn’t really make sense. When I rate employees who have been with a company for a few months, I use the approach described by Alison and I compare them with my expectations of a new joiner. Most of the time, they are rated at the mid-range (“meets expectations”).

  24. FD*

    #1- Think about this. There are only a few possible results.

    1) Your employees are all the same denomination of Christian as you, and are also actively practicing. In this case, they almost certainly have one or more Bibles in their preferred translation, so this gift won’t be useful.

    2) At least some of your employees are the same denomination as you, but aren’t devout or practicing. In this case, they’ll wonder why you’re being pushy. Are you implying they should go to church more or they don’t read the Bible enough? It’s likely to feel like a weird moral judgement.

    3) At least some of your employees are a different denomination, different religion, or no religion at all. In this case, this gift will just be weird. Imagine if your boss gave you a Qur’an. It’d be a bit weird, because you wouldn’t have much use for it, right?

    1) is tacky, but 2) and 3) could easily start crossing the line into harassment. It’s not worth it, so don’t do it. But props for asking Alison first.

    #2- As long as you’re not a jerk about it, everyone should be fine. IME, smokers know some people are sensitive to smoke. You just don’t want to cross the line into saying it in a holier-than-thou attitude that some non-smokers use with smokers. (I doubt you will, but it’s something to be aware of.)

    #3- It might be useful to think of it as how they’re doing to meet expectations for someone at that point in their role. For example, many companies have expectations for what employees will have accomplished at the 30, 60, and 90 day benchmarks. If your company doesn’t, it might be useful for you to come up with one at least for you own use. It’ll help you better teach new hires.

    1. sam*

      corrollary to 3 – at least some of your employees are actively of a different faith, and go to HR because their boss is proselytizing at work and/or crossing the line into religiously-based harassment, and now they’re worried that they’re going to be discriminated against because they’re not of the same religion.

      (Assuming that this is in the US, religion is a protected class.)

      Also, ask me how enjoyable I found it when the guy who lived in the dorm room next door to me my sophomore year of college would press Chick Tracts (yes, really) into my hands every time he would see me, or corner me in our common lounge and read bible passages to me about Jesus.

      I’m Jewish.

      (I have many dear friends who live deep, loving lives of faith – of many religions that are not the same as mine. None of them try to force their faith on me)

  25. Alton*

    OP 1: Do you work somewhere that has a religious affiliation, like a parochial school or religious charity? Keep in mind that just because someone works for a Catholic school, for example, doesn’t mean that they’re definitely a follower of that faith. Jobs in religious organizations can reasonably involve a greater amount of religion in the workplace, and people are generally cool with that if they choose to work somewhere like this, but it’s still good to be respectful of employees who may have different beliefs.

    If your workplace isn’t religiously-affiliated at all, then you definitely shouldn’t be giving religious gifts or bringing religion into the office.

  26. Laura*

    #1 – If you are at a church or other religious organization and if you have talked with an individual employee and know you are on the same page, it’s probably okay, but not as a departmental wide gift.
    #3 – What is the company expectation for ratings? I worked one place where 80% were supposed to get a satisfactory, and this would be the good example of the person is making satisfactory progress on the goals they are given.

    1. OP#3*

      I would describe the company philosophy as in flux. There are some philosophical differences among the c-levels on what our review process should look like – some old school, some eliminate all ratings, some in between. My chain is headed by a c-level who dislikes giving employees a “report card,” but that is still the official HR requirement.

      There are no stacked ranking type requirements. There are raise guidelines for ratings, but no formula or hard and fast rule. Sorry I can’t give more detail, but Alison’s response and the comments have all been helpful. Thanks!

  27. J.B.*

    OP 5-I used to teach fitness classes. Passivity is to be expected and not everyone’s teaching style appeals to everyone. How was attendance at your classes? Did you have any regulars? It sounds like this place is not so interested anymore so you can unofficially let your regulars know where else they can find you. 6 am is also a weird timeslot where people can get very passionate about a particular instructor.

  28. Allison*

    #1, I can see why you might consider this. For many people, the Bible is a source of inspiration and comfort. We often hear stories of people who were given Bibles in times of need and it turned their lives around, and they insist they’d be dead or rotting in jail if they hadn’t read it. Many people who’ve chosen to follow Christ treasure their Bibles, and many people appreciate receiving new ones as gifts from family members and close friends. I get that. I don’t hate people who follow Christ, I know He has an important place in many people’s hearts.

    But like others have said, it’s an inappropriate workplace gift. It’s too personal, and to those who have chosen not to follow Christ, it says to them “this is what’s best for you, read it and you will understand what your heart is missing,” which is a bit presumptuous. Even gently suggesting a religious path to your employees or coworkers can make them feel weird.

    1. Michele*

      I agree with No. 1. People see religion in different ways. What you choose to believe in or don’t is a very private matter, and it can be awkward to receive an object like this. Also personally, an atheist friend of mine got a bible as a gift from a devout Christian and she was very uncomfortable with it. (She thought she was trying to be converted.)

    2. Jean*

      I have to say, I generally agree with your comment but I find the part “those who have chosen not to follow Christ” a little problematic. I’m not even sure I can explain why it bothers me, but I think it sounds a little exclusionary. “There’s us who follow Christ, and there’s them who chose not to follow Christ.” It’s not an either/or proposition.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think it’s because by framing non-Christians as “those who have chosen not to follow Christ,” the phrase implies that a person’s decision to follow another faith (or no faith) is a rejection of Christ/Christianity as opposed to an affirmative embrace of their faith/non-faith.

        But I otherwise thought the comment was compassionate and kind, and I’m glad that Allison provided it.

        1. Candi*

          Maybe ‘those who follow Christ, and those who follow another religion, or no religion’ is a better phrasing?

          This kind of phrasing drives me bananas when I’m trying to write a story and looking for a polite way to express/discuss the multiple religions, or not, of several characters -religions both RL and fictional.

  29. Katie*

    #3 – I was in the same situation last year, but as the new employee. My company also requires performance reviews no matter how long our tenure is (I had only been there 5 months by year-end). The way they avoid any harsh reviews for new employees is that anyone with less than one year tenure automatically receives “Satisfactory”. Our bonuses are tied to our reviews, so this allows new employees to receive the basic bonus, pro-rated by how long we were at the company the previous year.

  30. Crazy Canuck*

    #1 – I wonder how the letter writer would feel if they received a Satanic Bible as a gift? I would feel much the same way about receiving a copy of the christian bible. Keep it out of the workplace.

  31. voice of experience*

    OP1 has to be a troll, no one in the modern world, especially not readers of this forum would think that gifting bibles to employees is ok. This is wrong on so many levels.

    1. Temperance*

      I agree that it’s wrong, but I don’t think that the person is a troll. I’m an atheist, and have been treated similarly in the past (although never receiving a freaking bible as a work gift). Many Christians just assume that everyone else is Christian, too, especially if the area is religion-heavy.

      I’ve also been stereotyped as a Christian because, apparently, if you’re a halfway decent human, you can’t possibly be atheist. Ugh.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        Could be but I think Alison prefers us to refrain from making such accusations as you never know when this is a legit issue for someone out there, no matter how far fetched it might seem. Not everyone has the same experiences as others. I also think there are plenty of people left in the modern world who see no issue with giving religious based gifts and this is a great time to bring up the reasons why it’s not appropriate.

        1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

          This was obviously meant to be a direct reply to Voice of Experience.

          But while I’ve got you, Temperance, I’ve also experienced the “if you’re a halfway decent human, you can’t possibly be athiest” situation and it’s so frustrating. Apparently we can’t have morals and ethics unless they are tied to religion.

    2. fposte*

      Can we not call people trolls? It really discourages people who might write in, and it doesn’t gain us anything.

      FWIW, I don’t live in the South and I still know lots of people who would get excited about this idea, so I think you’re wrong about what the modern world does and doesn’t contain.

    3. Alton*

      I could see the OP thinking of this if it was a religious organization–like if they worked for a Catholic school, a church, or a religious non-profit. The lack of context is puzzling, though, because while I think Bibles are a bit personal in general, there’s a big contextual difference between “I want to give Bibles to my staff at a church daycare” and “I want to give Bibles to my staff at an accounting firm.” The former isn’t that illogical and I could see someone not realizing that it could still be weird/overly personal or presumptuous. The latter is a lot more intrusive.

    4. CM*

      I disagree, I think OP#1 has good intentions, and wants to gift something that they themselves would value and appreciate, but also recognizes that this may not be the most appropriate thing and wants to make sure. And I also think a lot of people, especially people who live in less diverse communities, assume that most of the people they associate with are basically like them. That’s very common, and it’s not trolling.

      1. Temperance*

        That’s exactly it – it really sounds like LW #1 is trying to be kind and coming from a good place, but she doesn’t realize how hurtful/exclusionary a gift like this could be, especially if there are people of other faiths/no faiths who are not public about their views.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yes, I agree, I think OP #1 is trying to be kind. Bibles can be expensive, and getting them personalized would make them more so. So she clearly wants to do something nice for her employees and is willing to spend money on it. And she at least had the foresight to ask someone knowledgeable if this would be an appropriate gift! The OP has her heart in the right place. And now she knows it’s not an ok gift. And that’s the whole point of this site–to help people learn this kind of thing. I don’t think we gain anything from assuming she’s trolling.

        2. Hrovitnir*

          I agree, it really sounded like they genuinely wanted to give a good gift, but if it’s something you feel really positive about it can be hard to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. At least they were sensible enough to ask first!

    5. JMegan*

      +1 to not calling people trolls. And I think questions along the lines of “this is what I think, but I would like to check and see if it’s appropriate” are perfect for sending to advice columnists. I would prefer that someone have an awareness that their experience might not be universal (plus yay, willingness to learn!), than an assumption that it is.

      1. KR*

        I agree with this and with CM & Temperance’s comment. This is exactly what Alison is here for – to answer people’s questions about work-related matters. People don’t always automatically know what professional norms are, what the right course of action is in a tricky situation or how their actions might come across to someone else.

        1. Temperance*

          Seriously, and we want people to ask questions! I submitted a question a while ago and the comments were pretty mixed. I have a thick skin so I didn’t mind, but if someone is particularly sensitive, it’s going to discourage them from reaching out, which stinks.

    6. Recruit-o-rama*

      This is so rude. How are people expected to learn and grow and understand different perspectives if they are mocked and ridiculed for simply asking a question? I think there IS trollish behavior on display here, but it’s certainly not by the OP.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please don’t call people trolls here! It’s unkind to letter writers who write in with genuine questions looking for help. If I truly believe someone is trolling, I’ll address it, but the majority of the time when I see the word tossed around, they aren’t.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Nah, they might have worked other places where people did this, and being of that faith, thought it was okay. Not everyone has the same experience as others, which is why we need to discuss this stuff.

      Also, they might know it if they read AAM regularly, but I think Alison said one time she does get fly-by questions from non-readers, so it might be one of those.

    9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’ve seen trolling, and this does not come close. It’s not entirely clear to me if OP #1 is in the United States, but I can think of several regions/countries in “the modern world” in which it would not be dead wrong to gift a Bible. Also, I’d much rather OP #1 ask for Alison’s advice before running out and actually implementing this gift idea.

      If we’re quick to rush to judgment or unkind, folks will be disinclined from asking questions and instead will ham-handedly pursue bad ideas. I’d rather people seek gut-checks than charge forward.

  32. Myrin*

    OP #2, this sentence “so if I’m just working on something individually I could be in the lounge outside or an individual room (both places where people go to work)” makes me think that it’s not especially unlikely that your colleagues won’t even notice that your leaving the room has something to do with their newly-refreshed smoke smell (I reckon Alison had similar thoughts since she said “If you think it might ever be something people notice and wonder about”). So, like Alison, I’d (literally!) say to just go for it – it’s not unusual and definitely not ridiculous! And if my reading of the situation is correct and it won’t be noticed much anyway, I really don’t think there’s much to be worried about.

  33. DCGirl*

    I agree with all the comments about Bibles. If you want to do something nice for your employees, the amount spent buying and engraving the Bibles could be put towards a holiday lunch, even if it’s something simple like pizza, salad, and sodas.

    I’m a big believer in how you package things. I once worked at a school that used to give all employees a bonus at Christmas. One year there were only enough funds to give everyone $25, so they wrote everyone a check for $25 and called it a bonus. There was much grumbling in the ranks. If they had instead said, “We can’t afford to give bonuses this year, so instead here’s a $25 grocery store gift toward to put toward your turkey dinner,” it would have gone over so much better.

    1. Temperance*

      My last job put a salary freeze and changed the bonus structure for non-sales employees. We received a $50 gift card each December as our holiday gift. Once the salary freeze went into effect, we received $25, and then the following year, my terrible company tried a charitable donation push for the holiday. They wanted us all to donate the $25 to a charity from their approved list or request the gift card, but we had to send someone an email to request the GC for ourselves (to shame us out of our lousy $25, probably).

        1. Temperance*

          That was my assumption, too. I took my gift card and spent it on Happy Hour at Chili’s with no guilt whatsoever.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’d rather get the money than a turkey voucher. ExExJob gave those and I always gifted mine to another employee who regularly fed a ton of people at Thanksgiving. I live alone and hate turkey, so it was of no use to me. $25, however, I can work with.

      1. DQ*

        Our company (citing IRS regulations) taxes employees for the value of any gift that is given to them even if paid for by manager’s personal funds. They are very strict about it and ask around about gifts so you’re required to report them. I’m curious if you’d want the gift even if you had to pay taxes on it? I feel like giving a gift and then taxing it is even crappier, so I tend to take everyone to a meal or make a charitbale donation. But now I’m re-thinking the charity thing.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          No, and I’d question it, because I’ve never ever been asked to pay tax on a gift, only on a bonus (given to us at ExExjob as a paycheck-like payment). If I ran a company, I seriously would not expect EMPLOYEES to pay tax on a bunch of $15 turkey certificates. This sounds weird to me. Like maybe they don’t want to pay it. Of course, I could be wrong.

          A nice lunch would be acceptable (during the workday), if the choices were pay tax on something small or free food.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It’s weird but not quite wrong, although I don’t know why the company has deemed itself collector of gift-taxes—usually people just self-report this on their 1040, but perhaps because managers are distributing the gift, the company is worried about the appearance that they’re the ones distributing it?

            Technically the certificates could be seen as a form of “income,” and thus subject to taxation, the same way that cash gifts over a certain amount are taxable income (most folks don’t receive gifts above the threshold, though). I saw someone return a geep (goat-sheep hybrid) won at a charity raffle because they could not afford the taxes. The tax code is not kind to the non-uber-wealthy.

            1. DQ*

              We’re non-profit, so there’s some heightened sensitivity there, but I did re-look up the IRS guidelines and they’re clear that a gift certificate given to an employee by their employer (which is their boss, even if purchased with personal funds, it states that explicitly) is considered cash income like a bonus, so we’re obligated to tax it like income. There is zero dollar threshold, a gift certificate for $5, if given to an employee by their employer must be taxed like income. Maybe other companies just don’t worry about it so much?

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I apologize—I should have clarified that the dollar threshold for cash gifts applies in very narrow and specific contexts (think personal gifts from family members). So if a private party (your employer) is giving you a cash-equivalent gift like a gift certificate or coupon for the value of a specific service, then you’re 100% correct that there’s a zero dollar threshold for taxation.

                I was confused about your employer’s involvement in collecting the gift tax because you had mentioned that your company taxes the gift even if it’s paid for by a manager out of personal funds, which I interpreted to mean that managers aren’t reimbursed for those gifts. But I’m realizing that maybe I misunderstood you?

                1. DQ*

                  No, we’re not reimbursed. I believe the interpretation our company is using is that the Manager, even if acting with her own personal funds, is acting as an agent of the company, therefore anything given to employees is compensation.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I liked my old company’s version, which was “here is a voucher for the cost of a good-sized turkey, but it’s good for any food, buy something yummy for whatever sort of holiday food you like.”

      3. Temperance*

        Booth’s old company gave gift certificates to Honey Baked Ham for holidays. I liked this approach. We stockpiled them in an effort to try and convince his grandparents that we could have a higher-end Christmas meal. (This did not work, btw, because they couldn’t wrap their heads around gift certificates and we weren’t allowed to buy and bring the food.)

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Well, they said “grocery voucher” so you could buy whatever you want to eat with it. If you were sitting down planning how you present this rather than writing a comment on a blog you might say something more like “here’s $25 for your holiday dinner”, but you get the idea.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh, I thought Elizabeth West specifically said turkey voucher, hence my confusion. (I saw folks discussing both, but I’ve rarely seen folks be able to use a targeted turkey voucher for general groceries).

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I would have had the opposite reaction. I’d rather have $25 I can spend wherever I want than $25 that can only be spent at the grocery store. But I’d want it to be a gift, not a “bonus.”

      1. Violet Fox*

        I also wouldn’t be happy with money to spend at a grocery store that isn’t my grocery store. Having to go out of my way or to a store I don’t like to use my gift doesn’t really feel like a gift.

  34. Milla*

    Yoga instructor-
    It could be something as innocuous as the other instructor needs the money and asked for more classes. Since you have a full-time, other job, it’s possible they’re making scheduling assumptions based on your perceived need vs. that of other instructors.
    As a high school worker from a supportive family, my hours were usually cut to accommodate older workers with kids who relied on that job. Even if they were flaky, awful workers. It wasn’t really fair, but the thought behind it was “they need the cash/hours more than you, and you’ll be fine”. So, less malicious, more ham-handed.

  35. animaniactoo*

    OP3 – is there a category or could you push to have one be added for “Development/Progress towards goals”? Because if so, that’s a place where you can mark her as outstanding, while more correctly evaluating the rest as “meets expectations”.

  36. Katy*

    OP1, if after all the above commentary you still want to give a book that speaks to the soul (I go by the Simpsons’ definition that the soul is the “symbol of everything fine and good inside us”) may I recommend some poetry, such as Whitman, or Rilke?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d appreciate those even less than a Bible, but at least I wouldn’t find them offensive. :-)

  37. Jialis*

    #1 – I actually think this is fine, if it is a faith-based place of employment. I have received a bible as a gift, as well as a statue of the Madonna. Of course, this was a catholic school and all employees were Catholics (some less practicing than others, but still). It never occurred to me to be offensive, although of course that would be different in the rest of the workforce which is overwhelmingly secular.

    1. Jessie*

      I think that’s what a number of commenters have stated – if the OP is working at a church-based employer, a Bible could be fine (although – people generally already have Bibles, and they tend to be really personal items, and so at a church it wouldn’t be offensive to receive it but likely just not as appreciated as you hope – I have a favorite Bible, and I wouldn’t really have use for a new random one). But most employers are not church-based, and I would assume OP would have said “Oh hey I work at a church” if she did. SO, assuming this employer is secular, as most corporations are, a Bible is not an appropriate gift to give to your employees. Of course it could be offensive – someone of a different religion would justifiably feel pressured or proselytized at about her faith (or lack thereof), which at work is an offensive thing.

  38. NW Mossy*

    OP #3, has your org considered a “too new to rate” category? That’s what my company does (or did, until we started abandoning annual reviews in favor of a constant-feedback approach), and it was intended for use for anyone who’s been in role less than 6 months. The narrative to go along with it can speak to the nuances of how the person’s settling in, and it appropriately carves out those who are new from any broader analytics HR might be looking at with respect to ratings.

  39. Observer*

    OP #1, why do you think this would be a good gift? What are you trying to accomplish?

    I’m not being snarky. I just think that you need to step back and think about why you are doing this and whether you are likely to accomplish that goal. If you do that honestly and with clear vision, I think you will also see what the possible unintended consequences might be.

  40. NW Mossy*

    OP #1, I think on some level, you recognize that gifting bibles to your employees is not a great idea because you explicitly mentioned personalizing them. The impulse that’s suggesting making the bible “special” to the recipient is also telling you that gifting bibles to people you don’t know all that well is an impersonal act. It fits into the same category as a Gideon bible – the intent is positive, but they’re an impersonal part of a space (a hotel room) that’s explicitly intended to be as impersonal as possible.

    Faith gathers strength in a person when it’s deeply felt and connected to that person’s lived experience. A bible from a boss is exceptionally unlikely to spark that, and if it did, I’d be concerned that your level of influence over that employee is drifting into an unhealthily codependent space.

  41. Shazbot*

    Considering how many people (Americans, at least) call themselves Christians but do not actually read the bible, giving a bible would be useless.

    Give them socks. Everybody can use socks. And if they don’t want the socks, they know somebody who could use socks.

    1. TootsNYC*

      This is funny–socks.

      I always give my team a $50 gift card and some small gift—a toy, if I can find one I like, since I think grownups don’t get enough toys; it used to be a little Lego stocking stuffer. But now that I’ve had the same crew working for me, I’ve segued into something useful

      One year I made them all stationery with their names on it; another year I got them all a shawl for the office (since it gets chilly, and that year they were all women).

      I try not to spend a lot on those items, bcs I have a budget, and I want most of it to go into the gift card. I’ve been trying to decide what to give them this year. I could get a packge of Sugru and give everyone a little packet.

      But I could give them socks! It would fit into the “stereotypical Christmas gift” theory!
      But not underwear.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Wow, $50 sounds like a lot to me! Granted, I work for a nonprofit, but I would love to know what people think the standard gift from your boss should be?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think it varies significantly with the office, industry, culture, geographic region, position, and salary =/

        1. Violet Fox*

          Yes please on colouring books! Nice pens or pencils would also be lovely too! I’d also never say no to a new coffee mug or something that is just fun!

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          OMG, Elizabeth and Violet, do you have the Johanna Basford books? They make conference calls possible.

          1. Violet Fox*

            I have the garden one, and the forest one! Our bookstore on campus sells them, colored pens and pencils! I also gave the oceans one as a present to a far away friend who mentioned at one point that she always wanted to try those books but could not find them easily where she lives.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              If you don’t already have it, check out the daily desk calendar. It’s wonderful!

  42. animaniactoo*

    LW, I would bring this up as an overall environmental issue and ask to see if something can be done to ameliorate it. Can they place air purifiers in the conference rooms? Set limits on how many people to a conference room to minimize density issues? Ask that smokers wash their hands before they come back? (An incredible amount of smoke/scent clings to your hands, almost nobody realizes this.)

    And after that, just move out when it becomes too much for you – framed as “It’s a problem for me, so I’m moving me for awhile, not asking anyone else to stop what they should be able to do as part of the way they live their life” kind of thing.

  43. Moonsaults*

    The one time I was gifted a Bible was from my alcoholic Uncle who had just did a stint in AA and was a on religious kick. Even as a child, who was active in church, I didn’t want the gift and when I was old enough to know that I wasn’t going to be in any trouble, I tossed it into a donation box.

    I grew up to collect them and it’s all still a very personal connection involved.

    For gifts to your staff, it’s best to stick with generic things. I know that it doesn’t feel as special to you and I do truly understand that your heart is in the right place.

  44. TL17*

    #1 – I used to live across the street from – and I am not making this up – a high-end bible bindery. Their bibles were incredibly gorgeous. I would not have minded receiving one of those as a gift because a) supporting a local business and b) they were SO nice. Probably otherwise I’d be a little squicked out by a bible as a gift.

    Maybe along those lines, if the gift-giver wants to give something reflective/spiritual and personalized, maybe a nice blank journal (personalized if they want) could be a thoughtful substitute.

  45. James*

    Regarding company-purchased clothing: My company actually encourages us to wear it outside of work. The logic is that if I get injured, my company suffers regardless of where the injury occurred. Sure, if I lose a toe to a lawnmower accident it’s not going to show up as an OSHA recordable, but I’m still not going to be able to do my job adequately. The same would apply to cold-weather gear: cold weather has a number of hazards, including many that people don’t think of (such as dehydration), which can contribute to illness and injury outside of work hours. Therefore from the company’s perspective, it’s better for you to wear the PPE on your own time than to not do so.

    Think of it this way: You are a company asset. It is in the company’s best interests to protect its assets. Ergo, it’s in the company’s best interest to protect you.

    Furthermore, all PPE takes time to get used to. You have to wear boots for a while to be comfortable in them; winter coats are bulky and it takes time to figure out how you move in them; hats can block your hearing, and you need to wear them to figure out how to compensate. These aren’t hypotheticals; these are issues that I’ve seen or experienced myself which have caused problems–including lost time–on projects. If you wear your PPE at home, you acclimate to it faster and are more efficient on the jobsite. This is a VERY good thing, and in the company’s best interests.

    Wear the stuff outside of work. And if anyone objects, feel free to point out these issues.

    1. OP #4*

      I’ve never thought of it that way, but that makes perfect sense. I’ve definitely worn shared PPE (in a previous job) and been miserable because nothing fit and was too big for me. I’ve lost my footing in the field several times, and have had to take the long way around on more solid ground because I could not walk on softer ground without getting stuck and losing my too-large boots or something. Ugh.

      It’s my first time getting personalized PPE that I’m allowed to buy myself, so I’m thrilled, but I also don’t want to unknowingly do something wrong and have my perks revoked. But it’s definitely, as you said, in the company’s best interest that I get used to wearing it outside of work. Thanks!

      1. Observer*

        *SHARED* PPE? That doesn’t fit correctly?! Are these people nuts? How does this make sense? This stuff is supposed to be PROTECTIVE, ie safety gear, no? How can any gear be considered “safety” gear if it doesn’t fit correctly?


        1. James*


          Sharing PPE is a serious health hazard. Sweaty boots are not something you should have to pass around!! Hats, gloves, safety glasses, etc. can all cause problems. Add a healthy dose of Tragedy of the Commons, and you have a H&S nightmare waiting to happen. That’s without getting into issues of decontamination, cross-contamination, and the like. This is a situation just begging for some nasty fungus or bacteria to run rampant through your team.

          Also, as Observer said, PPE is not considered adequate if it doesn’t fit correctly. This point is most stressed in hearing protection (“What’s the best hearing protection to use?” “The one people actually wear.”), but the concept is applicable to everything. As I pointed out above, something as simple as boots not fitting properly can cause an OSHA recordable. And if your PPE gets snagged on equipment, or causes you to slip and fall in the wrong situation, it can be a fatality.

          You can already demonstrate the actual lost time (taking the long way ’round). Losing your footing is a Near Miss, and HIGHLY indicative of a serious problem which, left unaddressed, can get someone seriously injured or killed. Most injuries in my company at least occur due to Slips/Trips/Falls, and I believe that’s the case industry-wide (construction and environmental). I’m not Mr. H&S; I think a lot of it is just the company covering it’s back-side by finding ways to throw employees under the bus, combined with a lot of Regulatory Capture to squash competition. But I’d fight this tooth and nail, because this situation has created a clear and demonstrable safety hazard that is adversely affecting the workers and the company’s capacity to do the job.

          Personal PPE IS NOT a “perk”; it’s a requirement as far as any company I’ve worked with or for is concerned. It’s in the name–the first “P” stands for “Personal”. If a subcontractor tried this on one of my jobsites I wouldn’t have to throw them off the site; I’d have to keep our Health and Safety management team from having a collective aneurism!! This situation IS NOT normal, not by ANY stretch of the imagination. I’m very sorry you have to endure it.

          1. OP #4*

            Oh yeah, in my old job, we shared boots and other items (rain gear, goggles, etc.). I guess the rationale was that some of the staff were seasonal, so it would be better just to have a collection of things and have everyone find something that fit them the best because that person might not be there next year. Plus there were some old items in disrepair (they reused from one year to the next–they didn’t buy new generically-sized items every year), which was great when you found that out in the field. They did buy new things here and there, but nothing sized to a specific person, despite some on the team having been there for years.

            OK, so now that I type that out, that seems (well, *is*) pretty bad. I guess I’ve been brainwashed into thinking this is normal, and hence my question regarding if my new employer will really let me Have Nice Things.

            Thanks again, this is really putting things into perspective for me.

  46. Rachael*

    Giving the bible is not an odd gift….to the gift giver. The people who gift those genuinely does not see anything wrong with it for two reasons (1.) they believe that if the recipient is Christian they will apprectiate it (2.) If they are not Christian it is a change to reach out. (I had a coworker that tried to sneak in conversion items to me. He would say “at least I tried”.

    So, as an Athiest, it would irritate me because when religious items are given it is not because the giver is actually thinking about the person, they are thinking about “spreading god’s word”.

    OP, If you feel you *must* give such things to people please don’t engrave. If people feel that they cannot use your gift at least they can give it to someone they know will appreciate it. If it was me, I would turn around and regift it to someone else (ask them first). If I got an engraved Bible it would be such a waste to throw it away.

  47. Christine*

    1. Giving bibles as gifts to employees

    Do not do it. I would be waiting for my boss to start recruitment for his church if he gave me a bible. To be honest I had a horrible experience with a bible thumping co-worker years ago, she made my life miserable. I would be so afraid of that. I work for the state, I would be complaining to HR in seconds because of my prior experience.

  48. CATS*

    I wouldn’t even keep a Christian Bible. We have a small one for reference, since we’re academics, but we’re Jewish, and we make sure our faith is the one represented in the home, since Christianity has everywhere outside.

    I also probabbbbbly wouldn’t accept a Tanach or anything else from a pushy Christian boss. It is just too ick.

  49. Dixieland Lawyer*

    OP#2: I’m not familiar with the logistics of how “hoteling” works for consultants (or indeed, your particular organization), but I’d ask your employer if it’s possible to set up separate, designated smoking and non-smoking workstations/rooms. You may be the first to voice it, but I’d doubt you’d be the last!

  50. Anon 12*

    I can only imagine limited circumstance in which giving bibles to employees makes sense, like you all work for the church and these are lovely limited editions with nice pictures or something. I get wierded out that my doctor has bibles in the waiting room and verses in script on the glass doors. Last time I was there I realized the office muzack is mellow christian rock. It’s an odd choice given that the office is in a largely Jewish area. It’s not exactly offensive but it feels off, like that stuff should be more private.

    1. Temperance*

      TBH, I would probably look for a new doctor in that instance because that would make me wholly uncomfortable.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I had a doctor whose office was inside a faith-based hospital. The artwork was glorious. My particular favorite was a painting of Jesus looking over a doctor’s shoulder and pointing out something in a medical book. Every time my doctor wanted to do bloodwork, I was tempted to ask if we could just consult with Jesus instead.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Ok, I’d mostly be really uncomfortable with going to a faith-based hospital but the idea of Jesus consulting medical texts delights me.

  51. Candi*

    #1 -don’t do that. For the reasons everyone has said. For me, unless it was a fancy reference copy with notes and comments on how the history of Israel interacted with the other kingdoms and cultures in the area along the same timeline (which is very interesting), I’d be slapping a very pretty sticker over the engraving and giving it to my dad to leave in the ‘free swap’ area of his church. (Leave stuff you don’t want, take stuff you do. Low-income area, so good quality used is gold.)

    As for presents for your staff, is it out of pocket or out of a company budget?

    Out of pocket, I’d recommend Amazon gift cards. If someone wants a Bible, they can get one; if not, they can get anything else that the amount covers.

    If it’s company budget, then gift cards might be counted as income. There’s a lot of generic things that might work.

    But if you really want to get them a book, engraved or not, I would recommend a blank journal with a nice cover and paper.

    Those who like to sketch or doodle can do that, those who want to take notes can do that, those who jot down story ideas can do that.

    But nope on just giving them Bibles.

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