the event I volunteered for wants too much of my time, company is becoming more conservative, and more

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

1. The event I volunteered for wants too much of my time

I was asked to volunteer at a gala for an organization that has nothing to do with my day-to-day work or employer, by a slightly senior coworker who is involved with the organization. I, along with two of my coworkers, agreed to volunteer at the event. When I agreed to help, I was agreeing to a single week night, from 4 pm – 9 pm to assist.

A week before the event, the coordinator, “Pam,” emailed all the volunteers and requested a meeting in the middle of the work day. Pam wanted to give us instruction for the event and said it would take, at most, 30 minutes. It ended up lasting over an hour, and was clearly more of a planning session than instruction. I was annoyed to spend my lunch hour helping plan an event that should have already been hammered out weeks prior. But the event went smoothly and I was happy to help out. I pretty much forgot about it as the weeks passed.

Now, a month and a half later, Pam has reached out to schedule a debriefing on the event. She wants to block out a lunch hour to discuss how everything went. She’s framing it like, “I know we promised you all a follow up meeting.” I don’t remember talking about this at all, and I’m not sure why any of the volunteers would have wanted this either. At this point, I really feel like the importance they see in this event is getting a little ridiculous. The tasks we had were things like set up and take down, handing people brochures, and hanging up coats. It was very simple and I’m not sure what we would have to debrief on.

I really don’t want to do this. I have no feedback to give. I have had an extremely busy month and can barely remember specific details about the event. And I really don’t care to give up another lunch hour for this. I was happy to help, but the event is over and I want to be done with my obligations to them. It would be different if I felt passionately about their mission, but I don’t. Am I ridiculous for feeling strongly about not wanting to do this? If it is reasonable for me to not go, how should I word that to Pam?

You’re not being unreasonable at all. Your obligation ended when you finished the work you agreed to do a month and a half ago, and Pam doesn’t have ongoing claims on your time! It should be okay to respond back with, “I won’t be able to make this because my schedule is really crunched right now, but I wish you all the best in your work.” You don’t need her permission to excuse yourself; you’re just letting her know you won’t be there.

2. I’m queer and worried our company is becoming too conservatively Christian to keep me

Most of my company’s communication happens on Slack. There’s around 100 employees and we’re mostly young techies, even if we aren’t all developers and engineers. It’s common for everyone (from C-level down) to swear, keysmash, use exclamations and acronyms on Slack—basic internet speak.

Recently I posted “oh my god I love it” in response to a feature a coworker made. I got an automatic Slack response telling me that if I wasn’t actually referring to the deity, I shouldn’t say that as it makes people uncomfortable. This has never been an issue raised before, by HR or individuals.

I checked who created the response. It’s our head of marketing, who I know is a relatively devout Christian. It’s set to go off whenever anyone says “oh my god,” “goddamn,” etc. I would be willing to write this off as a weirdly passive-aggressive way to tell us that they don’t like anyone, even non-Christians, breaking the second commandment, except there’s been a lot of talk from the high-ups recently about “values” and how LGBTQ+ stuff is too controversial/inappropriate for work. Those conversations were already worrying me because I’m queer, and I’m not out to anyone outside my department or above supervisor-level. Now I’m scared that this response means the company is actively shifting towards conservative Christian values, and that my job/standing at the company may be in danger if I’m outed. Am I being paranoid?

If there’s been a sudden increase in higher-ups talking about how LGBTQ+ stuff is too controversial or inappropriate (!) for work … that’s not a good sign.

On its own, the fact that someone programmed in automatic Slack responses to “oh my god” is pretty weird. But combine it with the vapors over LGBTQ+ stuff, and I’d be worried you’re moving toward the Handmaid’s Tale.

There’s a lot of info I don’t have here, like how long you’ve worked there, how senior you are, how much influence you have, and what kind of relationship you have with your boss and others. Depending on some of those answers, it could make sense to try to suss out what’s going on (is something changing? what’s driving it? where’s it headed?). But there’s a strong argument for skipping that and looking for a workplace that doesn’t find your very existence too controversial or inappropriate to talk about. I’m sorry.

3. Company-wide emails warning us not to do whatever just got someone fired

When an employee at my workplace is fired for misbehavior, in the next day or so, management sends out a company-wide email warning people to not do the the thing that got the employee fired. For example, Joe has been very obviously mishandling widgets for the past couple of weeks. Joe suddenly no longer shows up for work. A couple of days after Joe’s disappearance, there’s a company-wide email that says, “Be mindful that mishandling widgets will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.” Joe’s name isn’t mentioned in the email. But Joe is gone and everyone knows that Joe has been mishandling widgets, so it seems pretty obvious that Joe was fired for mishandling widgets. Is this within the bounds of reasonable management behavior, given that a manager going around saying, “We fired Joe on Monday because he mishandled widgets” is a no-no?

Is there a separate announcement that Joe is no longer with the company? If not, this is very weird. People need to know when someone is no longer there, so they don’t continue to send them emails and wait on status updates and so forth, and so they know who to go to in their place.

But if they’re doing that part, and these “remember not to drag-race in the parking lot” emails are going out separately … well, it depends. If they have reason to think clearer instruction on this stuff is necessary, it makes sense to provide it. But if there’s no reason to think anyone needs the refresher, it’s odd and comes across as weirdly disconnected … and sort of excessively cautious, like they think it helps them legally to issue this kind of reminder or something like that. Or like they like to manage by group email, which is not an effective approach.

4. Is it rude to ignore cold contacts from recruiters?

I am not job hunting, and I get a lot of recruiters who I haven’t worked with in the past cold contacting me to see if I’d be interested in an opportunity. (This often happens via LinkedIn but has been happening increasingly often via my personal email also.) I just ignore their emails since I’m not interested. But lately I’ve had a few extremely persistent recruiters who follow up once a day or so, and they’ve started to imply that I’m being rude by not responding! Today’s email explicitly said, “If you’re uninterested in the opportunity, could you at least let me know?”

This seems unreasonable to me! I’m not job hunting and I don’t feel like I should have to spend my time personally turning down multiple unsolicited job emails a day. (It’s particularly annoying to me that most of these recruiters assume I live in NYC because my company is based there, even though my LinkedIn says I live elsewhere and work remotely.) Am I actually being rude? Should I be shooting off quick rejection emails just so they don’t keep bothering me?

You’re not being rude. They’re doing the email equivalent of cold-calling and they’re not entitled to your time in response.

That said, if someone follows up with you, it’s probably in your interests to respond and say you’re not interested so that they don’t continue to contact you. But their implication that you’ve somehow been remiss in not responding is off-base (and particularly rich coming from an industry notorious for not responding to job seekers).

5. Alumni email addresses when job searching

I’m six months away from being done with grad school and am about to start job hunting. I really hate my Gmail address but can’t seem to get a better one. My school only has email addresses that end in @alumni.UniversityName.com. I worry that if I use this email it will look odd or against professional norms. What is your opinion on using alumni email addresses for job hunting?

It’s totally fine and normal to use an alumni email address, especially when you recently attended the school. Use it without worry.

{ 1,100 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Warning: There are some problematic comments in the discussion below and you might want to make liberal use of the “collapse replies” button if you’re not up for it today. (I’m on vacation so my moderation bandwidth is even lower than normal right now, although I cleaned up some of it.) That said, it’s a pretty small number of people overall (with a lot of comments, which can make it feel like more).

  2. Gaia*

    Basic human rights are too controversial for work?

    Wow.

    I hope you get a new job soon where you can be your authentic self without being told you’re “too controversial.”

    1. Mookie*

      Weird how they think privileging the generic word “god” is a “value” they think worth imposing on employees while also insisting that independent expressions of “values” among staff are to be discouraged. Also, sorry, but your LGBT+ employees have a right to exist out loud if they want to and that existence is neither “controversial” nor “inappropriate” in the workplace.

      All my sympathy to the LW and her colleagues. Screenshot every notice you get regarding what is being censored. Establish a paper trail and document the in-person discussions/castigations/reviews.

      1. JSPA*

        Morally, yes. Legally, LGBT rights only formally have city, county or at most State level protection in the US, in the workplace and for housing. Some federal agencies have been treating a subset of cases as “obviously” being covered under sexual discrimination and sexual harassment statutes, which can be a considerable help, in cases of overt and extended harassment (for example). But as free speech does not apply to the workplace except where specifically covered (eg Union organizing), being told that certain topics are not appropriate for work speech is probably not going to count as harassment per legal definition.

        That said, as a thought experiment, a company could take a stand that the tender sentiments of all members should be respected. Giving up passing references to deities in return for (say) solid trans care in the company health plan and un begrudging respect for all genders, orientations and families is not necessarily ridiculous or pass-ag. And in fact this could be a productive form of pushback: ask that the company do a survey where people are invited to list all of the terms they find most personally offensive so that the system can flag all of them, not just name of deity.

    2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      Oh, seriously. I’m on my workplace’s diversity committee, and we were all sent small Pride rainbows to insert into our signatures, if we chose, on the week of Pride.

      Right after Pride my boss’s boss asked me to remove it as it was political.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        I would be really tempted to answer that everything is political these days.

        1. Mongoose*

          Well… that is what I was thinking. Putting Pride banners in a company email signature seems oddly political and a way to either bond with or ostracize customers/coworkers. There are limitless issues to take stances on, and It doesn’t seem like any of those ought to be specifically announced unless it is a specific culture of the company.

          1. Quill*

            This is like, the exact opposite of the questions we’ve been getting about the company celebrating christmas. You don’t have to go to pride, but a company putting up a tiny token of “by the way, gender and sexual minorities are welcome like every other member of the public,” is in no reasonable world a ‘stance.’ It just happens to be something that has been used, disingenuously, to create political tension and xenophobia in america for the last 30 years.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I agree with your overall sentiment that everyone being welcome should not be a stance. But unfortunately in the current world we live in it does have to be a stance and it is political. I am okay making/taking the political stance of support for LGBTQI+ community in the workplace.

              1. Quill*

                Half the benefit of flying under the public’s radar as an ace person is being able to do this advocacy with the camoflage that comes with not so much being in the closet as being an entire storage system that most straight people don’t know is there.

                A lot of posters around here make me think that we all need a refresher on the fact that ethics cannot exist in a vaccuum, and that just because two people may be offended by two different things doesn’t mean that the harm inflicted on either of them is equal.

                1. Warm Weighty Wrists*

                  YES! Ethics are not just a thought experiment you can argue into any shape you want with no repercussions on anyone; discussions of ethics can result in very real benefits or harm to actual people.

            2. Mongoose*

              It is absolutely a stance. In the same way Black Lives Matter is a movement to recognize black peoples existence and would be inappropriate in an email signature… UNLESS it was a cultural statement being made by the whole company.

              You could do this about 1000 different minority groups. Just because you are saying “I am here” or “I exist” does not make it non-political or non-controversial.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                If people feel ostracized by my “stance” of saying I see and recognize the existence of racial/gender/sexual minorities the problem/controversy is on their part not mine.

                1. Mongoose*

                  Eh, it becomes your problem when your boss tells you to cut it out. Politics, activism, recognizing peoples existence is a perfectly wonderful thing for you to do in your personal time and life. When you start representing your company that way it could become a problem. Maybe it is your hill to die on? Maybe not.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                …I don’t think I have ever before seen one person both claim that Black Lives Matter is political/controversial while also acknowledging that it is just about recognizing people exist. How is saying “I exist” political or controversial. How can it be okay for a company, or anyone, to think that is controversial?

                1. Mongoose*

                  Clearly I was not taking the stance that BLM is and is not political, or that BLM is or is not just recognizing that people exist. I think you could sum my position up like this. If anything has a “flag” for you to hang in a cubical or attach to your email signature, it is likely a political statement of some sort.

                  I dont think anyone would find it political or controversial, though maybe a bit odd, if you put in you email signature:
                  “MCMonkeyBean MCMonkeyFace, I exist”

                  But if you put : “MCMonkeyBean MCMonkeyFace, I support X minority group and vote this way and that, and if we disagree it can easily become heated (see this example we are currenting engaged in)”

                  You can see the difference, right?

            1. Former Academic Librarian*

              At my current organization and my previous one, people have been including their pronouns in their email signatures. Would you argue that that’s political and encourage people to take them out?

              1. Mongoose*

                I would say that kind of information is practical in an email signature, particularly when a name is not a traditionally gendered name or the identification is opposite the traditional gender to that name. It has a distinct use of identifying someone, and how to communicate with them and their role within the company which is the point of the signature in the first place.

              2. lemon*

                The CEO of my old job just came down hard on using pronouns in email signatures, presumably because he sees it as political.

                Very grateful that my current job actually encourages us to share our pronouns in signatures if we feel comfortable.

            2. JM60*

              Unfortunately, when the powers that be want to push you into the shadows, unabashedly saying “I’m here” becomes a stance.

              1. Allypopx*

                This is nuts though. Is putting my pronouns in my email signature a political stance even if my pronouns don’t identify that I’m not cisgender? If I claim it’s because I have a name that’s easily misgendered does it become better? There’s absolutely no reason with the level of ever expanding discrimination protections we have in this country (assuming we’re US based in this question) that an identity should be a political issue.

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  I’ll take that accusation with a smile. I’d rather be signaling that I perceive tolerance for non-dominant groups as a virtue, even if I sometimes fail to live up to that ideal.

                2. Allypopx*

                  I’m sorry, Aitch Arr, that came off more defensive than I meant for it too. This thread has me a little tense. I do see what you were saying.

                3. JM60*

                  Whether something should be political is a different question than whether it is political. Your pronouns in your email signature shouldn’t be political, but it can be political because the world isn’t a perfect place.

          2. pancakes*

            You have a very curious and unrealistic sense of the LGBTQ community if you think seeing a rainbow signature in an email creates some sort of “bond.” We’re not a different species of person than you, you know—we aren’t somehow hardwired to react to rainbow colors that way.

            1. Mongoose*

              So when you see a pride flag, you assume that some other organization has co-opted it for a different purpose? That is the whole point of a flag, to unite people under a common cause. Symbols like flags have an incredible ability to do that. I didn’t claim it meant anything about different species or anything like that at all.

              Anyway my point was that it can either unite or divide, but it will do both. And if a company doesn’t want to risk pissing off some percentage of their customers, I think it is perfectly fine to avoid any political or otherwise irrelevant information in an email signature. There is a certain value in uniformity in a company message.. some will embrace that some will not. In my organization we just standardized our signature after people had been changing font colors/fonts etc. For no other reason than for them all to be the same. This message is completely neutral to
              LGBTQ people and applies equally for literally any group, movement, race religion or anything else.

              1. Quiznakit (a tired queer)*

                Well, the organization has co-opted the rainbow, in this case. They were fine using it during Pride as a sort of lip service to diversity, but aren’t okay with it being used the other 11 months of the year. They want our queer dollars, sure, but not at the expense of losing out on the queerphobic dollars.

                That’s the problem. Either having rainbows in your signature is okay all year long, or it should never be okay. Either you mean it when you say you support us, or you shut the fuck up. You don’t get to have it both ways.

                1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

                  “They were fine using it during Pride as a sort of lip service to diversity, but aren’t okay with it being used the other 11 months of the year. ”

                  Exactly, that was my complaint.

                  I actually work for a government, so the ‘political’ matters are even more significant. This was the first year our staff marched in Pride, as organised by the govt department itself.

                  With that in mind, the personal can’t be political when convenient, then suddenly not.

              2. pancakes*

                I might or might not, depending of course on the context. The idea that, because flags are symbolic, all people who might be moved by them are in fact moved by them, is very, very strange to me. You’re speaking as if you’ve learned about symbolism and human behavior at a curious distance, not unlike someone on another planet trying to figure out life on earth by reading wikipedia or a dictionary or something. Your second paragraph makes more sense, but is still curiously blinkered—you’re speaking as if people react to pride flag colors by either identifying with or disdaining anyone who displays them. The question isn’t whether it’s permissible or appropriate for employers to require employers to use uniform email signatures—the question was whether usage of pride flag colors in email is overtly political. You’ve shifted the goalposts of your own question.

          3. roll-bringer*

            supporting queer people is a “””political””” stance worth ostracizing customers and coworkers over. if homophobes aren’t going to do the polite thing and develop the technology to launch themselves into the sun, they should at the very least be made to feel uncomfortable about being assholes.

      2. Angwyshaunce*

        What’s interesting is that it’s only “political” because a certain group of people made it political – and then that same group tries to shoot it down because it’s “political”. It’s a nasty trick.

        1. Aster*

          This is all a tactic coming from the evangelical Christian churches. They are doing this as a concerted, grassroots campaign to reassert their cultural dominance.

          It isn’t about sensitivity or being tolerant to their beliefs. It’s about forcing others to conform to them.

        2. Anonymous Poster*

          It’s only political or controversial if you see LGBT people’s presence as inherently up for debate. Framing it this way is a power play.

          1. Mongoose*

            It political because change has to be made through our government to formally acknowledge LGBTQ legitimacy from a legal perspective.

            It is not political because christians… conservatives… whatever. Its political because it has to be for change to happen. Which makes it irrelevant and inappropriate for MOST business interactions.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Um, WHAT? What on earth with this comment. We need may change through the government to get LGTBQ+ federally protection from discrimination… but they do not need to be declared legally “legitimate.”

              1. Mongoose*

                “…FROM A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE”
                Yes… yes they do. If not, what is the current legal fight for protections for LGBTQ people about? How can one function in the real world if you are picking single words out of paragraphs and interpreting them in the most offensive way possible. Read my post and recognize that I was clearly expressing that legal change is require to benefit LGBTQ people.

                1. Mr. Tyzik*

                  You know, we aren’t talking about a different species of human, right?

                  Being queer is legitimate.

                  And there shouldn’t be a “they” as a group, but “we” as a people.

                2. Anonapots*

                  No. It only has to become a legal issue to “legitimize” them when the dominant culture is at work to dismantle their humanity. See: The fact that California had to pass a fucking law to make natural hairstyles for Black people LEGALLY PROTECTED. Not because they aren’t legitimate or natural, but because the majority has worked to dismantle the humanity of Black people. Same thing with LGBTQIA+ folk.

            2. Anonymous Poster*

              No. No change has to be made for us to be legitimate. I already am.

              Legal changes do need to be made to end legalized discrimination in, for example, hiring practices, housing, or medical practices.

            3. Elitist Semicolon*

              I don’t think I understand what you’re arguing here. Your statements above suggest that you are using a literal interpretation of “political” as meaning “legislative”, rather than the more general meaning that refers to differentials in power and privilege. How those differentials affect (whether through inclusion or exclusion) relationships and the rights of individuals who have to navigate them are what make a situation inherently political, regardless of formal systems of government and their mechanisms. (Hence terms like “workplace politics,” which we see here a lot.) The statement you made further above that “And if a company doesn’t want to risk pissing off some percentage of their customers, I think it is perfectly fine to avoid any political or otherwise irrelevant information in an email signature” demonstrates this; in that example, the power differential is allowing one group of people with an advantage (management status, majority sexuality group, probably also class) to exert pressure on another (likely smaller number of employees) by not allowing them to share a characteristic of themselves. It’s not about whether legislation is in place – it’s about whether all groups have the same access to expressing their being. If you’re arguing that putting a rainbow in one’s email signature is political and therefore a company shouldn’t allow it, then you are reinforcing that political imbalance.

              (Besides, what about the clients that company might gain by someone having a rainbow in their email signature? Or the clients they might lose if their dismissal of non-cis, non-het identites as “political” becomes public? Even if we did agree on how to define “political,” there are still other possible economic consequences beyond “clients will leave if we admit gay people work here.”)

      3. Goliath Corp.*

        It’s because they want to reap the possible benefit to their reputation by seeming inclusive and with-the-times, but they don’t actually want to support LGBTQ+ people. I’m really tired of seeing corporations tote out their rainbows one week a year without actually backing that up with any kind of action, even towards their own employees. (I’m sure you mean the best, as did I in the same situation, but in the end it’s just marketing.)

          1. Blueberry*

            What would count as support from your perspective, and what would be permissible? For instance, would a company recognizing same-sex marriage in its benefits packages be too “political”?

            1. Mongoose*

              No. Providing benefits to people, or having internal policies supporting people isn’t political to me. I dont know that your question really was meant to be specific about health benefits, but most of those policies include 1000’s of benefits that will never effect a particular user. I guess the reverse can happen, where a company (thinking hobby lobby) picks and chooses to make a statement, but that goes back to their specific company culture/values which is a different issue.

              The narrow topic we were on here was individuals (employees) expressing their support, or stance on a topic generally, in a public way while being a representative of the company.

              All that being said, maybe these ads do work and LGBTQ kids just love Nike and Coca Cola now. Idk..

            2. kt*

              I think that’s sort of the point. Email signatures just carry info that may or may not be directly pertinent to the discussion at hand. I know one can argue that being [insert demographic characteristic here] is part of one’s humanity, and as a human you’re having discussions about TPS reports, and that’s not false, but in the hierarchy of relevance to TPS reports, sexual orientation and gender expression and race are generally low. Benefits, on the other hand, are not a discussion about TPS reports — they’re really explicitly supposed to cover relationships, health, etc.

              I want a company that covers contraception and abortion and maternity and paternity and adoption leave and gender-related medical care, not one that uses causes for advertising. Maybe I’m old. As a woman who has been in a STEM field for a long time, I want the money and the benefits and the respect as a colleague. I want lactation rooms and breastfeeding breaks when relevant. I want good management. I really like that one of my buildings has free tampons and pads — that’s useful. I do not want ineffective diversity training that makes my colleagues look at me like I’m toxic, I do not want weird company-wide messages tokenizing “the black person in IT” or “the woman in engineering” or “the gay lab tech”, I do not want email signatures. I want us ‘free to be you and me!’ but I’ve really seen paradoxical effects from well-meaning diversity initiatives that make me feel othered or exoticized.

              I know this is all complicated, and certainly others would disagree with me. By now I’m jaded. Show me the money, in the form of benefits and compensation, not the gifs.

            3. Goliath Corp.*

              Here are a few things off the top of my head:
              – Mandating management training, with a focus on how to support diverse staff
              – Assessing how diverse their staff is, making actionable changes to increase diversity, and most importantly to me, looking at how often diverse staff actually rise through the ranks – or are they all in entry-level roles that change over frequently? Taking steps to address this if true.
              – If none exist, creating all-gender bathrooms (easy to do if you have any single-stall bathrooms)
              – As you mentioned, making it explicit in the benefits package that all common-law partners or spouses are eligible
              – Look at your benefits package and how much support is offered for mental health, and how internal policies back that up for employees experiencing mental health issues. This is important for everyone, but LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected.
              – If a company wants to support LGBTQ+ people during Pride month, making sure to do it by action and not just marketing. Consider local or national causes that they could support, maybe something like an organization that provides employment/education/housing to LGBTQ+ people.

              1. kt*

                And just to follow up on my previous comment, to directly address the letter: sounds like your company is far from standing up for all of its employees, whether through benefits or discourse, and my spidey sense is tingling too, and I’d be very cautious if I were you! Good luck & sending good thoughts, because it doesn’t seem like a great situation.

            4. Nephron*

              From my employer: allowing nonmarried people to be on insurance until gay marriage was legal nationally, this was kept for 1 year after legalization to give people time. Having stated policies not to fire based on LGBTQ + status despite it being legal in my state. Gender neutral bathrooms and changing spaces in gyms.

              From other companies: having strict policies in hospitals to recognize and support none straight couples, having pharmacists trained with policies in place to support providing medications without getting turned away based on religious beliefs.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Yeah, my employer would put same-sex partners on insurance in 2002 when I was hired, but not an opposite-sex domestic partner, they had to be married. This was a plus to me (ie, the support for LGBTQx people was explicit, awesome), though it is not a coincidence that my marriage was within a week of my start date. And ‘Can’t fire due to LBGTQx’ was a policy before I was hired, which has been a Big Deal in some of the countries where we operate.

  3. Cathy Gale*

    |#2, I’m just appalled. At this point in my career, I feel that warning signs that a place is going south are worth listening to, even when I like the job and the people. There are other technical jobs out there that will not try to stifle you from using routine, non inflammatory words like OMG, or try to intrude on your personal life or against your civil rights. I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to hide themselves to keep a roof over their head and I don’t want to do business with those companies. How unChristian of them.

    1. Anonariffic*

      Now I’m morbidly curious about whether “OMG” would trip the automatic morality detector or if it’s acceptable/overlooked to take the lord’s name in vain via acronym…

        1. Avasarala*

          Oh my god, it’s also a common exclamation in much of the English speaking world nowadays, and if the higher ups are OK with swearing then they should be OK with this too.

          Your bias is showing…

          1. Ico*

            No, yours is. “That’s retarded/gay/insane” were at one point common exclamations too, and have been rightly excised because they made some people uncomfortable, intent aside. “People do it a lot” really isn’t a defense.

            1. Fikly*

              Except that those words are offensive and should not be used because they come from a place of hate. Using “Oh my god!” or ‘OMG” does not, so it’s not at all equivalent. All using the word god more casually does is not venerate something as much as someone else would like. There’s no hate involved. Completely different.

              1. Ico*

                Yeah, I figured someone would come with some special pleading. “That’s different because they are dehumanzing” is what I expected, without any support for why _that_ particular goalpost is the only correct one. But, as is often said in this forum, including the one for this article, intent doesn’t matter, impact does. So if throwing around the word God is having an adverse impact on someone, why does it matter if it “comes from a place of hate” or not. The person is still being impacted, so why not stop?

                1. Fikly*

                  Because the only time the word god is associated with hate, it’s because religious people are using it to justify their hate of other people.

                  God is not hate speech.

                  If respecting you means disrespecting myself, what makes respecting you more important?

                2. EPLawyer*

                  But there is no evidence that it is impacting anyone. One person set an automatic message if certain words are used. That means it is done without context, without any concern about “impact” but just the same as an out of office reply.

                  But you know, if it is that big of deal to someone there and the OP thinks it isn’t, the OP can start job hunting. Then the message sender won’t be bothered by OPs invocation of Zeus.

                3. Phoenix Wright*

                  I don’t see why religious people should have the right to impose their religion on everyone else. That they see the word “god” as special doesn’t make it so, nor does it mean others are supposed to treat it that way.

                4. hbc*

                  And if a coworker is like my neighbor and bans “gosh” or “geez” because those originated from religious words?

                  There’s a line where someone’s hurt feelings and preferences don’t get to dictate the actions of others, and someone declaring that a “mute” button is insulting to those who can’t talk or OMG is too far need to deal with them.

                5. Nanani*

                  It’s not special pleading. God is by definition not a person. People with disabilities, LGBTQ people, minorities ARE people.

                  If you think not “offending” for lack of a better term, something that isn’t a person, and that many people don’t believe exists, is important but that creating hostility to actual living people is OK, you are the problem.

                6. yala*

                  ‘“That’s different because they are dehumanzing” is what I expected, without any support for why _that_ particular goalpost is the only correct one’

                  Because…that’s the one that actively HURTS people?

                  Someone not conforming to MY faith doesn’t hurt me. I’m not overly fond of people saying “Jesus Christ” as a swearword, but it’s nowhere near on the same level as using slurs. It does not hurt me. It does not contribute to creating an environment where an intrinsic part of who I am is considered something disgusting/bad.

                7. Dust Bunny*

                  Christianity, despite what it seems to think, does not have the only god. Maybe I meant Hephaestus.

                8. Zennish*

                  By this logic, I’d like everyone to refrain from discussing the eating of pasta, as it may be offensive to the Flying Spaghetti Monster in all His/Her/Its noodly glory, and that upsets me. Also, I just really hate the phrases “change agent” and “goal oriented” so please don’t use those either.

                9. soon*

                  They are only being impacted because of their self-righteousness. Some Christians derail on nonsense like this while doing little of the things that would truly identify them as Christians.

                10. Chinook*

                  Yes – impact is always more important that intent when someone is asked to change behaviour. And hearing someone use my God’s name so casually does hurt me. It hurts doubkt because I know that speaking up about it will mean the speaker will turn defensive, usually, and somehow mock me or my faith by saying it is no big deal when, to me, it is the biggest deal.

                11. JM60*

                  It’s not special pleading because the use is different. Using the word “gay” as a synonym for stupid or “that sucks” is inherently insulting to gay people. Unless I’m missing something, there’s nothing inherently insulting about casually using the word “god” with “Oh my God”. Those who do take offense to it are usually doing so because they want the word “god” to be treated with special reverence we wouldn’t give to Susan or Steven.

                12. Zennish*

                  Here’s the thing… you have every right to decide what religious language means to you.. You can cease speaking with people who disagree with you over it, you can write them off your Christmas card list, you can be 100% convinced that they are irredeemably going to Hell, whatever. What you can’t do is decide what your religious language should mean to them.

              2. Senor Montoya*

                Sorry, it doesn’t have to be a hate-term to be offensive. I drop F-bombs aplenty, but not at work because it’s an offensive term. I myself say OMG and goddammit, but not at work — because I know that some people find “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is offensive to them for religious reasons, so I don’t do it. No hate involved — I don’t hate religious people or believers, that’s not why I sprinkle “god” around my casual-at-home speech.

                1. Aster*

                  I think this is the key. It’s ok to ask someone not to say it b/c it’s a swear word but it’s not ok to say it’s offensive and equivalent to hate speech. It’s not. Particularly not if the person raising the issue is part of the traditionally structurally privileged majority int he country in question.

                  For those of you who compare this to offensive slurs against minorities, the power structure makes all the difference. In the USA in 2019 Christians are not an oppressed minority. They are the oppressors and have been for the entire history of the USA.

                  If you want people to stop saying OMG or goddamn, then approach it b/c they are curse words, not b/c you find them blasphemous as a Christian.

                  If you are not Christian, then it’s ok to point out these are swear words and offensive to many just like cursing is.

                  In this case, it’s expressly not about a non-Christian religious person. It’s absolutely about the Christian majority trying to reimpose their dominant oppressive standards on minority groups.

                  To derail and switch the conversation from this through whataboutism is really troubling. It’s what these types of people want. Focused on everything else but them.

                  The only reason to refrain form this type of phrasing is the one Senor Montoya has set out. It’s a curse word and unprofessional. I do think we could *all* use a bit more spit and polish wrt to how we speak.

                2. Quill*

                  It’s offending public decency because it refers to biological functions that society has agreed should be kept private.

                  This is why there used to be such fervor over “screw this” and “this sucks” until the common usage got completely divorced from the perception that it had anything to do with sex. It’s why all varieties of references to poop and pee that aren’t strictly scientifically used become offensive – poop and pee are just the lowest common denominator of offense, and you will often find children who don’t know any of the more offensive words using ‘poop’ to disparage each other or strike out in anger.

                  Claiming that Oh My God is as broadly offensive is a little disingenuous, but you’re obviously free to moderate your own speech to the comfort of your aquaintances. The key here is that policing the term is just one of a whole slalom course of red flags that OP’s workplace wants to force employees into compliance with their religious values.

                  Especially combined with the fact that the rest of Slack is full of more broadly offensive terms such as swearwords, but this is the ONLY thing that got an automatic reply set up for that.

                3. Chinook*

                  I am one of those who feels uncomfortable when someone uses phrases that use “god” in them but am reluctant to speak up about it because I know assumptions will be made about me just like some of the commentators are making. I could also see my Muslim supervisor bristle when they are stated but he too stayed silent. For us, the word refers to a higher being and should be used with respect and hearing it used as a minor curse word is unsettling and offensive to the One we believe in.

                  For the record, I also took the phrase “holy cow” out of vocabulary after a Hindu pointed it out as offensive.

                  OMG and other replacement words, too me, are okay because it is an effort, intentional or not, to not offend.

                4. JM60*

                  “Taking the Lord’s name in vain” is really only a thing because some people decided to give the name special treatment that wouldn’t be afforded to other names, like Susan. I’m reluctantly willing to give in to this special treatment at work for the sake of keeping the peace, but it’s not comparable to gay people not wanting “gay” to be treated as a synonym for “stupid”, a request that isn’t special treatment.

                1. JM60*

                  If you’re using “gay” as a synonym for stupid, you probably either hate/dislike the fact that people are gay, or have careless disregard for insulting gay people. Unless you have tourette’s syndrome, it indicates that you probably don’t view gay people as equals.

                2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  If we’re talking about the origin of the word and or the particular usage, it’s absolutely true. The R word’s origin is explicitly one of othering, intended to set a specific group of people apart and mark them as lesser. Exclaiming “OMG” has no such hateful or discriminatory origin, so attempts to equate the two are disingenuous at best.

              3. TootsNYC*

                >All using the word god more casually does is not venerate something as much as someone else would like.

                Interestingly, inside the Christian faith, using God’s name too casually is specifically called out as a sin. Vulgarity isn’t. God is silent on whether you can call someone a shithead (except perhaps for the “hate = murder” caution).

                As a copyeditor, I’m always mildly amused that profanity like “oh my God” (big discussions on whether to capitalize it) and “goddammit” are acceptable in print, but vulgarities like “fuck” or “shit” are often not.

                Decades and decades ago, profanity was hugely wrong, and vulgarity was regarded as low-class.

            2. Natalie*

              It’s inappropriate to attempt to make other people follow *your* religious rules. Watch your own tongue if it matter so much to you. Pretty sure there’s some stuff about that in the Bible.

              1. Senor Montoya*

                It’s appropriate to ask people not to speak in a way that is offensive to oneself. Religion is a protected class; don’t know that it rises to that level, but really, why should using words that offend people for religious reasons be different than words that offend people for other reasons?

                1. Natalie*

                  Because other people’s rights to not have to observe your religious strictures take precedence. I’m not going to spell is G-d or destroy artistic depictions of prophet Mohammed either.

                2. yala*

                  Religion is a protected class means that I can’t face consequences for practicing my religion, not that I can expect other people to follow the same dogma.

                3. Dust Bunny*

                  I would looooove to see how this would play out if I, an atheist, were the LW and asked one of these coworkers to, say, take down a prominently-displayed poster or calendar with a Bible quote. I’m guessing the concern for religious offense doesn’t go both ways.

                4. TootsNYC*

                  A lot of these replies to Senor Montoya are a bit straw man.

                  the sentence was: “to ask people not to speak in a way that is offensive to oneself.”

                  There’s no mention of “public restrictions” in that.

                  On an individual basis, I think it’s appropriate for a person to say, “please don’t use the word ‘retarded’ around me, even if you aren’t talking about a person” or “I find word ‘faggot’ offensive and demeaning” or “I don’t like to hear people use ‘God’ so casually.” (One difference in my examples, of course, is that some of them are used disparagingly, and are even aimed at a person)

                  Should a whole company pressure all its employees to avoid being hurtful or disrespectful? Well, sometimes. I know my company would have words with someone who used the word ‘faggot’ should that come to their attention.

                  My own biggest problem in the OP’s case is that “oh my god” is not on the higher level. It’s too generic an expression. And the other edict does point to a troubling trend.

                5. JM60*

                  @TootsNYC

                  The reasonableness of the request partly depends on why you don’t want people to say it. Using “gay” as a synonym for stupid is inherently insulting, and therefore reasonable to request that people refrain from doing. Requesting that people give your diety’s name special reverence (that wouldn’t be given to Susan for instance) is not a reasonable request.

              2. TootsNYC*

                It’s inappropriate to attempt to make other people follow *your* religious rules.

                I agree with this.
                I mentioned just above that inside the Christian faith, it’s a big deal to use the Lord’s name in vain.

                But I’ll also say–I personally am very, very uncomfortable with people using “Jesus Christ” as a swear word. I really don’t like it; I’m actually (surprisingly to me) offended by it.

                And I have spoken up to a colleague who used it while standing right next to me. I had an immediate and instinctive negative reaction to hearing it, and I sort of surprised myself by saying anything at all. I said, “I would really like it if you wouldn’t use that as a swear word. I don’t care if you use fuck or damn, but he’s my Lord and Savior, and I’d rather not hear his name used that way.”
                I didn’t hang around to have a big debate; I just stated my wishes and then acted as though nothing had been said.

                I don’t have the same reaction to the use of God/god; I guess because it doesn’t seem so very specific. I think also because it’s not automatically and always a negative when it’s used, and the tone of voice isn’t always as sharp and nasty.

                I also don’t like the word “bitch” used casually (“bitch, please”), and of course I don’t like it used pointedly, and I have stated that to people. They’re free to ignore my comments or requests, because I have no authority other than my personal existence on the planet. I’d speak up similarly for several other words that I consider demeaning (I called my MIL on the use of “faggot” once).

                I don’t know how I’d feel about a company saying, “don’t use the name of any deity as a casual swear word.” I think I’d be alarmed if they aimed at “god/God,” but not if they aimed at more specific names.

                I can envision a company saying, “here is not the place to campaign for LGBTQ+ rights,” because it makes so many people squeamish and they’re kind of chicken. But that would make me squeamish.
                I might personally say, “can we keep our attention on the business at hand?” but I’d say that about a lot of things (Amway and other MLM stuff; all manner of political and human rights convos; the office football pool), and it would have to be because it was truly taking up time.

                I would be really troubled by the trend the OP is seeing.

                1. soon*

                  Jesus is my lord and savior, but I just can’t see myself saying what you said to anybody. If Jesus is not their lord and savior, I think Jesus just overlooks what might be a mini-prayer if said by a believer. Cutting people off like this is offputting.

                2. Chinook*

                  TootsNYC, I am glad to hear you spoke up and zi think I will use your phrasing when someone makes me uncomfortable like this. I never thought about just leaving after to avoid the defensive arguement.

                  Was there any long term fall out for speaking up like this?

                3. Tupac Coachella*

                  I thought your comment was really interesting, Toots, because I feel the same way and couldn’t figure out why- can deal with with “God/god,” though I don’t use it that way myself and don’t love hearing it, but really bothered by “Jesus Christ” as a swear word. I think you hit the nail on the head about why that makes me uncomfortable. “God” may or may not refer to MY God (or anyone’s in particular), but Jesus as a deity is kinda ours as Christians, and it feels disrespectful to my personal religious beliefs. If I got a note like the one OP did in Slack, I would think it was kinda eye rolley, but I’m generally ok with erring on the side of inclusion. The talk about LGBTQ identities as inherently political would make me much more nervous.

              3. Wintermute*

                I agree in principle, as a strident athiest, but at the same time, having had this fight at workplaces mostly in my youth (when I was more strident yet), it’s ultimately a matter of that a workplace sort of has to default to the most restrictive person present unless they are way, way out of line.

                It’s also a matter of the fact that it’s about not being offensive, if someone finds something offensive and you don’t have a compelling reason other than you don’t want to bow to their preferences, that’s not really going to fly.

                And more than that, the general principle is you need a good reason to be offensive to anyone’s sensibilities. If someone had a special sensitivity to any other relatively common phrase, say, their father died of a heart attack and they were upset at all the heart-attack-related metaphors in common use (“serious as a heart attack” “need that like you need a heart attack” “just about gave me a heart attack”, and so on) you wouldn’t use them, just to be kind. You’d probably proactively do it in fact, if you knew a co-worker’s loved one was dying of cancer you’d probably avoid calling someone’s bad attitude “cancerous” in front of them. This is just common human decency. Even back in grade school we knew not to tell “yo mamma” jokes to kids whose mother died.

                The only situation I could see is when someone has an actually compelling reason– If you had one person that objected to any mention of “god” as inappropriate and another person who was trying to pray, that would be different, but in this case you’re basically trying to argue that part of your religious freedom is to offend the religious. You can privately feel that religious sensitivities ought to be offended when possible, but that doesn’t fly in the workplace.

            3. Quill*

              Um… raised catholic here and taking the name of the lord in vain isn’t about saying the word God? It’s about falsely invoking God’s authority when you don’t have it?

              1. DJ*

                This. People have a tendency to distill this commandment into “Don’t say Oh my God” when that just misses the whole point.

                1. Quill*

                  Oh, I don’t think they’re missing the point, I think that the point has been *strategically* missed by many religious leaders who want to use god as their muscle to get people to do what they want.

              2. Lara*

                That’s one interpretation, but that’s hardly agreed upon. The Westminster Larger Catechism makes it definitely about saying the word “God” flippantly (below). I don’t expect that non-religious people would follow this, but this is what pretty much all orthodox Presbyterians agree upon for example.

                Q113: What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
                A113: The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required;[1] and the abuse of it in an ignorant,[2] vain,[3] irreverent, profane,[4] superstitious,[5] or wicked mentioning, or otherwise using his titles, attributes,[6] ordinances,[7] or works,[8] by blasphemy,[9] perjury;[10] all sinful cursings,[11] oaths,[12] vows,[13] and lots;[14] violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful;[15] and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful;[16] murmuring and quarreling at,[17] curious prying into,[18] and misapplying of God’s decrees [19] and providences;[20] misinterpreting,[21] misapplying,[22] or any way perverting the word, or any part of it,[23] to profane jests,[24] curious or unprofitable Questions,[25] vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines;[26] abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms,[27] or sinful lusts and practices;[28] the maligning,[29] scorning,[30] reviling,[31] or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways;[32] making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends;[33] being ashamed of it,[34] or a shame to it, by unconformable,[35] unwise,[36] unfruitful,[37] and offensive walking,[38] or backsliding from it.[39]

            4. yala*

              Woah woah woah. Let’s not compare an acronym that, quite frankly, is a misinterpretation of the whole 2nd commandment (“God” is not the Name Of God, for one thing) with actual slurs that demonize and hurt people.

              I’m not even sure what religion other than (some) Christian religions would be offended by OMG.

              1. Risha*

                The only one I can think of offhand is that some Jewish people will not spell out the entire word. They’ll usually use “G-d” instead.

                1. yala*

                  Yeah, but as far as I know, most Jewish folks don’t take offense at gentiles not following their rules. It’s not even expected for us to.

                2. Wintermute*

                  But they wouldn’t take offense to a gentile using it. That’s a personal rule not one you’d have to impose on someone (like basically every rule in the religion, one reason I like them). Plus there’s controversy among various groups about whether that even applies to languages other than Hebrew and names of god other than The Name so even among observant Jews you may have people who deal with the matter differently according to their local traditions.

          2. PhyllisB*

            Well, mine is, too. I do not like to hear people use this or the swear version. Of course, I don’t say anything to others, but I do scold my children/grandchildren for using this and to be mindful of what they’re saying.

          3. Senor Montoya*

            Just because something is common doesn’t make it non-offensive. I can think of many examples and I’m sure you can, too — words and phrases that would be offensive to people who are conservative, and other words and phrases that would be offensive to people who are liberal.

            It’s reasonable to ask that when people swear, they not say “god”, because it *is* offensive to many people for religious reasons. It’s offensive to the marketing manager who sent out the automated message, and it’s reasonable for them to let people know (I don’t think the way they did it was the best, but it’s not terrible, either).

            That’s just what people say, so get used to it: to take an example from my own childhood and teen years, many people used to say “Dumb Polacks”. It was common, and if my boss at the restaurant I worked at wanted to tell dumb polack jokes, well, then, I should just be OK with it. (He did do that, and he didn’t care if I was OK with it; he knew I wasn’t ok with it, because I told him so.) Nobody is ok with those jokes now, but they are ok with jokes about other whole categories of people. They are ok with other offensive terms.

            And no, I am not conservative in the least. Nor am I religious.

            That said, I agree that the OP needs to be job-hunting, because the employer’s stance on LGBTQ+ is bad; OP should not be working anywhere that thinks it’s ok to find a whole category of people to be offensive just for existing.

            1. LadyCop*

              #3 Sounds like poor management condescending to remaining employees. Cersei was fired for embezzlement, let’s send out a passive aggressive email reminding people that embezzlement is bad…as if such behaviors needed reminding.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I think that most people know that embezzlement is bad, but not everyone may know what exactly constitutes embezzlement? Yes using the company card to purchase personal items is embezzlement, or taking money from petty cash. But is it embezzlement when:

                the person in charge of ordering the supplies uses reward points on the company card to order a personal item for themselves;

                or if a particular paper supply company agrees to send that person on a trip if they make 5 orders with that company;

                or staying with a friend when you have to travel for work and paying for a meal for that friend on a company card;

                or paying for expenses on a personal card to earn points/cash back and then getting reimbursed when you could have just as easily put expenses on a company card;

                I think in the situations I mentioned different companies might have different rules, it may or may not be legal embezzlement but some companies might see some as reasons to fire someone.

            2. Avasarala*

              “It’s reasonable to ask that when people swear, they not say “god”, because it *is* offensive to many people for religious reasons. ”

              I fundamentally disagree with this as a workplace rule.
              I don’t think it’s fair to allow secular forms of profanity, but not one religion’s version of profanity.
              If you’re going to ban one religion’s form of profanity, then you have to ban them all, and you better give PTO on Eid, Yom Kippur, Lunar New Year, etc. and you better have a very diverse staff and good communication channels to ensure you’re not favoring one religion over others.

          4. JSPA*

            Statements of fact are not inherently biased pretty much by definition. Engineer girl is not saying that this is a good thing or a bad thing or something that they subscribe to.

            Many observant Jews write “G-d” (as has been discussed here before). The word “allah” is an exact translation, as, well.

            While it would be nice if people in general for able to partition someone else’s use of a word from the way that they themselves use it… that’s also not true for many things besides “name of deity.” We currently police all sorts of language use even those that are not specifically intended to make people feel “lesser than,” or whose etymology is actually entirely separate from that of the “trigger term” they may predictably invoke, in the mind of the hearer / reader.

        2. Under the weather*

          I’m confused. How is that relevant? Can you please clarify how that relates to the post you replied to?

          It seems like a complete non sequitur, given that the question and the responses are about this particular company in which the OP clearly states the religion in question is Christianity.

        3. Ego Chamber*

          Is it? I’ve only ever seen conservative Christians get offended by it. They’re also the only ones telling me I need to capitalize “god” when they have no context as to which god I may be referencing (so much ego on display from such humble bois!).

              1. Jessica*

                Then…maybe you should read stuff written by Orthodox Jews more often, so you get accustomed to seeing G_d and don’t describe it as “weird.”

                1. wickedtongue*

                  “weird emoji” does not equal calling Orthodox Jewish practice weird, it’s modifying the word “emoji”.

                1. MCMonkeyBean*

                  Yes I agree, I’ve usually seen a hyphen or dash there. I wouldn’t have seen a face myself but now that QCI has pointed it out it’s definitely all I can see lol.

            1. yala*

              Yes, but I don’t know that many Orthodox Jews try to police the way other people write or speak, or get offended by it.

          1. Madeleine Matilda*

            I’m a liberal Christian, find it offensive, and don’t say it. But I wouldn’t tell another person not to use it.

              1. PhyllisB*

                Sorry I didn’t realize I had so many exclamation points in that post. It sounds like I’m yelling. My kingdom for an edit button.

          2. Greyduck*

            It’s egotistical to follow the second commandment? Okay Jan…

            Also, I think you’re misunderstanding the grammar. God is supposed to be capitalized when talking about The God vs. using the word god more generically.

            I’m not agreeing with the censorship of the OP ‘s Slack…but lots of people on this thread who feel free to heap hate and shame on others for having or following certain religious beliefs.
            Such hypocritical bois…

            1. Aster*

              Please point out hate and shame. Please.

              Because I don’t see it here.

              Only pushback against a dominant, colonial, oppressive zealotous group of Christians who try and force their POV on others.

              I am glad you have a faith that sustains you. But for so many of us, mainline evangelicalism is a force of destruction. Pointing that out and criticizing it isn’t hate. Pretending it hasn’t happened and isn’t happening in the USA is.

              There are some Christians in the USA now who are co-opting the language of those they have – and still are – oppressing. You want to be mad at someone for this problem? Be mad at them.

              1. Aster*

                PS I grew up in an evangelical household and escaped it. I KNOW how these people think. I know what they are doing.

                This isn’t about Christian faith or faith in general. It’s about a specific subset of very, very dangerous people who are dominating and driving the conversation.

                They are the ones pushing the hate and the danger into the culture. Not those who push back against the imposition of religion on everyone else.

                1. Aster*

                  PPS These people also are told in their churches to do things exactly like what is going on in the LWs workplace. My Aunt’s church tells them they cannot be good Christians unless they reestablish the rule of God in the workplace, schools, etc.

                  This is a purposeful, hateful campaign of cultural terror and conformity being driven by a vestige of the old, white, patriarchal WASP should rule everything mindset.

                  I’ve seen those sermons firsthand when visiting family. It’s interesting what people will say when they think you are one of them.

                2. Former Academic Librarian*

                  +1. I also grew up in the evangelical world (SBC) and it’s not heaping hate or shame to say that I will not follow your religious convictions or tiptoe around the rules you have set.

            2. lawyer*

              The commandment against taking the Lord’s name in vain applies to the individual believer; it’s not a mandate to impose that limitation on others. There is, however, a solid bit in the Christian scriptures about removing a beam from your own eye before going around trying to take specks out of the eyes of others…

              1. Cathy Gale*

                Thank you, lots of motes that the OP is dealing with at their workplace. I am very surprised. Y’know, I have plenty of friends who are believers who say things like “Oh my God,” “Jesus Christ,” and I am less formal in manner and religious practice, but still probably more inclined at my workplaces to say “Oh my Gosh”.

                That doesn’t mean I think it’s OK for a company to start controlling everyone’s casual speech, especially when “OMG” or “Oh my God” or “Oh my Gosh” or “Oh my Goodness” is not ever directed as an attack at someone, like using a racial or mental illness epithet. When a person says, “Oh my God,” in fact, it’s typically a comment of “shock” at which you would reach for the higher power you follow.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              I’m not agreeing with the censorship of the OP ‘s Slack…but lots of people on this thread who feel free to heap hate and shame on others for having or following certain religious beliefs.

              For having those beliefs, or for insisting that others follow them as well?

            4. Valprehension*

              …it’s egotistical to assume anyone who says the word god is referring to *your* God. Did you not read the comment that preceded the accusation of egotism? It was talking about a specific context.

            5. Blueberry*

              Yeah, when I was an evangelical Christian I was taught that Christians are persecuted, so I see where you’re coming from. But all the examples I was given of persecution were actually people who weren’t Christian pushing back against Christians trying to force them to participate in Christianity, exactly as your example here is. As someone who was taught to believe as you do, I can say from having been inside that you are completely wrong. There is no equivalent between, say, being fired for being gay or being sexually harassed and having people say “no, I won’t live by your religion’s rules, you can do what you want but I won’t change for you.”

            6. jamberoo*

              It’s egotistical and wrong to tell anyone outside your faith to capitalize it. People who are not members of your lifestyle choice do not follow your rules, and you cannot make them.

          3. Chinook*

            I suspect it is only Conservative Christians who have spoken out as many who are offended just stay quiet. I am very uncomfortable when phrases like this are said around me (but have no issues with all the other swearing that is said in a blue collar environment) but never felt comfortable speaking up because of the type of blowback I would receive as is evident in this thread.

            Before other phrases and words were considered wrong, how many people stayed silent while bejng offended versus those who spoke up and made society change its words?

            1. SimplyTheBest*

              I’m really confused by your comment that you have “no issues with all the other swearing that is said in a blue collar environment.” Do you really think it’s only people working blue collar jobs who swear?

          4. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

            “when they have no context as to which god I may be referencing”

            i have offended many many a christian when i reference a “goddess” or say “sweet goddess of oceans!” because god can only be their god and their god can only be male.
            i’ve also been called a “witch” and have made many people uncomfortable when i point out that “witchcraft” is a blanket term by christians used to demonize to the traditions and rituals of indigenous peoples all over the world. indigenous people who lived just fine for many many years before Jesus came along.

          1. Mongoose*

            We don’t know what would happen if everyone started replacing “god” with “muhammad”

            Using anyone’s deity as an expletive at work seems inappropriate to me. And there is no reason to assume other religious employees would not be defended.

            1. Aster*

              But Muslims are not the dominant religion in the USA. That context matters.

              If they had been and were the driving force behind a lot of oppression in the USA, then it would matter int he same way.

              1. MassMatt*

                These posts above re: Muhammad being a prophet not a deity and Islam being a minority religion in the USA are technically correct but I can’t help but think they are missing the point. People were murdered in Europe for publishing a cartoon of Muhammad. Salmon Rushdie had to live under heavy guard for many years for “slandering Islam”. Let’s not pretend this isn’t happening.

                1. Delphine*

                  Let’s not pretend they’re the same thing. If you want to argue from the POV of, “what would those murderous Muslims do if we did this to them instead of Christians?” the answer is probably, “Give you a weird look.” No one says, “Oh my Muhammad.” Drawings of the Prophet are expressly forbidden, using his name isn’t.

        4. Beth*

          Swears incorporating references to god, jesus, damnation, etc. have been a common feature of the English language dating back to at least the time of Shakespeare. They’re not broadly considered offensive language. It’s one thing to decide not to use them yourself; that’s absolutely a valid choice. But it’s a different thing to dictate that no one else should use them because your religious sensibilities say they shouldn’t be used.

          1. Doc in a Box*

            Exactly! Zwounds = God’s wounds. There’s a delightful bit in Catherine Called Birdy where the protagonist (a 14-year-old medieval diarist) decides she wants her own minced oath to yell when she’s angry, and she settles on Zthumbs = God’s thumbs, since that was the only one not yet taken by another family member.

          2. londonedit*

            I might start using ‘blimey’ instead – basically one of the mildest possible of all the British swears, to the point where it sounds ridiculously mild (full version, if you’re going a bit Cockney, ‘cor blimey’). Where does that come from? ‘God blind me’.

            Actually what I’d do if someone told me to stop saying ‘OMG’ would be to dial it right up on the F words.

            1. WellRed*

              Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the automatic Slack morality alert, in general, but I also worry it will become a slippery slope, like so many things these days.

            2. QCI*

              Yes, my thinking was “2 can play the passive aggressive game”. Might as well in between job searches, which is highly recommended for OP.

            3. Ginger*

              Comments like yours are one of the main reasons I love and cherish this site. Never knew where blimey came from! Love it.

          3. Senor Montoya*

            Yes, and so have F–, c–, etc etc. Common does not equal not-offensive.

            And by the way, yes, they were considered offensive at the time of Shakespeare, that’s what gives those words juiciness in the plays.

            1. Amy Sly*

              As the writers of Deadwood noted, cowboys did swear. They didn’t use the words that were in the show, but had the writers used the actual swear words used at the time, the effect would have been silly because those words have lost the power to shock.

              As for the use of blasphemy, I’m reminded of a Terry Pratchett quote:

              Besides, when you hit your thumb with an eight-pound hammer, it’s nice to be able to blaspheme. It takes a very special and strong-minded atheist to jump up and down with their hand clasped under their other armpit and shout, “Oh, random-fluctuations-in-the-space-time-continuum!” or “Aaargh, primitive-and-outmoded-concept on a crutch!”

              1. Snake in the Grass*

                I have been known to say “Ah, coincidence!” but not when a hammer is involved. I also say “thank random luck”, but it’s yet to catch on.

          4. JSPA*

            Something does not have to be broadly offensive to be against company policy. If you do a lot of work with Japan you may have company policy that gift items do not occur in sets of four.

            “Niggardly” is a perfectly good word that sees very little use these days despite not sharing a derivation with the n word. (People’s desire to not hear what sounds like the N word before the word is finished is a pretty good reason to avoid it in the workplace.)

            If you find out you are triggering pain, avoiding “that thing” is by default good policy and an act of humanity.

            The problem here isn’t that the company is being solicitous of one group sensitivities, or even that the group in question is a culturally dominant group, or a group that dominates in the leadership. It’s that they’re concurrently being careless with everyone else’s sensitivities and treating their concerns as lesser, or as political.

            1. yala*

              Honestly, from my experience with Evangelicals, I don’t think that this is “triggering pain” is the thing.

              It’s just a way for them to enforce their norms on other people in a very casual, “civil” way. It’s not because they’re actually hurt by it. It’s because it’s a common thing people say, so it gives them common opportunities to subtly enforce religious dogma as workplace standard.

              1. MassMatt*

                Not to mention it is hypocritical to claim offense for word usage on the one hand while heaping scorn upon others for enforcing “political correctness” for using different words. Who are the “special snowflakes” now?

              2. goducks*

                I completely agree.

                I have experienced Evangelicals trying to police language, while gladly consuming pop culture in the form of movies, television and music that uses the same language. Pop culture they could easily avoid by not going to that film, not DVRing that show, not putting in that album.

                They’re not hurt by the words. They want to assert control.

                1. JSPA*

                  No group is monolithic (even if their political power is). Why not “fight the power” within a framework where we allow for the possibility (and create a carve-out) for real people’s actual personal pain?

                  We have Christians posting up thread to say that they’d never impose on others, but they do feel some pain / cringe a bit when they hear it thrown around. They’re not hypothetical, and they’re not liars. Assuming that ALL evangelicals are hypocrites, liars, and/or incapable of feeling pain just because you’ve known some who are one or more of those things, and have suffered at their hands, is like saying that against any culturally-entrenched, powerful group.

                  Morality aside, it’s not logically defensible.

                2. Anonymous at a University*

                  @JSPA: Women talk about men harassing them. Someone pops up to say, “Not all men!”

                  Black people talk about the general cluelessness of white people. Some pops up to say, “Not all white people!”

                  Someone (hi) talks about the way that Evangelical Christians have hurt them because of their Christianity. Someone pops up to say, “Not all Evangelical Christians!”

                  Trust me, the majority group does not need your defense- and the folks who have talked about being “triggered” and “hurt” on here are also saying things like, “If you want me to respect your pronouns, you need to respect my beliefs,” so guess what? They’re ALSO portraying themselves as homophobes and transphobes. I don’t give a good goddamn how “hurt” they are.

                3. goducks*

                  Oh, lord, now we’re #notallEvangelicalsing.
                  Do I need to diagram my comment for you like we’re back in school? I clearly said that I’ve encountered Evangelicals that police language in person while gladly and voluntarily consuming media that uses such language. Which makes their claims of “pain” at such language suspect, and demonstrates it’s about control for them.

                  Show me where I said all evangelicals are hypocrites.

                4. sometimeswhy*

                  It’d be real nice if people weren’t so intent on pointing out that a particular shoe doesn’t fit and stopped insisting on shoving their feet in it over an over again to attempt to prove it.

                5. Wintermute*

                  Some of the most respect I’ve ever had for a devoutly religious person was an Orthodox Jew asking if he could get a mod to remove some bare-chested women from a game. He felt he couldn’t view them, religiously. He didn’t take to twitter to lambast the company, or call for a boycott, or even frame this as a problem that the developers did this. It wasn’t everyone else’s problem it was his problem.

                  He just looked for a solution for himself, without imposing himself on anyone else.

                  Sadly some people on the forum still had a go at him, which I found unfortunately, but some people helped him out.

              3. Chinook*

                But you are assuming that it is only Evangelicals whom you are offending. Not all Christians are Evangelical. I can’t speak for other Christians, but for me, a Catholic, is is “triggering” (I hate that phrase, BTW but it is the most accurate) to hear Jesus Christ or God used in a rude way and I am offended even if it isn’t aimed at me. It literally brings me out of the conversation and has me focused on my faith as God usually has nothing to do with conversation. With close friends or family who let it slip around me, I have even been know to reply with “He isn’t going to help you with that attitude” which is enough for them to realize I see the word differently than they do and not repeat it around me.

                I don’t care what you think or what you say away from me, but if you respect me, then you have to respect my beliefs and what I don’t want around me. If am required to use your chosen pknouns “which is compelling me to say soemthing I my or may not agree with), then how is it different for me to ask you not to use a certain words?

                1. Former Academic Librarian*

                  Wow. Your religious beliefs are a choice. Being LGBTQ isn’t. Sorry that asking for you to use my preferred pronouns after fighting so many years to be okay with who I am is “compelling you to say something you may or may not agree with.”

                  You know what’s “triggering” for me? Being harassed, being beaten, being assaulted. All of which was done in the name of Jesus, buy his followers. The use of a word upsetting you is not comparable.

                2. yala*

                  “but for me, a Catholic, is is “triggering” (I hate that phrase, BTW but it is the most accurate) to hear Jesus Christ or God used in a rude way and I am offended even if it isn’t aimed at me.”

                  I’m sorry, but. No. No, it is not. Unless you have actual TRAUMA that hearing the word “God” used in a rude way flashes you back to in a way that makes you unable to function for a time, then no, “triggering” is NOT “the most accurate.”

                  It may make you UNCOMFORTABLE, but that is NOT the same as being “triggered.”

                  “f am required to use your chosen pknouns “which is compelling me to say soemthing I my or may not agree with), then how is it different for me to ask you not to use a certain words?”

                  ooooh, this…this is a take, with some implicit transphobia.

                  Look. My friends generaly don’t blaspheme around me. (Though, as I’ve said, I really don’t consider “oh my god” blasphemy, because, well. God has names. “God” isn’t a name). But that’s nowhere near on the same level as actually, y’know. Treating people like human beings (eg: calling them the correct pronouns, not using slurs).

                  At any rate, bear in mind that what’s happening in this letter isn’t just a coworker saying, “Hey, can you not say that?” It’s an automated response designed to enforce Christian hegemony in a company that is already sliding towards homophobia. It’s not about making the workplace more pleasant for everyone.

                3. ac*

                  I’m a queer atheist who was raised by very lapsed Catholics. I’m in my 40s, I was born and raised and still live in the US. I am deeply, deeply over capital “C” Conservative Christianity and its use as a cudgel to harm vulnerable populations. At this point, if whatever I’m doing wounds people who use their faith that way, I consider it a win for humanity overall.

                  HOWEVER. When I am surrounded by people who are religiously conservative who are not assholes, and I know quite a few of those folks, I make a distinct point not to say things that are hurtful to them because I’m not an asshole.

                4. Anonymous at a University*

                  I cannot express how much respect I have lost for you because of this comment. It’s very clear, with you jumping straight to the “pronouns” example, that your respect for trans people (at the VERY least) is conditional, whereas you believe respect for your Christianity should be unconditional.

                5. Phoenix Wright*

                  If you only treat minorities and less privileged people decently and respectfully when you get your way, then I’m sorry to say you are a self-admitted transphobe, at the very least. I may be mistaken, but I used to think the Bible said something about turning the other cheek and treating others like you wanna be treated. Guess that part didn’t really count.

                6. SimplyTheBest*

                  Woooow. Way to just blatantly say you’re transphobic. Good job. He isn’t gonna help you with that attitude either.

                7. Shadowbelle*

                  “… for me, a Catholic, is is “triggering” … to hear Jesus Christ or God used in a rude way …”

                  For me, as a normal human being, it is “triggering” to hear the phrase “throw someone under the bus”. I have seen the results of bus-over-human at first hand, and every time I hear the phrase, I see it again.

                  There are lots of expressions in the world that we don’t like. Mostly, we need to learn to live with them.

                8. Meepmeep*

                  What if what you don’t want around you is a lesbian coworker? Does she get fired?

                  What if the lesbian coworker is wearing a wedding ring and has her partner’s photo on her desk? Does she have to stop so that she doesn’t “offend” you?

            2. anonaccountant*

              “If you find out you are triggering pain, avoiding “that thing” is by default good policy and an act of humanity.”

              Well said. I also think the actions of the company are separate from that of the individual. How I read it, these are two separate events and their coincidence is what’s concerning to the LW. Certainly the Marketing Manager’s method was not ideal, but her request was reasonable.

              The company’s tone, however is more concerning.

              1. JSPA*

                Yeah, it coming from a program is gross. But the default library on my Samsung phone also refuses to accept / tries to correct even mild scatology. It also does some very suspect autocompleting of words and phrases. The program updates may be part of a package from a vendor / part of a broader push to “keep the business language professional,” rather than one person’s individual intervention in the system (and part of a concerted push to Christianize the workplace). More data needed.

            3. Dr. Pepper*

              Agreed. Why is it so hard to stop doing a thing or saying a word that bothers other people? I have conservative Christian family members (who are not evangelical, hateful, or bigoted) who dislike people using God/god or Christ as an exclamation or swear word in their presence. They will ask you very nicely and politely not to do so if it comes up. So I don’t when I’m around them. It’s really that easy.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                That’s different from OP’s situation because it’s not a human asking very nicely and politely not to do it around them. It’s a chatbot preprogrammed to say “don’t do that”. That’s why OP is asking about the company’s culture and stance, not about some specific person they’re workng with. Now, the autoreply may be the work of one person who decided to automatically put their chat preferences out to everyone, but being an automated message on a company platform, it comes across as Official Company Policy.

                1. Dr. Pepper*

                  I agree that the chat program message was not the right way to go about asking people to not use “oh my god” and the like. I would bet it IS coming from just one person and like everything else that is a slightly uncomfortable topic, people avoid addressing the issue directly and go a more passive and indirect route. Considering how unreasonable a lot of people on here find such an idea, I’m not surprised that this wasn’t addressed directly. I’m actually a little appalled at how defensive people are being over the idea. If someone at the company didn’t like profanity and asked that people don’t use it in work communications, would there be this level of outrage?

                  I’m deliberately separating the anti-queer sentiments (which are wrong and indeed concerning) from the “please don’t say this” because I think they each warrant a different approach. The former is not okay at all but the latter is basic curtesy. Again, the “please don’t say this” was not handled correctly but not saying words others find offensive is not a big ask.

                2. pancakes*

                  Dr. Pepper, Why make a point of separating the company’s anti-LGBTQ tone and the manager’s usage of Slack messages asking others to modify their language while simultaneously trying to change the subject away from the latter and towards profanity instead? The language & religion issues aren’t the same. There’s no good reason to pretend they are, or to pretend the letter was about something profanity.

              2. Blueberry*

                See what Anonymous At A University said below.

                Would your family also be offended by someone mentioning being queer in their presence (that being the actual topic of which this is an offshoot)? I’d absolutely refrain from swears concerning God or Christ near them, but I wouldn’t refrain from mentioning my favorite ex-girlfriend, and both are topics I’ve been told by multiple Christians are offensive.

                1. Dr. Pepper*

                  No, they would not be offended. Like I said, they are not hateful or bigoted. They live their life and other people live theirs. I see their dislike of religious words as swears as any other dislike of certain words used as swears. I have the language of a sailor, but I can keep it in check around those who don’t like profanity just like I can not say things like “oh my god” around my family. It’s curtesy.

            4. Barefoot Librarian*

              Slight tangent, but my little brother (with intellectual disabilities) uses the word “knickers!” as kind of an exclamation since our mum was Scottish. Unfortunately he’s also got some speech problems and the lovely black teacher at his school heard it as something ENTIRELY different. We were mortified when we got the call that he was using racial slurs at school. That one was an interesting thing to try and explain lol.

          5. anonaccountant*

            I think maybe the passive aggression of the message is the issue. If the Marketing Manager had stepped aside with OP and politely asked if she could avoid that, that would read to me as being totally fine.

            More importantly though, I think, like so many other places on the internet, that sometimes we get too wrapped up in being technically correct and forget to just be kind (especially when religion or politics get involved). Yes, technically you should be able to say whatever you want, as long as your employer is ok with it, without concerning yourself with your coworkers’ feelings. But is that really the kindest option?

            If a coworker asked me to stop saying something that was offensive or hurtful to them, I’d have no issue with that. What does it cost anyone to be sensitive to something that’s important to a coworker?

            Obviously the OP is facing additional discrimination from higher up which is a whole other issue, but I don’t think it’s fair to say you shouldn’t try respect the Marketing Manager’s request.

            1. Anonymous at a University*

              “If a coworker asked me to stop saying something that was offensive or hurtful to them, I’d have no issue with that. What does it cost anyone to be sensitive to something that’s important to a coworker?”

              A fellow graduate student when I was in graduate school told me to stop referring to myself as a lesbian because she thought it was “offensive” since she didn’t believe any women existed who weren’t attracted to at least some men. She also asked a professor to stop describing an atheist writer he was talking about in our literature class as an “atheist” because she found the word offensive to her Christianity. She claimed that if the writer was truly an atheist, he wouldn’t have lived to a ripe old age but would have committed suicide because he would have had “nothing to live for.”

              In fact, yes, someone can make ridiculous requests and say they’re offended or their faith is offended, and other people can judge that those requests are ridiculous.

              1. TootsNYC*

                but….
                If a coworker asked me to stop saying something that was offensive or hurtful to them, I’d have no issue with that. What does it cost anyone to be sensitive to something that’s important to a coworker?

                I think anonaccountant is envisioning things like my having said to a coworker, “Please don’t use ‘Jesus Christ’ as a swear word. I find it offensive.”

                As with all requests, the hearer does not HAVE to honor it. You and your professor were free to evaluate those requests and roll your eyes and ignore it. There is no coercion, no authority.
                With my request, anonaccountant would probably try to honor it. I would be they would similarly roll their eyes at your college classmate.

                These are all personal requests. Not edicts by the people in power at a company, not laws enforced by the government.

                And I think that’s where the OP’s company is really, really, really problematic.

                1. Anonymous at a University*

                  Well, the thing is, the comment I’m replying to didn’t make those distinctions, just said that anything a coworker asks you to stop saying should be honored. And even with personal requests that sound reasonable, there’s a limit. I have had people stop asking me to say “gosh” and “geez” along with “Oh my God,” and guess what? I didn’t.

                2. Anonymous at a University*

                  PS. The original comment talked about being kind. I find it telling that they think it’s “kind” to not use OMG, but didn’t say that it was unkind of the company to say LGBT content is “controversial.” Once again, expressions of Christian faith are privileged and protected and it’s “unkind” not to do what a Christian coworker wants you to do even if you don’t share their faith or do but think banning this expression is silly, but LGBT+ content is…different.

                3. JM60*

                  “As with all requests, the hearer does not HAVE to honor it.”

                  That’s not really true if the request is coming from a higher up in your company, in which case the request comes with some implied coercion (unless the requester makes it clear that it’s optional).

              2. JSPA*

                But that’s not a language issue, it’s an incomprehension of facts.

                If someone asks you to say lesbian rather than dyke, even though you identify as a dyke, that’s a closer parallel.

                Or if an author or character describes themselves as having “lost their faith,” it may or may not be correct to describe them as “atheist,” depending on other details of how they self-identify. (Thinking of some passages in Joyce, here.)

                Inability to accept other people’s views of the universe and asking them to hide anything that’s troubling to your view of the universe ≠ a language request.

                The specifics and the circumstances of any ‘ask’ matter. If someone’s name means “buttocks” in your language, you don’t get to ask them to change their name. In contrast, if someone commonly screams “buttocks” when frustrated, to the point where it’s making you dread coming in, then by all means ask. And if someone is taking about your buttocks, shut it down hard, and escalate if it doesn’t stop. Same word, different implications.

        5. Aster*

          What is going on in this specific case is a religious majority who has a several hundred year long history of oppression against everyone else in the USA trying to reimpose it’s POV forcefully by co-opting the language and tactics of those they oppressed. It’s vile.

          In this case, i really believe what we are doing here actually plays into the tactics of those oppressive evangelicals. I know many of them. They want people raising these arguments (other religions hate it too!) as it shifts focus away from their true motivation and tactics.

          What they are doing is fascistic. It’s wrong. It’s rooted in reasserting their traditional power and silencing the voices of people like the LW.

          Yes, there may be people outside their group who agree with them in terms of this one issue, but that does not make what these specific co-workers and bosses are doing ok. It does not.

          There is absolutely no way to look at what is going on in this specific case outside the history and power structure of the USA.

          Honestly, if and until we realize and admit the USA was a colonial then imperial power that used Christianity as a weapon against the colonized, we will go round and round and round on these debates and never make progress.

          OMG may be offensive to more than one faith, but it is the ONE FAITH that’s driving this conversation and using its bloated weight to force the culture in directions that most of us don’t want it to go.

          I’m quite sure if an Orthodox Jewish man were raising this issue in the workplace no one would care.

          1. anonaccountant*

            I would disagree with you on that last point, and I feel like there’s a shocking amount of hate in your response to this. If a Jewish coworker asked me to avoid a phrase or word around them I’d have no issue with that, and I don’t know a single Christian personally who would.

            I think it’s also important to remember that this is a very American point of view. Christians have done terrible things in their history (and some recently that i’m not proud of), but so have other religions. We learn about/focus on the Christian history because that’s the region we live in. There are many countries and regions where people are persecuted for being Christians, even today. Basically, you’re seeing this as something that only American Christians do, but it’s a mirrored reality in different religions in different geographical locations. Regardless of where you live or what you believe in, it costs nothing to be kind to the people you exist with.

            1. Aster*

              We are taking a about the USA and Christian povs.

              I have personally altered behavior for many, many people with different beliefs

              Where’s the Hate?

              I’m not saying not to be sensitive to other religions at all. I am and believe we should be

              What I’m saying is we shouldn’t counter to Christians trying to enforce their views on others

              Yes, There are other countries and other religions but that’s not where the poster lives and that’s not what she’s talking about. If we were having a conversation about another country and another religion I will be making a very different point. But what’s going on in the US now with the Evagelicsl Christians is dangerous and very different than what’s going on in the rest of the World

              1. anonaccountant*

                I’m not going to get into a debate here- this just isn’t the place. I’ve obviously experienced Christians who are more evangelistic or biased than I’m comfortable with, and I’m sure you have, too, but it feels like maybe the loudest groups are what’s forming your experiences rather than the most common ones. I don’t agree with the company’s actions, but I feel that the Marketing Manager’s request wasn’t unreasonable as a separate event. I wish you the best!

            2. yala*

              We’re not talking about other regions though. We’re talking about an office in a Christian-dominated region. “Other religions have done bad stuff to” isn’t really relevant, because this action isn’t about asking for people to be *kind*–it’s about asserting a religious moral authority.

              I dunno. I’m Catholic, my mom’s Pentecostal, and this has my hackles way, WAY up, because it just feels…insidious.

              If a Jewish coworker asked me to avoid a word or phrase, that would be a drastically different thing, because said Jewish coworker would be in a minority that has historically (and currently) been targeted for persecution in this very country, and furthermore, said Jewish coworker would have their faith and culture practices much less taken into account than my faith and cultural practices, which are the default.

              This isn’t that. This is trying to enforce a Christian norm, not to actually keep people from being hurt.

            3. Aster*

              PS you may not know a single Christian he would refuse to accommodate a Jewish person. I’m glad for you.

              I personally happened to know a lot who would absolutely, refuse to do so bc their faith is the only one that matters.

              Most liberal Christian’s will be accommodating and aren’t the problem. My vitriol is only directed at those who are in refused to consider anyone else’s rights or point of view

              If you are seeing a blanket condemnation of her religion or think that I wouldn’t be willing to accommodate other people in their faith , then you are reading something in that it’s there

              This is about a specific, toxic form of evangelicalism in the USA in 2019 only

              If someone who is Catholic or Quaker made the same argument, I would stop and listen and being willing to make whatever
              accommodations.

              Evangelicals aren’t playing by a fair rule book

            4. lawyer*

              I’m pretty sure many Christians WOULD object given that you have people who view saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” – a choice often made to be inclusive, i.e., not to cause pain – as a “war on Christmas.”

              The prohibition on taking the Lord’s name in vain is personal to the speaker – it binds you, the individual believer. It is a curb on your actions, not the actions of others. And it is primarily an admonishment not to swear falsely in the name of God (i.e., not to make oaths before God that you can’t keep or to take action in the name of God that is cruel, malicious, or in contravention of his commandments and teachings).

              To a Christian who is offended by hearing an “OMG,” I’d encourage meditation on Matthew 5:7 and an increased focused on removing the beam from your own eye, rather than going after the speck in the eye of the person in the cubicle next door.

              I am, by the way, a lifelong and devout Christian.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                I’m pretty sure many Christians WOULD object given that you have people who view saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” – a choice often made to be inclusive, i.e., not to cause pain – as a “war on Christmas.”

                This.

                1. Barefoot Librarian*

                  A million times this. My dad is fundamentalist and lives in a very conservative area. He’s livid when I suggest Happy Holidays is more inclusive when you don’t know what kind of holiday a person is celebrating (if any). He’s definitely in the majority where he lives too. Needless to say he’s ranting on social media daily about the “war on Christmas” right now. It’s exhausting.

                2. pancakes*

                  Barefoot, would it help focus the matter to ask whether he genuinely believes you’re at war with him, or acting as a soldier of fortune on behalf of whoever is? And if so, who? I’d think it would be harder for him to maintain this stance if pressed to explain how exactly it works in his mind.

                3. Barefoot Librarian*

                  Oh he believes all non-Christians (and especially liberal atheists such as yours truly) are at war with the idea of a Christ-centric Christmas. We aren’t, of course. I’m just trying to preserve the right for people to practice their religion (or not) as they wish. I even say “Merry Christmas” to him specifically because I know that’s his holiday. He still gets upset if I say Happy Holidays to a cashier or someone we run into. It’s a losing battle I’m afraid.

                  What can you do? *shrug*

              2. calonkat*

                I say “Happy Holidays” a lot because I like the vintage cards that use that phrase, and it also makes me think of Bing Crosby singing Happy Holidays in the movie Holiday Inn. You know, all the PC culture stuff of the 19th and early-mid 20th centuries. I was so surprised to find out that some people don’t think Christmas is a holiday (literally “holy day’). But, to each their own, I suppose.

            5. Shadowbelle*

              I disagree with you that Aster’s comment shows “a shocking amount of hate.” Anger/frustration/exasperation is not the same as hate. I too am very angry about what too many Evangelicals are doing, and frustrated, but I don’t hate them.

              1. AKchic*

                Oh, I will admit that my loathing and frustration is inching over the border into “hate” territory. Especially for some of the more rabid personalities.

            6. Jules the 3rd*

              Whatever other religions do / have done, OP and most of the people here are dealing with American Christians, and things that American Christians do. Bringing in other religions is deflection from the very real and very relevant problems we’re dealing with in America today.

              ‘Everybody does it’ lets you and others hide from the problems instead of facing them and taking responsibility to solve them.

            7. SarahTheEntwife*

              If someone asked me to not use a specific word around them, I would happily do that. If that person decided that the entire department would get scolding notices on Slack every time they used a common idiom, whether or not the specific coworker was even participating in the conversation, I would not be nearly so understanding.

            8. Shadowbelle*

              “it costs nothing to be kind to the people you exist with”

              It doesn’t, which is why the marketing manager was out of line by demanding that the rest of the world cater to the MM’s specific belief system.

            9. Former Academic Librarian*

              I grew up around Christians that were bigoted and hateful – that’s kind of the SBC’s brand (and when I say grew up with it – family members were high ranking SBC officials; I am intimately familiar with what goes on).

              Yes, Christians are persecuted in other places. You know where they have never, ever been persecuted though? The US. Christians have been the majority since before we were a country, and have been attacking those that don’t believe/believe something different/disagree with them for as long. American Christians have *no idea* what it means to be persecuted; they have been the ones persecuting.

              Sure, it takes nothing to be kind to those around me. But I will not endorse a single iota of what they believe, nor will I allow their personal beliefs to dictate how I live my life.

              1. Chinook*

                I disgree – certain types of Christians have never been persecuted in the US. Catholics are Christians who have been persecuted otherwise it wouldn’t have been such a big deql when JFK was elected. He was to Catholics what Obama was to African Americans- a sign that they have finally been accepted.

                Not all Christians are the same nor do they have the same experiences in the same country. I have heard stories from this commentariat of Catholics in the south being treated as “other” yet, on this one point, they would be greejng with the theory of this issue, if not in jo it was handled.

                1. Allypopx*

                  Eesh I’m from an area where Catholics have been very, very heavily persecuted historically and I’m still going to say the Obama comparison is a bad take.

                2. Former Academic Librarian*

                  Yes, there are many different types of Christianity. Evangelicals are currently the majority in this country (US), and are in fact dictating laws.

                  Have you been chased down the street for being Catholic? Have you had rocks thrown at you? Have you been “exorcised” in front of a congregation? If the answer is no, could you please just listen to the experiences of LGTBQ people in the comments and not cry “Christian persecution”?

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  Maybe I’m just being too literal, but I don’t read Chinook’s statement as ‘Christians are Being Persecuted Now!’, I read it more as ‘It’s sad that Christians [Catholics] who have faced persecution in the past, and even some othering today, are likely to perpetuate that persecution.” (At least, that’s how I read “yet, on this one point, they [Catholics] would be agreeing with the theory of this issue [treating LGBTQx as ‘controversial’], if not in how it was handled”) [indicates my perception of what Chinook’s talking about]

                  Also – yes, Catholics were forcibly converted, beaten and killed for their faith in the US, with low points in the 1840s and 1920s. I’d hate to erase this history. The more data points we have, the better the chances for seeing patterns and finding ways to prevent and change.

            10. kt*

              Agree that being kind costs little (not nothing). But there’s one cultural group here trying to rewrite my benefits package to take out reproductive health care or eliminate anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQ+ people — and it’s not Wahhabists or Buddhist politicians in Myanmar or Israeli politicians emphasizing the values of some Orthodox Jews. I’m in America. I’m worried about my fellow Americans.

              As an aside, do you remember the disturbing Reddit/AAM etc saga about the Jewish pregnant lady whose Christian coworkers tricked her into eating pork and tried to force her into having a baby shower before the baby was born? Yeah. Not all self-proclaimed Christians are good people. Even if 95% are perfectly saintly, just in terms of numbers that leaves an awful lot of people to be really hurtful because Christians are a majority in the US.

              1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

                “the disturbing Reddit/AAM etc saga about the Jewish pregnant lady whose Christian coworkers tricked her into eating pork and tried to force her into having a baby shower before the baby was born?”

                i’m not familiar with this but how vile.

          2. Det. Charles Boyle*

            Aster, I think this is right. Going around and around in this way is totally playing into the hands of the oppressors. One side is having a conversation about kindness, tolerance, and compassion, while the other side is attempting to impose their will on everyone, regardless of belief system. Two totally different perspectives. Thanks for pointing this out.

        6. CatLadyLawyerEsq*

          they’re saying “Oh my God” not “Oh your God” so if it helps, just remind yourself that they’re not blaspheming your God, just theirs. And that’s been them and their God and none of your business.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Good take. As a pagan, I definitely follow different gods.

            Sometimes when someone starts hammering me with “God said” blah, blah, blah, I will just quirk and eyebrow and ask “Which one?” Anything they respond with can get anything from “Sorry, I don’t follow that one” to “It’s awful arrogant of you to declare which gods are ‘true’ or not.”

            I’m LGBTQ+, and this situation would have me putting out resumes in a hurry, plus documenting the discrimination.

        7. Magenta*

          It is only offensive if you make assumptions.

          It is specifically referencing the god of the person speaking, if I say “Oh *MY* god” there is no reason for anyone to get offended as they don’t know which deity I’m referring to.

      1. yala*

        I wonder if they went with (as many of my pagan friends do) “Oh my gods” if that would upset them.

        Or some oldies: gadzooks, zounds, ye gods

    2. Kyubey*

      I would have no problem if someone personally said to me, ‘hey this word is personally offensive to me, could you not use it in my presense?’ As opposed to the slack message which is passive-aggressive and obnoxious. I’m atheist but I would respect a personal request to avoid saying a certain word or phrase that offends someone – not a demand to abide by their religion though.

      1. Aster*

        Yes. What’s going on here – what people aren’t seeing – is that this is a “demand to abide by their religion.”

        That’s the key difference.

        This is an attempt to reassert a certain type of Christian dominance back to the front of US life.

        it’s coming from a fascistic impulse, not a sensitive, caring one that’s trying to balance everyone’s sensitivities.

        If this same policy were in a gay charity in SF, I’d think it was cool they were trying to cover all basis. That’s not what’s going on here.

        1. anonaccountant*

          I would separate the actions of the company with that of the individual. The company as a whole adopting anti-LGBTQ policies is definitely different than an individual asking someone to modify their language. I can understand outrage towards the company, but not the Marketing Manager. She should have been direct, rather than passive aggressive, but it’s not an out-of-line request.

          1. Dot Warner*

            Yeah, that’s a good point. Marketing Manager isn’t covering herself in glory here, but for the company culture to be changing as significantly as it is, Marketing Manager cannot the only member of upper management who’s behind it.

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, the fact that their efforts to… idk, clean up the slack channel started with the passive aggressive public shaming that /coincidentally/ targets only people defying a religious expectation, not a broad swear filter, is the main issue here, and an enormous red flag.

      3. HONK*

        Yeah I agree. My mom is very Catholic and in my language most of the swear words were created specifically to mock catholicism, so she’s asked me not to swear in front of her. Fair enough, I want her to be comfortable around me.

        She’s however not asking me to not swear when she’s not there! Imo that’s why those Slack messages are so obnoxious and weird. It’s one thing to ask that people not use terms offensive to your religion to your face – that’s reasonable. It’s another thing to attempt to police people’s speech even in your absence.

        That’s just trying to make people live by your rules. That’s control – and when you consider the political and cultural power Christianity still wields in a lot of countries, it becomes really problematic.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Hunh – does it make a difference to this argument that messages in a slack channel persist, so even if you’re not talking to person X, they’re likely to see your post?

          1. Yorick*

            But he set up a automatic reply to every message with “god” in it so he would be able to correct their behavior even if he didn’t see it.

            It might be different if he was like, “Can you please not say ‘oh my god’ around me, including in this Marketing channel on Slack that I always check?”

        2. Shadowbelle*

          Slightly OT, but …
          “in my language most of the swear words were created specifically to mock catholicism”

          I once worked with an Israeli gentleman. We had an interesting conversation about Curse Words Around the World. He told me that
          1) Hebrew is derived from the ancient Judaic scriptures and
          2) those writings do not contain swear words, but
          3) humans swear, so
          4) Israelis picked up curses from other local cultures, and as a result
          5) Israelis swear in Arabic.

  4. MK*

    #3, is it a given “we fired A beause of X”? Why? Sounds transparent and objective to me, and as long as the fired employee isn’t being unnecessarily trashed, they don’t actually have a right to confidentiality about this. Companies sometimes prefer to not go public with the reasons for a firing, but I wouldn’t have thought it a no-no.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not a confidentiality issue; it’s just a weird thing to do unless there’s genuinely a need for the refreshers. I mean, if I fire Jane for X, it doesn’t follow that everyone else needs to be reminded they shouldn’t do X. It might be entirely obvious they shouldn’t do X, and there might be no evidence that anyone but Jane struggled with X. So it’s an odd thing to do as the default. Especially company-wide, when so often what gets someone fired is specific to the type of work of their particular role or team.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I agree that if it is a general reminder “don’t suck at your job, ” “with the implied statement” like Joe did,” that would be a weird reminder.

        But if Joe was fired because he was handing in TPS reports in late an email saying “reminder TPS reports are due on the first of the month and not submitting them on time can result in termination.” seems normal. Depending on the size of the company others might not realize the real reason Joe was fired or that late TPS reports are a fireable offense.

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Sometimes something you think should be obvious isnt that obvious

          One of my former coworkers ran up a huge bill watching YouTube on our shared site phone. Before that happened, everyone assumed that everyone knew how expensive mobile data is. But this coworker was surprised when our employer figured out he was the one using that data, then fired him and billed him for the cost. I only know about the bill because he complained about it to me.

          The next month, the company newsletter included a warning against using site phones for personal use.

          I saw the same happen to another guard who was caught going to sleep on site. He got fired. A warning that didn’t name him was put in the newsletter, and I only know more because my supervisor told me why I had to cover his shift.

          1. pancakes*

            “Don’t watch YouTube at work“ and “don’t sleep at work” are quite obvious and widespread norms. “We don’t have unlimited data and will bill you for what you use if it isn’t work-related” is more workplace-specific, and belongs in an employee handbook or code of conduct rather than post hoc emails.

            1. pancakes*

              * post hoc emails or newsletters. Unless new employees are given old newsletters to read as part of their training materials, that seems like a bad way to circulate information about what’s expected of them.

            2. tangerineRose*

              I wouldn’t watch YouTube at work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who think it’s OK, so a warning makes sense to me for that. “don’t sleep at work” seems obvious to me , too.

              1. Bilateralrope*

                On some sites, the client lets us use their internet connection. At others, we are in range of public wifi networks. My employer doesn’t care about what we do over those unless it affects our work and night shift security can get really boring.

            3. EinJungerLudendorff*

              Actually, most people in my country don’t have data plans. I don’t know about companies, but I would be suprised if they did.
              So yeah, watching youtube during my break is probably just fine unless we have bandwith problems.

        2. Antilles*

          Yeah, the specifics *really* matter here.
          If someone was fired for flipping off their manager and cursing out clients? Yeah, you probably don’t need to clarify that one; nobody would think that’s acceptable.
          If someone was fired for violating a major safety protocol by dashing in front of a moving forklift? Frankly, the safety manager would be failing at his job if he *didn’t* take the opportunity to remind workers about the importance of safe behavior and the potential dangers of heavy equipment.

        3. KHB*

          But if timely filing of TPS reports is so important, and so non-obvious, they really should be communicating that regularly outside the context of Joe’s firing. If it’s just a few people who are slipping with their TPS reports, they should be getting their own feedback that if they don’t step it up, their jobs are in danger.

          If they only ever think to send the reminders after someone’s fired, that makes me think that Joe’s firing came out of the blue to Joe, and that he wasn’t getting warnings that his lateness with the TPS reports was putting his job in jeopardy. Which might make me wonder if I was committing some other fireable offense without realizing it.

        4. hbc*

          I think the only time this makes sense is if you’ve got a lot of people kind of creeping up against a boundary, and Joe was just the worst offender. Even then, you should be going to all the offenders and telling them personally that they’ve been too slack with their TPS reports.

          Any group announcement should include a “This is my fault for letting it get this far, but we’re being serious about it now” statement. And in that case, you probably shouldn’t have fired Joe when it was, “Surprise! We’re actually enforcing the 12pm deadline on TPS reports, you’re out.”

        5. KayDeeAye*

          There are some people – and some companies – who have a strong predilection for what I’ll call Teaching Moments. The lesson from Teaching Moment A might be something that many people need to hear, the lesson from Teaching Moment B might be something that only a few people need to hear, and the lesson from Teaching Moment C is something that really only one person needs to hear. But for Teaching Moment devotees, everybody hears the lessons no matter how many or how few people they apply to, because, you know, better safe than sorry.

          Why yes, I do work for one of those companies! They mean well, they really do, but for every time I learn something from one Teaching Moment – e.g., genuinely useful tips to reduce streaming on my company-supplied phone so I’m not hogging more than my share of the bandwidth – there are at least 9 times when my reaction is more like, “Well, yeah, of course I’m supposed to save receipts if I want the company to reimburse me for something. Who doesn’t know that? And why not just tell this to the folks who need to hear it?”

        6. Andream*

          I think this seems pretty normal. Especially if they got feedback from Joe. Let’s say TPS reports were just the straw that broke the camels back and so the company had to fire Joe. And let’s say during the firing processes Joe mentions that there was miscommunication between the TPS department and him. He thought that the department would like the reports by the 1st but that they weren’t due until the 10th. I could see why the company would send an email about TPS being due on the 1st to make sure there was no one else confused.

      2. Ellen N.*

        I think it’s a good policy to let employees know why other employees were fired.

        My husband is a high school special education teacher. When teachers are fired it’s a secret that they were fired and why they were fired. This results in gossip and uncertainty. My husband always worried that he will inadvertently do whatever got someone fired.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Eh, I’m not sure that’s all that reasonable a fear. Most school districts can’t openly comment on personnel matters. In any decently run district, a teacher would have to *really* cross the line to be fired over a single incident.

        2. Daisy-dog*

          In a lot of circumstances, it is usually not a single incident that leads to someone getting fired. It’s often a pattern of poor judgment that culminates in one final incident that just can’t be coached anymore. In the instances where someone is fired for a single incident – it is often something so obviously against the rules or something that resulted in something truly awful. TPTB may choose to not advertise that the thing even happened – maybe to save their own reputation or to not ruin the reputation of the departing employee.

          So in your husband’s case – as long as he’s doing his best and not endangering his students in any way – he should be fine. If he does get fired for something stupid, then he’s probably better off leaving that school anyway.

        3. Quill*

          Because of the students there may be stricter confidentiality in place though. There’s not a reasonable way to tell the staff that won’t result in students knowing, and if a student was in any way involved, revealing the cause could reveal who that student was… and especially since most students are minors that starts to be a minefield.

        4. hbc*

          If your husband gets fired, does he really want the administrators to say why? “As some of you know, Joe was underperforming, and we’re not happy with the way he handled some of his students. We think a new teacher will do a better job.”

      3. Beatrice*

        My company has done it before when the thing the person was fired for is illegal or might subject the company to a lawsuit. So it’s never “Please remember that mishandling widgets can lead to termination”, but it’s “we take our responsibility to provide a safe workplace seriously, here’s a copy of our policy on sexual harassment if anyone needs a refresher, here’s a myriad of safe ways to report problems.” I’ve seen that communication method used when people have been fired for sexual harassment, being horribly verbally abusive, major expense account abuse, and a whole team let go because they were using IM to bully one outcast coworker.

        *Usually* the termination is announced in private meetings with people who worked directly with the fired individual, the reason for termination is usually not spelled out, except that it’s made clear that it’s not a layoff for company financial reasons (because otherwise that rumor mill would start.) Of course people immediately start gossiping about why, and the policy reminders add fuel, but I guess if there ultimately is legal action, documenting the reminder helps the company show they’re taking steps?

        The only announcements I remember where it’s clearly stated that X was the reason Joe was terminated was the time it was an entire team of Joes, and another occasion where Joe had committed a horrible crime that had made the newspaper and obviously eclipsed the firing, and Joe’s daughter still worked at the company, and there were very firmly stated instructions on being kind and sensitive to Joe’s daughter and respecting her privacy.

        1. Evergreen*

          Yeah, my old employer was the same: they’d only do this when the matter was egregious and I think the idea was to demonstrate that actually yes, they will fire you for that

      4. Database Developer Dude*

        One would think certain things were so entirely obvious it shouldn’t need to be reinforced that “don’t do X” is a thing, and yet your own column gives the lie to that. I always thought playing a joke on a woman in the workplace to try to make her think she’s pregnant is something fireable, or at the very least something that would subject the offender to discipline…. but one of my previous projects gave the lie to that.

        Remember, if there’s a rule against something, it means that someone, somewhere, did the thing, and bad things happened, so they made a rule to prevent it from happening again.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hmmm, in the U.S. there’s no right to confidentiality around the reason you were fired; employers can share that with others there, as long as they’re accurate about it.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          It’s in the framing. Minnesota case from the 80s, Lewis v. Equitable Life Assurance Co. Soc. of U.S.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            That lawsuit was about wrongful termination after the company fired workers for insubordination after the workers refused to revise expense reports they’d submitted to be reimbursed for work-related expenses that the employer didn’t want to cover despite their own policies. (Sidebar: this is the kind of thing that reinforces my belief that “insubordination” is bullshit most of the time!)

            What does that have to do with companies being at risk of a lawsuit for divulging the reasons for firing previous employees?

              1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

                They won on defamation because the employer had lied as to why they had been fired, which the employees were then compelled to reveal in interviews with other companies. If the employer had truthfully explained the reason for firing, there would be no defamation.

                1. Observer*

                  I just read the case, and yes, that is why they won. You can’t win defamation case if the accusation is true in the US – truth is an absolute defense for libel, slander and defamation.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Karyn, that’s exactly why they won. The case is pretty clear that the company manufactured the reason for firing, which is why the plaintiffs won their defamation suit.

                  It’s not helpful to derail on this case because it’s not applicable to OP, and it’s likely to confuse people in a way that does not help them advocate for themselves.

                3. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

                  Hit the nesting point, but yes, it is.

                  Defendant-company’s argument was that the official reasoning for their firing was insubordination, and that the company had never publicized the nature of the firing at all (the employees had in interviews with new jobs), so it wasn’t defamation for two reasons: it was literally true that they were fired for insubordination, and they hadn’t made the defamatory statements even if it wasn’t true.

                  Plaintiff-employees argued that their actual conduct was not insubordinate, so the phrase “I was fired for gross insubordination” wasn’t true, and that they had been compelled to reveal the reason for their firing because the alternative was lying to a prospective employer.

                  The court (and jury at trial level) agreed with the plaintiffs that while they were officially fired for insubordination, they hadn’t actually been insubordinate, making the statements untrue. The appeals court also adopted the doctrine to say that the revelation about their firing reason was compelled speech, so it was still defamation.

                  Importantly, the problem was that the reason for firing was a lie.

                  What exactly is your alternative reading of the case? And how in the frick frack snick snack is it relevant to THIS discussion, which is of an employer truthfully disclosing the reason for an employee’s dismissal?

              2. Lilo*

                A prong of defamation is that the statement must be false. Telling the truth about why someone is fired isn’t defamation.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              Plus, refusing to do something you’ve been directed to do IS insubordination. It might be justifiable, but it’s still insubordination…..

        2. andream*

          I would like to point out that some things may be confidential. I work at a university and unfortunately, a professor was accused of sexual harassment/assault on a student. There was an investigation (it seems he was found guilty) and before meeting with the council for the verdict he decided to resign so he could keep his pension. He has a right to not allow the council’s report to be made public. There is of course information into his personnel file, and any college that he tries to teach at again will have that information, but if he chooses to the college cannot make the report public.

    2. CmdrShepard4ever*

      I agree the company wants to make sure everyone knows not to do certain things. I have seen many “stupid” signs such as don’t swim with the alligators, don’t jump on the train tracks…. Why was the sign posted likely because at least one person if not more did the very thing they are warning about.

      Next time you see something that makes you go “Gez that seems obvious,” remember there are a lot of stupid people out there.

      1. Quill*

        My favorite is “no ice skating between the months of May and September” (northern hemisphere and NOWHERE NEAR any place where there would be ice during those months) because I have zero idea how it became relevant and nobody local to that sign seems to know either.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Sometimes you might get a sudden cold snap that slightly freezes the top of a pond/river, and people who know nothing about skating on natural bodies of water might not realize that it is only .25 inches (just making this up, idk actual thickness required) thick and not enough to support the weight of a human. In certain parts of Wisconsin when it gets really cold there are certain lakes/rivers that people can drive cars across to shave 30 minutes instead of going around to the nearest bridge.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            One inch = keep off
            Two inches = one may
            Three inches = small groups
            Four inches = OK!
            ———————————————————–

            Driving cars across lakes/rivers? Are they suicidal??

            1. Chinook*

              Nope, just desperate for or a road in the middle of nowhere (there are ice highways up north that semis drive on) or really want to go ice fishing. There are procedures and guidelines for testing thickness and the conditions are onky good for a month or two, but some lakes around here have whole ice fishing communities on them during the season.

            2. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I have not done it, but have heard from my in laws that they have done it. It is a more or less official crossing that gets inspected for safety, the ice can measure very thick. I looked it up and it is indeed a thing. Lake Superior has a network of ice roads, and Lake Winnebago also has a 2 mile ice road, the ice thickness is about 23 to 30 inches thick.

              But going back to Quills original comment this is why you need a sign “no driving cars on ice between April through November,” or something similar.

            3. Quill*

              No, it’s a relatively common cause of accidental death in wisconsin. You get a few every year.

              Drunk driving, Ice fishing with your car sitting on the ice, driving across a river, all fairly location specific causes of death. Combining the three is also pretty popular and very dangerous. Especially as the weather has been less consistent here in the last 10 years, so lakes that used to be reliable as roads from christmas to valentines day might not be anymore.

              It’s usually march when people lose the most cars to this, though…

            4. Observer*

              No. I don’t know just how thick the ice there is, of course, but it’s definitely true that it’s possible for it to get think enough to support cars – and even full trucks.

              Google “siege of Leningrad”. It’s a horrific read, because the death toll is mind-boggling. But what is really interesting is what enabled the city to survive. The Germans had not taken control of Lake Lagoda, and the Russians used it to bring in food. The trucks rolled in over the ice.

          2. Quill*

            This was halfway down illinois though. If it had been Up North I would have immediately understood, but the place where it is doesn’t even regularly hit freezing in March, let alone May.

      2. Western Rover*

        Real group emails sent out at my work (although I don’t know if anyone was fired):
        * Don’t arrive at work carrying an open beer.
        * If you accidentally call 911, don’t hang up, stay on the line and explain.
        Please don’t tell managers to stop sending such emails; it’s my only entertainment.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          So I can arrive at work carrying a closed beer, and then open it and drink it once I am at my desk? Or arrive at work carrying two open beers?

        2. Chinook*

          The 911 thing happens more often than you think, especially since some brilliant mind thought that dialing 9 for an outside line was a great way to program a phone system ina region that uses 911.

        3. Mockingdragon*

          I had to get that 911 notice though. A couple places I worked for some ungodly reason had you dial 9-1- before an outside number. it was SO EASY to accidentally dial 911, and after the first few times the police and ambulances arrived for an undefined emergency we had to be told that no matter how embarrassing it was, to tell the operator it was a mistake and not to send anyone XD

    3. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      I was thinking more a long the lines of the company trying to avoid gossip and making sure that people feel safe in their job by emailing about the firing. We‘ve Seen enough emails coming in: “xx has been fired with no warning, now I am worried about my job security.”

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Why don’t call a meeting with Joe’s team or closest coworkers to address the firing? Saying “unfortunately Joe no longer works here, we did x, y and z to keep him but it didn’t work” sounds better in person than by email.

      1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        I didn’t mean to imply that this is a good strategy by the company. It was just a thought that this could be the rationale behind it.

      2. Adric*

        They may be doing that AND sending out the general email. OP simply may not have been in the loop for that meeting, but were obviously in the loop for the general email.

        I would also say that there’s a reasonable level of discretion in not putting a specific reference to Joe in the general email.

  5. mark132*

    @LW1 I don’t know that you even have to respond, just don’t show up. You can let your silence be your answer.

    1. MsM*

      On the other hand, I think it might be helpful for Pam and the org to hear that pre- and post-event meetings should really be worked into the description of the time commitment when recruiting volunteers.

      By email, though, at the LW’s convenience. No need to block time out to do so in-person.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        I think that is exactly what the group wants. They have a misguided idea that inviting volunteers to this meeting under the guise of a post-mortem will give them (the volunteers) a sense of ownership in the process. It will make them want to give feedback more than just asking for feed back. Maybe it has worked for them in the past, but ultimately, you would be doing them a favor, so take it or leave it.

        1. CC Winter*

          I work a lot with volunteers, and over the years I have found that they want to be acknowledged in wildly different ways. So I think some people would love to give feedback at a lunch debrief.

          If the OP doesn’t have time or the desire to attend, simply decline! I doubt anyone will think twice.

    2. ZOMG even*

      I don’t think #1 is obligated to show up at the post-event lunch. But I also don’t think the organizer is being unreasonable in convening the lunch. It is good practice to do an after-action report when a project is over, to get a sense of what went well and what didn’t. And I certainly don’t think it’s unreasonable to convene a pre-event debriefing session. Proper planning prevents piss-poor results.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes agreed! I think a combo of this and
        MsM’s comment where the organisers say upfront what the time commitment is so people can decide if that’s something they want to get involved in, rather than springing it on people after the event.
        I’d write back to say you can’t go, OP – Alison’s script is great – but if you do have any feedback (mentioning the stuff you’ve mentioned in this letter, maybe?) then that might be helpful for Pam and the panel for further events in the future.

        1. Contracts Killer*

          That is exactly what I was going to say. I’ve been invited to de-briefing sessions after events and I generally do not go, but I provide a detailed email with my thoughts on what worked well and what should be reconsidered. I would include offering that debriefing could be done via email or a tool like Survey Monkey.

      2. Beth*

        This is true with the planning team. But asking everyone who volunteered for things as small as handing out brochures or taking coats to participate? That’s a lot to ask of people who were barely involved. The organizer would be better off keeping the debrief to people more closely involved, and maybe emailing out a feedback form for volunteers to optionally fill out if they have anything they want to say.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Exactly this. It’s a great practice to debrief with your staff. It’s even ok to survey volunteers. But it’s not ok to expect them to spend at least an hour (if not more) on their own time debriefing with the staff.

          1. Yorick*

            Right, send an email asking volunteers for any feedback for improving next year’s event. They don’t really need to debrief.

          2. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

            I actually think it’s super-respectful to ask for feedback even from volunteers – demonstrating they’re more than just bodies but also thinking people. And in the person asking, lunch is a perk.

            The ideal ask would be “We’ve scheduled a lunch in the hope that you can join us -0 please let me know. If you can’t make it and have thought to share, shoot me an email or let me know a good time to talk. In any case, thanks for all your help.

            The OP should just say no. It’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t even be annoyed if someone asked for my time like this – I’d just say no.

            1. hbc*

              100% agree. Show that you welcome feedback without but don’t give them an assignment they didn’t already volunteer for.

            2. CC Winter*

              I agree! I’m giggling a little bit about all of the commenters using phrases like “giving up an hour of their own time” because that is the essence of volunteering.

          3. Almost an event planner*

            I am not a professional event planner, but I co-organize a mid-size event (~300 people) annually. I disagree with PCBH. Volunteers, even those processing registrations or handing out brochures, need to be briefed on their role beforehand. So much of executing an event is making sure everyone is clear on what they are doing (and not assuming their role is obvious or intuitive).

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t think we disagree? Of course volunteers should be briefed on their role and the event logistics. I’m saying it’s not reasonable to try to require them to debrief after the event concludes.

              It’s good practice to ask for their feedback, but it’s important to offer multiple, low-time-commitment pathways to provide that feedback.

      3. BRR*

        I don’t think the organizer is being unreasonable either. Maybe the organizer is making this event too much of a thing but the LW just needs to reply “sorry, I won’t be able to attend.”

      4. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

        This.

        Suggesting the lunch is reasonable and declining to attend is reasonable.

        The OP has to learn to say “no” more easily. This is not a big deal “Sorry, can’t make it during work hours and don’t have time to spare at other times. Best wishes.” Practice it OP. Practice saying no until it comes easily to you.

        1. Dragoning*

          I agree. When I saw the heading for that one, I assumed this was a continuous ongoing thing that was slowly eating their personal life alive. But it just seems like it’s added an hour or two, which–annoying, yes, but not that huge a deal in the grand scheme of things for the vast majority of people. But OP seems entirely livid!

          1. Antilles*

            I think the primary reason OP is upset is the unexpected nature of these extra meetings. There’s a difference between “hey can you do me a favor and show up for a couple hours” and then later adding on two more ‘oh, just another thing…’ requests. If I knew your ‘favor’ this big of deal from the start, I would have said no in the first place.
            It’s also worth noting that while some comments seem to be assuming that he’s providing lunch at these meetings, that’s not actually stated anywhere. If he isn’t, then “hey, let’s do a meeting during lunch” (aka ‘give up your lunch hour for me’) is a much more ridiculous ask.

            1. Dragoning*

              Yeah, it’s definitely annoying, and OP has standing to say no, absolutely. The tone struck me a little OTT anger about it, though.

            2. Quill*

              Yeah, especially since the first one was a planning meeting. If OP didn’t sign up to be part of the planning committee it’s disheartening to be dragged onto it when you thought you would be doing a clearly defined favor in a clearly defined time frame. The second meeting is just icing on the “oh my god why” cake.

              That said my “feedback” would be “you need to plan with the people who actually signed up to plan, significantly ahead of time, and re-evaluate how long that will take.”

              1. BerkeleyFarm*

                As someone who used to run a volunteer program (free monthly meal), I’ll say:

                1) Volunteers doing relatively simple tasks need orientation time but that should be built into their event time if possible (e.g. “come at 4 for the start at 5”). “Heads ups” (for me that was parking info and “please wear closed toe shoes and avoid bringing bulky bags”) can be delivered in person or in email.

                2) An offline planning meeting for people doing simple tasks is over the top.

                3) The organizer sounds like someone who is super processy and loves to call meetings when an email will do.

                4) A post mortem meeting for lower-level volunteers is also over the top unless something went horribly wrong and involved them.

                5) Some people might like the meeting but OP is well within her rights to politely decline and send any feedback in email.

            3. Sno Day*

              I guess I see this a little differently, and I really don’t see were the intense annoyance in coming from. When I volunteer I don’t view it as doing a “favor” for the event organizer. I’m freely giving my time and talents to an organization that I believe in.

              A gala is presumably raising money for goods or services that benefit members of the community. Volunteers are needed because the organization does not have the staff or resources for the scale of event, and may not have a ton of time to spend on event wrap up either.

              1. Antilles*

                The difference here is that this *isn’t* an organization OP searched out to volunteer for, nor does it seem like she’s at all involved otherwise. Instead, this basically sounds like “Hey, you know I’m active in X, right? Well, we have an upcoming fundraising event and we need a few extra sets of hands, would you be willing and available to help on the 28th?”

              2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                If I volunteer for two hours on one day, that may be because *that’s the amount of time I’m willing and able to donate.* That doesn’t mean I have more time, maybe not even a little more: assuming that volunteers must have another hour to give is like assuming that if I donated $50 to your cause, I will be happy to send another fifty if asked.

                1. Sno Day*

                  I will guarantee that if you give $50 to an organization they will ask you if you would like to give $50 more in the future.

                  I do see your point though, I guess to me it wouldn’t be at all annoying because I would feel very free saying no, especially if I wasn’t that invested in the cause.

                2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                  I assume people I don’t have power over will say no if I ask them something that they don’t want to do.

                  Really. It’s not bad of the organizer to ask and it’s not bad of the OP to say no.

                  And I don’t see the difference between time and money you’re making. People can say no. I don’t understand the annoyance at being asked to give more time. People can say no.

            4. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

              It’s not good to be upset by things like this. It’s someone asking you to a working lunch. NBD. Learn to say no OP. There is no need to be upset. Just say no.

              “If he isn’t [paying], then “hey, let’s do a meeting during lunch” (aka ‘give up your lunch hour for me’) is a much more ridiculous ask.” For sure.

      5. Antilles*

        It is good practice to do an after-action report when a project is over, to get a sense of what went well and what didn’t.
        With your staff and dedicated volunteers, yes, definitely. But for one-off people like OP? This is a month later, with people who don’t have any ties to the organization, weren’t involved with any of the planning, and were effectively just a spare set of hands.
        Like, what useful feedback do you think you’re going to get from the coat check guy? If there was a major issue like people getting the wrong coats or something, you would have already heard about that (probably the same night). So what exactly is he going to tell you? He’s probably forgotten the specifics, so you’ll likely get a super-vague “uh, it went fine, I guess, nothing to say”. At absolute *most*, you might get a single small tip about buying more hangars or something of that ilk; definitely not something that justifies inviting him to an hour debrief meeting.

        1. LQ*

          Part of what you are doing is if the coat check guy really wanted an opportunity to network you’re providing that to him as a part of the event, another chance to meet with folks. You also get to say that you solicited feedback from everyone who participated and when you write a grant report that will look great.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Really? You can get LOTS of useful feedback from people like the coat check guy. I don’t know why you’d assume people doing those kind of tasks have no opportunity to notice, or hear about, such things. If he has nothing to add, he probably wouldn’t bother to come to the meeting (presuming you frame the invitation correctly), so there’s no harm in inviting him, and possibly great benefit.

          1. Observer*

            Not a month later. If you REALLY wanted their feedback, then you make it stupid simple for anyone to give it, and you solicit it much sooner.

            Either these guts are just terrible planners, or this was not about feedback but trying get get these people to “feel ownership”, so they become more involved down the road.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I think “we’re having a postmortem meeting, but if you don’t want to come to that and you’d like to share some comments, please email” is the very definition of stupid simple.

              1. Observer*

                Which is not what they are doing.

                Also, the REAL definition would be that when you give them their initial instructions, you say “If you have any thoughts, please feel free to x, y and z”, where “x,y and z” is a simple set of instructions that don’t require a lot of time for the volunteer. Like “email thisemail@organization.org” or “we have a form at volunteer.feedback.organization.org” And then send an email with a SHORT survey within days of the event.

        3. J!*

          The coat check guy might have PLENTY to say about how busy it was, how efficient they were, whether the coat check needed more than one guy staffing it, whether they overheard guests saying stuff about the event on their way in or out, if the staff at the particular venue were helpful or not helpful. So many things.

          1. Antilles*

            A month afterwards though?
            It’d be one thing if you were asking him right at the conclusion of the event or sending him a form a couple days later when things were fresh in his mind…but unless there was something really notable, I find it hard to believe that you’re going to get reliable and actionable information a month later. Most people’s memories just aren’t that good, especially when it comes to things which they weren’t particularly invested in.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Perhaps I’m more in tuned to griping than the average person, then? Because I would absolutely remember things like “a lot of people complained about the lack of parking” or “we need to put up a sign saying I’m a volunteer and don’t need to be tipped.” But then again, those could easily go in an email.

        4. Dot Warner*

          Maybe most of the other volunteers are retirees? If that’s the case, then it makes sense that they’d have asked for this meeting. Pam could be doing this because they’d asked for it, and either forgot that the working professionals wouldn’t be able to attend, or just decided that the retired volunteers were a large enough voting bloc that she’d get enough feedback from them.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yes, this. Or, since the meetings tend to happen over lunch, she assumes your lunch hour isn’t already taken up with other things. (Especially if they were providing the lunch, which I couldn’t tell.)

      6. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think a post-event debrief is a good idea for the people actually involved with the organization, but not with random people who volunteered to help with the coat check.

      7. Observer*

        I really disagree.

        If you need the people who are going to do basic tasks to be in a planning session, you let them know when they take on the job. But I honestly don’t see how people who know nothing about the event and little about the organization and who also are there to do lower level tasks are likely to have a lot to offer in terms of planning. And, as the OP pointed out, planning should have been done long before, anyway. But I can see how someone might see a planning session as useful.

        But a debrief session? Not so much. Again, we’re not talking about people with a higher level view of the event, the whole planning process, expected results, etc. And doing this so far after the event means that they really won’t remember much. And why would they? There is not much that’s really memorable to start with and these are people who are not highly invested in the organization or event to start with.

        On top of that, talk about “poor planning”. If you thought you needed all of this, why in heavens name didn’t you tell people?And if you really wanted feedback, why didn’t you solicit it earlier? Why didn’t do something to insure that if any volunteer has anything to mention or notices anything remarkable or worth changing or just wants to comment, that there was a quick and easy way for them to do so immediately? Why on earth would you wait so long then expect them to take a SECOND lunch hour?

        These folks are volunteers. Asking them for extra time is always something to think twice about. Springing these kinds or requests on people is just disrespectful – and poor planning!

      8. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        The things you mention are not unreasonable. But what is unreasonable is asking for people to help do A, then expecting them to also do B, C, D, etc. If you’re going to ask for volunteers, be up front with what you need and what’s required of them so they can make an informed decision.

    3. Snuck*

      I’m in Australia, and my work experience at the level I work at is a fairly… small ish network. Probably a few hundred people nationally, maybe a thousand. Recruiters STILL reach out a decade since I last updated LinkedIn (and last professionally worked in the field)… and it’s surprising how much we all still know and run into each other, or new people to the field will say “Ah yes, you did the X Project right?” ….

      I guess I’m saying “why not just say something simple rather than annoy, you never know when you’ll run into them again”.

      A simple, courteous “Thanks for your interest, I am currently happy in my role, if this changes I will reach out to you and let you know. I am not looking for anything right now. Good luck on your search”. And…. done.

      1. mark132*

        I think a simple response is good as well, just in my opinion for such a minor involvement, no response is fine as well.

    4. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

      No, don’t do this. It’s not appropriate to ignore a request like this from a muutal contact without a strong reason. Being uncomfortable saying “no” when it’s a simple thing to do (emailing back “I can’t be there – I have not more time to spare with your event. Hope it goes well” is not hard.)

      If that person kept hounding the OP, then sure, ignoring them would be fine.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Ignoring the request would be rude. All she has to do is say no, she’s too busy.

    6. LQ*

      Eh, I think it’s good practice to respond. But I definitely think OP is overthinking the response. I can’t attend, I don’t have any feedback. If you want to go back next year you could throw in a see you next year. A post-event meeting is a pretty common thing and a lot of people want one. But saying you can’t go is also really normal.

    7. bluephone*

      Seriously, yes. Pam only has as much power as you all give her and considering this event/her volunteer org is not even related to your and your coworkers’ actual *jobs*…just don’t go.

    8. OP 1*

      To give an update, Pam emailed this morning and said no one could go because of other obligations so she is going to reschedule for January! I also want to clarify that there is no lunch provided. And, I do feel pressure from the senior member who got me involved in this event. When I tried to decline going to the first meeting, she told me it would only be 30 minutes at most, emailed my boss to say I was going to it, and stopped by my office on her way out to the meeting to insist on driving me. I guess I will just try this script again in January! Thanks for the comments!

      1. Dot Warner*

        She emailed your boss and came to your office?!? That is such a huge overstep! I’d take a much firmer tone with her in January; she really needs to understand how Not Okay her behavior is.

        1. OP 1*

          The senior member is not Pam. The senior member in my office has been involved with this non profit for years and I feel pressure from her to be involved in the non profit. If this were not the case, a simple no to Pam would be easier.

          1. Dot Warner*

            Have you tried explaining any of this, especially Pam’s behavior, to the senior member? I can’t imagine that person would be OK with this; it borders on stalking!

          2. Coco*

            Thanks for commenting OP!
            Can you talk to your boss and say senior member is being too pushy about this? Explain that you went to the pre-event mtg and worked the event. There’s nothing you’d like to contribute to the post event discussion and that you’re not comfortable with senior member overstepping and trying to manage your lunch time? That is just really odd and inappropriate for sr member to do.

            Ideally it should not be difficult if sr member tries to force you into the car to go to the meeting in January for you to say ‘I already have different plans ‘ but it sounds like sr member is not a reasonable person.

          3. mf*

            I think you need to tell this senior employee that you can’t be involved in the nonprofit. Blame it on your day job–you have a lot on plate right now and you can’t commit to any meetings or event outside your job.

            Also, talk to your boss about this! It’s NOT ok that that she emailed your boss on your behalf. Tell your boss you don’t have the time to be involved in the nonprofit and that you’d appreciate it if she’d intervene if Senior Employee continues to pressure you about this.

            1. Observer*

              Well, it’s hard to blame their day job when Senior Person just over-rides them and “arranges” things for them with their actual manager.

              OP, I think you should pre-emptively talk to your boss about this.

          4. Antilles*

            With this context, I would bet that this “feedback meeting” is going to be 1% gathering information and 99% pushing everybody to get more involved.
            Get everyone in a room, ask a couple questions about last year, then immediately go into divvying up assignments for next year and rely on the fact that most people are reluctant to stand up and just walk out. Bam, got my planning committee for next year!

      2. Jimming*

        I don’t think Pam is getting the picture that people don’t want to go! I wonder if everyone will also be busy in January! That sounds annoying.

        1. boop the first*

          Yeah… this is why it’s better not to make up a lie to get out of things. Everyone could have just said “Not necessary for me, but thanks.” If the meeting planner thought that everyone had interest but just had no time, of course she would reschedule! She can only work with the information everyone gives her, after all.

          1. anon61*

            Exactly! “I can’t make it today” implies you would go on another day. And it isn’t necessarily a “lie,” its just not the whole story. I can’t make it today AND I have no feedback to give. If that is the case, just skip the part about today and go with “I have no feedback, thanks anyway.”

      3. IDK My BFF Jill*

        Wow, that’s so over the top! If you have to sit through the meeting in January, after that I hope you can tell the senior member that you’re booked with other volunteering commitments/family obligations/side gig as a yodeler, and you unfortunately won’t be able to volunteer with Pam’s organization again.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        That clarification really helps! I thought this followup meeting sounded ridiculous but didn’t fully understand the level of annoyance that one 30 minute meeting turned into an hour meeting. But holy cow that is a very unreasonable about of pushiness for people who have generously volunteered to support your organization!

        Are they senior to you specifically like in your chain of command? Or they are just a higher-level employee in a different department? If you don’t report to them in anyway then I think it should be fine to kindly but firmly say, sorry I can’t continue my involvement but best of luck.

      5. GIF-happy*

        This is wild. You’re gonna need to be very clear and use small words that won’t get misconstrued. “It was a fun change of pace helping staff the coat check that night, but I’m not interested in a long-term commitment. I won’t be coming to any further meetings about this, but I hope you have a good time and that next year’s gala goes well!”

      6. BerkeleyFarm*

        Oh dear. That changes things a lot. Yes, it’s “Someone Important’s Pet Project”.

        Pam is just doing the bidding of the senior member and this post meeting is to keep you all on the hook for next year. Good luck.

      7. mark132*

        That just sounds awful. I suspect everyone will be busy in January as well. And based on what you’ve said, my suggestion won’t work.

    9. Jennifer*

      This is pretty unkind when it would take 5 seconds to shoot her a quick email. She does have to keep working with this woman and getting along with her is a good idea.

  6. Stop Sexualizing LGBTQ People*

    I was raised Mormon which is a very conservative type of Christian.

    I’m not Mormon or Christian anymore but I’m still unlearning the intense homophobia that came along with my upbringing.

    Essentially (even now that I know better), when I think of straight couples, my first thought is: LOVE.

    Romance. Partnership. Creating a life of joyful memories together!

    But when I think about gay couples, my first thought is: SEX.

    The existence of LGBTQ people was intensely sexualized the first 20 years of my life. It’s why “gay = bad” where I’m from. Because gay sex.

    It’s an extremely toxic viewpoint that I’m unfortunately very familiar with so I get why “Christian values in the workplace” means not mentioning LGBTQ people exist.

    Because the only way I was taught to think about LGBTQ people was in an inappropriately sexualized-at-all-times way.

    So to say “gay people exist” was a sexual statement, not a neutral one.

    1. Ludo*

      You’re correct, that’s how a lot of people think unfortunately

      Thank you for working on unlearning it!

    2. Language Lover*

      That’s what I was coming here to say too. And because of that, there are people who think “I don’t care what people do behind closed doors, just don’t shove it in my face” is supporting the LGBTQ population and “shoving it in their face” is something as simple as two men holding hands or a woman introducing her girlfriend. It becomes sexualized in ways that a similar interaction between an opposite sex couple doesn’t.

      It’s why there are petitions against a potential gay love story in a Hallmark movie (never going to happen) proclaiming parents should be able to control when their children are taught about sex even though there currently is not even a hint in sex in these movies.

      And that’s why talk of LGBTQ is “controversial” in their minds. Sure, in theory, there could be a perfectly innocent explanation for it all but in my experience, that hasn’t been the case. LW has every right to feel worried.

    3. Anonymous Today*

      Thank you for writing this. Until you said it, I didn’t realise that they were the messages I had received in my youth also (luckily my family aren’t remotely prejudiced in that way so I didn’t internalise those views). Additionally, my parents’ marriage was the opposite of love, so…
      But it has really made me think about what other stuff I take for granted. I guess it’s a sign of my privilege as a straight cis person that I haven’t needed to think about it before.

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        Yeah, privelige lets you straight-up ignore a lot of problems, to the point you don’t even realize the problem exists until someone points it out to you. And it’s very easy to think that the people solving a problem are the real problem that must be “fixed”. It’s very insidious.

        -A very priveliged person

    4. londonedit*

      Yeah, I had this conversation with some friends of my parents recently. These people aren’t religious, but they did the whole ‘I really don’t mind what anyone does in their private life, I just don’t want them shoving it in my face’ thing.

      Me: What do you mean? How is a gay couple ‘shoving it in your face’ by existing?
      Them: Well, you know. I don’t mind what people do behind closed doors, just don’t flaunt it in public!
      Me: So a straight married couple is ‘flaunting it’ in public when they walk down the street together?
      Them: No, of course not! You know what I mean.
      Me: I really don’t. If you’re comfortable with straight married couples existing in public, why not gay ones?
      Them: Well! It’s just…you don’t want to have to think about that, do you?
      Me: You don’t want to have to think about gay people? Is this about sex? Do you think about straight people having sex when you see a man and woman walking down the street together?
      Them: No! But it’s different, isn’t it!
      Me: How?
      Them: *absolutely no decent answer whatsoever*

      Sigh.

        1. Czhorat*

          Real or embellished, it does highlight the unreasonable nature of timing to force people back into the closet.

          I’m straight. I have a photo of my wife and kids on my desk at work. I’ll bring my wife to the company holiday party.

          None of this is political.

        2. Crivens!*

          I’ve had almost this exact conversation. What are your intentions by questioning other people’s experiences here?

        3. blackcat*

          This is pretty uncharitable.
          I’ve done this exact thing, with my brother and sister in law. Sister in law has a history of being HIGHLY outspoken about her religious beliefs.* My husband and I called them on speaker phone and explained that if they thought they couldn’t attend our wedding without saying something negative about/to my dear friend and her wife, they weren’t welcome. Cue “It’ll be fine as line as they’re not flaunting it.” And… we had basically this same conversation. For real. It was very clear to them that any public indication of homosexuality is “flaunting” it, whereas the same from straight couples is “just the way things are.” We tried gently challenging that, and it just made them angry.
          We don’t talk to them anymore, because they’re assholes.

          *I have family members who are far more conservative in their religious beliefs, who I 100% trust to never make a statement in public about someone else. Most of them are even the same denomination as sister in law. So this isn’t a conservative religious thing. It’s an asshole thing.

        4. Quill*

          I’ve overheard or been reluctantly dragged into variants of this conversation at least once every other year since about ’05. The only reason it’s not a real conversation is the friends’ parents lack of willingness to actually listen.

        5. Blueberry*

          Seriously?

          I’ve also had this conversation, though I suspect you won’t be swayed by data points. What evidence do you have, precisely, that we are all lying?

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        I had this exact “conversation” with my parents a few years ago. They… still don’t understand. O can’t understand. Or both.

      2. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

        “Me: What do you mean? How is a gay couple ‘shoving it in your face’ by existing?”

        And sometimes when a bigots complain about gay men existing the phrasing is “shoving it down our throats.”

        Which makes me want to reply with “What?”

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I had a similar, but not quite as heated, discussion with my parents when I came out.

        Sidenote: You know pre-Stonewall there was the homophile movement and homophile organizations. Because those people’s views, the identity wasn’t just about sex and sexual attraction, but then the English speaking world ultimately decided to use homosexual and heterosexual which put sex into the forefront of that identity.

      4. Super Admin*

        This is where I really want to be able to comment with an applause gif. Well done for standing up to unthinking prejudice with calm, rational responses. I’m going to try and do the same next time I’m faced with that kind of comment.

      5. Shadowbelle*

        This is reminding me of a conversation I once had with my mother. I would have been about 14 – 15, I think, so this was 1970-ish. The topic was inter-racial marriage (and no, the subtext was not who I should or should not date). Mom’s position was that inter-racial marriage wasn’t really a good idea because she saw it as setting up the children for real problems. Society, she held, was not going to treat mixed-race children well. (Mom came from a tradition of courtesy, tolerance, acceptance, and action for social justice, so her thoughts about Society were antithetical to her personal beliefs and behavior.)

        I countered that the more mixed-race children were born, the more Society would have to adapt and accept and get over itself.

        50 years later, I’m not really sure who was right. The one belief that has become fixed in my head is that human nature has not changed since we were all romping on the savanna in quest of edibles, and I don’t think human nature will ever change.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It’s sorta concern-trolling to say “well, I’m not opposed to (same sex marriage/interracial marriage/trans people) but think of the children!”

          I’m not saying your mom didn’t mean it, but like, queer people or parents of queer kids know what their kids might be in for. Mixed-race couples know what their kids might be in for. As individuals, we can do our best to both a) be good people in the first place and b) push back on bigotry when we see it. But it’s not up to us to choose for others.

          1. Shadowbelle*

            I can see that it sounds that way, but it’s not. First, let me say that my mother never in her life attempted to make decisions for others. She and I were having a socio-philosophical discussion.

            Now, consider the context of her thoughts. My mother had multiple kids, all of whom were WASPs and one of whom had serious problems integrating with other kids. She knew firsthand how hard it is to raise kids when they are fully part of the dominant culture. She had seen firsthand how horrible people could be to those who differed from the dominant culture. She knew how often the decisions made from youthful optimism have unintended and unforeseen consequences.

            In other words, my mother was weighing the odds based on her experience of life and human nature. That’s very different from concern-trolling, which to me means finding specious reasons to support one’s own prejudices.

        2. Filosofickle*

          My mom and I had a similar conversation about interracial dating in the late 80s that found its way to “what about the children?!” As we argued, a light bulb went off for me. I asked her, point blank — “Wait. Do you mean any race, or do you mean black?” To her credit, she paused and said quietly “Oh. I think I mean black.” That ended the conversation. I would go on to date various races and nationalities to no reaction. I’m proud of my teen self for speaking up in that moment. And I’m proud of her for listening and learning. My parents are a product of their mid-century & midwest upbringing, but they have evolved a lot. (Their next door BFFs are a gay couple, which I did not expect.)

          But like you, I’m less idealistic today and see that mom wasn’t entirely wrong. Not about “the kids” exactly, but about the impact of having major differences between partners — cultural, religious, socioeconomic, race. The bigger the cultural gap, the harder you have to work to understand each other’s points of view and navigate the world together. It might totally be worth it, but there’s no question it’s a lot harder than I understood as a teen.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I’m with you. I went to a religious school that belongs to one of the most open-minded congregations and here I am, fifteen years later trying to unlearn all the toxic behaviours I was taught there. It’s a slow work in progress.

      1. Introvert girl*

        I went to a catholic school where my History teacher (a woman) was in a long relationship with a woman working in administration. Everyone knew it, no one made a problem about it, because even 20 years ago, in my country LGBT wasn’t seen as only relating to sex. Because of this I grew up in a country where being gay was something like having blue eyes: natural and not an issue. Now I live in a country where the government is trying to get sexual education punishable by 5 years in prison.
        A lot of behavior can be explained by upbringing and unfortunately most of us think that our own upbringing is the norm.

    6. Fabulous*

      I had never thought of it this way, but you’re totally right. Hetero = love; homo = sex. I’ll admit however, if I hadn’t encountered so many gay people being in theatre for 20+ years, I may still think this way too. I’ve recently remembered some HIGHLY cringeworthy conversations I had when I first forayed onto the professional scene and “gay” was the norm — because I didn’t know any better.

      It’s insane how people are still taught this way. Let’s hope this generation can turn things around…

    7. Campfire Raccoon*

      I grew up in a Mormon community, and you are so correct. There’s also this weird side bar that I see with other conservative communities where they equate LGBTQ with pedophilia? Like some people don’t understand the difference between the word homosexual and pedophile – or maybe it’s because of what you’ve described: hetero = love and homo = sex, so therefore LGBTQ = sexual deviancy and predatory behavior. It would help explain the hand-wringing and cries of “what about the children?!”

      Anyway, I am not Mormon and thought I had rejected this from the get-go, but I still had a lot of other biases to unpack as an adult. Thank you for lining this out so well.

      1. Mia*

        I don’t want to derail too far, but the issue you’re talking about is less about people being confused and more about homophobic organizations making a deliberate, concerted effort to associate pedophiles with the LGBTQ+ community, despite the fact that gay and trans rights orgs have been very publicly denouncing predators and their affiliated groups for decades now.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Oooohhh so they’re being ignorant jerks on purpose? *feels dumb*

          As you can tell, I don’t listen jerky mcjerkface propaganda. Maybe it’s time to roll out my Gong of Truth.

          1. Mia*

            There are probably *some* people who are earnestly ignorant, but basically, yes. A lot of the “gay = pedophile” rhetoric is a twist on some very old school racist and anti-semitic tropes that certain American/Western Christians have favored for a really long time. They essentially recycle the same kinds of myths and scare tactics while subbing in different marginalized groups, depending on how the times have changed. To me, that indicates purpose more than ignorance.

      2. Sophie Hatter*

        yep. it’s because at least in my strict religious upbringing, people have no concept of how power dynamics or consent play into sexual relationships, so they think it makes sense to equate the two, when it does not. at all.

      3. Quill*

        I think it’s partly purity culture (Sexuality is for marriage, all religiously unapproved sexuality is corrupting people prior to marriage) and partly that pedophiles tend to gravitate towards positions where they’ll have unquestioned moral or social authority over not just children, but their parents. Many of these religious groups are deeply authoritarian.

        That and a lack of knowledge about consent because We Don’t Speak Of Dirty Things Like Sex Or Thinking About Sex so the only permissable time to have sex is “you’re married in front of god, nothing else is required,” (like… consent) decades of homophobic propaganda, and teenagers who they don’t believe are supposed to think about sex until engaged to an upstanding opposite sex member of their own church coming out being repeatedly framed as corrupted innocents.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        You mean like the man who said we shouldn’t allow same-sex marriages in my church because if we say yes to that, what are we going to say to a man who wants to marry a child?

        1. Quill*

          Not just a false slippery slope argument but given how many religious groups who are virulently anti LGBT think that it’s okay to marry minor girls off because “sex was had so they must marry the person that sex was had with,” a deep and condemning hypocrisy.

    8. skarlatha*

      Yes to all of this. I was not Mormon, but I still grew up in an extremely conservative branch of Christianity and I have these same problems in my own head. People outside still feel this way too– I am an instructor at a community college and last year I had a student complain about me because I “talked about my sex life too much in class,” which turned out to mean that I mentioned my wife (in totally nonsexual contexts) occasionally.

    9. Mia*

      That is definitely the issue with how conservative religious folks view LGBTQ people in my experience. Personally I have never, ever understood it. I’m a married lesbian and my relationship has never been any…spicier, for lack of a better word than any of the settled down straight couples I know. At the end of the day, love is love and relationships are relationships. Obviously every partnership is unique in some way, but queer ones are ultimately way more boring than homophobes seem to think.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That is very interesting, thank you. Because I apparently use some of the phrasing that tends to indicate that viewpoint, but that’s not the thought/emotion/instinct that’s going through my head.* This explains a lot actually.

      *Specifically the don’t shove it in my face. I mean that quite literally – I’ve been in multiple situations where the appropriate response was to tell a couple to get a room, regardless of the genders of the couple. Not talking about holding hands and run of the mill PDA, but seriously this is inappropriate and you need to find a private place if you want to do this. So when I say just don’t shove it in my face, I mean exactly that, but apparently the message that others are getting is really not just that. So I need to figure out a different way of saying it that hopefully won’t trigger that anti-LGBTQ response in other people.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Get a room” actually feels fairly neutral, since it’s often pointed at heterosexual couples.

        1. Quill*

          In high school drama we’d all sing out, from Panic! at the Disco

          “Haven’t you people ever heard of… CLOSING THE GODDAMN DOOR!”

      2. Mia*

        You could literally just say “get a room.” Or “take that somewhere else.” Or “hey, I don’t really wanna see y’all make out.” I have literally never heard “don’t shove it in my face” used in a way that wasn’t explicitly geared at queer people. I believe you if you say you genuinely didn’t know this, but I can assure you that even other cishet folks you’ve heard use it likely assume you’re using it the same way they are. It’s a very loaded phrase.

    11. Former Academic Librarian*

      +1

      You put this so much better than I could! It was very similar in the evangelical denomination I grew up in, and it took quite a while and years of therapy to re-calibrate my thinking. Good luck!

    12. CupcakeCounter*

      While I wasn’t Mormon, I was raised in a very conservative Christian household and everything you said was true. Luckily for me it wasn’t talked about hardly at all so I don’t have the same equivalent of gay = sex but my step-grandmother’s daughter and her “roommate” of 25 years were simply never talked about or invited to join in family events. For the record that wasn’t my parents decision, it was the mom’s (my step-grandmother) decision to hide her daughter’s sexuality and relationship.
      But any time same-sex relationships were discussed, that whole Biblical smiting story from the Old Testament would be told.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    except there’s been a lot of talk from the high-ups recently about “values” and how LGBTQ+ stuff is too controversial/inappropriate for work.

    What do you do with a statement like this? It’s so ambiguous that it isn’t actionable.
    What are the “values”?
    What is LGBTQ+ “stuff”?
    What is “too controversial”?

    I’d seek clarity on this before clutching my pearls over handmaids tale.

    As far as the Slack convos go – I can kind of see it as a respect for others thing. It’s also a professionalism thing. You can’t be asking for your own accommodation without giving it to others.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      It may not be actionable in the sense that they’re violating a law. It might well be a spur for LW to take the action of looking around for a new job.

      1. valentine*

        I’d seek clarity on this before clutching my pearls over handmaids tale.
        Doing that could get them pushed out, pra(e)yed upon, or shunned.

        1. Observer*

          There is no reason that the OP needs to out themself in seeking clarity.

          I mean, I do understand why the OP is concerned. And I don’t think we have enough information here to know what is really going on. So it could be that the OP really does have enough information to know that their work has become hostile to them. But, just based on what they describe here it’s not completely clear that this is the case. So, getting more information could be a good move. But since they are concerned they should do it in a way that doesn’t out them.

    2. Phil*

      Yes, this! I also thought it was a little bit jump-to-conclusionsy. And I doubt they’re going to fire LW for being gay unless they’re actively seeking a lawsuit.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Just co-signing with Alison on this. Folks are fired for being gay all the time. In most states, they have no legal recourse or protection against that kind of discrimination. It’s not a far stretch, or even a speculative stretch, to be concerned about the possibility of termination when C-suite folks are suggesting your existence is “controversial.”

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Are you LGBTQ? If not, then you don’t understand how often we hear that discussing our mere existence is somehow controversial. No one is jumping to conclusions.

        1. Alex*

          Exactly. “Political”, “controversial”, and “values” are all coded language that’s completely clear to people who know the code, but carefully designed to sound much more benign to others. Trust us, LGBTQ+ are well-versed in this code. OP is completely justified in her concern.

      2. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

        When you hear the fears of someone from a group that has faced a lot of systemic oppression that you are not part of, please don’t jump up and try to minimize those fears. Don’t have that be your first response. Listen more.

        1. LunaLena*

          I agree completely with this. I suspect it happens a lot because being told firsthand about oppression that members of your tribe have committed makes people uncomfortable and defensive – “what if *I* am unfairly or fairly associated with this behavior, or did the same thing?” – and therefore people try to minimize it in order to also minimize their discomfort and convince themselves that it’s not REALLY wrong and they don’t have to make changes to their speech or attitudes or actions (change is hard, ya’ll).

          But at Ijeoma Oluo pointed out in her book So You Want to Talk About Race (which I definitely recommend, by the way; there was a lot of thought-provoking material there), one’s desire to be comfortable with oneself should not come at the expense of marginalizing someone else’s experiences. I don’t expect anyone to have an epiphany and change their views instantly or anything, I just wish people would listen and think a little first instead of jumping to “No, no! You’re blowing this out of proportion!”

      3. Former Academic Librarian*

        It’s completely legal to fire someone for being gay in my state. Being LGBTQ here means constantly walking on eggshells, trying to figure who’s safe and who isn’t.

        It’s exhausting and frightening.

      4. kt*

        Often enough you don’t fire someone ‘for being gay’, you just say their work quality has slipped and they need to go! Read the NYTimes story about being black at JP Morgan. The employer just says, “it wasn’t a good fit”.

        Seriously, other than a few companies that really want to Make A Point, it’s not written out that people get fired for being gay/women/of a certain ethnic group. It’s just a remarkable number of intangibles that magically happen to apply to those groups. Just magically true that all the black analysts leave after being transferred to windowless rooms or branches at which it’s harder to climb the corporate ladder; just magically true that women are fired because they “don’t fit the culture” or “couldn’t work effectively with leadership” who refuses to meet with them one-on-one or take them on golf trips. That’s why these lawsuits are hard to win and so rarely filed.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Being allowed to casually swear in Slack like everyone else and not having to be afraid of being fired by bigots at work if they find out something OP isn’t public about, apparently.

        Erasure is a great band but it’s a shitty company policy.

      2. Beth*

        I think the implication is that OP needs the ””accommodation”” of being allowed to exist as a queer person without getting fired or otherwise retaliated against. Which, that’s not an accommodation, but…here we are.

        1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

          In most US states, it basically is an accommodation. One they’re not legally required to provide. We’ve come a long way from police raids on gay bars, but we’ve got a long way to go…

    3. Engineer Girl*

      And Alison – I have to say the “Handmaids Tale” reference is pretty offensive to those that have faith.
      I’ve always respected you for seeing the subtle part of situations. Not equating things as black and white based on… an ambiguous reference.

      1. OfAlison*

        I don’t think Alison is saying that because a company has Christian values that it’s in danger of becoming a Handmaid’s Tale situation. My reading was it was the escalating situation that caused Alison to make that analogy. Going from “free and lax workplace where people feel comfortable swearing in a company chatboard” to “you may not take the Lord’s name in vain” to “Being yourself in this workplace may be inappropriate to us” etc is an escalation that does not bode will for queer people and it’s not strange that it would remind a member of a minority of the Handmaid’s Tale. From an article about the Handmaid’s Tale: “But no one resisted, it appears, when the warnings were only warnings. No one thought to speak up, until their power to speak had been taken away. First, they came for ….”

        1. ZOMG even*

          Is there any evidence that the person who objected to “oh my god” was speaking for the entire company, as opposed to (overzealously) speaking for himself?

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            He’s a higher-up in the company, and felt completely comfortable setting an automatic response set for any mention of God. It hasn’t been shut down.

            If he’s not speaking for the company, they’re doing a bad job of telling him to knock it off.

          2. Avasarala*

            He’s policing everyone’s speech in the company via the automatic slack rule. Could be one weirdo going rogue, but a) someone with that level authority to set policy is always speaking for the company, and b) everyone else at that authority level letting it happen, and making other comments about “values”, is suggesting that he is.

          3. Beth*

            It’s the head of marketing implementing a company-wide Slack response that automatically fires for everyone. It’s hard to read that as somehow unofficial or private, given both the wide scope and the authority position of the creator.

          4. LQ*

            I’m a huge fan of snarky slackbot responses and created a bunch in my work slack space. (All genuinely the funniest things you’ve ever read no doubt.) But once I was promoted to in charge of something I went in and deleted the ones that were even slightly things that could be seen as pushing anything, and certainly anything that could be seen as zealous. The thing is they don’t just show up in the channels the person who created them is in, they show up in private messages and private channels too. A slackbot response from a higher up is essentially company policy enforced across the entire communication platform.

      2. Out Of Cheese Error*

        Wow.

        I think you need to reread the question and the response without letting your kneejerk inclination to defend Christianity get in the way of your understanding what was said.

        Your biases are showing and it’s pretty ugly!

      3. Nirmala*

        I have to say the “Handmaids Tale” reference is pretty offensive to those that have faith.

        I’m not even Christian and I found that reference offensive as well.

        Observant queer here, btw.

        1. Lilo*

          Ditto. Raised in the church here. It’s not an attack on being Christian, it’s an attack on using christianity as an excuse to bully and control.

      4. Mookie*

        Frankly, the reference should make people uncomfortable if their faith is being used to quiet nay-sayers and erase others. That’s just too bad. Handmaid’s Tale is an equal opportunity offender.

        Meanwhile, in another comment, you’re calling people snowflakes because they don’t like bigotry. Pick a rule about who has the rjght to clutch their pearls and apply it equally.

      5. LeslieCrusher*

        If you see an association with what you believe and the Handmaid’s Tale, then what you believe in must be very concerning. And you are who we seek to make uncomfortable with that reference.

      6. Yuan Zai*

        Please do not speak for all of us who have faith. I am not offended by the reference to The Handmaid’s Tale but I am offended by your belief that you get to speak for me or anyone else who might share your faith but not your opinions.

      7. Oaktree*

        Quick reminder that Christianity is not the only religion or “faith” out there. “Those who have faith” are not only Christians. (Though it is Christians who tend to like to refer to being religious or observing a religious practice as “having faith”; they don’t usually recognize that that is a very specific way of thinking about religion, and is far from universal.) Don’t want to derail this too much, just something you should think about, Engineer Girl.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She says it’s common for everyone from C-level down to swear, so programming in an auto-reply to every instance of “oh my god” isn’t about professionalism. (I’m also not sure what accommodation you’re saying the OP is asking for her; she doesn’t mention one. And of course, basic respect and dignity isn’t an accommodation.)

      1. Engineer Girl*

        That’s my point. If you want basic respect and dignity you need to give it to others. Respecting others faith is a part of that package as much as respecting everyone as a human being.

        1. April*

          Treating someone with basic respect and decency is baseline. Asking me to accommodate your special request based on your religion is just that, a special request. Not everyone practices the same religion. Someone having an automatic reply to the word God in a slack channel would be considered by the vast majority of workplaces to be OTT behavior. I’m sure you’d be open to anyone practicing any religion to have their requests honored then, of course?

          1. Engineer Girl*

            In company wide communications?
            I would think basic respect for people’s beliefs would be a part of that

            1. April*

              No, most company wide communications do not take into consideration the religion of their employees because again, employees have different religions, a fact you seem determined to ignore. Still waiting for an answer to this question “I’m sure you’d be open to anyone practicing any religion to have their requests honored then, of course?” So anyone practicing any religion can request company communications be tailored to their preferences, then?

              1. Engineer Girl*

                This isn’t about preference as much as offense. As in don’t go away out of the way to cause it.

                1. April*

                  Still not answering the question, I’ll change the phrasing just for you: So anyone practicing any religion can request company communications be tailored to something they might be offended by, then?

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  the courts have already defined reasonable. They use “reasonable woman” for sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases, for example.

                3. April*

                  Engineer Girl, let me help. Tailoring company wide communications to anything someone might be offended by is not a reasonable request. You’re not being reasonable. Hope this helps.

                4. ZOMG even*

                  The phrase “OMG” has become common enough in today’s culture that it should not be construed as offensive.

                5. Colette*

                  So if I genuinely believe that it’s wrong to eat meat on Friday, no one in the company can eat meat on Friday because it’s offensive?

                  What about if I’m vegan and believe eating any animal products is wrong? Should everyone be vegan at work?

                  Of course not. Respecting others’ beliefs does not mean that you have to act in accordance with them.

            2. Devdas Bhagat*

              So if you end up with a Jain colleague, would you start following the Jain dietary restrictions at work, just to respect their beliefs?

              1. Chinook*

                I woild ensure that any catering would accomodate the Jain diet for her and, if certain foods are physically offensive in her presence (i.e. the smell of bacon can be is stomach churning for those who don’t eat pork) it would try to refrain from ordering them for catered meals or if I was eating with her.

                So, I would accomodate her in the same way I wouldn’t burn popcorn or cook fish in the microwave because it affects her work life.

            3. LQ*

              In private communications too. In private communications that you’re not a part of. You wouldn’t be allowed to say that word anywhere in slack. Anywhere.

            4. Sharkie*

              But OMG also stands for “Oh my gosh” “Oh my goodness” etc. This company is going down a very slippery slope trying to police language like this while making clear LGBTQ values (aka just being themselves) is too controversial.

            5. Quill*

              If they’d added it to “hey, no more f—, sh—, d—, p—, or anything else George Carlin may or may not have told you can’t be said on broadcast in slack” it would have been fine.

              Singling it out and letting people to continue posting “Fuck this dipshit deadline, compiling errors can just piss right off,” is sending a message that religion is being prioritized over professionalism and decency. Also, swear filters and slackbots can be built to not fire off a passive aggressive reminder. You can just make them autocorrect everything in your filter to Belgium, or “Radio Edit” or whatever else you think is appropriate.

            1. spock*

              Wow. Being unwelcoming towards LGBTQ people/issues cannot be excused with religion. If someone doesn’t believe you should openly exist, that is not a stance worthy of respect.

            2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

              As a queer person, I have to say: it’s *very obvious* to us when a space is or is becoming unwelcome.

              Of course there’s never anything overt. But it becomes more and more evident.

              And when people go ‘well where is the explicit evidence, did they ever say they don’t approve of gay people, don’t they have a diversity statement’ it ignores the lived experience and carefully developed radar of queer people for our own safety.

              This applies to many minority groups.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Yes this.

                Also: If you’re offended by the Handmaid’s Tale reference, have you actually read the book? I have, and took this as a reference to the gradual erosion of rights and norms that set up the environment of the majority of the book. That is consistent with OP’s perception of gradual change that may undermine their position and threaten their job.

                1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  Exactly this. The people of Gilead didn’t just wake up one day with everything changed. It was a gradual decline and the type of behavior OP #2 is describing is the same type of slow erosion.

                2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  I read the book and watched the 3 seasons of the show that are out this far, and I think the reference is accurate. Not only because it was a gradual decline, but because the people who brought Gilead into existence thought they were doing the right thing, and helping everyone around them to do the same. They didn’t do it out of pure evil and wanting to hurt their fellow humans because they could. They had the best of intentions. Illegal at the time, but the best. It would behoove OP’s employer to be very careful about where they are heading with these changes they’ve started to make in their workplace.

              2. EPLawyer*

                Not only this but we take LWs at their word. If LW says its seems less welcoming, then we respect their experience and respond accordingly.

                The auto message about using Juno’s name in vain is new. The conversations about LGBQT+ issues being controversial is new. This is the beginning of a new culture at work and LW is best positioned to notice that change.

                Things don’t start out by firing all the suspected “others.” That’s the END step.

              3. The Original K.*

                Yep. Black woman here, and I have a very, very keen spidey sense of when an environment is not for me. I have, quite literally, a lifetime of experience dealing with this. I hear dog whistles perfectly.

                FWIW, even without the hand-slapping over “oh my God,” the “LGBTQ+ stuff is too controversial/inappropriate for work” stuff doesn’t read as subtle to me at all. I find it to be a pretty overt sign that this isn’t a place where OP’s queerness is welcome.

              4. Quill*

                They’re called “dog whistles” because they aren’t obvious to people outside the community, but after the last four years we’ve had, I find it hard to think that anyone who has any political awareness is legitimately unable to either hear them or get their metaphorical hearing checked.

            3. yala*

              Nah, I am Christian, and I think she’s pretty on the mark. If OP is getting wind of anti-LGBTQ sentiment AND the company has an automated reminder that they must abide by a version of the 2nd Commandment in their casual discourse where folks swear regularly…no, that’s got whiffs of Christian dominionism, and even if it’s meant well, in the current culture it’s still enough to get some hackles up.

            4. Quill*

              The point of Handmaid’s tale, as it starts out, is less about forced reproduction and an erasure of women’s rights than it is about a religion taking over an area and forcing everyone to abide by it’s rules, which THEN go from ‘women cannot be financially independent’ to ‘women of certain classes are forcibly impregnated because that’s all our religion thinks they’re good for.’

              The slippery slope is the forced abiding by religious rules being accepted, not the comparison made.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Yes, that’s the reference. :) Unfortunately, since the Handmaiden’s Tale has become more widely acknowledged within the culture, some of the subtlety has been lost and references that don’t pander to the broadest strokes fail to track for a lot of people.

          1. Ico*

            It was very hyperbolic, essentially the same as people that jump right to Nazis in their comparisons. Given your comment and the people here praising you for it, I imagine you think you did something good, though.

            1. The IT Plebe*

              As others have mentioned in this thread, a large part of the story is about the gradual transition to Gilead and the submission of women. The red dresses and white bonnets didn’t happen overnight, just like the LW’s workplace didn’t announce that LGBT+ subjects are “controversial” all of a sudden. They both started somewhere and worked their way to where they are now. The comparison is apt and the kneejerk reactions to it are very telling.

            2. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Except we as a society are dealing with actual Nazis AGAIN. So those comparisons were at least somewhat apt.

              As an LGBTQ person, I appreciate Alison’s allyship.

            3. Eirene*

              Glad to know you think that your weird little crusade is more important than LGBT people’s right to exist and work!

            4. yala*

              …funny, everyone called us hysterical for “jumping right to nazis” and just yesterday there was an executive order basically redefining the citizenship of every Jewish American, but it’s fine, it’s FINE…

              These things don’t happen all in one big explosion. They slide into being while other folks go “Oh, but it’s not as bad as [the previous really bad thing that we have the full scope of only decades after the fact that many people in the early days of didn’t think was that bad either]”

              1. Quill*

                Fascism in a nutshell: there’s no such thing as facts about what’s going on and what’s relevant, reality is what Authority, whether it be governmental or religious, tells you is going on.

            5. Quill*

              … you know, the Nazis also *started* by naming their ideology as the official one. And increasingly legitimizing employment descrimination against Roma, Jewish, and Queer people.

              Even the person who created Goodwin’s law has disowned the idea, and said that it’s meant to apply to people who, say, police the difference of They’re and Their online, not literal, current, actual nazis and their allies. Among whom are people who use religion to descriminate against Queer people.

              Even today’s Neonazis will outright say they’re Neonazis. And somehow people still keep saying “we can’t compare anything awful that happened in the past to what’s going on today, that would be disrespectful.”

              It’s not disrespectful when people openly want it to happen again!

            6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              You’re tone policing us about demanding our basic rights, and comparing that to “jumping right to Nazis,” two days after an anti-Semitic mass murder in a supermarket in New Jersey.

              But I suppose that’s an “isolated incident” because the terrorists may not have been affiliated with a formal hate group.

              Patterns matter, and I feel less safe, both as a Jew and as a bisexual woman, than I did three years ago.

              1. Quill*

                Do I really need to pull out the “the definition of terrorism in the public consciousness was shaped by islamaphobia so when white christian or culturally christian men do it it’s clearly not ideologically motivated, therefore not terrorism” lecture for Ico?

                1. Observer*

                  That shooting was not done by people who are white or Christian. (And I don’t mean it in the “no true Scotsman” sense, but in how THEY define themselves.)

              2. IEanon*

                I completely agree with the content of your comment, and your statement that it is a less safe nation these for many already-persecuted groups.

                I wanted to clarify, though, that the suspected shooters in the mass shooting were affiliated with a hate group (the Black Hebrew Israelites), and that their beliefs are a very strange amalgamation of Nazi antisemitism and POC supremacy. (Which is not a real thing in the same way as white supremacy, but I can’t think of any other way to word it…)

                Link to follow.

            7. Blueberry*

              Alison did do something good, and does, by making it clear that she finds LGBTQ people to be humans worthy of respect. You certainly make it clear you don’t.

            8. Seacalliope*

              I saw a swastika painted on the pavement in the park yesterday. It’s not jumping to conclusions at all.

          2. BookishMiss*

            I absolutely agree, Alison. I can see the echoes of the early days in the letter, and I haven’t even caffeinated yet.

        2. Avasarala*

          Jesus Christ on a cracker. I respect freedom of religion and freedom of speech, but I’m not following other people’s rules about using common English exclamations. Not my religion, not my problem.

          If it’s OK to say “fuck Mondays” then it’s OK to say “goddammit it’s Monday”. If you’re going to have one and not the other, AND not respect LGBT+ folks’ basic rights to work comfortably, then this isn’t about “respect”. This is about conforming to certain beliefs.

          1. Lilo*

            Yeah, if you can’t tell the difference between not wanting to hear the words “Oh my god” coming from someone else’s mouth and say, my sister’s being fired or harassed simply for being married to the woman she loves, I can’t help you.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              But it’s not an either-or. OP’s employer is doing both, or at least, doing the first while also dropping hints that the second is around the corner.

          2. blackcat*

            But maybe neither “fuck Mondays” or “goddammit it’s Monday” are appropriate in this workplace? I’m just thinking the conservative Christian folks I know who might publicly object to the second would surely object to the first.

            1. biobotb*

              But the OP says that cursing on Slack is rampant throughout the company. Yet the auto-response is only triggered by variations of god, so it suggests the company *is* comfortable with “fuck Mondays” etc., but not comfortable with LGBTQ people or mild, common uses of the word god (not even capitalized, so you don’t know which god is being referenced).

        3. Lena Clare*

          So you want to be respected for your views (fair enough) but don’t expect to offer that respect to others who oppose those views? That’s unfair, isn’t it?

          1. Crivens!*

            “Your sexuality isn’t okay and should be eliminated or hidden” isn’t a belief deserving of respect.

          2. Lena Clare*

            I meant that EG doesn’t like people using the phrase “oh my god” – that is what is fair. My point is that she cannot ask for that then say ‘but I don’t respect you for existing’. I am, in fact, agreeing with all of you above.
            God, the internet…

            1. Lena Clare*

              Sorry, I’m feeling grumpy today. I don’t like being misunderstood. I can only imagine how awful it is for the OP.

          3. Quill*

            My right to live a life of full civic participation and equal human rights trumps your right to your opinion.

          4. Mia*

            My mere existence is not one of my “views.” A desire to live and work as a member of society without fear of being assaulted, killed, or forced to live in the margins is not an opinion or stance. It’s absurd to equate the two.

        4. Mookie*

          That’s not how any of this works. You don’t get to disrespect people by trying to obliquely establish or hint at a kind of company-wide Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and then demand that everyone else abide by your idiosyncratic bigotries you adopted from your religion. Homophobia and a request not to unilaterally impose a certain vein of Christianity onto a company’s staff are not comparable. The former is unacceptable, the latter is not discriminatory at all. Queer people exist everywhere. There are no safe (public) spaces for you to be free of our presence. That’s the cost of living in this and other cultures.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I don’t think this is a reasonable interpretation of how to “respect others’ faith.” It’s not reasonable for people of faith to impose their beliefs and preferences on others’ speech in the way that OP has described. It plays right into the current trend of pretending that a dominant population’s “right” to discriminate against others as a form of “religious observance” trumps laws that protect vulnerable populations.

          OP is not writing screeds against people of faith. They’re using a common phrase that is (1) not a vulgarity, and (2) so common as to be widely considered inoffensive by the vast majority of people.

          It’s also really problematic to suggest that someone from a vulnerable and politically subordinated group that has and continues to be demonized is undeserving of “basic respect and dignity” because they use the phrase “OMG.” Suggesting otherwise perpetuates the oppression of political minorities like OP.

          1. Ico*

            People ask for their preferences on others speech to be enforced all the time. My company has recently been purging several very commonly used words from internal discourse, for example “blacklist” and “whitelist”. No one argues that there is any ill racial intent when people use them, but they make some people uncomfortable. If speech preferences like that are fine to be imposed, how is this different?

            1. Fikly*

              Because there is a difference between abstaining from words that have a history of hate (having no current ill intent does not mean it’s ok to use words that have a history of hate!) and then abstaining from using words that have no history of hate, but some people would rather not hear.

              1. Ico*

                The difference is only material because you’ve decide that one metric matters (“is it or was it ever hateful?”) and the other doesn’t (“is it needlessly disrespectful of someone’s core beliefs?”). There is not objective reason to say the first metric is right but the second is wrong, and your defence is essentially saying that the first metric is necessary and sufficient for things we shouldn’t do.

                1. Fikly*

                  Well, yes, because society as a whole has decided this metric is right. Hence why hate crimes are a thing, and disrespect crimes are not.

                2. Czhorat*

                  Context matters. Christians are the majority religion in America. Of the 45 Presidents we’ve had, 45 have been professed Christians. It is currently conservative Christians leading attacks against civil rights for women and LGBT people.

                  So no , I do not feel the same need to protect the overwhelming in-power majority as I do for still oppreo minorities.

                3. Mookie*

                  I don’t know, for me, part of being a thoughtful adult is acknowledging nuance, discerning qualitative differences, prioritizing as you choose and for the best possible outcomes, and recognizing that loyalty to a blanket rules is a non-constructive purity test designed to obstruct progress. It really is okay to use discretion when applying broad standards. Using “god” as an intensifier can never be mistaken for a slur. That’s the distinction.

                4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  Are you arguing that (a) there is no objective morality, and that (b) therefore, everyone should follow yours?

                5. Dragoning*

                  I don’t think not having to hear the word “God” (which is arguably a misinterpretation of that commandment and not a ‘name’ besides) is a “core belief” of Christianity (or any other religion), and I was raised very Christian.

            2. yala*

              Y’know what?

              If this company decided to issue a statement requesting that folks not say “Oh my God” for sensitivity reasons while also insisting that a person’s pronouns were to be respected and that homophobic language of any kind would not be tolerated…that would probably be ok.

              That would be a company trying to actively make a comfortable place for EVERYONE.

              But let’s be honest. This company isn’t doing that. This company is specifically trying to enforce Christian norms.

            3. Quill*

              Because in context it wasn’t 1) connected to prioritizing one religion over others in your workspace, 2) an out of the blue passive aggressive admonishment in a slack channel filled with the foul mouths of programmers that otherwise went unchecked, 3) issued in conjunction with statements that implied a relation to the companies values being tied to a religion in ways that have recently and widely been used to promote descrimination.

        6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Whaaaaat. So your argument here is if someone doesn’t kowtow to your religious sensibilities, they don’t deserve basic decency?

        7. Anonymous Poster*

          Respecting it, okay. Living as if I practice it myself, no, and not practically possible in a religiously diverse environment.

        8. lawyer*

          But the Second Commandment binds the believer – not other people. This isn’t about respecting other people’s faith; it’s about asking (or, if you have sufficient pull in the company, forcing) others to comply with yours. Believers are not religiously mandated not to HEAR the Lord’s name being taken in vain – they’re obligated not to do it themselves.

          In my church, we bow or curtsy every time the name of Jesus is spoken (bc of the “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in Heaven and on Earth” thing). This is the equivalent of me asking my company to make everyone else do that.

        9. MCMonkeyBean*

          Respecting someone’s religious values is actually not at all on the same level as respecting someone as a human being. There are a lot of religious values that I very much do not respect. Such as those that cause some people NOT to respect others as human beings.

        10. Former Academic Librarian*

          I have no problem giving people basic respect and dignity. I will not be forced to live by your religious convictions. I will not hide who I am as a person because it makes you uncomfortable.

        11. biobotb*

          This makes it sound like you think the only way others can respect your faith is to follow its rules. That’s… ridiculous.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Oh I must have if I mentored my friend and also wrote him recommendation letters for grad school. He’s really into Ru Paul activity himself.

        1. Intern*

          Hi, not sure if you’re implicating that having 1 friend negates any internalized homophobia but you should know that it’s actually fairly common for people to overlook any ill feelings they have towards a marginalized group based on a single positive interaction. Since I think we all are trying our best here to respect others space it might be worth reflecting on whether having a friend who is into drag really excuses some of the less LGBTQ comments you made here!

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Why don’t you run this letter past them, and ask what they would think if they were working at that company? A different perspective might be helpful.

            2. Ego Chamber*

              We don’t get to choose our family, so that doesn’t count for a lot to me, and people in the LGBTQIA+ community can be bad at choosing supportive friends (god knows I have been).

              I’d be more impressed if your comments said what you seem to think you’re trying to say instead of them saying the things everyone seems to be reading.

              1. EPLawyer*

                So you go from “Hey I have family members that fit this issue” to “well no, I won’t ask them because their opinion doesn’t count.” So it is a defense to your discrimination or not?

                1. EnfysNest*

                  I think you might have misread the nesting there, EPLawyer. EngineerGirl said she has Trans and Bi family members, then Ego Chamber responded directly to EngineerGirl saying that “that doesn’t count for a lot”, meaning that having LGBT+ family members doesn’t count as evidence of having full acceptance of them.

              1. Mary Connell*

                Yeah. The gay friend defense.

                Hint to Engineer Girl: if people did have gay friends, not just gay acquaintances, there’s no way they’d say the kind of things you’re saying. Saying those kinds of things violates the very basic principles of friendship.

                1. Dragoning*

                  “This one minority person I talked to didn’t have a problem with it! Or at least didn’t admit it vocally to me, a person with social power over them!”

                2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  I always wonder if the people who use this kind of defense, would be comfortable saying this in front of their minority friend. I have (various minority group) friends, and there’s no way I’m going to use any of them as some kind of a token/proof that I am a good person. Because in my world, friends don’t do this to friends.

                3. The Original K.*

                  @I Wrote This in the Bathroom: I often assume these minority friends aren’t actual friends. I don’t use the term “friend” lightly. I have friends of different races and religions and sexual orientations. We’ve been in each other’s homes, met families, been there through tough times – and we’ve talked about issues surrounding race and religion and sexual orientation discrimination, because friends talk about those tough topics because we want to support each other through them and we trust those people enough to do that.

                  I also know people that I have not had those conversations with because I don’t trust them to have those conversations, and those people aren’t my friends.

                4. LunaLena*

                  @Dragoning – yes, exactly! I had that exact discussion with someone on another comment board just a couple of days ago. They said something like “Would a real Japanese person have a problem with this?” Um, define “real,” because Asians are not a hive mind that are all in agreement with each other, especially when quite a few of us live half a world away from the Asian continent. Also, if I find a Korean person (I’m Korean-American) living in Korea who agrees with me and not them, does that mean I can be a “real” Korean too?

            3. EventPlannerGal*

              You talk pretty frequently on here about the sexism that you’ve faced from men in your career. Those men all had female family members. Would you accept “I can’t have a problem with women because I have a mother?” as a defence?

        2. Sheryl*

          And if he told you he was feeling uncomfortable in his work environment you’d respond as you’ve done here? If so I dare say he’s be shocked as someone he considered a mentor responding in such a callous way.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              I’d want to know what part bothered him and why so I could gain understanding of the issue.

              As a female in a male oriented industry I understand being made uncomfortable and being on the outside. And being uncomfortable isn’t necessarily discrimination (but it can be).

              This is why you talk to people – to understand.

                1. Czhorat*

                  Yep.

                  The issues with mention of G-d can be understandable in a vacuum, but a better response would be “let’s clean up the Slack channel of profanity. It’s a workplace, it needs to be professional” rather than via bot.

                  This isn’t in a vacuum, is it? It’s okay e of a shifting culture in this workplace in particular and a backlash against gains in gay rights by Christian bigots in the country at large.

                  I wish I had advice for the letter writer, other than to say that if they can find a company they trust to be better on this it might be time to jump ship.

                  Good luck.

              1. CheeryO*

                Ugh, please don’t bring ~woman in a male-dominated industry~ into this. As a fellow female engineer, that type of discomfort, while legitimate, is not at all the same as fearing for your personal safety and basic human rights as many LGBT folks do.

              2. Dragoning*

                So, someone facing discrimination now has to go and explain their discrimination and why it hurts them…in order for it to be valid?

                Yikes.

                You could also listen to the swaths of queer people right here in these comments telling you what the issue is.

                You don’t seem super interested in listening.

            2. Ice and Indigo*

              So you’d focus on your personal understanding rather than his needs and rights, and any action that might need to be taken to protect them?

              And you don’t already understand why an LGBTQ person would be uncomfortable with this?

              1. Engineer Girl*

                I can’t know his needs and respond to them until I talk to him and gain understanding, can I.

                Your really into twisting words.

                The reality is that you can’t respond to an issue until you figure out what’s going on. That includes how to approach the problem and how to raise it with management.

                1. Ice and Indigo*

                  ‘You’re really into twisting words.’

                  Ah, so it took … three uncomfortable questions before you decided to turn this into an issue of what kind of person I am rather than the statements under discussion. That shows a tremendous desire for understanding.

                  I think you’ve demonstrated how worthwhile this is gonna be, so I’m off to do some actual activism.

                2. Avasarala*

                  So what exactly is your advice for OP?
                  Is your suggestion that OP discuss with management why this makes them uncomfortable?
                  How does OP do this without outing themselves/making them a target of suspicion, either way putting themselves at risk if the company culture is turning homophobic as they feared?

                  If management responds with “no of course not everyone is welcome” how does OP then parse these unmistakable signs (banning “God”, LGBT is “controversial”)? How should OP interpret the gap between words and action to feel safer?

                  Are OP’s actions and fears only valid if management responds with “yes actually we are the worst kind of Christian now”?

                3. Engineer Girl*

                  I said nothing about who you were.

                  I said what you did. And that includes jumping to conclusions.

                4. Engineer Girl*

                  My advice is to seek clarification on what they meant. You don’t have to put yourself over this.
                  “The other day someone said that LGBTQ issues are controversial. Can you tell me what you mean by that?”

                  You’ll get a pretty telling answer from their response.

                  Then stay or leave based on that.

                  That’s true for any workplace.

                5. New Jack Karyn*

                  Or–the person you ask talks a good game to your face, but then spreads rumors that you’re gay, and your job becomes a lot more disagreeable–and fragile.

                  Or–they’re openly nasty to you, and not in a way that’s legally actionable in your state.

                  Or–you get a bad response, but you can’t just leave your job because you need health insurance, or you’re a recent hire and don’t want to be a job-hopper, or you simply need the paycheck.

                  Or a bunch of other things. Or a combination thereof.

                6. Engineer Girl*

                  @New Jack. Yes, and I’ve been there. It stinks. But eventually you get a chance to leave and you do.

                7. Engineer Girl*

                  @NewJack – so they have clarity in their course of action.
                  Asking for clarification does not usually put someone at risk. Asked in the right way, it should not out the person.
                  And you have a chance to watch someone’s face. Really, that’s a great indicator.

                8. Out Of Cheese Error*

                  No one owes it to you to sit down and explain themselves until you understand.

                  The fact that you would need such a thing is immensely troubling. It’s not ABOUT you. Your attitude here is gross.

                9. New Jack Karyn*

                  I have faith that LW knows the tenor of the conversations. Why distrust her? Why encourage her to put her job at risk?

                  You’re telling her to artfully compose a question to someone she has good reason to suspect is homophobic, in the hopes that she won’t be outed. To what end? It’s pretty clear this company is moving in a direction that won’t be good for her.

                10. Avasarala*

                  Engineer Girl…. if your advice is simply “gather more information before taking any action” then why are you all over this thread pushing this line so hard? To the extent that you’re arguing that “omg” is actually offensive and being queer and respected is an “accommodation”?

                  I really really really think you should step away from the keyboard, take a breather, and think about why this issue is so important to you, and where these impulses are coming from. I don’t think you can see how your usual passion for fairness is coming across as ugly internet aggression and repeating the anti-LGBT lines we’ve heard before.

                11. embertine*

                  Engineer Girl, if I was a queer person working at a company which I suspected might be becoming homophobic, the very last thing I would do if I wanted to keep my job would be to ask for “clarification” on how LGBTQ+ issues might be controversial. Might as well paint a rainbow target on my back. And it’s not always so easy to find another job that a person might be prepared to risk it. You seem to have a curiously naive view of what it means to be queer in the workplace.

                12. Ice and Indigo*

                  Engineer girl: “I said nothing about who you were. I said what you did.”

                  Also Engineer girl: “Your really into twisting words.”

                  Engineer girl, you told a naughty fib and I don’t think your religion sanctions that.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            For real. “really into Ru Paul activity”!!!??? Is that the new “friend of Dorothy?” This “defense” is so bad on so many levels.

            1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

              LMAO Oh man, that’s a line that takes me back.

              Really disappointed in some people here. Don’t know why I expected better.

            1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

              Same here. I expected there to be a lot of sympathy and compassion, not this grossness. I don’t always read the comments and rarely remember usernames, but I’ll be remembering a certain one now.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Is this really EG the regular commenter? Because these comments are uncharacteristically offensive and reductionist compared to that commenter’s usually thoughtful responses.

          1. Inconvenient Indian*

            I’m entirely unsurprised at these comments from Engineer Girl. That poster’s comments have been full of homophobia and transphobia over the years but perhaps only really obvious for people who’ve heard it before from Christians.

            I’m sure she’ll now lecture me on their many many trans and gay friends (“hate the sin but love they sinner” dontcha know) and how religious persecution against Christians is the only real problem in the US these days. Or perhaps she’ll attempt to debate me with her “logic” that she likes to trot out snidely at people who disagree with her.

            I’m actually sort of glad this happened so her bigotry could be on full display for everyone. Though regrettably the OP ended up getting splattered with EG’s crap.

            1. Eirene*

              I’m not surprised either. EG is peak white feminist and has shown that she really only cares about issues pertaining to straight white women in male-dominated industries. Even before I started (sporadically) commenting here, I took note of it.

              1. Anonymous Poster*

                I haven’t noticed her describing herself as a feminist, actually. Anyway, she typically has thoughtful comments on many workplace issues, but this isn’t a surprise on the subjects of LGBT people or her own denomination of her religion (doesn’t seem to have much to say about others’).

          2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

            EG’s replies when issues of faith come up have been consistently knee-jerk and strong, so I’m not in the least surprised.

          3. EventPlannerGal*

            I think her comments are usually thoughtful when relating to certain topics, specifically sexism as experienced by a white woman in STEM.

            1. Clever Pun Name*

              Another unsurprised reader here. This is pretty typical, tone deaf, dig-in-your-heels, beating-a-dead-horse behavior for EG. I fully respect Alison’s decision not to overly moderate/remove differing opinions, but man do I wish there was a mute button for individual commenters.

          1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

            I came here to say that! Is he a drag queen? Just a fan of the show? I know plenty of straight people who enjoy Drag Race.

            Is “into RuPaul activity” Engineer Girl’s really weird code for “non-straight?” Clearly I’m not up on the terms the kids are using nowadays.

            1. Data Analyst*

              I read it as very clunky code for “non-straight” which would be funny if this wasn’t a real person talking about another real person they claim is a friend…

          2. Lizzy May*

            I assumed it meant producing and hosting high quality television and winning Emmys all while wearing expensive suits.

        4. Mia*

          The “I have a gay friend” defense isn’t really helpful here. It just tokenizes us. And I wouldn’t go around calling drag (I can only assume that’s what you mean?) “RuPaul activity.”

          1. Sharkie*

            “He dresses in drag and is a very out gay and he is my close friend so my opinion isn’t wrong or hurtful! “

        5. emmelemm*

          Referring to being queer as “Ru Paul activity” really negates anything further you have to say on the subject.

          And I really like Ru Paul.

        6. Quill*

          EG… it may be time to sit down and ask yourself why you’re focused on the slack channel aspect and not the “slack channel in conjunction with statements that clearly state they’re going to, at minimum, force queer employees to remain in the closet at work, with potential employment consequences should they be outed, because their identity is ‘too political.'”

          If the second thing wasn’t going on, the automated slack response would be unusual but not cause for alarm, especially if you could ask the people who made it to add swear words and other rules to clean up slack. Since the second thing IS going on, it’s cause for alarm.

          Sort of how a mole is just a mole until suddenly you start seeing changes in the mole that mean you may have to get it chopped off and/or biopsied.

          The request to keep other people’s religious sensitivities in mind is not the problem, it’s what it is, in context, being used to grow.

        7. Former Academic Librarian*

          Yikes, that reads like the, “I can’t be racist, I have a black friend”!

          I’m sure there are plenty of people in my circle that would say they can’t be homophobic because they have a bi friend (me). The thing is, I’m not big on being friends with people who think I shouldn’t be allowed to exist.

          You can mentor someone and even consider them a friend, but still be homophobic.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        This is an unfair characterization of Engineer Girl’s post.

        I don’t agree with Engineer Girl, but this is inappropriate.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          hmm – on reading more context, I wish I hadn’t posted this.

          I still don’t agree with Engineer Girl, but I can see that I probably discounted the ‘controversial’ comment too much. I agree, any reference to ‘LBGTQx issues are too controversial’ is a red flag and legitimate concern. My apologies.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Are you arguing that vaguely homophobic comments that make LGBTQ+ employees feel unsafe are OK and it’s only explicitly obviously homophobic statements that are bad? Because the employer calling LGBTQ-anything “controversial” as opposed to…you know…humans…who exist and work there…would be enough for me to get the coded messaging to get the hell out of there. I would wait around to be overtly discriminated against.

        1. AP*

          Let me be clear in what everyone else is saying: *any* kind of comment about someone’s sexuality in a work setting is inappropriate. (End of story)

        2. fhqwhgads*

          The exact wording doesn’t matter! You know the whole thing about harassment where intent doesn’t matter, it’s about the recipient? I’m not saying this rises to the level of harassment, but the point is you’ve got multiple queer people here telling you that referring to LGBTQ as “controversial” communicates to us “we do not accept you”. That’s bad. No amount of “but how exactly was it phrased” is going to change that. My existence is not controversy. It just is. I don’t care if the employer is going the My Grandma As Long As I Don’t Say It Outloud It’s Fine But The Second You Acknowledge It It’s Big and Scary route. That’s not OK.

          1. Quill*

            As I wrongly commented to the wrong thread above: my right to equal rights and full civic participation is more important than your strongly held opinion. One of these things is a human life and the quality thereof, demanding only that it be respected in and of itself. The other is people’s opinions about what OTHER people should be doing.

            Equating “respect me by giving me human rights” to “respect me by allowing me to impose my opinion on other people,” is the worst kind of false equivalence.

        3. Gaia*

          We know they’re saying the existence of the OP on a basic human level is inappropriate for work. That’s not a “respect people of faith” situation. That’s bigotry.

        4. spock*

          Yeah we do, OP tells us: “LGBTQ+ stuff is too controversial/inappropriate for work”. It’s not ambiguous at all, despite your insistence that it is.

        5. Dr Wizard, PhD*

          Here are comments from a higher-up who asked me to remove a Pride tag in my signature that
          was created and sent out by the organisation’s diversity committee.

          When I pointed this out, she said “I think that there are some concerns” that maybe its use was “time appropriate”, and “Let’s not waste time on it now”.

          When I pushed back and mentioned I’d come back to it with the diversity committee, she said “I understand – lots of equality issues I would like to promote so let’s see!”.

          These would be a good example of comments that would make queer people feel unwelcome and uncomfortable, and indeed as though an organisation was willing to be supportive in theory but not in practice.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Oh, that sucks! Only the first request to remove is obvious, the rest depend on context; I can see they’re shitty, and you can see they’re shitty, but she could pull them out of context and say they’re innocent.

            I hope your pushback helps her see how shitty they are.

            1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

              No, but the head of the diversity committee, who was also a high up in HR, was not amused. I’m in a different part of the org now, thankfully.

        6. Jules the 3rd*

          But OP is hearing about them, so we need to default to OP’s perception of them. I read the letter as ‘OP perceives them as worrisome’ and will take OP’s word on that, rather than minimizing their lived experience.

        7. Czhorat*

          WHat anti-LGBT comments are acceptable to you?

          In other words, at what point should we draw the line and say, “their employer is showing *a little bit* of bigotry, but those affected should live with it?”

          Most of us would put that point firmly at “none at all”.

        8. Quill*

          That’s because in context, a threat always comes with plausible deniability. It’s very hard to define a threat, because a lot of it is delivered in regards to the authority of the threatener, the tone of voice, body language. Same as with bullying.

          “Love your shirt!” delivered with a sincere, open smile, in a context of previous friendliness is innocuous. “Love your shirt,” with a mean girl smirk/sneer and other people snickering in the background is the prelude to bullying.

          We should take OP at her word that they were dogwhistles not always obvious to people outside the queer community, even if they consider themselves allies, and that posting the exact statements would just lead to people nitpicking about whether they counted as enough to be concerning.

    6. AP*

      Hard disagree on the LGBTQ thing. OP says she works in tech and unless OP is working for Young Christian Social Media™ there isn’t any overlap of someone’s sexuality and their company’s corporate values. Unless you’re naming explicit sex acts I can’t think of any aspect of who someone wants to date that would be controversial in a work setting — it which case the hetero equivalent would also be inappropriate. In this case also taking controversial to mean so much as any kind of remarks or singling out of OP. (Idealist, I know.)

      I see what you’re getting at with the slack convos but IMO marketing person should have started a big picture talk about not using religious profanities since OMG is a common enough expression in 2019 USA.

      But also OP if you’re a techie you can do so so so much better in finding a company that doesn’t give a damn about your sexuality.

    7. Nah*

      This x1000. “Goddamn” is offensive to some (not just Christian). If it’s not hard to accommodate, refrain from using it. Mildly annoying? Sure, but being gracious would make you the bigger person.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Sure, but swearing is offensive to some, and that happens on the company Slack channel.

        Did they set up an auto-reply for if someone uses the word ‘Allah’? ‘Adonai’? If not, why not?

        1. Nah*

          If folks were throwing around Allah Damn you, you would have one hell of a case to get that flagged. Saying “shit” is categorically a different in the eyes of a religious person. Be sensitive to all religious stripes.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            No, I don’t have to be sensitive to all religious stripes. I really do not have to be sensitive to people who want me dead.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                Lots of religions hold that being queer is a sin, and that the wages of sin are death. (I’m using Christian language here, but I do no mean to imply the sentiment is limited to Christianity.)

                I’m not having it. I’m not going to be sensitive to harmful, nasty beliefs or actions just because they’re wrapped up in someone’s religion.

                1. ZOMG even*

                  Lots of religions hold that being queer is a sin, and that the wages of sin are death. (I’m using Christian language here, but I do no mean to imply the sentiment is limited to Christianity.

                  You’re really stretching here. First off there are plenty of Christians (probably the majority) that are fine with LBGTQ people. One of things I like about my Episcopal parish is that there is a very diverse congregation, including LBGTQ parishoners.

                  Second, even among those Christians who view homosexuality as a sin, I have never heard of anyone who calls for gay people to be put to death. It’s a big universe out there and I’m sure someone can produce a quote from a firebrand pastor to prove me wrong, but I don’t think a few nutcases get to speak for the mainstream of an entire religion.

                2. ZOMG even*

                  Do not test me, ZOMG.

                  Is that some kind of a threat? Because this is a blog, and I’ll post what I d@mn well please, within the rules Alison sets.

                  Of course there are countries such as Uganda where being gay may get you a death sentence. We’re obviously not focusing on those countries on a blog about workplaces/organizational behavior in the US and, for the most part, other OECD countries.

                  And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s a big universe. I have no doubt that you can always find a quote from a firebrand somewhere who says something outrageous. Are you so statistically obtuse that you don’t get the concept of “outliers not being a representative sample”? (God forbid I test you on the War of the Quotations, because if I tested you on statistics, you’d flunk.)

                  A rogue Salvation Army official does not speak for his entire organization (and I say this as someone who refuses to donate to the bell-ringers because of the Salvation Army’s general views on LBGTQ issues). Nor does some small-town sheriff speak for the entire state of Tennessee. Even among Christians that do, unfortunately, look askance at LGBTQ people, the attitude would be much more one of “pray for them” rather than “off with their heads.”

                  I am, of course, not defending these people, or even saying that you’re wasting your time criticizing them. I AM saying that you’re being deliberately unkind by ignoring the many, many pews full of people in Christian churches who welcome LGBTQ people into their congregations with open arms.

                  I met at wonderful, deeply religious lesbian couple at a church I guest-worshipped at a few weeks ago. Your desire to whitewash people like them out of history marginalizes LGBTQ people every bit as much as the idiotic Salvation Army official you’re so fond of. In fact, your behavior is quite possibly worse, because everyone knows that such people are the poster child for “out-of-the-mainstream wacko firebrand,” but not everyone knows about that lesbian couple. There have been gay Christians since the days of the 12 Apostles. They apparently don’t count in your book, Mr. Don’t Test Me.

                3. ZOMG even*

                  Oh, and another thing. That article you posted about “countries where being gay is a capital crime” cites only Muslim countries. We were discussing Christianity, not Islam.

                4. Dr Wizard, PhD*

                  @ZOMG even

                  I do not recommend having this argument here in these comments today.

                  Of course there are people of faith who support LGBTQ people. I know several.

                  But you are arguing in bad faith. Particularly when you say you’ve never heard anyone call for queer people to be put to death, and then ignore the bevy of sources supplied.

                  Are you seriously arguing that there is no correlation between religious bigotry and LGBTQ persecution? Because if so your ignorance is wilful and cruel.

                  Also, you are being *horrendously* insulting by saying that New Jack Karyn’s being more cruel than the bigots by drawing (correct) connections between institutional religious bigotry and LGBTQ oppression and harm.

                  That’s South Park level ‘Prejudice against racists is the real racism’ idiocy.

                5. Terry*

                  ZOMG, you’re being really dismissive of the long history of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has always been expressed by Christian churches in the US. They may not be literally calling for gay people to be put to death, but many Christians are very explicit about wanting to limit the the rights of gay people. Its a lot more than just a few nutcases; its systematic discrimination and the LGBTQ community.

                6. Jules the 3rd*

                  ZOMG even: Ya ever hear of ‘Schroedinger’s Rapist’? The idea that sure, most men are fine, decent people, but a percentage of them are rapists, and you don’t know which are until they try to rape you?

                  I use that analogy in a lot of different situations for my kid, to help him understand why minorities have certain reactions (eg, Schroedinger’s Racist). New Jack Karyn and LGBTQx people are absolutely right to be worried about Schroedinger’s Homophobes, and in the US, the impact does range from loss of jobs to death.

                  Many US homophobes cover their bigotry with religion. Just last week, I had a fb argument with someone pulling up Leviticus (not lay with man as with woman). He totally mentioned stoning.

                  It is completely dismissive of the LBGTQx lived experience in the US to say that Christianity does not regularly threaten their existence, or that LBGTQx people should not be concerned about increases in Christian rhetoric in their workplace.

                  #NotAllChristians does not help when #SomeChristians do.

                7. New Jack Karyn*

                  ZOMG, interesting that you found that to be a threat. Huh.

                  How did Uganda come to criminalize homosexuality? Because Christian ministers went over there from the United States and worked to make it so. Don’t tell me that some US Christians don’t actually want gays to die.

                  Yeah, I know lots of Christians who are lovely people and live out their faith doing good works. I ain’t ‘whitewashing’ (interesting term for you to use, by the way) to say that there are *also* Christians with hate in their hearts for gay people, and all your wishing doesn’t make that untrue.

                8. yala*

                  “Woot. You’ve really taken that bible verse out of context. Just saying.”

                  I mean, THEY didn’t. But there are loads of Christians who do. (See last paragraph)

                  ZOMG, let’s be honest here. There are Christians who say LGBTQ people should die. There are Christians in power right now who may or may not say “let’s kill them” but who still express sentiments that add up to “they should die.” Christians who push legislation that ends up with dead LGBTQ folks–conversion therapy, right to refusal of service, right to evict or fire people for not being cis and/or straight.

                  My mom’s a Pentecostal. I dealt with indoctrination in her church for the better part of a year when she converted. I still remember their funny funny joke: “We believe in gay rights–we believe they have the right to repent!”

                  As a Catholic, as a Christian, and a Southern let me say, in no uncertain terms, that a huge section of mainstream Christianity as it is practiced in the US today is overtly hostile to LGBTQ people in a way that absolutely leads to death, and at best they can only claim depraved indifference when their attitudes, actions, and legislation result in dead people.

                  And let’s not even get into the AIDS crisis, right at the rising height of Evangelical Christianity in America, where the common refrain (that I STILL hear from Evangelical Christians) was that AIDS was a punishment from God, to the point that they deliberately did NOTHING while people died. And very often, EG, the justification was “the wages of sin is death.”

                9. ZOMG even*

                  They may not be literally calling for gay people to be put to death, but many Christians are very explicit about wanting to limit the the rights of gay people.

                  Are you seriously arguing that there is no correlation between religious bigotry and LGBTQ persecution?

                  You are shifting the goalposts. We weren’t arguing about whether there is some correlation between religious bigotry and LGBTQ persecution. (Of course there is.) We were arguing about whether (mainstream) Christianity wants to put LGBTQ people to death. New Jack Karyn’s exact words were “I really do not have to be sensitive to people who want me dead.”

                10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  @ZOMG Even:

                  Am I really supposed to be reassured by the claim that maybe only one third or one half of Christians don’t object to my very existence? That’s what “First off there are plenty of Christians (probably the majority) that are fine with LBGTQ people” tells me–you, defending Christians as a group. are admitting that a lot of Christians disapprove of me, or are uncomfortable around me, or think it would be fine not to hire me because I’m bisexual.

                  I know, it could be worse, and it has been worse. I was born a few years before Stonewall, and I’ve seen us make gains. But we’ve had to fight for them, and at every step of the way there have been people telling us to stop pushing, that they’re “fine with gay people” but don’t want us getting in their face when we demand our rights, and the respect that cisgender heterosexuals get for free. Yes, it could be worse, but that doesn’t mean it’s even close to good enough.

                11. Jin*

                  love that “probably 51% of christians would be fine with your continued existence” is somehow supposed to come as a comfort to queer folks, in a time when the VPOTUS has openly supported torturous conversion therapy and didn’t disagree when POTUS described him as someone who would love to literally murder all gays

                12. yala*

                  ‘You are shifting the goalposts. We weren’t arguing about whether there is some correlation between religious bigotry and LGBTQ persecution. (Of course there is.) We were arguing about whether (mainstream) Christianity wants to put LGBTQ people to death. New Jack Karyn’s exact words were “I really do not have to be sensitive to people who want me dead.”’

                  I am really not shifting goalposts, but it does feel a bit like you’re playing silly buggers or trying to slice this a little too thin by trying to insist that there’s an appreciable difference between consistently supporting legislation and attitudes that get LGBTQ people dead and actively “wanting them dead.”

                  Nevermind that you “shifted the goalposts” your own self by dismissing the actual citations provided of instances where Christians, in America, specifically said they want LGBTQ people dead.

                13. Allypopx*

                  If by “mainstream Christianity” we can include “the vice president of the United States” then yes, parts of mainstream Christianity wants LGBT folx put to death.

              2. New Jack Karyn*

                Maybe I have, EG. Many, many Christians also take Bible verses out of context when it suits their purposes.

                Please do not try to tell me that there aren’t lots of Christians who would really rather there were no gay people around. Don’t tell me there isn’t a huge history of antipathy and bigotry against queer people in the US, most of it cloaked in religious garb.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  I got it and you’re not being unreasonable. My experience (and I think yours too if I’m reading you correctly) is that the people who get twitchy about their lord’s name being taken in vain tend to be the same people who think LGBTQIA+ stuff is “too controversial,” (at best). Not all, but there is a strong enough correlation that I take it as a significant data point in my personal life and evaluate carefully from there.

                  People who feel unfairly misjudged by this: if you see me and I’m wearing a t-shirt with the logo of The Satanic Temple, do you give me the benefit of the doubt and assume I’m wearing it because I support charities who oppose children being hit by their teachers in school or do you keep a little distance until you’ve had enough time to decide whether or not I’m likely to sacrifice blood offerings in a flaming pentagram? (It’s option 1 btw but I don’t take it personally if you’re worried maybe the second one.)

                2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  Two words: Conversion therapy. If that isn’t anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry primarily fueled by Christians in the US, I don’t know what is

                3. Anonymous Poster*

                  It’s not the impression I have from even most of the homophobic people I’ve met, but then again, look what happened during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Plenty of people didn’t care until they became aware of non-LGBT people affected.

            1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

              You’re absolutely right, unfortunately. The reality is that homophobes and transphobes express their hate with violence and often use religion to back up their actions. People are afraid to be themselves even in so-called safe countries. It’s not a few nutcases, it’s built into cultures and societies. But just wanted to add my support in a comment section that’s getting really ugly.

              1. Lilo*

                I had a friend who was sent to one of those conversion camps. What happened to him was shockingly violent.

                1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

                  I’m so sorry. Those places are evil and torture centres, nothing more. I hope your friend is surrounded by good people now.

              2. Mookie*

                This. I don’t bend my will to another person’s religion when it comes to my safety, my right to be uncloseted, but not all homophobia and transphobia evinced by Christians (or any person of faith) is a direct result of their religious beliefs. As an icky tolerant liberal, I am aware of the seductive allure of accepting violent bigotry that targets me because it is Sincerely Held and Stamped by some officiating cultural or religious body. (It is easier to be ruthless in defense of other oppressions, I find.) It takes a lot of mental and emotional labor to make myself not care about what the origin is—the end result matters, not the intent—and reinforce to myself that I am not obligated to suss out the complicated roots of someone else’s dangerous ideology.

                1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

                  the end result matters, not the intent

                  Exactly! It’s irrelevant where it comes from. If people’s rights are being violated and vulnerable groups are being seen as less-than-human, that’s what matters. The reason is a distraction from what we need to do, which is to protect and help those who need it.

                  I feel awful for OP#2 and any LGBTQ+ person coming across this thread.

          2. Smoosh*

            No. If people of faith are free to espouse intolerant beliefs because they’re a part of their faith, then others are free to say things that are not in violation of their own personal beliefs or lack thereof.

          3. Natalie*

            This isn’t asking people to be sensitive, it’s asking them to follow the religion’s rules themselves. I don’t believe in a rule against saying god’s name “in vain” any more than I believe I need to respect the sabbath and keep it holy, or avoid coveting. The commandment is about what comes out of your mouth, not what goes into your ears.

            1. Marny*

              THIS. The commandment dictates your own behavior, not the behaviors of others. Don’t like to take the “lord’s name in vain”? Then don’t do it. That’s the whole rule. No policing necessary.

          4. Czhorat*

            Zounds! You’re REALLY invested i being the victim here.

            You aren’t. Christians are a majority in America. Full stop.

        2. Jackalope*

          To be fair, there isn’t really any sort of popular swearing in the US (at least not that I’m familiar with) involving Allah or Adonai (Or other religious names like Buddha, Confucius, and so on), so this is largely going to be related to Christian words (I know that God can refer to deities in multiple faiths but in the US it’s more likely the Christian God, and then there’s using Jesus’ name and so on). I will also add that as a Christian I am bothered by that much more than by, say, a string of f bombs. It just hits in a different way. Not to say that I agree with their approach (and honestly I wouldn’t correct someone unless they were a) a good friend and b) also a Christian, but it does make me wince).

          With the LGBTQ+ issues…. I’ve got nothing. It seems way out of line, and definitely not a good sign if coming from higher ups like that. Unless it’s something that would also be inappropriate for straight people to talk about at work, like showing clips from your new fav adult video (which I highly doubt is happening), then it shouldn’t even be coming up.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            My point is that they weren’t trying to be respectful of religion in general, just Christians. That’s a problem.

        3. Quill*

          Yeah, if they set up an auto-reply for every swear or reference to a deity that they can think of, this would circle back around from threatening to bemusing.

      2. Ice and Indigo*

        In another context, asking people to lay off the Gs might be reasonable, but there’s two things going on here:

        1. It’s delivered in a maximally top-down, impersonal, unquestionable way. Nobody was warned, nobody was taken aside for a friendly explanation; they set up monitoring on Slack to flag every last example, whether it was said in the presence of the people it offended or not, by fiat and without any kind of heads-up. That’s pretty intense.

        2. More importantly, it’s coupled with bigotry. A company that asks you to watch your blaspheming and supports its LGBTQ employees is trying to create a workspace where everyone is comfortable. A company that wants Christian employees to be shielded from phrased in common parlance and gay employees to closet themselves is … not. There’s an enormous double standard, and that’s the problem. Christianity is an issue because Christians are being favoured while LGBTQ employees are being discriminated against, not because of anything to do with Christianity itself.

        It could be done as a reasonable request, but that’s not what’s happening here.

        1. Daniel Atter*

          “A company that asks you to watch your blaspheming and supports its LGBTQ employees is trying to create a workspace where everyone is comfortable. A company that wants Christian employees to be shielded from phrased in common parlance and gay employees to closet themselves is … not.”

          I really wanted to say this, but couldn’t think how to express it. Thank you for doing it so well.

          I don’t see anything wrong with the concept of a company asking for people to try and avoid blaspheming. Christians and Jews deserve respect as much as anybody else and asking people to make a small effort to avoid offending some Christians and Jews seems pretty inclusive to me.

          However, it needs to be in the context of inclusivity for ALL, and in this specific case, given that the company is clearly NOT inclusive of LGBTQ employees…this is not ok.

          1. BRR*

            I’m also thankful for how ice and indigo phrased it. This office culture isn’t one of universal respect. I don’t think there is need to for clarification on any of the points EG listed because I think they’re quite clear.

          2. Ice and Indigo*

            Exactly. If someone’s offended by me using certain kinds of language then fine, I’ll avoid them even if I don’t find them offensive myself. No need to be a jerk.

            But that’s personal respect. That’s a rule that applies equally in professional and non-professional situations. It’s just manners.

            An office making policies that restrict employee speech to maximise the dominance of one group and the marginalisation of another … that’s not about personal respect. That’s about institutional discrimination.

      3. Former Academic Librarian*

        You know what, it’s exhausting to be the bigger person. I’m supposed be the bigger person when evangelicals tell me I shouldn’t exist, or that all my legals rights should be taken away. I’m supposed to be the bigger person when they tell me I should be sexually assaulted until I’m straight, or have my brain shocked.

        No. I’m tired of being the bigger person. Perhaps evangelicals should actually live by the words in their book, and leave the rest of us alone.

    8. New Jack Karyn*

      “You know, that Christian stuff is just too controversial for work. Wearing a cross pendant or mentioning that you went to church on Sunday is really inappropriate and goes against our company values.”

      Do you see how that sounds?

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          And doesn’t it kinda suck? To be told that something that’s a core part of your identity can’t be mentioned in even the most non-provocative manner?

          That’s what LW is feeling right now.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Was it just wearing crosses or was it any visible religious symbol (e.g. head scarf, kippah, turban, Star of David)? If it was all signs of religion, then that is more akin to banning any discussion of anyone’s sexuality, not just LGBTQ+. So no talking about spouses of any type, no wedding/engagement talk, etc.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            I think I remember a letter here where it was explicitly Christrian symbolism that was banned, a small cross on a necklace. I can’t remember if it was part of a ‘no jewelry’ / ‘no religious jewelry’ ban or if it was just Christian imagery, and I’m not finding it in a google search to check, but I bet that’s the reference.

            1. yala*

              iirc, France doesn’t allow government employees to wear any religious symbol.

              Which effectively prohibits devout Muslim women, and Sikh and Jewish men from working in the government.

              1. Chinook*

                Quebec is the same way. Those who already have government jobs won’t be fired byt won’t be promoted. This includes everything from wearing a small cross to a hijab to a turban. It is very awkward since the head of the federal NDP who is also from Quebec is a Sikh with a turban.

        3. Observer*

          You know, I work for an explicitly Jewish organization, and I would be endangering my job if I told someone that.

    9. blaise zamboni*

      But, OP hasn’t asked for any accommodation (they’re just trying to…live), and no one else has asked for any accommodation in the opposite direction either! Setting an auto-response in a company software to chide people isn’t asking for accommodation, it’s dictating behavior in people who weren’t previously aware that the behavior is even a problem. It would be combative and patronizing for any word or phrase chosen as a trigger word without explicitly informing your employees first.

      Also, common discourse around LGBTQ issues involves a TON of dogwhistles instead of explicitly saying “I’m homophobic.” My boss, for example, is adamant that her children shouldn’t learn of the existence or concept of gay people until they’re at least tween-age, but when I pushed back on that (because seriously, what??) she insisted that she has toooooons of gay friends and it’s not that she hates gay people. Just, you know, the children, etc.

      In my experience as a queer person in queer circles, citing LGBTQ issues as “too controversial” is a bright red flag that the speaker is not super-friendly to queer rights. I can absolutely see OP’s concern and I hope things work out for them, here or elsewhere!

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        As someone who was not allowed to come out to my ten-years-younger brother for ‘reasons’:

        Flames. Flames on the side of my face.

        1. Quill*

          I’ve spontaneously combusted at least a dozen times during this letter from the willful ignorance of some commenters trying to make this letter about the slack channel blasphemy only.

    10. Lena Clare*

      Wow, no. And the OP didn’t mention any accommodations – wanting respect and decency isn’t an accommodation.

      I’m very shocked to hear that in some states you can be fired for being gay! This is appalling, and so, so depressing…in 2019!?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        In most states you can be fired for being gay without legal protection or recourse. In the words of Childish Gambino, this is America.

      2. RadManCF*

        It’s an implication of At-Will employment. In every state except Montana, the common-law rule is that an employee can be fired for any or no reason, with or without notice. There are exceptions, mostly established by statutes. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is one, ADA is another. There are also common law rules that will hold an employer to any termination procedures the employer has. In general, it should be assumed that a rationale for firing an employee is legal, unless that rationale is expressly prohibited. I agree that sexual orientation should be a protected class. Perhaps this is idiosyncratic of me, but statements of the form “you can still be fired for x? WTF!” bother me because, to me at least, they seem to perpetuate the misconception that an employer in the US is legally required to have a just cause for terminating an employee.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I’m in the UK and sexuality, and civil partnership/marriage are all protected characteristics.
          In addition, I’ve always worked on public service jobs where being fired needs a bona fide reason, so yeah… shocking to hear this isn’t the case in the US.

          1. RadManCF*

            I certainly understand that among the industrialized countries, At-Will employment is unique to the US, and that its implications could be shocking to the uninitiated. My displeasure is directed more at people from the US, who should know better.

          1. RadManCF*

            As I understand it, At-Will employment came about as a reaction to employment arrangements in which only the employer was allowed to terminate the employment, with the main concern being that such arrangements were unfair to the employee.

    11. Annekitty*

      So you say you want the opinion of queer people to gain understanding right? Well queer person here and what this company doing is homophobic. Anytime it’s stated that LGBTQ+ stuff is “too controversial” that means they think LGBT people are bad and sinners. Every time I here that statement, That’s what they mean. Every. Time. Please take a step back and look at what the people in this thread are saying to you because they are right. Also, don’t talk about how you have friends and family that are LGBT. You’re using them as tokens which is homophobic and not okay. Please take a step back from this because honestly what your saying about The LGBT community and your friends/family that are LGBT are upsetting.

      1. Quill*

        Seconded: instead of using their existence as an argument that you mean well, ask them if this would make them uncomfortable and unwelcomed.

        Most of us put up with family and friends who “mean well” but are ignorant, either willfully or unintentionally so, to the risks we face, most of our lives. We pick our battles with our parents, siblings, and friends thinking “you’ll grow out of it” or “I don’t understand why this Nice Christian Employer gives you the heebies, intolerant people don’t live here!” or “I voted for a party of virulent homophobes because I’m worried about the national debt,” every single day.

    12. Beth*

      These aren’t actually ambiguous phrases. These are really common dogwhistles for homophobic ideals and practices. They’re (usually intentionally) vague-sounding enough for plausible deniability with people who don’t have much experience dealing with homophobia, but if you start listening for them, you’ll find that there’s a really heavy overlap between people who talk like this and people who take actions that make it impossible for LGBTQ+ people to exist in public (e.g. supporting anti-trans bathroom laws, opposing legal protections for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, telling us that us holding hands or mentioning a partner is ‘sexual’ and ‘inappropriate’ while having no issues with straight people doing the same things, campaigning against sexual education that incorporates LGBTQ+ relevant topics, etc). Sometimes this escalates to the level of physical violence, but even when it doesn’t get that far, it threatens our ability to hold jobs, access social services, and participate in society. It’s dangerous to us.

      I mention this below as well, but I think it’s worth calling out here as well. Members of a given marginalized group have a lifetime of experience informing our ability to pick up on animosity towards us. As a result of that lifetime of experience, we tend to notice early warning signs of bigotry against us much earlier than non-members of our group. We’re not paranoid; we’re just unfortunately very well trained.

      1. Gingerblue*

        Yes, this. The idea that reacting to well-trodden anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is somehow “pearl clutching” is either painfully oblivious or deliberately obtuse.

      2. Just some thoughts*

        I really liked your analogy to dogwhistles. Employer, on the books, is inclusive and diverse. Specific office, not so much. Imagine getting this message from people you see on an everyday basis. Try interacting with people without talking about your life. It’s doable-but who wants to deal with that? In my opinion, the dogwhistles are often used to push people out without getting their hands dirty.

        1. Quill*

          Anyone who grew up in a public school and saw people pushed out of social circles because you didn’t live in the “right” neighborhood, listen to the “right” bands, wear the “right” clothes could benefit from realizing that this is something adults do too, but instead of fads and popularity contests the exclusion of working adults focuses on gender, sexual orientation, race, members of minority religions, and disability.

    13. Jules the 3rd*

      Thank you all for reminding me that I don’t know all the dogwhistles, and that as a straight(ish) person, I don’t have full sensitivity to them. I am absolutely upgrading my lexicon / antennae with the feedback from this post.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Engineer Girl: I live in enough of a cis privilege / liberal bubble that I am not current on all the common dogwhistles, only the blatant ones from major figures ping my radar. It seems like you may also be in some bubble that insulates you from awareness of LBGTQx microaggressions.

        Please consider that OP’s experience is broad enough that they don’t need additional clarification, and that asking for it will put them at risk in a way that’s more extreme than the risk you and I face as white women in tech.

    14. HM MM*

      My sincerely held religious belief is that women should be subservient to men. Women emailing me directives or instructions is offensive to me based on the grounds of religion. So can I write a rule so that all emails from women to men are sent to Trash? Not just women’s emails to me, but women’s emails to every other man in the company?

      I’m just asking that you respect my religious beliefs.

      (I’m a woman and I’m being sarcastic)

    15. Quill*

      Every single one of those is kept purposefully vague so that people who aren’t already toeing the line can be told that whatever they’re doing re “this controversy” is wrong.

      Such as holding hands with a significant other in a facebook photo or having a couples photo on their desk, or swearing in Slack.

      The dogwhistles are playing a song called “the hills are over that way, run for them.”

    16. Blueberry*

      You can’t be asking for your own accommodation without giving it to others.

      This is an example of a statement often made by people in the majority to people in the minority: “you don’t get rights unless you behave well enough by our judgement.” No one ever says that to people in the majority. Whether or not LW#2 chooses to abide by the moratorium on using terms like “oh my God” should have nothing to do with whether or not they are made uncomfortable at work and/or forced out of their job for being queer.

    17. Mia*

      Others have already expressed much of what I wanted to say, but I do just want to reiterate that anyone thinking LGBTQ “stuff” is “controversial” is not at all ambiguous. I live in an area populated primarily by conservative religious folks, and around here that usually just gets shortened to “LGBT” or “the LGBT.” That might sound vague to straight people who aren’t familiar with the local vernacular, but queer people (and frankly most religious people) know it means “the mere existence of anyone that is not cisgender or heterosexual.” OP’s workplace is essentially saying her very existence is controversial. They’re not mincing words, and she has every right to be worried.

    18. Too Old For This Nonsense*

      I agree with EngineerGirl, Nah and AP that the reaction to this is way overblown. The OP has only given us: “there’s been a lot of talk from the high-ups recently about “values” and how LGBTQ+ stuff is too controversial/inappropriate for work.” and a passive-aggressive manager who sets up an auto-response.

      This *is* enough information to know that something cultural is going on, and that the communication about it is being badly and idiotically mis-“managed”. Many of the young techie staff may indeed leave, and it might be sensible to do so, but because it’s a company that doesn’t communicate or even negotiate change. Jumping straight to “moving toward The Handmaid’s Tale” is the sort of communication escalation I thought you disapproved of, Alison!

      1. Quill*

        “Values” “Family Values” “Christian values” are all phrases that have recently explicitly been used to publicly and politically campaign against extending basic civil rights to queer people.

        “Too controversial for work,” is a completely unambiguous statement that they would consider OP’s continued employment at their company something that merits scrutiny, if not outright lack of consideration for raises/promotions/continued employment. It means that if someone calls OP a homophobic slur, SHE will be the one penalized if she takes it to HR, because the fact that she’s queer is “not appropriate.” It means that OP will have to worry about the company deciding to tell her “you’re on a PIP because other coworkers can see photos of you and your girlfriend on a valentines date on facebook” or “your insurance benefits will only be extended to opposite sex partners.”

        There’s nothing ambiguous about it and I don’t think anyone who is freaking out about it is being paranoid, because the definition of paranoia is that it’s *irrational.* It is not irrational to see connections where the same rhetoric, from the same groups, has already been used to target you.

        1. Lance*

          All of this. And to repeat (or at least paraphrase) something that’s been mentioned several times above: if people of a marginalized group are saying something is a dogwhistle and is very worrying, listen to them. They’re the ones with experience with this sort of thing.

      2. Delphine*

        What “reaction”? Concern? Worry? There has been no communication to “escalate”–Alison confirming that the OP is not being paranoid is not overblown.

  8. SusanIvanova*

    “if I wasn’t actually referring to the deity, I shouldn’t say that as it makes people uncomfortable”

    I’d have the opposite reaction. Referring to deities at work – even my own – would make me uncomfortable.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      I’ll weigh in here to agree. If someone has a deity they worship, that deity should be treated with respect by others – – regardless of how the others personally feel about that deity. (or maybe the better phrasing is “should not be treated with disrespect” – with disrespect being defined by the person who worships that deity).

        1. Chinook*

          Because it makes them uncomfortable and you refraing from using one word or phrase is an easy accomodation?

          Theyy aren’t asking you to use specific words, change your attitude or believe what they do. All they/we want is for you to not use God unless invoking him. For those of us who are reasonable and respectful and truly believe everyone has a right to live their own lives, I can all but promise is that all we are asking for is to not use words that refer to dieties or prophets as swear words- whether they be God, Jesus, Allah, Muhammed, Yahweh, cows, Buddha or whatever else someone flags.

          I swear, for many of us, this is not a slippery slope but a compromise andm if you can give us this, then we can happily join in the fight against those that use our faiths to hurt others rather than having to concede that, in issues like the use of certain swear words, they are right.

          Many of us really hate having to side with the conservative religious folks who hate others but we do sometimes agree on their points and we can’t turn are backs on these points because of principle.

          1. Dahlia*

            “God” is not a word owned by Christians. That is YOUR commandment, not mine. Why do I need to follow it?

          2. Dragoning*

            I actually…don’t have to retreat someone else’s deity with respect. It’s not my deity. There are ways to respect someone else’s religious choices without respecting the deity themselves. I have no problems with someone’s sincerely held beliefs and I’m not mocking people for them.

            But I don’t have to respect their deity’s rules. I just do not.

          3. Tinker*

            So, here’s a thing:

            I hate anti-queer bigotry in the sense that I consider it immoral, and also in the sense that as a queer trans man who has a basically healthy self-image, I cannot see any other thing to do other than oppose efforts to do me harm.

            I do not hate it in the sense that I would ever see it as a regretful necessity to lend it support because I observe other people not following my faith’s practices with regard to using the names of deities.

            I very keenly observe the difference between these two meanings of “hate”.

          4. nonethefewer*

            So what I’m reading is, if we minority folk can be nicer to the majority folk, then y’all will help fight against those who use your own faith to hurt others?

            And you typed this up and posted this in public? On purpose?

          5. kt*

            As a person ‘of faith’, whatever that means, it is on me to live out my faith by “joining in the fight against those who use [any] faith to hurt others” whether or not people around me are polite enough for my standards. My integrity is on the line, not theirs. Me conditioning fighting for human rights on whether someone uses or doesn’t use words I approve of says more about me and my standards than about anyone else.

          6. Blueberry*

            So your principle requires you to side with those who are actively working to make LGBTQ people’s lives harder because you also agree with them about how people should swear? And you do this in the Name of Someone who healed a ritually unclean woman and saved an adulteress from being stoned to death, among any other acts of putting people ahead of so-called principle?

            I mean, ok. Most of the Christians I have known would agree with you. Which is one of the reasons I’m not one anymore.

            1. Avasarala*

              “I would have agreed with you, Mary Magdalene, but I just can’t because of the principle of the thing. I hate having to side with conservatives but I do agree with them.”

  9. Beth*

    As a gay woman, these two things in combination (an escalating enforcement-of-strict-christian-values-for-all environment, and an escalating animosity towards LGBTQ+ness) would have me out of there ASAP. Either one alone would have me uneasy, but in combination? Nope, no doubts, I’m done.

    OP2, you’re not being paranoid at all. There’s a very real chance that your job there is not secure. Even if they don’t fire you outright (which, as I’m sure you know, in many parts of the US they can do explicitly because you’re queer, there aren’t legal protections for us in many states), there’s a very high chance that the atmosphere will become untenable for you. I’m sorry, this shouldn’t be the case in this day and age, but your gut is absolutely on point. In your shoes, I’d start job hunting now, so you can hopefully find a workplace where your existence will be supported and you don’t have to stress about potentially being outed.

    On a slight tangent, I’m kind of shocked at all the comments suggesting that 1) OP2 is overreacting/paranoid because this situation hasn’t escalated quite yet, and 2) it’s somehow offensive to Christians to suggest that a conservative Christian environment is hostile to LGBTQ+ people. Regarding the former, I’d like to remind everyone that members of a given marginalized group have a lifetime of experience informing our vibes of things. We’re basically trained by the world to notice early warning signs, so we pick up on dangers to us much earlier than non-members of our group will notice them. And regarding the latter…if Christians have a problem with that reality, they should devote their energy to convincing the most conservative members of their faith to stop being so hostile to us, not by asking us to somehow magically intuit which Christians will attack us and which will let us be.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Agreed on all of this. I’m so sorry, OP. This is wrong and not the way the world should be. I hope you can find a better position soon.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s a very uncharacteristic bend in the comments, and it’s very unfortunate that those comments appear so high in the thread.

      1. Quill*

        I’m not… entirely surprised, given the context of the letter and the political climate ramping up for 2020.

        Surprised about some of the identities of the commenters, but not surprised about the presence, or volume, of people coming in to chide Alison over being a decent person, or OP over putting their safety first.

    3. JayNay*

      yes, and thank you for saying this.
      “I’d like to remind everyone that members of a given marginalized group have a lifetime of experience informing our vibes of things” – 100 percent yes to this. We need to respect people’s gut sense on this if they’re affected by it, instead of pressuring them to surpress their instinct because we personally haven’t had that same experience.

    4. ZOMG even*

      if Christians have a problem with that reality, they should devote their energy to convincing the most conservative members of their faith to stop being so hostile to us

      Believe it or not, many Christians have done just that.

      BTW, do you also think that all Muslims should “devote their energy to convincing” a tiny minority of their faith that political extremism is wrong?

      1. nonethefewer*

        Are y’all doing this instead of chiding queer folk to be more tolerant of the dominant culture in the US? Or in addition to?

        1. KinderTeacher*

          Snaps to this! It is most certainly not a *tiny minority* of Christians in America who are either hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community or who at best muster the love the sinner hate the sin stance. It is 2019 and we are waiting on Supreme Court decisions to see if it’s legal to be fired for being gay or transgender! That isn’t happening because a tiny minority of Christians have a view point hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community. It may not be ALL Christians, but given that Christians are not a persecuted minority group in this country, I’m not too fussed about the Christians who are accepting getting caught in the blow back from anger and frustration rightfully expressed by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

          1. Quill*

            At this point if you aren’t, as a church that claims to be supportive, actively advertising that, or as an individual claiming to be an ally pushing for our existence to stop being a political football or at least *not* voting for parties that pander towards the Christian Bigot demographic, you’re not an ally or an asset, you’re a lump of concrete in the road for us to trip over.

      2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        No, but I think people should work within a specific church/denomination that represents them to make sure it reflects their views.

        For example after the recent rejection of LGBTQ people by the United Methodist church, a lot of Methodists I know were saying on Facebook that this did not represent them.

        Definitionally, it did. They are members of churches who are subordinate to the United Methodist church. If this does not support their views they should push to disaffiliate.

        1. Dragoning*

          My parents belong to a Methodist church that after this debacle has voted to perform same-sex weddings anyway and the pastor has accepted that she may be defrocked for it.

          And people left the congregation to find a more homophobic one. A lot of them.

          1. Quill*

            My grandmother’s funeral was presided over by a homophobic priest who would not allow my aunt or her wife to accept communion.

            No one else in the family accepted communion from him as a consequence, and my grandma’s other children complained to the diocese. In regards to your pastor: THIS is how you fight back in your religion against bigotry and support your queer family and friends: you refuse to participate in any action that descriminates against them and you make it clear to religious authorities that you find it objectionable.

            Congrats to your pastor on having ovaries made of absolute steel in the face of defrocking.

          2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

            I’m sorry people left her church over it, but I have great respect for the pastor you describe.

            1. Dragoning*

              It’s not her church…that’s not how the Methodist Church is organized. They rotate Pastors every 5-7 years to new locations and churches specifically because they don’t want a pastor feeling ownership of a church. Each church is meant to be lead by the congregation and members and church council. Not the pastor.

              Depending on how this all shakes out in the upper levels of the church organization, she will likely leave in a few years and they’re going to have to find another that agrees with their decision.

              1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

                Thanks for informing me; that’s really interesting to know.

                That, if anything, makes her stance even braver.

      3. S*

        Right. And I’ve met some of those Christians and I think they’re great. However, they don’t erase the (multiple) experiences I’ve had of Christians telling me things like that they hope I get AIDS and die. It’s like when people complain about men. Women and non-binary people know that not all men are bad. I know that not all Christians are bad and that many are great. That doesn’t change the fact that if I give somebody the benefit of the doubt too early and guess wrong I could end up dead or assaulted. If the choice is “stay safer and be wary” or “give everybody the benefit of the doubt immediately even though that’s dangerous” I’m going to chose to be wary.

        I certainly don’t think that Muslims should have to put all the or energy I to convincing anybody anything. And, you’re right that it is a tiny tiny tiny percentage of Muslims who want to commit violent extremist acts. Unfortunately, in this country right now, whether or not it is a minority of Christians who are homophobic and transphobic the people who are speaking and acting certainly want to make queer and trans people go away just like they want Muslims to go away.

      4. Lynca*

        As someone who is bisexual and Christian, it’s not a minority opinion. I have seen exactly what kind of treatment I would get if I outed myself.

        I know a lot of people like me that work towards a better representation of the faith but acting like it is not an uphill battle against a majority opinion is just disingenuous.

        1. Quill*

          And it doesn’t have to be “protesting with the westboro baptist church” level to be christian descrimination against queer people. Any church that advocated against gay marriage, or refuses to perform it, is not safe for us. That’s a heck of a lot of Christians who are going to churches in ignorance of what their co-congregationists support, or fail to support, and insisting “but we’re the good guys! Actually, no, our pastor won’t perform your ceremony / allow your queer friend to take part in the baptism of your child / let your gay daughter take communion at your funeral.”

          Being queer is growing up knowing that the love and support of a large number of the people around you is conditional on you conforming to their expectations.

      5. lawyer*

        I do personally believe that as a LGBTQ-affirming straight Christian I am specifically called by God to advocate for my LGBTQ family in the church and to devote my energy to that. Especially because it’s NOT a tiny minority – it is the historic majority position of the church and LGBTQ people continue to be unwelcome in many churches in the US. And not just fringe communities – look at what the United Methodists are dealing with right now. The fact that my church (Episcopalian) affirms LGBTQ people doesn’t mean I get to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. It is, in my view, among the gravest sins in American Christianity, given the harm it does to individuals and families.

      6. IEanon*

        And yet US policy has been dedicated to convincing Muslim communities to do EXACTLY that since 9/11 ( and possibly before).

        It’s an unfair expectation, of course, but it’s a “socially acceptable” solution to extremism because we’re more concerned with policing the actions of a largely-POC community than the overwhelming majority of white evangelicals attempting to legislate their beliefs at all levels of government. So forgive me if I find this comparison more than a bit distasteful, and a truly false equivalency.

      7. Mia*

        Islamophobes come down pretty hard on Muslim orgs who don’t immediately denounce bad actors in their faith, so this is not a good comparison. Also, in the US at least, Muslims are marginalized in a way Christians literally never have been and it’s just not the same thing.

      8. Blueberry*

        “Believe it or not, many Christians have done just that. ”

        One of the reasons I left Christianity is that I found it impossible to do so. And considering your comments on this post I find myself unconvinced of your commitment to doing so.

      9. Former Academic Librarian*

        Guess what? “Tolerating” me doesn’t count as supporting me. Many Christians tolerate LGBTQ folks. Very few actually support us.

      10. Quill*

        Thank you for doing that but the reality is that nobody can read your mind about whether you like us or not. When you use the same vocabulary as the bigots we’re NOT going to risk our lives to check if you’re one.

        (Incidentally many muslims have cut common phrases used by muslim extremists out of their public lives, such as Jihad. Most are pretty public, wherever it’s at all safe for them to speak about their religion, about how much they hate the ways it’s twisted. Some are even doing that where it ISN’T safe, in countries like the USA and France. As a christian in a christian dominated country, you and your fellow christians could take their example in putting your money where your mouth is, since there’s no risk to you whatsoever in actually, publically announcing “my church is supportive of our queer neighbors, anyone who doesn’t like that can worship anywhere else.”)

      11. Elliott Smith Song*

        ZOMG even, do you understand the power differences between Muslims in American society versus Christians? The US was built on Christianity. Our government was established with Christian people in mind. I am saying this as a Jewish woman. It is extremely irksome when people do not recognize the difference between being critical of the institution of Christianity in this country, which dominates public discourse and actual law at local/state/federal levels, and a religion like Islam which has historically been unwelcome in this country… people in the last year have been murdered here on the suspicion that they are Muslim. The government profiles and surveils Muslims and people from countries where Islam is the predominant religion. This is related to the distinction between being a white person and a person of color in the US– people can be biased against white people, but because the government and powerful institutions are built on the premise of white supremacy/benefiting white people over people of other races, bias enacted by a person of color against white people is different than racism enacted by white people against people of color because white people have the backing of the government, criminal justice system, education system,etc… Christianity is similarly a part of major institutions.
        Yes, I absolutely believe that bias against Christians exists and for the most part I do not condone blanket assumptions about large groups of people, however when you belong to a group that has historically and presently been discriminated against and even persecuted by Christian hegemony then in my experience you have every right to be cautious of people before they demonstrate to you that they are allies.
        I also want to give you the benefit of the doubt because I don’t think many Christians realize the extent to which everyone in this country is inundated with Christian beliefs because obviously if something is part of your belief system and your worldview you don’t necessarily notice how prevalent it is for other people who do not subscribe to it. But please trust me and other people on this thread that if you are a part of any group, whether religious or a community like the LGBT community that has been historically and presently marginalized by the dominant Christian belief system and institutional power, you notice how influential and taken for granted it is.

      12. Beth*

        I’m sure many have and I’m sure many are frustrated at the lack of effect their efforts are having! This isn’t meant as an “All Christians are at fault for homophobia in America” message; it’s merely a “Look, if you know the problem is in your house, please don’t yell at me for being wary to show up to your party even if you personally are great.”

        There’s also a big difference between blaming a religious (and often ethnic) minority for the actions of a few terrorists overseas, and being wary of a powerful majority group with large local branches that actively take oppressive actions. I don’t super appreciate the straw-man comparison here.

      13. SimplyTheBest*

        ZOMG, when it’s coming from the president and vice president of our country, it’s not a “tiny minority.”

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      +1000. Even if you don’t identify with the LGBTQ+ community, the mere idea that one group is imposing their values to the rest is a red alert for me.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Agree completely, and well said.

      On the plus side, the conversation above has given me data I can incorporate into my ‘dogwhistle’ lexicon, so it’s not a total loss.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        (And I mean this in a ‘hopefully other het people will learn too’ way, sorry for making it about me…..)

        1. Beth*

          Nah, you’re fine, honestly people learning to recognize these things at a glance is a great outcome for us! It means you’re better equipped to be the one who stands up and says “Wait are you saying ___, because it sounds like you are and look I might not be the target of that but I’d be super not okay with it happening around me.” Being that person puts us at risk, especially if we’re trying to keep our identity on the down-low; we also don’t always get listened to. Allies recognizing what’s going on and actively advocating for us goes a long way.

        2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

          No, as Beth said, it’s very useful.

          It’s why I don’t mind (and actively like it) when straight friends have asked questions on Facebook like ‘Queer folk of my acquaintance, if you were trying to find out if a specific church was LGBTQ friendly, how would you do that?’ with the goal of making it obvious for those who were looking.

          That isn’t info you could find by googling (for example, one of the signals I notice the most is if a church has a discreet rainbow-flag sticker on their physical notice board) and is actively helpful.

      2. Quill*

        *Waves tiredly* Thanks for the future assistance, in any case, I cannot see a future in which this never happens again in AAM, or where knowing about this won’t help you have context for believing someone else’s perception of bad vibes.

    7. Goliath Corp.*

      if Christians have a problem with that reality, they should devote their energy to convincing the most conservative members of their faith to stop being so hostile to us, not by asking us to somehow magically intuit which Christians will attack us and which will let us be.

      Snap! Thank you for this.

    8. yala*

      “if Christians have a problem with that reality, they should devote their energy to convincing the most conservative members of their faith to stop being so hostile to us, not by asking us to somehow magically intuit which Christians will attack us and which will let us be.”

      Christian here. That is an absolutely far assessment, and really what most of us should be doing when faced with the fear and antipathy of groups traditionally (and currently) targeted by Christian culture.

      1. Quill*

        Pour one out for the christians in the comments slapping the other christians in the back of the head and telling them to listen to OP’s discomfort.

      2. Tinker*

        I will say that I definitely recognize a difference between:

        — the sort of Christian who prominently notes that they consider being fully welcoming to me to be a part of their religion, such that they clearly have strong religious views on the matter.

        — the sort of Christian who goes “but what about people with strong religious views” for some reason that they don’t seem to want to lay out in complete detail when the subject of LGBT people participating in normal social interaction comes up.

        And I very much appreciate the former.

    9. Quill*

      OP2, my dear: the hills are that way, start running for them.

      Allison: Can we please, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, start moderating the Christian whataboutism? I don’t care if you just pin up a disclaimer of “there will be no more discussion of whether or not the swear filter is reasonable, the context is that the company is unambiguously making statements that are causing OP reasonable concern about the safety of her employment situaiton,” ban discussion of whether OMG is an acceptable thing to categorize as unprofessional language, or just shut down the discussion of this question entirely.

      This whole post is not going to help OP by continuing to let people jump up and down screaming #notallchristians and #godwin’sLaw, and #I’m offended that your lived experience makes you think my religion is not 100% filled with good people who will treat you right.

      1. Chinook*

        The ieony is that OP brought up 2 separate isues that intertwine. Shou,d OP be worried about the safety of her job agajnst LGBTQ bias? Absolutely.

        But that doesn’t negate the fact that language was also being used on Slack that made/makes others uncomfortable for reilgious reasons. Just because a group is a majority does not give everone the right to make rude comments about them casually (which is not the same thing as making someone uncomfortable by calling out issues that need to be changed). If anything, it can work to push the silent majority away from compromise because it feels like no compromise will ever be good enough.

        I see the debate here boiling down to being “it is okay to use a phrase known to be insulting when used in the presence of a member of a group who have asked me to stop because that group hates my group.”

        Please correct me if I am wring in my interpretation.

        1. Jamie*

          I do think you are wrong in how you are interpreting what other commenters have said.

          No one is saying it’s okay to be insulting to individuals in a group because members of that group oppose members of the group with which they identify. Nor is anyone saying it okay to make rude comments about them.

          What many people are saying, with which I agree, is that using God’s name in vain is not personally degrading anyone, where considering the very acknowledgement of the existence of LGBTQ+ people is.

          As a lapsed Catholic who grew up in a household where using God or Jesus in a cuss like manner was far worse than the F word I get the instinctive wince. But it doesn’t make me feel unsafe and there is no oppression involved. For me it’s a “oh, I noticed that because I’m sensitive to that language.”

          If anything, it can work to push the silent majority away from compromise because it feels like no compromise will ever be good enough.

          If other people not following the dictates of my faith were to make me less willing to compromise or listen to the struggles of others to make it a safer world for them then the problem is with me not them. There is just no equivalence to the damage caused by people refusing to speak in accordance with religious tenants and speech that seeks to erase the existence of other people.

        2. Beth*

          I would really push back on the idea that “oh my god” is a phrase that’s in any way commonly considered insulting. I know there are some religious groups that choose not to say it, or to say any version of ‘god’ except for referring to their actual God for religious reasons. That’s not the same thing as being broadly insulted by non-members of their religion using the word ‘god’ within their hearing. I grew up Christian, in a community with a large Jewish population as well, and I’ve never heard of taking offense to hearing something like “oh my god” or “damn it” as a mainstream thing.

        3. Quill*

          The slack channel was not actually an issue that OP felt strongly about without the context of it being the first official move of her company prioritizing their specific interpretation of christianity in the workplace. Many #notallchristians in the comments want to make this about the slack channel, instead of seeing that it was a symptom of the problem, not the actual problem.

        4. pam beesly & karen filipelli 4ever*

          OH MY GOD how is saying “oh my god” “making rude comments about [Christians] casually”? You don’t own the word “god”!!! You do not. It is the height of self-centeredness to assume that anyone saying “oh my god” at any time has anything to do with Christianity whatsoever. Jews saying “oh my god” (for instance) are not talking about Christians, or the Christian god, or ANYTHING to do with Christianity.

          And only since you think it’s chill to impose your own Christian rules arbitrarily on me/anyone around you, I’ll gently point out that holding basic decency and respect (not to mention fighting for the rights of the oppressed and marginalized) hostage in order to demand deference to your personal religious interpretation is pretty UNchristian, UNcharitable, and def like not something Jesus would’ve been down with, so *shrug emoji* pray on that maybe?

  10. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP#1 – No, you definitely don’t have to go and keep on giving when your participation is over. Alison’s script is perfect. If Pam continues to try and take more of your time, don’t engage. You already gave your answer and that’s that.

    OP#2 – This is awful. I’m really sorry. Take care of yourself and please let us know how things work out for you. Sorry about the gross comments here as well.

    OP#3 – Those kinds of group emails are always uncomfortable. They imply something happened but no one’s going to talk about the real reason. Sounds like this is the way the company prefers to do things, unfortunately.

    OP#4 – You’re definitely not being rude and are within your rights just to block them. They’re being slimy and using emotional manipulation on you. It’s so gross.

    OP#5 – I can understand your worry because I have seen some weird elitism around email addresses in certain circles (“Oh, you still use Hotmail/AOL/Yahoo?” *snicker*). But employers won’t care. Think of it this way: they’re dealing with so many applicants that they’ll just be happy the email works. Good luck with your job search!

  11. ..Kat..*

    #2. So, they like to swear, but “oh my god” is too offensive to them. Most people I know who swear use “f**k” a lot. Since they are Conservative Christians, they should stop saying this. Because, all this f**king outside of a committed, church sanctioned marriage is against their Conservative Christian values.

    I hope you can find a good job in a company that is safe for you.

    1. Reg going anon*

      Look, as a practicing Xian, I say f*ck a lot but feel uncomfortable saying oh my god or variations thereof—f*ck is …a human thing, a completely ordinary act, and is very versatile, while god is the name of the deity I worship. It feels off.

      None of this is to say I support OPs company. I don’t even say anything when my Xian friends swear, this is a decision I’ve made for me. I just wanted to lay out why some Xians may be okay with f*ck and not God.

      1. Chinook*

        What she said. If you can’t see why these phrases are offensive, it is going to be difficult to convince you otherwise. But, to those who do, they are of a different fkaviur that swearing using bodily functijns, comparing someone to an nimal or even refering to religious items.

        1. Avasarala*

          You’re allowed to have your own personal code. You can decide you’ll say the c word but not the b word. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else.

          You can even ask for an accommodation from others. “Hey y’all, I really don’t like this word, can you not use it around me? thanks.”

          But you can’t require everyone to be sensitive to your religious preferences, and then turn around and ignore discrimination against your fellow humans on the basis of your religion.

          It’s really weird and sad and unkind to zero in on this aspect of the letter and ignore the larger context. You’re missing the homophobic Christian forest for the OMG trees.

  12. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

    LW#1: Pam’s expectation for volunteers to attend a debrief meeting (and in the middle of the workday!) is unusual. I’ve volunteered for many events for different organizations and have never been expected to attend a debrief meeting. It’s perfectly okay for you to say you can’t attend and have that be that. If Pam gets pushy about it or asks why, etc, just stick to your guns or don’t engage at all. Some people/organizations a