can I hold a job applicant’s proselytizing email signature against them?

A reader writes:

I’m curious about your thoughts on a situation that I encountered recently. I conducted an initial interview with a candidate for a part-time position whose email address and signature caught my attention. The email came from an explicitly religious domain — think or A little research revealed that this address is connected to a site that provides email addresses with religious domain names. A user can sign up for an email address at one of those domains, with the result that every email they send contains a signature with a heavily religious quote, plus a statement urging readers to click a link to “learn more,” which leads to a proselytizing website that says its mission to convince more people to accept Jesus as their savior.

I didn’t take the email address and signature into account in my assessment of the candidate, who ended up being a poor fit for completely unrelated reasons in a subsequent stage of the interview process that I wasn’t involved in, but I’m still mulling the situation over. I’m aware that it’s illegal to reject someone (for most positions) based on their religious beliefs; I also imagine (and certainly hope!) that it’s legal to decline to hire someone if you know that they would insist on trying to convert people to their religion within the workplace.

This kind of email signature feels to me like it’s in an intermediate place. Is it the digital equivalent of wearing a cross on a necklace at work (which would be fine)? Or is it the digital equivalent of ending every single conversation (including, effectively, this job interview!) with, “I hope you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart as your lord and savior”? It feels more like the latter to me.

Am I wrong in thinking that this is a very weird and inappropriate choice for an email account used for work-related communications? And would it be reasonable, and would it be legal, to consider the use of this kind of email address and auto-signature as a warning sign about an applicant’s possible inclination to proselytize in inappropriate contexts?

This one was interesting to me because my reaction was the same as yours — this is someone who is clearly demonstrating they will proselytize without invitation in professional situations, and you should be able to take that into account because it’s not about judging their religion but rather about judging their actions. Irritatingly, though, the law doesn’t always follow what I think should be common sense, so I ran your question by employment lawyer Donna Ballman, author of the excellent book Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired, who said this:

I think the applicant wanted to make sure you saw their religious affiliation. It’s possible they wanted to be able to argue religious discrimination when they weren’t hired. But it’s also possible that they just didn’t think about their email. I’ve seen potential clients who had some pretty crazy email addresses and automatic signatures, and I’ve had to ask them if this was how they communicated with their employer or potential employer. Trying to guess why someone did this is just a recipe for madness.

Now for the legal stuff. For whatever reason, they put you on notice of their religion. You can’t refuse to hire them or otherwise discriminate against them because of their religion. You are perfectly free to reject them because someone better qualified applied.

Once you hire someone, the question becomes how much they can proselytize at work. There was a case where a cashier would say “Have a blessed day” to customers and the court said that should be allowed because it did not impose a hardship on the employer. The employer has to balance between restricting all religious expression at work, which could be illegal religious discrimination, and allowing an employee to harass their coworkers or customers with religion, which the employer may discipline an employee for. So it’s a fine line. If coworkers or customers are made to feel uncomfortable, then the employer does not need to accommodate proselytizing. But if it’s just an unoffensive email signature or greeting, then it would be difficult to prove a hardship.

I do see employers getting into trouble where a supervisor engages in proselytizing. I’ve seen supervisors who invite their subordinates to prayer meetings or religious services, and that can be problematic when the supervisor then promotes those who attended or writes up those who did not attend. I can see why the potential for liability is a concern.

However, if you can prove you hired someone more qualified and did not take this email signature into account, then it seems like you would have a defense against a religious discrimination claim down the road.

I asked, “Can the person take the proselytizing into account in the hiring decision — not the religious beliefs themselves, but the act of proselytizing?” Donna’s response:

I think that would be very dangerous. I guess it would depend on what was specifically said. If it was something offensive, then maybe. If not, then definitely not.

So there you have it. If this applicant had been the most qualified candidate, you’d be on dangerous legal ground if you held the email against them in your decision. That said, you can certainly make it clear to all employees that religious harassment at work is prohibited and grounds for firing, and you can follow that up by ensuring there’s a clear and safe mechanism for people to report religious or other harassment, and investigating and responding decisively to it.

{ 612 comments… read them below }

  1. L-squared*

    This is one of those things that just seems like something its best to just ignore.

    I work with people from all over, and one thing I’ve noticed is that some people (and it honestly tends to be mostly in the south) will put religious quotes in their email signature. These aren’t necessarily people at my company, but people I work with in other places. And as someone who is not very religious, I can say it doesn’t bother me any more than someone putting “Go Yankees” in their signature would bother me.

    Now, this is fine as long as its relegated to email. I may have a different issue if it was them actually trying to talk to me about religion while we conduct our business. But just the act of putting a bible verse or something in their signature doesn’t bother me. Live and let live.

    1. Bébé chat*

      But it’s not only a quote, they have a link in their signature and I see this as more proselytizing as just a quote. I would be uncomfortable with this. But then, I am from Europe, I guess we are not used to the same things here.

      1. ThatGirl*

        AND it’s part of their email address. Which they had to go out and choose to do, versus something like gmail or yahoo.

      2. Corrigan*

        Yeah, the combo of the email address, quote, and “click here to learn more” seems way over the top to me….

        I’m American in the South and I do see religious quotes in email signatures sometimes. I don’t like it, but I ignore it and move on. This seems like more than that.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          I’m in the US as well, but this would make me question their judgment. Actively proselytizing to what’s essentially a captive audience (it’s not like you could have known to delete the email before reading it), without consent, in a professional setting, is harassment as far as I’m concerned. If they don’t know better than using a non-neutral email address for a job application, I’m doubting they know better than to bring it up in other inappropriate contexts (e.g. in a client meeting, or any context in which it wasn’t explicitly invited). Which is a problem in itself, but it also leaves open the question about in what other contexts their judgment is lacking, and judgment is going to be a part of any job.

          If it was just a quote from a Psalm or something, I’d heave a big sigh and ignore it, but as described this is not that. Conversion was explicitly the goal of having it there; they knew that when they signed up for that email domain. And if they somehow forgot since then, that’s also a judgment problem, because it’s not like it’s uncommon knowledge that you should send application materials from a professional sounding email address. They could have signed up for a separate gmail account that they use just for work/application stuff.

          1. Cait*

            I agree. Once you see that email address and signature it would be impossible to NOT let it affect your decision-making process. I’d liken it to seeing a job application from someone at IheartBigB00bz69@yahoo or something. The application might be stellar but keep in mind, the interview doesn’t start when you walk into the conference room. The interview starts the second you click ‘send’.

            One would think the average person would know better than to send a professional message from an email address like that but, sadly, this is also why I still get to teach an Email Etiquette course to our students every year.

            1. tamarack etc.*

              This is probably all true, but it’s also a fact in the US that you *can* take against a candidate simply based on their publicly stated liking for big boobs and participation in particular sexual activities, but can’t for their stated religious affiliation and not even for their participation in proselytizing.

              I have the same concerns as Alison and would be wary of such a candidate – though this doesn’t automatically mean it’s legal to base decisions on it. To find this out I sometimes try to explore whether there are analogues that would similarly be a no-no under discrimination laws where I would *agree* (rather than disagree) with the underlying attitudes and activities. For example, for email signatures:

              * “[X]% of transgendered kids contemplate suicide. Please help prevent this by downloading the [ORG] poster at [link], printing it out and hanging it at public noticeboards in your area. If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, please know you aren’t alone. Call [helpline]”
              * “Out, proud, and newly married! In lieu of congratulations, consider contributing to the [ORG] fund for aging same-sex couples at [link]”
              * [something to do with Black Lives Matters, with a call to action contributing to a fund for prosecuting racist misconduct in the police services]

              All of the above are a) things I personally am sympathetic to; b) things I personally think are not a great idea putting/leaving in an email that’s a cover letter for a job application; HOWEVER c) things I do not think the applicant should be penalized for as they are about the rights of protected classes.

              I do think that in all cases clear guidelines for communication and behavior at work are justified. (None of the above have a place in business communications, for example, just on the employee’s initiative.)

              (I’ve gone to school with people I knew were very active proselytizing for various Christian churches and assorted cults in their free time, but it was in an environment where it was 100% clear that this was not to an activity that had a place at work, and it wasn’t a problem. I’ve also occasionally seen people from such background leave their churches after functioning in a diverse, respectful workplace for a few years and actually working with people different from them. )

          2. Elle*

            Completely agreed re: questioning the person’s judgment. It’s not the fact that they’re a Christian- it’s that they thought this was an appropriate email/signature to use when applying for a job. To me it signals that they don’t have a great sense of context or an appropriate level of awareness/concern for others, both of which are extremely common root causes of issues in the workplace.

          3. Jessica*

            Yes, this.

            Uninvited proselytizing is harassment.

            People should be able to go to work and do their job without coworkers harassing them–via voice, email, or anything else–to abandon their beliefs, culture, heritage, traditions, practices, etc. and for Christianity.

            The only mitigating factor I see here is that if the candidate *had* been hired, they’d presumably be using a company email at work and the company could presumably tell them not to use work resources and materials to proselytize.

            If they were absolutely the best candidate, I might still have hired them, but that sig presents a whole bouquet of red flags about professionalism, appropriate personal-life/work boundaries, respect for coworkers, respect for DEI, etc.

          4. RedinSC*

            I totally agree about the judgement problem. When I hire someone for a fundraising role (for a non religious organization) I really do want to make sure that the person can actually function politely and a-politically. We have donors from all walks of life, religions, politics, socioeconomic levels, etc. as a fundraiser, I want someone who wouldn’t challenge someone’s beliefs, but promote the work the organization is doing.

            The judgement here, in using a specific email domain, adding in links and the quote just basically tells me they don’t have the judgement needed to do the job I’d want them to do.

            Fortunately, this hasn’t come up, and I hope it doesn’t, for me.

          5. Samwise*

            I have to disagree that it’s common knowledge that application materials should be sent from a professional address. People reading AAM mostly know that. There are a lot of people who do not. With because they’re young, not savvy, have gotten bad advice, have only worked at places that were overtly religious/Christian, don’t come from a culture or group or family that knows about there’s things.

            Example. My family is mostly white, middle class, highly educated. Even so, many of the family members of college age or just past it make unprofessional bloopers: embarrassing email addresses, cutesy signatures, dumbass voicemail setups, overly informal correspondence with professors or potential employers. If nobody tells them, they don’t know. (I’m the designated teller of professional truths: my sibs tell their offspring, Look, just ask Samwise about whether it’s ok). I make sure to do a short lesson on this with my freshmen, because probably they don’t know, and I’d hate to think that they’ll lose out on opportunities because they just don’t know.

            1. Clumsy Ninja*

              Can I just tell you right now that I love this? So awesome that you take the time to tell your freshmen this stuff, and I love that your siblings point their kids in your direction for these lessons.

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              “dumbass voicemail setups”
              I plead guilty, your Honour!
              A long time ago I set up my answering machine message to say “look there’s some kind of bug and I don’t know how to address it, when you leave a message my phone will only tell me when it’s too late. Please hang up and send a text like the youngsters!”
              No idea how to change it, and in fact when people hear it, they laugh, I can hear it in their message!

              1. Worldwalker*

                That’s not bad.

                People who have their lisping little toddlers record their voicemail messages should be flogged.

          6. Worldwalker*

            True. It’s like having “partygirl69” in your email … just not something to bring into work.

          7. umami*

            I’m not sure I see the issue – it is their private email address. Presumably once hired, they will have an office email, and rules for what constitutes the office email signature are pretty standard. So rejecting them based on their private email address setup would be … weird to me.

            1. Cait*

              Most personal email addresses are pretty innocuous but a lot of email addresses are established when people are young and not concerned about future job applications or using their critical thinking skills. “PartyGirl69” isn’t an egregious breach of etiquette but, if I were the hiring manager, it would definitely take up some space in my brain and now her application is tainted, however slightly, compared to if they had just sent it from JamieDoe123.

              “Are they insinuating they’re a big drinker? Would that affect their ability to do their job? Do they party a lot during the week? Would that affect their ability to do their job? If they aren’t aware of the what their email address is suggesting, what else won’t they be aware of as far as appropriate conduct in the office?” Etc. etc.. I would try not to let it sway me but at that point that bell has unfortunately been rung.

              It’s incredibly simple to open a new email account, even if it’s just for applications, that doesn’t have innuendo, inside jokes, etc.. Someone not realizing that (or not caring) is a red flag. Not a big one. But still, a red flag that could easily have been avoided.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          For me it’s the combination all three – the link, the email address and the quote. If it was just one, I’d be willing to overlook it (outside of applying for jobs in religious institutions), but all three it’s at the least a yellow flag and a reason to be very clear about any and all policies if the candidate was successful.

          1. Random Dice*

            Aggressively proselytizing Christians are incredibly quick to claim religious discrimination, because that’s a grievance that is regularly stoked by their news sources. I grew up in that world.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          I certainly would be uncomfortable getting an email loaded with a religious address and a religious signature meant to evangelize complete with a web address to “learn more”. The “learn more” is what pushes it over the line from a statement of belief to proselytizing IMO.

          In general, I think it’s highly unprofessional to include religious stuff in professional communications. But I also consider sports stuff in professional communication, unless you literally work for the team, to be unprofessional too.

      3. L-squared*

        But even then, you have to actively click on the link. I feel like they are giving information, but you have to actively do something if you wanted it.

        And as being part of their email address, I mean, again, not something I would do, but I also sometimes work with organizations with names that are religious in the first place, so it may just be that is their domain.

        1. ecnaseener*

          And you have to actively open a brochure if someone hands you one on the street. You wouldn’t say that doesn’t count.

          1. L-squared*

            I mean, I just don’t take those. I live somewhere that has a lot of these people around. I find the religious people just as annoying as the green peace ones, and I just don’t take the docs they try to hand me. But I wouldn’t begrudge them standing on the corner if that is their choice.

          2. Cmdrshpard*

            I think the hyperlink is the equivalent to someone trying to hand you a brochure, but as L-squared said you don’t have to take it.

            Clicking on the link is the equivalent to taking the brochure. No one is forcing you to take it. Most people just stick it out but you can avoid taking it easy enough, the link is even easier to ignore I think. Most of the time I don’t even look at peoples signatures unless I need it for something.

            I have seen some people that can by very pushy and in your face, but I don’t think the link in the signature rises to that level.

            1. LizB*

              I agree with the equivalence you’re making here, but I would have an issue if my coworker was trying to hand me religious brochures at work, even if they stopped as soon as I said “no thanks.”

              1. Elizabeth I*

                I agree with you – but this isn’t at work. This is a personal email address that’s being used to apply for a job, right? They presumable would use their employer-provided email at work if they got the job.

                1. ferrina*

                  I consider a job application a professional communication. Any communication pre-hire can be treated as an assumption of how the candidate/employer will be regularly. It’s kind of necessary since we have very limited information on them.

                  They’d presumably have a company email at work, but there would be other opportunities to proselytize outside of the email address.

                2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                  What if a candidate did hand their interviewer a physical brochure at the interview? Would that be something that could be taken into account while hiring?

                3. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  Applying for jobs is an opportunity to show your professional side – not who you are in public. So most professionals have several email accounts and the casual ones with unprofessional email addresses/intensely personal email signatures don’t get used for work.

                  I have several! My casual one definitely wouldn’t get me a job..

                4. TomatoSoup*

                  But this is a professional email, even if it is coming from their personal account. Having all that in the signature is one thing when you’re emailing your cousin, but different when emailing a potential employer.

                5. Carla C*

                  I agree, this is not a work based email address and while not everyone is religious, it seems that the majority of responses are based on people’s personal opinions rather than professional. Regardless of what the candidate uses for personal email addresses, they should be screened for their qualifications. I had an assistant that was a preachers wife and had quotes in her personal email, but did not push anything at work, so all of this seems to point to discrimination based on what is thought would be done. It also offensive to say most of this comes from the South. I live in the South and have only encountered this one time, with the wife of a preacher.

                6. Worldwalker*

                  It takes 30 seconds to set up a gmail account. If you’re job hunting, you should. You can have a nice, neutral email address, it doesn’t get mixed in with anything else so there’s no risk of, say, your current boss finding out that you’re looking to bail, and it just keeps things overall tidier.

                  Which is why I’d question the judgement of someone who doesn’t do that: why aren’t they doing something quick and easy that will be advantageous to them? That tells me that either they don’t understand professional norms (partygirl) or think their email address’s purpose is more important than business (jesussaves). Neither one is a good look.

              2. Rake*

                Agreed. This is one of those situations where even just asking hurts. Even if you back off immediately, the fact you put me in a position to have to stop you at all is bad. Reminds me of the woman who wrote in about being propositioned at a conference. Accepting a no doesn’t absolve you. You shouldn’t be doing it at all.

              3. Yeahbut dabbadoo*

                I think a signature is a little closer to the equivalent of having a stack of brochures facing outward on your desk than actually handing them to someone. It sounds as though this signature with link gets filled in automatically by the domain, so they aren’t singling out the individual recipient with it.

                So my question to self is, would having a very visible pile of brochures on your desk at work be acceptable? And honestly I don’t know. I’ve never worked anywhere where anyone did anything like that. It certainly wouldn’t bother me nearly as much as being handed a brochure, but I can see how it would bother some.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  I would find a stack of tracts on someone’s desk, facing the corridor, very off-putting, and I would restrict my contacts with such a person in a professional environment. Some religions are like an MLM, and are just as obnoxious.

            2. BubbleTea*

              The email address is proselytising in itself though. It feels more like the digital equivalent of the local Jehovahs Witnesses where I used to live, who started delivering handwritten letters addressed to “dear neighbour” during the pandemic, in lieu of doorstep visits. I read the first one because I didn’t know what it was. All others have been thrown in the bin, but it is still irksome, bordering on upsetting, to have them coming into my house unsolicited. (I also received a leaflet telling me I was condemned to hell for my sexuality from the same people so it’s somewhat triggering).

              1. Anti-proselytizing*

                I received a mailer from a nearby church about midway through the pandemic touting their parochial school (fair enough) and concluding with the statement, “all children deserve a Christian education.”

                I called the church and asked to be removed from their mailing list. They told me removal was impossible.

                So I called the Better Business Bureau and state AG’s office to complain about this church. They had to spend staff time responding to letters. Oddly enough I never got another mailer from them.

              2. anonymousfortoday*

                Oh, I got one of those letters, too! I even got a lengthy voice mail early pandemic where some woman prayed for me the whole time. As I am not part of their religion, it made me feel pretty uncomfortable and also made me wonder if they were just cold-calling random phone numbers or how they got mine.

                Agreed that the email address itself IS proselytizing. I wouldn’t submit a job application with links to the Freedom from Religion Foundation or news coverage of the Satanic Temple lawsuits for abortion rights in my signature line — that would be wildly inappropriate. Christianity doesn’t deserve a special status just because it’s got more followers.

          3. Observer*

            No – it really is different (And as an obvious Jew, I happen to be part of a target demographic that gets targeted by these types.)

            If someone just OFFERS it, it’s one thing, and I don’t take it. But if someone shoves it into my hand, that leaves me with something I need to get rid of, and it’s an unwanted physical contact. I’m not claiming assault or anything hyperbolic. But you don’t touch people you don’t know without VERY good reason. Making sure that they get your religious literature does not qualify!

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              This is why the ‘but I just want to tell you about Jesus’ types in public/text format/at work annoy me. Firstly it’s practically impossible to not have heard of him and secondly we get this so much it’s like water drops wearing away a rock.

              You just never know which bit of water is finally going to break that rock.

              Keep all ‘witnessing’ or whatever out of the workplace and if possible out of my life.

              1. Worldwalker*

                What’s amusing is that atheists generally score higher on tests of religious knowledge than Christians. As do Jews. And mainstream Christians higher than evangelicals.

                It would seem that someone does indeed need to be told about Jesus. Maybe start with Matthew 6:5.

          4. ecnaseener*

            I feel like both of you are missing my point: if a hyperlink is the equivalent to holding out a proselytizing brochure, then the hyperlink is proselytizing. Because holding out the brochure is proselytizing whether or not I take the brochure.

            1. Holyoaks*

              Right. On the street it’s one thing (whether you find it annoying or not, people in public offer all kinds of weird stuff), but being handed a religious brochure at work is different.

            2. Giant Kitty*


              This person did not merely put a bible quote in their signature, they went out of their way to specifically find a service that would provide not just an email domain name that is SO over the top Christian that it has the potential to be highly offensive to non Christians, but provides a link to their proselytizing site in the signature with an admonishment to LEARN MORE! like some kind of religious MLM advertising, that it is exactly the equivalent of some stranger running down the sidewalk after you shouting that you need to take their brochure. I personally find it highly offensive, and would feel that any applicant who did this had zero sense of appropriate professional norms- as much as if their email domain name & signature links contained bigoted slurs, or drug & sex references, or any other personal aspect that is not appropriate to shout loudly about at work.

              1. Worldwalker*

                Or, for that matter, if their email was a link to their page in some MLM and a solicitation to join their downline.

            3. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I look upon it from a work perspective: would you hand out leaflets or proclaim your beliefs in an interview? No. So it shouldn’t be on a job application.

              Outside of work do what you want.

          5. Clisby*

            I would say that doesn’t count, because I’m under no obligation to take random items offered to me on the street, and I have no problem either ignoring people like that, or saying “No thanks.”

              1. Cmdrshpard*

                To me I don’t consider it proselytizing because it is so low key/minimal I consider more like someone giving their opinion. Like someone standing on a soapbox in the middle of the town square spouting off their opinion on x, y, and z topic, are they “trying” to convince people to believe them/convert, by the barest stretches of my imagination, that I don’t really think it counts.
                To me this is similar to the cashier who asks quickly “do you want a store credit card?” that is not a sales pitch, most stores want you to give customers a real sales pitch, “have you heard about all the great benefits of store credit cards, you can save x%, get free shipping, priority check out, sign up today and you x benefit.”

                I would not consider it proselytizing unless the person is actively trying to force you to take it, and/or getting in your way, or once they actually start directly engaging with someone.

                1. Hey Nonnie*

                  I would say that the act of attempting to convert, successful or not, aggressive or not, well-thought-out sales pitch or not, makes it proselytizing. Lazy effort is still effort. No effort would be leaving people alone entirely.

                  Also this is a false equivalence. Unless the email triggers a spam filter, you can’t choose to refuse an email from landing in your inbox. Once it’s sent, short of tech issues out of your control, you get it. And just seeing an email from is already aggressive.

                2. There You Are*

                  The action of attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.

                3. Lexi Lynn*

                  Personally, I would be 100% happy if the culture changed and sharing anything religious was as inappropriate as sharing information about your sex life, BUT I’d give a pass on the signature because so many people have no idea that one gets appended to their email and so many people don’t seem to think about their email. If the person has the qualifications, I wouldn’t let this disqualify them.

                4. Cmdrshpard*

                  I disagree that lazy/minimal effort is really effort.

                  Think if I am in a car race and I proceed to go around the track at 30 mph did I really put effort into winning the race?

                  Someone just sticking a brochure out is not really much if any effort.

                5. Worldwalker*

                  That’s still a sales pitch, though, even if it’s a fairly feeble one. It doesn’t have to be a *good* sales pitch to count. And the dictionary says proselytizing is an attempt to convert someone to another belief system — it doesn’t say it has to be overly aggressive and rise to the level of a misdemeanor.

                6. Hey Nonnie*

                  Think if I am in a car race and I proceed to go around the track at 30 mph did I really put effort into winning the race?

                  “Driving slowly” isn’t “walking,” it’s still driving. By definition.

                  “Proselytizing lazily” isn’t “leaving people alone,” it’s still proselytizing, by definition.

                  It’s the act, not the success rate. If someone doesn’t intend to proselytize, they can pitch the brochures into a dumpster and go home.

            1. whingedrinking*

              But whether you find it easy to ignore or not isn’t what makes it proselytizing. Yesterday I walked past a guy with a giant sign saying “JESUS IS LORD” and I didn’t engage with him in any way, but I would certainly not hesitate to say he was pushing an agenda.

      4. Everything Bagel*

        I think if you hire the person and they try to insert a religious link in their company email signature line, then it would have to be discussed. If they’re just doing this in their personal email and it won’t continue when they correspond on behalf of the company, then it’s not a concern.

        1. Elizabeth I*

          Yes, I agree. It’s their *personal* email address. Not everyone thinks about whether they need to get a separate email address just for job hunting.

          And as much as I personally find this kind of thing distasteful in general, having a religious-based personal email account does not automatically mean this person will proselytize at work – and making that assumption without further evidence of any issues would be pretty discriminatory and illegal.

          1. ferrina*

            But it does indicate that they may not think about how their actions will impact their audience when it comes to religion. I’ve had quite a few co-workers that assume everyone is their same religion, and it’s led to some really uncomfortable conversations.

            1. Everything Bagel*

              It seems like that’s something to deal with at the time, not to bar someone based on the assumption that they’re going to behave that way going forward.

              1. Giant Kitty*

                Would you feel the same way if the religion referenced in their signature was Satanism?
                If the reference was to drug use or sex rather than a mainstream religion? To me this simply shows the candidate has extremely poor judgment about what is & is not ok to reveal in a job interview.

                1. Elizabeth I*

                  I would feel the same way regardless of what religion they were referencing (including satanism) – I would find it personally distasteful to see a job application submitted with a religious signature line or link, but again, having that in your personal email doesn’t guarantee you are a proselytizer at work, and making that assumption leads to illegal discrimination, so that assumption is not a good one. I would definitely keep an eye out for anything problematic in the interview, and if I hired them, but preemptively assuming they would religiously harass their coworkers and not behave themselves is pretty over the top and bigoted, honestly. People get to have personal lives and believe stuff, even if we disagree. It’s not fair to assume they will therefore mistreat their coworkers.

                  If someone was referencing legalizing cannabis in their email signature line when applying for a job, I would feel the same way – I find that personally distasteful when applying for a job, but it is their personal email and they are allowed to advocate for that in their spare time. In this case I might keep an eye out for any behavior in the interview (or if I hired them) that indicates that they are coming to work/the interview high. If they’re not, it’s not my business what they promote (or smoke/consume) in their spare time.

                  However, if someone were referencing something sexually explicit in their personal email when applying to a job, I feel like that is different and displays a level of poor judgement that is more actionable when weeding out job candidates. We have general social mores as a society, and while they can include some polite conversation mentioning one’s own religion or one’s desire to legalize cannabis, they generally don’t include conversations about one’s specific sexual proclivities (beyond a basic reference to sexual orientation – i.e. whether one dates/is married to a man vs. a woman).

                  Basically, if someone’s personal email displays details about something they personally believe or do or promote, and that thing is not inappropriate to mention in normal (non-work) conversation, then it doesn’t seem inappropriate to include in their a personal email address.

                  And if it’s something that’s not appropriate to mention in normal (non-work) conversations (e.g. detailed sexual preferences, gory details about your bowel movements or health condition, details about violence, details about which specific groups of people they actively hate, etc.), then that would be a cause for considering rejecting that job candidate.

                2. Everything Bagel*

                  I wouldn’t care about Satanism reference either. I’m really not sure about something sexual or drug related though. Assuming that it’s a link to information about these topics and not just a sign off that says “hey I like sex and drugs,” then I suppose I might look at it the same way. I assume the job applicant is not going to try to insert a reference to sex or drugs in professional correspondence they are sending on behalf of my company. Or at least I think I would assume that! This is a tough one, but it probably would all depends on how well the applicant fits the needs of the job and how they come across in general. The letter writer indicated that their applicant came across poorly in other ways as well. If the applicant seems perfect and the only issue is the Link in their signature, then I might still consider them.

            2. Audogs*

              I agree-my reaction would be more in the camp of what kind of judgement/professional norms does the applicant display.

            3. learnedthehardway*

              Perhaps they created the email address when they weren’t considering job hunting. I mean, they probably use it for ALL their email. So I wouldn’t hold it against them.

              I’ve seen some pretty strange email addresses on resumes, some of which I would definitely question the person’s judgment about (eg. ranging from purely silly to sexual innuendos, etc.) I take it as an indication to pay particular attention to the candidate’s professionalism generally, but don’t hold the address against them unless it is truly offensive (ie. racist, mysogynist, homophobic, etc.)

              1. Giant Kitty*

                LW clarifies below – It’s a paid for service that is specifically designed and advertised as a way to aggressively proselytize to “lost souls”. Which IMHO makes this beyond the pale offensive- there is zero chance this was accidental or something the candidate forgot was there.

          2. Sara without an H*

            I think we had a recent letter in which a manager wondered if they should warn a new hire against proselytizing at work, based on some volunteer missionary work that appeared on the new hire’s resume. I think the answer came back that, unless all new hires are warned against proselytizing (which would be a bit weird), it would be discriminatory to single out this one.

            What is needed here, and in most companies, are clearly-articulated policies against harassment of any kind and clear procedures for reporting it.

          3. Hiring Maven*

            Not everyone thinks about it and the people who do not have made a mistake. Not everyone dresses appropriately for job interviews and the ones who do not dress appropriately do not get hired. You have the choice to present a professionally appropriate persona when applying for jobs and the email you choose to use in business correspondence is a part of that.

          4. Worldwalker*

            Not everyone thinks about whether they need to get a separate email address for job hunting — but *not* thinking about that, and using a clearly inappropriate for work email, like “partygirl69” or something, is at least a yellow flag that this person does not follow professional norms.

      5. Madeleine Matilda*

        It’s not clear to me from how OP wrote her letter if the applicant only used the religious domain name in her email or if she also had the quote and link in her signature. OP doesn’t specifically say her signature had a quote and link in her email. OP said that when she researched the email she found site where people could choose their email domain and add a quote and link. If it was only the email domain I would overlook it. If there was a link and quote, then I would make sure the person knew that they couldn’t impose their beliefs on others in the workplace if I hired them.

        1. HQB*

          OP says: “I conducted an initial interview with a candidate for a part-time position whose email address and signature caught my attention. […] with the result that every email they send contains a signature with a heavily religious quote, plus a statement urging readers to click a link […]” so it’s pretty clear that the signature for this email in particular included the quote and the link.

        2. Giant Kitty*

          You can find OPs quote about below- it’s a paid email service that is specifically designed and advertised as a way to proselytize to lost souls with every email. It’s even more offensive that originally described, and shows that this wasn’t accidental on the candidate’s part- at all.

      6. whingedrinking*

        I agree that the link is where it crosses the line. Lots of people display quotes they find beautiful or meaningful, and just because it happens to be religious doesn’t mean it’s proselytizing any more than my friend’s “Hail to thee, blithe spirit” tattoo is trying to get people to worship Percy Shelley. The link is the over-the-top part. One of them is saying, “This is a thing I like” and the other is “Hey, I think you should be into this too!”

    2. Meep*

      I don’t know. I hate when someone tries to wave a piece of paper in my face. Whether it be a scripter or a perfume sample. It doesn’t make me want to enter your place of business as it is overtly aggressive and out of place in the context of professionalism. If you are willing to jump at me with something completely unrelated when I am minding my own business, I am going to bristle. This feels like the same thing.

      1. Holyoaks*

        I would agree that although it wouldnt be illegal, the annoyance would be inappropriate for work, whether its relgious or not.

        1. Meep*

          I mean being annoyed is life. It is how you handle it professionally. Allowing yourself to be annoyed, but not showing it is more professional then shoving irrelevant unsolicited items in someone’s face. It hardly matters if it is religious or not. It is still extremely unprofessional.

    3. Podkayne*

      And if you’d be equally cool with a signature that references Allah, Yahweh, G-d, or hare krishna … great!

        1. Elizabeth I*

          Yeah, any of those (or the example in this letter) are kind of weird email addresses/signatures to use for a job application – but again, it’s their personal email so I wouldn’t hold it against them,

          It would be inappropriate as a work email signature, though – but that should be easy to handle by saying, “hey, here’s our email signature standard template, and no religious quotes allowed.”

    4. CarlEatsShoes*

      I do not think “go Yankees” (or any sports team) is an appropriate sign off for an email used for professional purposes. (Unless the job was related in some direct way). I would take that into account just the same as a religious message – both to me seem unprofessional, and indicate someone who does not understand personal versus professional lives. But, I’m in a very formal industry, and people I would interview would be professionals.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Same. IMO, unless you work directly for the sports team in question, sports stuff should be left out of email signatures. Same with political parties – unless your work is for a political organization political stuff does not belong in professional email. Work related email should have work related signatures.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      The email signature can go many ways. What if someone has kinkycat@kinksareus as their email? And includes a “learn more” link? If you allow the religious link then must you allow all the other links that are out there? There are many interests that people support and would like to add a link.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        In the US, religion and “sincerely held beliefs” have a different legal status than interests/hobbies. So unless it’s part of their religious practice, sexual kinks would not be in the same category.

        “Hail Satan”, on the other hand, would fall into the same category of protected speech.

        1. There You Are*

          What about pics of their children and an italicized list of the kids’ recent accomplishments with a link that goes to a customized website devoted to their children?

          Parenthood is a protected status. So would it be the same if an applicant had a signature bloc that was all about their children? Surely people would understand a hiring manager’s reluctance seeing that kind of a signature. If nothing else, it calls into question the applicant’s understanding of professional norms.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I think “family status” is a protected characteristic, which would include parenthood, pregnancy or being a non-parent.

    6. about those quotes*

      When you say you see religious quotes in email signatures, I’m wondering if that means that you see quotes from a variety of religions in email signatures or quotes from one major religion in email signatures. My experience is that it is one major (dominant) religion, and it makes a difference to me.

    7. Mid*

      The issue is that Christianity is seen as so default in the US, that putting a Bible quote is seen as neutral, even though it’s explicitly religious. Similar to how Christmas and Easter are a default part of many Western calendars. The further issue is that putting a quote from the Quran or Torah would be seen as A Statement/Proselytizing by many of the same people who wouldn’t blink at a Bible quote. (Not saying you specifically.) And, because Christian Evangelism is seen as so normal in many places, proselytizing doesn’t register as such to many people, as long as it’s Christian. Inviting someone to Mass with you would read as friendly, while inviting them to Synagogue would be read as an attack on their faith. (Again, this isn’t any one person, nor is it universal, but it’s far more common than many would like to think, again largely because of how Christianity is seen as The Default.)

      The best option would be to not include mentions of your religion in your workplace.

      1. TruetalesfromHR*

        I need to be nitpicky here, primarily because it’s tiring when Christians don’t think that their bible has any basis in Judaism & the Torah.

        The Torah is comprised of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – all of which appear in the Jewish Holy Scriptures and the King James Bible. It would take some massive hypocrisy (which is not unheard of with evangelicals) for a evangelical/fundamentalist Christian to be upset with a quote from the Torah.

            1. Jessica*

              I know that you don’t intend it this way, but the “OT=mean and vengeful, NT=compassionate and forgiving” formulation is itself a very old antisemitic trope.

    8. Caroline*

      As long as they don’t complain when I put quotes by Richard Dawkins, Hitchin, Gervais et al in my email signature (imagine that for a moment, there would be bleating for days), then that’s fine. In these situations, I generally think of the reverse. ”Have a blessed day” sounds pleasant and harmless – and of course it is – but then, so is ”let science guide you!” and yet…

      1. not here for it*

        Not joking, I would sooner connect on LinkedIn with someone whose email signature had a link to their sex work profile than someone who had an email signature either evangelizing Christianity or the kind of smug, racist New Atheists you’ve mentioned.

        My sincerely held religious beliefs include a deep disgust with and aversion to evangelism. It’s vile. My physical response to it is like that of seeing bodily fluids.

        It’s still puke whether it came from an atheist or Christian or Satanic mouth! Keep it far, far away from me.

        1. Jessica*

          Yeah, I think Christian hegemony is one of the most harmful things to have happened to my country, and I would also question the judgment of someone who puts quotes in their email from white supremacist New Atheists, especially one who advocates for sexual coercion of women and for sexual relationships with children. (If you’re going to quote Dawkins, you have an obligation to know what he’s said, in public, about CSA and rape.)

          That would probably be a pretty strong No Hire vote from me.

    9. Worldwalker*

      I would find “Go Yankees” unacceptable.

      Red Sox Nation, represent!

      (let’s not talk about last summer)

    10. Dancing Otter*

      As a Christian myself, I am sorely tempted to respond with another Bible quotation, the one where Jesus tells His followers not to make a great show of their religion. So far, I have resisted, as it would be self-righteous in itself. But these folks are not following the teachings of their own God.

  2. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I didn’t get into this in the post because I’d already taken up enough of Donna’s time, but reading this again today, I have to say that I do find “christ died for you” (as opposed to something blander like “have a blessed day”) to be offensive because it’s so aggressively proselytizing — against a historic backdrop where people have been systemically oppressed/erased/murdered for not being Christian — and I’m curious about how that would play out with what Donna said about “if it was something offensive, then maybe.” Because to many of us, that is offensive. I’d certainly have a problem with an employee including that in their email signature and I wouldn’t patronize a business that sent that to me unsolicited. So I think it’s heavily context-dependent when you’re talking about an employee rather than a job applicant.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I completely agree! And the hyperlink to the proselytizing website too.
      I guess I do see how it’s not sound legal grounds for rejecting a candidate, because you could hire them and tell them they’re not allowed to do any proselytizing at work.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Yeah, it may not be legal grounds to reject them, but it would definitely make me do some more digging into whether the *way* they use religion in their life would cause a problem at work. I live in the Bible Belt (where lot of people are aggressively Christian and there’s rarely pushback) and unfortunately I’ve found a high correlation between people who evangelize in inappropriate situations like this and people who then have issues with me having a nonbinary kid or being married to a trans woman – and those issues are rarely the kind that can be addressed with a simple conversation. If I were the LW (and the candidate wasn’t obviously outclassed by a competitor like they were here) I’d definitely be using the interview to sound out the candidate on whether they’d have problems working with diverse co-workers, clients, and customers.

    2. analyst*


      I’m Jewish and I’d be highly offended to encounter that at work. I literally turned down a contractor to work on our home because they had a bible quote in their email signature and it was such a turn off to me (and yeah, I told them exactly why they didn’t get the job).

      1. Alan*

        Maybe this is an unfair generalization, but my father would only hire people who advertise in the Christian Yellow Pages and I felt like the people were often shady, like they were looking for customers who would give them a pass on quality because of the affiliation. Even when we were evangelical Christian I still didn’t trust people that wore their religion on their sleeve.

        1. LilPinkSock*

          A woman I went to high school with does this. She and her husband almost exclusively patronize Christian-branded businesses, and explains her “reasoning” in ways that can only be described as anti-Semitic and racist. She asked me for a recommendation once and scolded me for “not being sufficiently Christian” (we belong to an affirming congregation and my faith isn’t something I throw in anyone’s face). Ugh.

        2. SnappinTerrapin*

          The phenomenon you described is real. Although not every business owner who speaks about faith is a hypocrite, a significant number of them are.

          Prudence calls for caution in determining whether to do business with a tradesman or a politician who emphasizes his faith over his performance.

        3. Drago Cucina*

          My husband doesn’t like to do business with anyone who puts a cross, icthys, etc., on their sign or business card–unless it relates directly to their business. He’s Catholic clergy and it sets off his “something’s shifty” radar.

          Granted his business cards have a specific papal symbol on them. But, it’s directly related to his ministry and a specific area that he deals with. Not house painting.

      2. many bells down*

        I work for a very liberal religious denomination, and sometimes we get emails from organizations who don’t really “get” that we don’t fit into Christianity. Some of them are highly offensive! Think repeated screeds about how we need to go back to submissive women in the home and men in charge of everything and UGH

        1. Freida*

          I teach religion at a university with a similar religious profile. Never ceases to amaze me when people (sometimes but def not always students) a. assume that they have a stranglehold on what Christianity is and b. take time out of their day to school me when I (in keeping with the denomination!) turn out not to be a right-wing evangelicals.

      3. Meep*

        I am Christian (non-practicing, but Christian) and honestly, I think that is a valid reason. If he is bringing religion into his business right away, he is off on a bad foot.

      4. Tinkerbell*

        There’s an optician locally who fits a tiny “JESUS IS LORD!” into every single print advertisement they put out. The rest of the advertisement is usually seasonal and glasses-themed – think eyeglasses with shamrock clip art and then JESUS IS LORD written over the nosepiece. It’s bizarre and I’ve definitely never been tempted to use their services even though I’m also Christian!

        1. LilPinkSock*

          I wonder if the people who use these business practices realize how much of a turn-off they are to a lot of us mainstream Christians. Ew, maybe that’s the point and they’re actively trying to cultivate a fundamentalists-only client base.

      5. Caroline*

        I am an atheist, and have had awkward situations with many contractors, one of whom – I wish I were making this up – PUT HIS GRUBBY HAND ON MY 7 MONTH PREGNANT STOMACH AND STARTED A FERVENT, STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESS IMPASSIONED IMPORTUNING OF CHRIST FOR A SAFE BIRTH AND SO ON… and that my child might know God’s love through JESUS…

        Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me was snarled at him as he got swatted away. Irksomely, I was so stunned at first, that he got a few seconds uninterrupted prayer time before being shown the error of his ways.

        1. I need a new name...*

          That’s appalling.

          Not least the non-consensual touching, but forced prayer is incredibly repulsive to me.

    3. HannahS*

      The directed (“for YOU”) religious statement, plus “click here to learn more” seems really different than someone signing off with “Happy Easter!” I don’t know if it’s harassment, legally, but I would certainly argue that they ought to know that it was unwanted, and that it targets me as a Jew, and contains, well, the memory of historical violence within it.

      1. Artemesia*

        Agree. I did my career in the south and this is never a good sign — it is aggressive. And people this aggressive about religion often make others uncomfortable or continue to proselytize and then when asked to desist are ‘persecuted.’

        1. ferrina*

          Or if you question their religious beliefs the same way that they continue to question yours. 95% of the time, these people will give it but can’t take it.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          This tracks with my experience too. I was raised as a secular, nonpracticing Jew, then in college was converted by evangelical missionaries who’d come to my home country from the US specifically for that purpose.

          First of all, we the new converts were being guilted and pushed into proselytizing, including on the street, and yes there were booklets. I took entire classes on how to convert people on the street. There were lecturers flown in from the US to teach us how. We were told that we *had* to “save” those people. I was at one point given a book to read, titled “How to Give Away Your Faith”, that had specific instructions on how to spring your faith on an unsuspecting classmate/roommate in college during a casual everyday interaction, and how to then pivot to “saving” them.

          Then a year or so later, my fiance convinced me to convert to the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity (“we do not proselytize” was a big selling point to me), where once again we had to take classes, and one of the things our priest told us there was that, in the early 20th century, most if not all pogroms in my home country used to happen on Holy Friday. It was a day of strict fasting, no work, spend all day in church. People would come in and spend all day in a cold church, on their feet, hungry and thirsty, listening to sermons and scripture readings on how Christ died for them. Then they’d leave church at the end of the day, exhausted, hangry, and with that message drilled into them, and go beat up the people who they’d thought had killed Christ. (The theological intricacies of “he was really killed by your sins personally” did not matter to them at that point.) Our priest was an outspoken anti-anti-Semite (if that’s a correct term) and of course was strongly opposed to all of this, but thought we had to know it as part of the church’s history (so the history won’t repeat itself).

          So yeah, the act of going around telling strangers “christ died for you” is indeed problematic. “Have a blessed day” could apply to any religion or be a sign of being spiritual but not religious, has some cultural roots, and is fine by me. This is different indeed.

          1. Caroline*

            and of course the word blessing, though obviously religious in nature, applies in many contexts. As a hardline atheist, I equate blessings with really good luck and being wished well generally.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              In certain forms of paganism “Blessed Be” (may you be blessed) is a standard greeting. So generic “blessings” are really well wishing to me. “May you be blessed with health and wealth” is the same – no deities required.

              1. anonymousfortoday*

                Blessed by whom, though? Doesn’t a deity get implied here, even if you get to fill in the blank with which one(s) you believe in?

    4. Mockingjay*

      The dividing line is personal vs. corporate email address. Since you have to use a personal email when applying for a job, then I’d ignore whatever religious or other message is included in the signature block. On the job it doesn’t belong, even if the company doesn’t have a formal email policy or standard signature block which forbids or precludes such messaging.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is no longer personal when applying for a job. A neutral email is so easy to get that someone whose handle is ‘Christ died for your sins’ or ‘redhotmama’ is at best showing appalling insensitivity about what is appropriate for professional communication.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Sorry, I was referring to the signature block, not the email address itself. Could have phrased my comment better.

          I actually haven’t seen many weird or off-putting email handles lately; most people use a combo of names and numbers. But plenty do put a message at the bottom of the text.

        2. AngryOctopus*

          And it’s so easy to get a neutral email (which you can then forward to your non-neutral one) that I’d think twice if someone applied with an overtly religious domain name in their email.

    5. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Yes, thank you for addressing this – my first reaction to what you quoted was ‘but this IS offensive’! I would not want to do business with someone who had this set up in their email, particularly in combination with a link meant to convert me.

      Proselytizing raises my hackles so much, if I was the hiring manager I think I would have an actual problem because once I’d seen that, I would have a very very difficult time staying neutral.

    6. londonedit*

      I’m agnostic/atheist/definitely not at all religious and I find it offensive. No, Christ did not ‘die for me’, thanks.

        1. CarlEatsShoes*

          Agree 100%. I’m gay, and statements like this are extremely off-putting and offensive, especially from a stranger. Very “pray the gay away” “hate the sin not the sinner” undertones.
          I’m like, you do you, and I’ll do me, and let’s just not talk about it and mind our own business please thank you.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I do.

            To me, prayer is a form of deity magic. “Praying for me” without my consent is the equivalent of invoking deific magic against me. That is offensive, even if it is ineffective, because the intent is there. The person is asking their god to do something to me without my consent.

            If a person asks if they can pray for me, I will often say no unless I know them.

            1. Robin*

              Thank you for putting that into words! I always felt awkward about folks saying that to me, even kind classmates who were trying to be helpful, send luck my way, etc. And I could never fully figure out why it rankled.

              Alternately, “Sending good vibes” and similar do not bug me because those are well wishes originating from the *person* and not redirected through a deity with whom I have no relationship.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Somewhere in my metro area, the RE agent who I sold my house through last year is praying for me. She took me to dinner to celebrate a closed sale, we started with wine on an empty stomach, and somehow while explaining to her what Turkish coffee was, I mentioned being an atheist. (“It’s like Greek coffee that the church I used to go to serves at their annual festival – you should check it out and try the coffee – I used to work at the festival, but have now left church because I’m now atheist.”) She was horrified. Said she’d pray for me and that she has a feeling I’ll return to the Christian faith yet. I bought a new house this year and she was nowhere on my list of agents to choose from. Prayers were not the only reason I didn’t want to work with her anymore, but high on the list. How do you have any business dealings with someone who doesn’t trust you to be adult enough to decide on your own worldview, and think they have to push theirs on you?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            *last year = 2021, this year = 2022 because obviously, 2023 has not sunk in with me yet!

        3. lyngend (canada)*

          yeah, unless I’m close to you, and it’s a sympathy gesture (sick relative). Then I’ll just accept is as part of who you are.

        4. Worldwalker*

          I have to wonder what they think praying is going to do, anyway. Do they think God is their lapdog, and will do what they command? That an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good being will change His mind about something if they spam Him enough? Really, how is that supposed to work?

      1. CL*

        Same. I also find “Have a blessed day” offensive because I had to actively leave (and recover from) a religious upbringing.

        1. ferrina*

          I like to pretend that they are telling me to be blessed by the Goddess. Partially because I know it would irritate proselytizers, and partially because it reminds me of a dear friend who was Wiccan who was extremely sensitive to other’s beliefs.

        2. Fieldpoppy*

          I find “have a blessed day” offensive in that it’s a dog whistle for a very high likelihood that this person will likely treat me with some level of non-acceptance when they realize I am queer. It’s an overt signal. I would actively STOP patronizing a business where the cashier said “have a blessed day” to me. So yeah, I would see that as a hardship for the employer.

          1. aebhel*

            Same. I put up with it from patrons at my job, but I would not voluntarily patronize any business where an employee said that to me.

          2. Rainbow*

            Searched the comments to find this. I’m queer too and would think the same. I’m not in the US, but if someone said that to me at a supermarket checkout I think there’d be serious alarm over here. I can’t believe that’d be legally protected in this country. You can’t judge by appearances, but if they wore Pagan accessories or something I’d just laugh it off instead, cos then they’re probably not proselytising the way Christians do. To be honest. It does seem more of a Pagan thing to say.

          3. Worldwalker*

            Here in the south, you’d quickly be limited to buying from Amazon. I can’t think of the last time some cashier, etc., said “have a nice day” or even just “thank you.”

        3. PoolLounger*

          Can’t remember if it was this website, but I remembered reading that in England telling people to have a blessed day would read as extremely pagan/Wiccan. I need to remember to respond with “blessed be!”

          1. londonedit*

            I’m not sure about ‘extremely’ Pagan/Wiccan, but it definitely wouldn’t necessarily immediately come across as Christian. Religion is one of those things that traditionally isn’t discussed in polite society here (along with money, politics and sex) and we don’t have a tradition of evangelical religion here, so we’re generally pretty deeply uncomfortable with anyone who publicly declares their religious beliefs. ‘Have a blessed day’ would definitely sound more Wiccan to me than Christian.

        4. Seashell*

          I am not currently involved in organized religion, but I wouldn’t find “Have a blessed day” offensive personally. However, enough people might find it offensive that I think a company should be able to stop an employee from saying it while working.

    7. Don*

      It is mind boggling to me that folks can say with a straight face that we’re not supposed to take it negatively when someone makes a blanket statement that we’re going to suffer never-ending torment in a lake of fire because we’re not following their religious structure. Who would think that!

      1. Aggretsuko*

        There is some guy who is always preaching about that lake of fire out in public at my work and how we’re all going to hell (nothing that can be done about him, it’s in the public square) and gee, I can’t imagine why people aren’t excited to join up with him and go to heaven with him. He just rambles on and on to himself loudly at every lunch hour and everyone ignores him.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah I used to live in South London and we fairly regularly got a chap on the bus into central London telling everyone that the world was ending and we were all going to be damned. I just ignored him.

          On one occasion my godmother (a Methodist local preacher from a small rural town) was visiting and I got on the bus with her to go to Sunday service at Methodist central hall. This chap got on and started up preaching and I had great difficulty preventing her from getting up to correct his theology. She had a serious wish to explain why he was not fully understanding the scripture he was citing in order to be helpful. I explained that in London we don’t talk to rambling strange people even if they have misunderstood Revelations. We ignore them and hope they go away.

          1. Robin Ellacott*

            Ha! That would have been quite the scene.

            “Even if they have misunderstood Revelations” really made me laugh.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes. My godmother was a petite, grey haired lady, a retired librarian and student of New Testament Greek. She thought a lot about what the authors of the bible had thought and had studied the broader historical context but didn’t believe in proselytising or preaching outside church contexts. The chap in question was fairly large and excitable and not entirely rational in his speech and behaviour. I had visions of her getting thumped over a theological dispute which would have properly spoilt our weekend.

        2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          Years ago, one of these lake of fire guys came to preach (scream) to us sinners on my college campus and I have to say that the rejoinders about how if he’s a representative of heaven, hell is starting to look much better was the most enjoyable thing. And this was in Alabama.

          1. Gracely*

            We have them regularly where I work (a college campus). I can usually avoid them, but once I had to go right past them, and when they spoke directly to me and tried to shove a pamphlet in my hands, I told them “my Jesus is more than fire insurance” and the silence I got for about 3 seconds as I walked on was glorious. Then the dude screeched out “then you don’t know him!” I didn’t turn around, but good grief dude, you’re literally saying that Jesus is *only* fire insurance? What a crappy sales pitch.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        It was unprofessional of me, but when a client who I’d helped told me that I was “going to Heaven”, I replied, “Not according to any of the world’s major religions.”

        There was a long, awkward silence while that sank in.

    8. Stitch*

      I find it weird that “have a blessed day” would be seen as something you couldn’t reprimand someone for, simply because it’s not the script. When I worked retail we had a pretty set script and rules.

      1. CarlEatsShoes*

        I think because, in some parts of the country (ie American South), it’s such a common phrase that it doesn’t even register as religious to some people.

        1. JM60*

          Just because “have a blessed day” doesn’t register as religious to some people doesn’t mean it isn’t religious. I’m guessing that many who don’t consider it to be religious would file a religious discrimination lawsuit if they got fired for saying it to customers.

          If it’s not religious, then it wouldn’t make sense for that judge to rule in favor of the cashier in the aforementioned religious discrimination lawsuit.

          1. Robin*

            Sure it would, because the reason for the firing was the interpretation that “have a blessed day” is religious, even if the person saying it does not have any religious intent behind saying it.

            If I was in the habit of saying “have a good one!” and my supervisor banned me from saying that because they came from a context that only Good-ites use the phrase and then fired me when I refused, I would claim religious discrimination. Not because the supervisor was discriminating against my actual religious beliefs, but because my supervisor was making religiously motivated decisions.

            1. JM60*

              Sure it would, because the reason for the firing was the interpretation that “have a blessed day” is religious, even if the person saying it does not have any religious intent behind saying it.

              The fact that many customers would interpret it as a religious dog whistle is why it is appropriate to tell employees not to say it to customers! If some reasonable customers (such as some in this thread) are likely to interpret it as a religious dog whistle, then it’s unprofessional to say to customers.

              Not because the supervisor was discriminating against my actual religious beliefs, but because my supervisor was making religiously motivated decisions.

              Decisions made based on perceived religiosity certainly can be discrimination even if there is no actual religiosity. However, asking an employee not to say “have a blessed day” to a customer (because many will interpret that as an unprofessional religious dog whistle) isn’t discrimination on the basis of religion per se, but on the basis of being unprofessional.

              1. JM60*

                I should add that the reason why this is unprofessional, while many other things relating to religion aren’t, is because it’s involving the other person. If a cashier silently prays while on break, that doesn’t involve me. But if a cashier tells me “have a blessed day” when handing me my receipt, that does involve me (albeit, in a relatively minor way).

                Involving someone in your religious beliefs (or in what someone may interpret to be religious) at work is generally unprofessional.

      2. I am Emily's failing memory*

        The rationale is the same reason you can’t reprimand a practicing Muslim for taking prayer breaks that don’t comply with the break policy. The courts considered it a protected religious expression (which I think is… questionable, but also probably a representative example of how you can expect court cases dealing with religious liberty to go for the next generation in the US).

        1. Stitch*

          Taking prayer breaks isn’t customer interaction though.

          I worked specifically at a theme park and we had scripts to avoid phrases and gestures that were known to be offensive in other cultures (we were taught to point with your whole hand or two fingers instead of one, for instance).

          1. Dainerra*

            Did said park involve a large rodent? It’s been 20 years and I still point with 2 fingers lol

      3. Irish Teacher*

        That might depend on the retail outlet? It might be different in the US, but when I worked retail, we definitely didn’t have a script. Our training amounted to maybe 20 minutes being shown how to use the till. We were told to remind people to turn their trolleys and stuff like that, but we were never given a form of words for anything.

        1. Worldwalker*

          If I was running a store, I’d probably try to dodge the whole issue by having a script. If the cashiers were all required to say “Thank you for shopping at Teapot Emporium; come back soon!” and saying anything else was not permitted, whether it was “God be with ye” or “have a blessed day” or “keep it real,” then a lot of the problem could be avoided. And this is why we can’t have nice things.

      4. metadata minion*

        It might depend on whether you *have* a specific script or just general guidelines. If your goodbye phrase has to be word-for-word “Have a great day and thank you for shopping at Widgets R Us!”, telling the employee that she can’t say “Have a blessed day!” can just be about her deviating from the script. But if your employees are allowed to say any reasonable variation of goodbye/thank you/have a good day, singling out “have a blessed day” really is about the religious content.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. Thankfully none of the retail outlets I worked at as a student had a detailed script. We were told to greet the customer or respond in kind if they greeted me first, and to thank them when the transaction was complete. I’m in Finland, and customers here pack their own groceries, so this was usually after paying.

    9. Observer*

      I have to say that I do find “christ died for you” (as opposed to something blander like “have a blessed day”) to be offensive because it’s so aggressively proselytizing

      I think that there are two things here. “Have a blessed day” has religious connotations, but it’s not really a specifically religious sentiment, and it certainly doesn’t belong to one religious tradition. It’s not that much different than “goodby” which is a contraction of “god speed”.

      The other is explicitly religious, specific to ONE religion, and also clearly proselytizing, so that’s a different thing. That’s true even before the history that you mention.

      What makes it worse is that it’s not just history. A lot of white nationalists explicitly use their religion as an explanation for their antisemitism. And it’s not just white nationalists. There are religious organizations that spend a LOT of money specifically targeting Jews.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Goodbye is a contraction of “God speed”? I always assumed it was “God abides” or similar.

        1. UKDancer*

          I always thought it was “God be with you” but to be honest I think it was formed so long ago that people don’t even think about the religious side mostly. I don’t know anyone who’d say “have a blessed day” because that would be considered weird in my social circle in England and would definitely be viewed as some kind of religious thing. Whereas almost everyone says “goodbye” because people don’t think of any original meaning.

          1. Kaye*

            Yes, it’s like saying ‘bless you’ when somebody sneezes. I’m not sure that anybody thinks about who or what might be doing the blessing!

            1. NewName*

              Saying bless you when someone sneezes dates back before Christianity. Classical Romans remarked on how ancient it was, so ancient that no one knew when it began or why. So who or what might be doing the blessing has surely changed over time, if it was ever specific in the first place, which it probably was not.

      2. Electric Sheep*

        ““Have a blessed day” has religious connotations, but it’s not really a specifically religious sentiment”
        Do any non-Christians ever use it? I’m struggling to see it as non religious.

        1. allathian*

          The closest thing would probably be the Pagan/Wiccan “Blessed be.” But even there it’s used in a religious context.

    10. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      My email signature has my pronouns and a link to learn more about why pronouns are important. I don’t actually CARE if someone holds that against me but it’s an interesting parallel.

      (So far, the only person who has mentioned it is my ex-husband, and, well, there’s a reason he’s an ex.)

      1. L*

        I agree this is an interesting parallel.

        At the end of the day, religious proselytizing is about people trying to spread what they think is good and right and moral and important, even if others vehemently disagree with it. Which is basically the same thing as what pronouns in a signature and a link to learn more is.

        Personally I am a Christian, but I keep it out of work. I think religious discussion would likely hurt me professionally (I do not live in the Bible belt or heavily religious area) and too much discussion would likely lead more to animosity and conflict than genuine conversion. But it is an interesting discussion.

    11. WillowSunstar*

      I agree and people like this at work are one reason why, as an agnostic, I keep my religious views to myself. There’s still more active discrimination in many US states against non-believers. Even if it’s not supposed to happen by law, it does.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yep, every year in their annual social survey Gallup asks people how comfortable they’d be with a family member marrying a member a certain minority group and with a member of that group becoming President. Every year the group people are least accepting becoming their in-law or President of – less than LGBT folk, any ethnic group, or any religion – is atheists.

        It’s an interesting case where a lot of people don’t reveal their prejudices against atheists as vocally because they massively underestimate how many of us there are, like they can’t quite wrap their minds around the idea that the normal person next door might not believe in any god(s) at all. They assume if they met an atheist they’d know us by our sociopathic lack of morals, horns, and pointy tail.

        1. Holly*

          Wow, that’s fascinating! I had no idea. That’s wild to me considering 99% of people I know and deal with in my personal life aren’t religious in any way. Talk about a bubble I guess.

            1. Canadian*

              Yes, definitely. I think the average Canadian would be more uncomfortable having a PM who invoked religion and prayed publicly outside of obviously religious occasions such as Christmas (a la most recent US presidents, even the Dems) than they would an atheist one. Public prayer is so showy. Not to be trusted.

          1. Student*

            We (atheists) are also the last group that the Boy Scouts of America specifically target for exclusion, because it’s still considered acceptable to target us long after it became a faux pas to discriminate against most other groups. They’re open (well, open-ish) to gay scouts and to women scouts now.

            1. Worldwalker*

              Yep. Some years ago, I was told (by a District Commissioner) that I was “not the kind of person we want working with the boys” because I would not do what his assistant said … “just sign it, everyone does” … when I was required to sign a form declaring that I agreed that belief in a supreme being was necessary for being a good person. What was I trying to sign up to do? Become a badge counselor for the Leatherworking badge (I managed a Tandy Leather store at the time) — basically, be able to sign off that a kid knew how to oil a baseball glove, had made a belt, etc.

              So instead, my assistant, who was a liar, a thief, and a Mormon, signed off on the badge forms. But because I refused to lie, I couldn’t.

        2. BoksBooks*

          I did not know this, this is fascinating. They think we don’t have a reason not to do harmful things, maybe.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I find it more than a bit disturbing that they only refrain from evil actions because they fear punishment. Apparently without that fear, they’d all become axe murderers or something.

            That does not define a good person in my eyes.

        3. Atheist in the South*

          It interested me back when I was young and mentioned that I was a retired Catholic or was raised Catholic. Regular “christians” were torn between hating the Catholic part or the retired part. One rather horrible person couldn’t grasp that I could have morals without begin part of a religion. It was a good glimpse into what she would do if she wasn’t restrained by future fires. I have stopped talking about it. Going along with people considering it like a brochure, the closest equivalent I can think of is the people in Las Vegas that try to hand you brochures for places with limited clothes. Just as effective in gaining my business/money.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              I had to actually think about that one for a moment before it dated on me. D’oh!

        4. Tinkerbell*

          I wonder if some of the disconnect is because there are very different flavors of atheists out there :-P The ones who make sure you know they’re an atheist within five minutes of meeting them tend to be just as annoying as the evangelicals from other backgrounds, which unfortunately tips the perception of atheists toward “wow, a lot of the people I know are atheist seem to be jerks [because the ones who aren’t, don’t make a big deal about it].”

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Ohhh yeah, I was active in a meetup group in my early atheist days, that I’d joined for support, but there were a lot of what a close friend of mine called “fundamentalist atheists”. Like the one group dinner where the two people across the table from me went on and on about how horrible the Coexist stickers are, because they normalize religion. I sat there quietly, making a mental note not to leave at the same time they did, so they wouldn’t find out that I had a Coexist bumper sticker. Or the time when a group organizer referred to an absent member as “too tolerant”. To leave organized religion only to then bump into that was a weird experience to me.

            1. I need a new name...*

              We call them ‘fundamentalist atheists’ too. Zealots are zealots, whether they worship a deity or a monolithic ideal of ‘science’.

          2. JM60*

            I’ve never met an atheist who would randomly announce their non-belief after only a few minutes of conversation.

            However, I think a lot of atheists are often perceived as rude because:
            1) People consider attacking religious beliefs to be more rude than attacking other beliefs. Most people think that beliefs should be challenged in the “marketplace of ideas”, but some will consider it to be rude when you don’t handle religious beliefs with kit gloves.
            2) The atheist is upset with religion because beyond not believing that a god exists, they further think that religion causes harm (and perhaps they’ve been harmed by religion). Those who are righteously angry (which I often consider some people to be at religion) are often unfairly considered to be rude.

            Of course, just like with any other demographic, there are atheists who are generally rude.

            1. Giant Kitty*

              “I’ve never met an atheist who would randomly announce their non-belief after only a few minutes of conversation.”


              1. Worldwalker*

                There are some. Just like Vegans, Crossfit enthusiasts, or sports fans. But they’re not the majority of any of those groups, despite popular perception. They’re just loud and hence noticeable.

            2. Jackalope*

              My issue with it is that many of my interactions with atheists that involved conversations about religion involved the atheist in question being a condescending jerk about faith. “I disagree with the idea that a god or supreme being exists,” that’s fine. But many of the people I’ve talked to (referred here in today’s discussion somewhere as “fundamentalist atheists) would say something more like, “All people who believe in a god are complete morons.” Or mock religious people for their imaginary sky friend. Or my personal favorite, the guy who said that religion makes people terrible so all people in the world who consider themselves religious should be killed. (I found it hard to consider the man prepared to slaughter 84% of the world population to be the most moral person.)

              I’ve had conversations with people who are atheist and not jerks; even if sometimes they make me feel uncomfortable or defensive about my religious faith I can recognize that they’re acting fine and the problem is on my end. I would even wager a guess that the majority of atheists are lovely, decent people. But the group of atheists that want to be jerks to religious people are rightfully called rude.

            3. anonymousfortoday*

              Yes, you’re right. I’ll add that when you think about it, it’s almost impossible for an atheist to answer the question of what they do or don’t believe in, or why they’re an atheist (especially if they left a major religion to become so) without sounding inherently offensive. As you mentioned, there’s the belief that religion causes harm — or if you simply say, “I think all religions were invented to control people who aren’t allowed to think for themselves or be intellectually courageous enough to question how they were indoctrinated from birth”, well, it’s your sincerely held belief but it insults theirs.

              I’ve read some pretty surprising comments (not here) excusing an anti-LGBTQ+ rant based on “well, they just really don’t want you to go to hell, they’re being compassionate from their worldview” and then insisting “it’s anti-religious bigotry” if an atheist/agnostic states that people with such hateful beliefs don’t need to be tolerated. It’s a very weird form of mental gymnastics.

        5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          What the heck? I grew up in an all-atheist society and it is fascinating to me anytime I hear of it. I just cannot add it up in my head that people are this much repulsed by and afraid of by something everyone around me was growing up. Is this just in the US?

          Want to also add that I never had that issue at work (IT) – the percentage of religious people was relatively low, and the atheists in my workplaces were out and proud to be atheists. (And were the people I reached out to when I started to have A LOT of questions about my own faith.)

          1. metadata minion*

            I doubt it’s just in the US, but there is definitely a distinctly US-flavored variation of anti-atheist prejudice here. Though even that can be very region/subculture specific — most people I know wouldn’t bat an eye at someone being an atheist, and many of them *are* atheists.

          2. Anony vas Normandy*

            Probably not just the US, but in the US Christianity got all tied up with patriotism during the Cold War (well, even more than it had been before). The Soviets were atheist, therefore The Good Guys need to beef up our national commitment to religion. We added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance, “in God we trust” to the currency, etc. Atheism wasn’t just about religion, it was about loyalty vs. treason, Good Americans vs Evil Reds. Even in the 80s, they were still telling us – in public school, not in church – how the Sovs would torture a Christian if they caught one, and we have to beat them or we can’t be Christian anymore. And since that all wasn’t so long ago, it’s still hanging on.

        6. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          I was born and have lived in the deep South my entire life and one of the worst things I’ve ever witnessed was the absolute orgasmic joy that greeted the announcement that Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her family, including children,
          had be cruelly murdered. It was ugly.

        7. Curmudgeon in California*

          Wow, that’s weird. I would never assume that a plain atheist was immoral, etc. Now some “militant atheists” of the Dawkins persuasion? No, but not because of the atheism, but because of the racism.

        8. Pyjamas*

          Glancing at the poll, evangelical Christian’s and socialists got a thumbs down for political office (didn’t see result about marriage)

        9. Lore*

          I can do with the sociopathic thing but when are my horns and tail are going to be delivered? I would like those.

    12. peanut*

      Although I like the distinction between religion and actions, I doubt it’s a clear line – proselytizing is part of some religions (although I’m not aware of any that require doing so at work).

      1. anonymousfortoday*

        Some evangelical Christians are very pushy about proselytizing everywhere they go. They’ve got lectures and books to instruct them how to have entire conversion conversations with strangers on long plane rides, mission trips to “ungodly” inner cities where they sing Christian songs in public parks to get kids to join in so they can get them to say a sinner’s prayer at the end, and so on.

        At work or school it’s supposed to be more subtle: live such a happy, god-filled existence that “they” (non-Christians) wonder why you’re so much better than they are and ask to attend church with you to find out the true meaning of life.

    13. CJ*

      Yeah, it really depends on the “domain”.

      Disclaimer/disclosure: I’ve been eclectic pagan since the mid-90s, and then I moved to Texas, so I’ve pretty thick skin now in regards to evangelical shenanigans.

      Anywho. If the domain was something like “jesus/saves” or”jesussaves/souls”, yeah, whatever. If it was something more…direct, like “christwillcometojudge/you”, then my eyebrows would go up. There’s an emotional intent in there that moves the “proselytizing” needle that one notch too far.

      (hypothetical domains using / instead of . so as not to irritate the spam filter.)

    14. Robin Ellacott*

      Agreed, and the “for YOU” personalizes it in a weird and almost accusatory way. I’m agnostic, but given that Christianity has historically been so dominant in North America I’d find something like that more aggressive than another faith reference.

    15. Giant Kitty*

      I’d find this as offensive from a job applicant as getting an email whose domain name & signature link contained slurs, hate speech, and/or bigotry.

    16. sundae funday*

      I’m also curious as to whether it matters what the linked website said? A lot of evangelical churches will have a statement on their website like “we believe marriage should be between a man and a woman,” so could her linking to that website be seen as offensive? I would think so, since it seems like a blatant endorsement of those offensive views, and sexuality is also a protected class, just like religion.

      Maybe it’s different since it’s just a personal email, though?

      1. anonymousfortoday*

        Very good question! One’s LGBTQ+ employees deserve (and I believe are legally entitled to) a workplace free of discrimination, so if hiring that person would potentially threaten that status quo, would one legally be allowed to reject that person’s application on those grounds?

    17. SnappinTerrapin*

      I understand your point.

      I believe an employer has the right to restrict the content of outgoing emails from the business, but I think that letting your reaction to the earlier private communication taint your hiring decision risks legal liability for religious discrimination under US law.

      To illustrate the point, substitute a similar message from another faith that has a history of some adherents using force to compel others to submit.

      The personal belief is distinct from the employee using employer resources (including time) to convey the message.

    18. Jessica*


      Christ didn’t die for me.

      But according to several population scientists I’ve read on the issue, there would be at least 2 and maybe as many as 9 additional Jews for every one of us alive today if Christians hadn’t murdered so many of us, stolen our children, and forced us to convert in Christ’s name.

      It’s deeply offensive.

    19. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, that’s where I fall.

      The aggressive proselytization in an email signature would make me wonder if I would have to deal with it on the clock. Put “Matthew 3:14” in your sig? Okay, it’s annoying, but you have to look up the verse. “Christ died for you”? No, that’s over the top proselytising and obnoxious. If they’re proselytizing before they’re even hired, what are they like in the workplace?

    20. fhqwhgads*

      Well, the other thing is business signatures are usually standardized. So as long as this person – if hired – understood that what’s in their personal email’s signature cannot be placed into their work signature, then it’s still offensive to me personally that they started the interaction by doing that, but if they don’t do it in their work email or any work communication, then I think they’re in the territory Donna was talking about. If they start doing it at work, then they’re in harassing colleagues territory, I’d think. (due to the specific language in the examples in the letter, not in a general sense) I’d hope the law agrees.

    21. Worldwalker*

      I think it’s the personal nature of it.

      “Have a blessed day” is a general good wishes kind of thing, at the level of a social non-entity. Nobody thinks about the fact that “goodbye” originated as “God be with you” for example; it’s just a conventional saying.

      On the other hand, “Christ died for you” emphasizes the *you* part of it. Not even “Christ died for sinners” but you-the-listener specifically. That’s when it starts edging into inappropriate territory for me.

      Something promoting or challenging any specific belief would be questionable. “There is no magic sky wizard” would be just as wrong, to me, as “Jesus is the only way to salvation.” I think it strikes me as the kind of personal thing that shouldn’t come up at work, or in work-related contexts, just like one’s opinions on abortion, gun control, or other hot-button topics.

  3. Bébé chat*

    It would be hard for me to not take it into account, as I see this as showing poor judgment from the applicant… That was an interesting answer !

    1. AllY'all*

      I’d feel the same way. The candidate could have created a bog-standard gmail account for employment applications and saved the religious one for personal use, but they didn’t. They emailed from a domain that more or less explicitly says “My religion is the One True Religion that applies to you whether you realize it or not” and then included a proselytizing link.

      At best, they don’t understand why that kind of thing has to be avoided in the workplace, which tells me they have very poor judgment about workplace norms and have a higher probability of causing HR or legal issues than someone with a regular, secular account. At worst, they’re angling for “I wasn’t hired because I’m such a Strong Christian” social or legal victimization status. Either way, the warning signs are not in favor of them being a good cultural fit at a company that values DEI, or even one that values not getting sued.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Having spent several years in evangelical Christianity, I’m guessing that the candidate knew perfectly well that the employer would see it, and would decline to work for anyone who objected to it. Many evangelical Christians seek out like-minded people for their entire sphere, except when they are “witnessing.” It’s likely that “standing up for their faith” is a higher priority for them than professionalism. (NB: I am no longer a Christian and didn’t do this when I was.)

      2. LRL*

        I find myself caught in this thought spiral contrasting this with how much effort some folks put into removing cultural code from our resumes/applications, and how much masking happens at work, in the name of professionalism and/or to avoid bias.

    2. Khatul Madame*

      Judgment is where I get stuck, too. Lack of understanding of professional norms in a diverse workplace.

    3. Craig*

      I’d also find it hard for it not to have any bearing on my decision process, for the same reason as you.

      It’s a fascinating question.

    4. No Longer Working*

      The poor judgment extends to the hyperlink, for me. Can you trust that the link will take you to the religious orgs site? If you employ this person, will they clink on links in emails while on their work computer?

      1. Antilles*

        That seems over the top. Including hyperlinks in your email signature is *incredibly* common. Nearly every single email that comes into my work email inbox has a link in some kind in the signature – the company’s website, “Follow Us on Social!”, a link to the Terms Of Use policy for emails, etc. Putting a hyperlink to a website in your signature is standard practice. In fact, every single company I’ve ever worked for has explicitly made it “standard practice” by providing an email signature template including such hyperlinks.
        And it’s true for people’s personal emails too – I’ve received plenty of emails from applicants whose signature includes a link to their LinkedIn page or Facebook profile or etc.

        Am I following any of those hyperlinks? Of course not – both for security reasons and “no, I don’t care to read your LinkedIn or my vendor’s About Our Company or whatever” reasons. But the mere presence of the hyperlinks is too common for me to think it should really count as a judgment for anything.

  4. Sloanicota*

    Speaking practically, I find it rare that a bad candidate will have only one red flag and no others. If I saw a candidate had an unusual email I wouldn’t use that as the reason I excluded them, but I would certainly ask them other probative questions and get a sense of them; I’ve never had an interview situation where one candidate is heads and shoulders above the others and perfect in every way – except for this one strange thing. Usually it’s a pretty tight cluster at the top with many plusses and a few minuses each.

    1. Littorally*

      Right, yeah. If they’re this far out of line here, surely they’ve got other issues that aren’t protected-class flavored.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, Alison did a great post about this years ago, along the lines of “things not-very-good job applicants do that aren’t dealbreakers but definitely don’t help.” I’ll see if I can find it, because I actually want to read it now.

    3. Poppy*

      I agree with this. I worked at a small business and we hired a candidate with zero relevant experience for a very entry level position that could be trained quickly into more responsibility and pay if they just did their job decently. The candidate’s resume noted they graduated from what is often considered a problematic religious institution and the entirety of his work experience was on that campus, mostly in landscaping. His interview was “interesting” with some red flags and he came off a bit like he was better than everyone, but we didn’t have many choices and hired him anyway. He had a tantrum on his second day because we wouldn’t let him do advanced/potentially dangerous work right away and he cited as his experience at the college as the reason why he should be immediately promoted. Our company had absolutely zero overlap with landscaping and I’m not sure why that made him feel qualified. It ended up not being our problem because he left for lunch and never came back.

      So yes, plenty of red flags from the get go, but his religious affiliation wasn’t the one that kept him from going places.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I agree with this. Someone who is a top candidate, even one who’s very devout, would know it wasn’t appropriate email to use.

    5. Stitch*

      I had this once. We had an application who put his age on his resume. We were pretty sure he was fishing to argue age discrimination. But there were a lot of other documentable issues with him.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, all you need is clear documentation of valid reasons you’re choosing another candidate, that have nothing to do with anything the law protects. I get passed over all the time for jobs, and I think I’m a decent choice – it happens!

      2. Kim*

        This is so bizarre (to me!). Where I’m from it’s normal to include your entire birthday on your CV. Funny how norms differ.

        1. cncx*

          Yes! I’m a mid-career American who has done all of my career in a European country where you put age and marital status on your cv. One interviewer from the states hiring for a local position literally spent 15 minutes schooling me about identity theft problems and how my cv is wrong, when it isn’t wrong for where I live and where he was entrusted with hiring local candidates. I would have been fine with a comment about it or a question but no, this man was schooling me like he was giving me critical career feedback. Re identity theft, I’m not an idiot, and my legal name varies pretty drastically from my cv name due to some nationality issues, so someone with my cv name and my birthday wouldn’t get very far in say, opening a phone bill in my name, either, and I told him so.

          1. Clairebones*

            Oh, that’s interesting because I’m also in Europe (kind of, NI is complicated that way) and it’s unusual to put your age and I would honestly be kind of shocked and confused at someone listing their marital status (aside from maybe using Miss/Mrs in their name which is a giveaway for women). Like I can’t understand why it would be relevant in any way or appropriate to add, obviously I wouldn’t hold it against someone but it would feel like the person didn’t know that is was out of place (and as a woman in tech who does work helping women get jobs in tech, this would be a big huge ‘never do this’ from me).

    6. Aggretsuko*

      This is a very good point. It probably would not happen that guy would be The Number One Best Candidate Ever except for his email and the email is the one thing anyone has reservations about.

    7. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, I had an applicant address a cover letter to “Dear Sirs,” and I was prepared to disqualify him for that alone but then I read further and it became clear that he hadn’t read the job description and didn’t have the relevant experience we needed anyway.

  5. Magenta Sky*

    If the email service is what it sounds like – anybody can sign up for an address on one of their domains, probably for free – I have to wonder how aware the candidate was about the auto-signature. It’s quite possible there was no mention of it in the sign-up process, and it’s quite possible it didn’t initially happen, but was added later. There’s no way to know without asking, which might not be a good idea.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Of course he knows it is in his signature. It takes 2 second to get a gmail address — I have three of them for different purposes.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          If it’s added by the server on outgoing mail, he doesn’t see it. Even in replies, most mail clients hide the signature of the original message. It’s possible he has *never* seen it.

          1. Ella bee bee*

            My email address has an automatic signature along the lines of “everything in this email should be considered confidential, etc. etc.” it’s really long and I had never seen it until one time someone forwarded an email I sent and CCd me on it. It showed up on their forwarded version of my email, but it doesn’t show up in my sent messages, or when someone replies to my email. It’s not a problematic signature at all, unlike the one in this letter, but it did surprise me to see it was there.

            Now the email address on its own absolutely does show a lack of judgment (I am very religious myself and I would never imagine doing that.) but it is very possible that they didn’t know the signature is there.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        It’s not, but only if you have a reason to. If he was unaware of the signature, he’d have no reason to.

    1. Observer*

      I’m with the others. You have to LOOK for this stuff. Whereas, gmail is free and in your face. is also free and not exactly something you need to go hunting for. Just google “free email”. And you’ll get something similar at Bing. Even DuckDuckGo (which someone who is really clueless is unlikely to be using), gives you something similar, although are also a lot of other weird choices. But nothing religious.

      So, if it’s just a matter of a free email account that’s not the one provided by their ISP, this would not have been the choice.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        There’s a qualitative difference between “I’m religious and I like having this address” and “I’m religious and I want to actively proselytize at work.” The latter is grounds for discipline or even termination. The former is legally protected.

        Again, the question is whether or not he is even aware of the signature, since it sounds like something added by the outgoing mail server rather than the sender. Maybe he is. Maybe that’s *why* he uses that service.

        And maybe he’s never actually seen it at all.

        1. Observer*

          There’s a qualitative difference between “I’m religious and I like having this address” and “I’m religious and I want to actively proselytize at work.”

          Yes, there is. But when that email address shows up in a job application, I think it’s not unreasonable to wonder where on the spectrum this person falls.

          Again, the question is whether or not he is even aware of the signature, since it sounds like something added by the outgoing mail server rather than the sender.

          Except that they HAVE to know what the domain is! And that alone is quite proselytizing.

        2. Curious*

          You maybe should consider the EEOC guidance on religion in the workplace, EEOC-NVTA-2008-2. It notes that Title VII requires that an employer must accommodate an employee’s sincerely held belief in engaging in religious expression in the workplace to the extent that they can do so without undue hardship.

          This is in a section titled “accommodating prayer, proselytizing (!), and other forms of religious expression.” It indicates that while individualized, specific proselytizing is likely to be a problem, “where the religiously oriented expression is limited to the use of a phrase or greeting, it is more difficult for the employer to demonstrate undue hardship.”

          While this guidance is 15 years old, the courts have, like it or not, become more accommodating of religious — particularly christian — religious practice.

          1. Letter Writer*

            Ooh, that’s interesting! I’m… dismayed but not terribly surprised, I guess, to find that vague and generalized proselytizing may be protected as religious expression.

          2. Jessica*

            Yeah, specifically protecting proselytizing is accommodating *Christian* practice.

            It’s hampering the ability of members of non-Christian traditions to get legal help with hostile workplaces.

            It’s basically using the law to pressure non-Christians into assimilating, so I wouldn’t call it “accommodating religious practice,” even if the law’s using that vague language as a fig leaf.

    2. Letter Writer*

      A bit more context about the email service, which I wasn’t able fit in my letter (which was even longer than it appears in this post before Alison helpfully streamlined it a bit!): it’s a paid service, and it’s *very* clearly all about proselytizing. It’s hard for me to see how someone could accidentally end up with this sort of signature. Here’s the main site for the service:

      1. Observer*

        Oh my!

        Alison, perhaps you should make a note of this in the actual letter, as I do think it changes things. Maybe not legally, but certainly in terms of how reasonable people would react.

        For anyone who is wondering, this is what shows up on the top of their page – and the bolding is theirs, not mine.

        But with FaithNames, instead of advertisements, each email includes a gospel-related message at the bottom. Each message sent contains a clickable link to a witnessing website that explores that topic in more detail and includes a brief presentation of the gospel. Also, each FaithNames email address features a domain name (the part after the “@”) that is scripture-based instead of the usual company name like most email providers.

        It’s also worth noting that people actually have a choice of domain names.

        1. Not Just the Mrs*

          Well I might hold it against them just for having a paid email service when there are so many adequate free ones. That doesn’t show good decision making skills.

  6. Happily Retired*

    “That said, you can certainly make it clear to all employees that religious harassment at work is prohibited and grounds for firing…” (Alison’s last para)

    Agreed, but I would also be very, very clear with employees regarding what’s included in “religious harassment.” Many proselytizers don’t or won’t grasp that witnessing, and especially asking/telling others to give their hearts to whomever, is harassment.

    (Non sequitur: Man, I am SO tired of this type of Christian being regarded as representative of the entire faith…)

    1. Lisa Simpson*

      It’s funny (but really, not funny, just bigoted) because they refuse to acknowledge non-evangelical branches of Christianity as Christian at all. Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, you know the entirety of Christianity prior to the American revival movement,…all “not Christian” to their mind.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I was raised Quaker, and we had a visitor decided to witness/proselytize in the middle of our silent worship. (Maybe they didn’t realize we were Christian?) It was extremely awkward.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        This is hilarious to me in the way some things are so shocking/stupefying that the only reaction your body or brain can muster is nervous laughter.

      2. ThatGirl*

        They might have thought you were the wrong kind of Christian but as a raised-Mennonite this is hilariously awkward to me.

      3. UKDancer*

        Oh dear, I can just imagine how that went down. I’ve been to Quaker meetings before (having had Quaker friends growing up) and can feel the collective wince from here.

    3. aebhel*

      Yeah, part of the problem is that evangelical Christians view not being allowed to proselytize in any given context as religious discrimination, and they’re generally, at least in my experience, pretty aggressive about it.

  7. Lacey*

    I’ve known of a lot of Christians, usually older ladies – I don’t know why, it just usually is – who would never have thought about this being offensive or inappropriate in a professional setting.

    I’m the opposite. I worry about it so much I’m probably making it weird by going out of my way to not mention religion at all.

    But, the vast majority of these women aren’t going to try and convert anyone. They do the email sig because it’s easy and it makes them feel better that they’re not out there knocking on doors or praying with people on airplanes.

    1. ecnaseener*

      But do you see how saying “Christ died for you” and linking to a proselytizing website is in fact trying to convert the reader?

      1. Lacey*

        Yes, in an incredibly passive, and no doubt ineffective, way. But the writer’s concern isn’t for whatever misguided thing the applicant does with their personal email. It’s for how they will behave with their coworkers if hired. And most of them will never bring it up beyond saying that their weekend plans are church, a potluck, then more church.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I’m just responding to your statement that they “aren’t going to try and convert anyone.” It’s a bizarre statement to make about people who are presently trying to convert people with every email they send.

        2. L*

          A person who proselytizes in their email signature is far more likely to proselytize in person too, so it’s a very legitimate concern.

    2. L-squared*

      Right. I totally agree. I could see some of my older family members who are religious doing this and then not at all trying to convert people.

      I find this interesting, because I’m defending this even as a non religious person

        1. L-squared*

          I mean, I know them, and they definitely aren’t. But go on and tell me about my own family. This is something they find to be an important part of their identity. While I don’t share that, I also know them enough to know that they don’t try to push it on us who don’t.

          1. ella*

            Literally, the act of including a statement like that in your email is an attempt to convert. Maybe listen to the Jews on this thread.

            1. Velociraptor Attack*

              Seriously, it’s the only point. They may not be trying to kidnap you into going to church with them and forcing you to convert, but it’s an attempt, that’s the entire purpose.

            2. Warlord*

              One Jewish person admitted to turning down a contractor because he had a Bible quote in his signature. The irony is clearly lost on everyone here, but ok. Being Jewish doesn’t mean you understand everything about Christianity or it’s many (many, many) sub-cultures.

              I know the same types L-squared is talking about. They’re not trying to convert you, they’re living their lives and those lives include email addresses that reference Jesus. Pretending they’re Pat Robertson types is not helping anyone and it only fuels the annoying Christian tendency to feel persecuted.

              1. NoHamAndNoWine*

                “One Jewish person admitted” is a gross way to start a sentence, especially in this context.

                – Another Jewish Person

              2. Appletini*

                Being Jewish doesn’t mean you understand everything about Christianity or it’s many (many, many) sub-cultures.

                I have noticed that people in disprivileged groups need to know more about the privileged than the reverse, for their own safety. As a specific example of this, in the US Judaism is particularly disprivileged vs Christianity, considering the history of Christians attacking Jews as part of celebrating Christianity and the current rise in antisemitism in US discourse.

              3. kitryan*

                I don’t understand why it’s not perfectly reasonable to say, this contractor clearly is involving their religious practices in their business and I’d rather not bring that into my home, when there are other options?
                Also, it’s weird to say “one Jewish person admitted…” like they are both confessing to something terrible and also reducing them to just their religious (or cultural) affiliation (which we shouldn’t do for the Bible quoting contractor?) and then to imply that if they’d understood Christianity better they wouldn’t be bothered by it – well, as a member of a non dominant culture (in America), I’m pretty sure they understand plenty.

              4. Jessica*

                Being Jewish in America, living every day in a pretty extreme Christian hegemony, does in fact mean knowing a lot more about what being Christian is like than most Christians know about what being a Jew is like.

                Stop gaslighting and minimizing people who have a lot of experience recognizing attempts to get rid of us, the whole spectrum from passive to active, and “polite” to violent.

                It all comes from the same place, and frankly, sometimes dealing with the open white supremacists is less exhausting than dealing with “well-intentioned” Christians, or with people like you.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  As a pagan, I agree.

                  There is a lot of Christian effort going into converting or eliminating non-Christian religions. If you are Christian you don’t see it, because it’s not (primarily) aimed at you. But Jews, Muslims and Pagans? We see it everywhere when we are out in public or when religion is mentioned. It’s ubiquitous, even in supposedly liberal areas where you still see billboards with proselytizing nonsense every few blocks. How many hungry or homeless people could be fed or housed with that billboard money?

            3. Roland*

              “The Jews”? Really? I forgot when we got together and agreed on our collective take on this thread.

              You’re being weirdly focused on semantics that don’t matter. It’s pretty clear you two are working with different definitions of “convert”. Hopefully you agree that knocking on someone’s door isn’t the same as an email signature regardless of your definition of the word “convert”. If you think the email is still inappropriate just say that instead of nitpicking language. Things don’t have one perfect correct definition.

              1. acmx*

                I do think knocking on my door is the same as sending me an email with some religious thing. I didn’t request it, it’s been put upon me.

            4. I am Emily's failing memory*

              I think the issue here is actually the definition of “trying.”

              L-squared’s family members wouldn’t say they’re not “trying to convert someone” because they’re not invested in any individual’s conversion enough to do anything more than broadcasting a resource. To them, trying would mean personal effort and follow-up and bring dissatisfied if they didn’t succeed.

              The recipients of the broadcast are receiving it personally, however, so to them it does indeed feel like somebody trying to convert them, because here is somebody, offering them unsolicited conversion resources.

          2. ThatGirl*

            They may not be actively harassing you or trying to convert you. But I can be almost certain that there’s passive attempts at conversion going on. The point is to share the word and be a light in the world or whatever other evangelical nonsense. I grew up with this stuff – Mennonites very explicitly are not supposed to evangelize, but there is 100% an underlying “but we want them to see what good Christians we are so the Heathens will be interested in joining us”.

          3. Laney Boggs*

            impact > intent. The impact of ending every communication with “Christ died for you!” is greater than the intent of “i’m not technically trying to convert”

          4. Appletini*

            Whereas my aunt who has an email signature like this used to proudly tell me about trying to convert the AIDS patients she worked with as a visiting nurse “before they die and go to Hell”.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Ugh! How awful! I would have gone no contact with someone that insensitive.

              A lot of AIDS patients in the 80s were actually Christian, just rejected by their families and churches. Trying to “convert” them on their deathbeds would have just been rubbing salt into the wounds left by their families and churches.

              1. Appletini*

                As soon as I was grown enough to not have to see her again, I never did. I still kind of wish I’d been brave enough to point out the pain she was causing, but it’s not like she would have reconsidered.

        2. Mill Miker*

          It’s the same kind of passive activism you get a certain percentage of with any cause. “I changed my display picture” “I posted on the hashtag” “I updated my email signature” and therefore “I did my part and can get back to whatever”. They’re “trying to convert”, but not willing to put in an actual effort.

        3. ferrina*

          There’s a difference between Trying To Convert and Oblivious. I’ve relatives on both sides- the Converting folks will come at you like a hawk, lecturing you and telling you why your faith is wrong (which was really weird when they were lecturing the person with the MDiv…). The Oblivious folks genuinely don’t realize that not everyone is like them. They assume everyone shares their same faith and will enjoy being reminded of the faith, and they are so wrapped in their own bubble that they don’t comprehend that not everyone shares their views.

          Both are problematic, but in distinct ways (though in most cases it’s a distinction without a difference)

          1. Clairebones*

            But as discussed, the email service is explicitly designed and marketing based on the goal of converting ‘the lost’. It’s not “oh this person has a religious email handle, they should know better but that’s just something they don’t think about”. It’s someone who went out of their way to sign up to a service specifically intended to convert non-Christians… that is not the same as “Oh they just forget some people aren’t Christian”, it’s literally the opposite of that.

      1. Artemesia*

        My older family members who would do this area also the ones who knock on the doors of strangers to bring them to Christ.

      2. not here for this*

        Hi, I’m Jewish, and I’m as willing to be spit on as I am to be evangelized at. It is incredibly disgusting, disrespectful, intimate behavior. My relationship with the divine and my spit-free face need the same amount of contributions from your “well-meaning relatives,” which is to say, NONE. Not even a little bit.

        It’s still gross if you only spit once! Still gross if you’re a little old lady! Don’t do it!

        If you were raised in a culturally Christian environment where Christian evangelism (or other kinds of evangelism, including atheist) aren’t the kind of thing people recoil from, this has been your Public Service Announcement that your culture’s norms and my culture’s norms are not the same.

          1. anonnie*

            It’s not speaking for all Jews to point out that there are many Jewish voices on this page presenting a different viewpoint.

            1. Roland*

              “try listening to the jews” dismissively implies that all jews would disgaree with you. After all, if they’d listened to me, a Jew, I’d be like “yeah that’s fine with me”. Jews are not a monolith.

              1. Jessica*


                They said, “Try listening to the Jews *on this thread*.”

                The majority of whom are expressing discomfort.

            2. Giant Kitty*

              I’m not Jewish, but I was raised in a non religious, non churchgoing, only nominally even culturally Christian family and like Former Hominid, I also find this to be gross proselytizing. It’s incredibly offensive to people who were not raised in the Christian tradition (among many others!)

          2. Former Hominid*

            She speaks for me- THIS IS gross proselytising. I don’t care what a person’s intent is, if they start up with the “let Jesus into your heart” bull I’m done. Reminds me too much of my birth grandparents, who when they were told I was being raised Jewish like my other birth parent and my adoptive parents, sent me literature about how me and my parents were going to hell unless we let the light of Jesus into our hearts. It stopped when I was 7 because my parents threatened legal action and press. They’d disguise the cards as children’s birthday cards, and fudge their names so I’d open them. That signature would have every last one of my hackles up.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              This is an excellent example of the sneaky, deceptive, disrespectful tactics of the fundamentalists I grew up with, which I posted about down the thread.
              And to a child yet! They will do anything. :(

          3. Jessica*

            It’s not “speaking for the Jews” to point out that a number of Jews in this comment section have tried to explain why this bothers us. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean Jews aren’t saying it, and doesn’t absolve anyone of the responsibility to listen.

            Just as Jewish as you, toots

      1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        Okay, I think there’s a lot of people talking past each other in this thread.

        Yes, I can see why someone putting something totally ineffectual in their email signature is different than actually having a conversation with someone in an effort to convert them. That doesn’t mean the email signature isn’t a red flag.

        The internet, lately, seems to wildly misuse the term “red flag.” “Red flag” doesn’t mean “dangerous behavior,” it means “sign of danger ahead.” No, we have not yet seen this person harass someone about religion. But this specific error of judgment and cultural egocentrism is a red flag for how they’re likely to behave down the road, especially towards people of different religions–and if it’s the “Christ died for you” variety, especially towards Jews.

        You’ve clearly never had anyone tell you that your people were responsible for killing Jesus. Be grateful for that, but don’t argue with those of us who can’t say the same.

      2. Observer*

        Look, I get it. Maybe they are that kind of clueless person who really doesn’t see that this signature is designed for proselytizing, because they don’t use it that way.

        But the reality IS that the design IS proselytizing, even if the PARTICULAR user did not mean it that way. (As can be seen by the link at what’s on the target site.) To refuse to even see it as a FLAG? No, that’s red flag to me that you are definitely not going to handle discrimination and harassment claims appropriately.

      3. CarlEatsShoes*

        Or the gays! I take it less as “trying to convert” and more as “praying for your soul” BS that’s supposedly well intended but is definitely not.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      This is an intent/impact thing, though. It doesn’t matter if they intend to proselytize, what matters is that their words can reasonably be expected to cause offense. Proselytizing, no matter how bland, is inherently disrespectful to other people’s religious beliefs.

      1. nuances are hard*

        I’m seeing a lot of reactions that boil down to “but saying Jesus died for you is stating my own beliefs, not trying to convert you! so how is that proselytizing?”

        Dominant religion folks, “Jesus died for you” can be intended as “I believe that Jesus died for you” but will come across due to cultural context as “It is a fact that you are wrong for not believing, that Jesus died for you”.

        The first is only acceptable in a mutually respectful and consented-to conversation about religion. The second is an attempt to convert.

        Impact > intent.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          And going around gratuitously* stating your religious beliefs in the workplace fairly quickly crosses the line to religious harassment.

          *i.e. not, “I can’t work Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays” or “I need five minutes for prayer.”

        2. IsbenTakesTea*

          Agreed, with the added note that “Jesus died for you” is not a neutral or inherently positive statement, because the full meaning is, “Jesus died for you because you are messed up and need saving,” which is factually judgmental and easily offensive, especially in the targeted way “sin” has historically been and is currently applied to certain groups and actions and not others.

        3. Giant Kitty*

          “I believe that Jesus died for you”

          Is something I would personally find just as offensive as someone saying “I believe you will burn in hell for your sins”

        4. Lizzianna*

          Exactly. If it’s okay for you to write “Jesus died for you,” in an email because it’s just a statement of belief, would you welcome an email signature from me that said, “The trinity isn’t real and Jesus was just as human as me” with a link to a treatise on early Unitarianism?

  8. Teapot Unionist*

    I actually have a similar question about this. My organization has a clear non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and religion. There is also a state law that protects both. A recent hire has a fledgling ministry, with a line on their website that their special calling is to minister to those dealing with same sex attraction and the families torn apart by this lifestyle. The lgbtq staff are angry and uncomfortable having her work with our clients because it seems like a major contradiction in our values. What can we do? What should we do?

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Is the new hire bringing this into their work?
      If not, I don’t know that there’s really anything to do.

      1. CarlEatsShoes*

        How could they not? It would be like if someone was a member of a very racist organization. You can’t just say, “oh, I only do the KKK on my personal time.” That mindset bleeds into everything you do, and there’s no way that you are not discriminating against people in your professional life if you hold those sorts of views as part of your core beliefs.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          My point is that if the plan is to fire them, there should be some clear problematic behaviour to point at, not just the fact that they mention something on an external website.

          1. CarlEatsShoes*

            Expressing discriminatory beliefs should be enough, regardless of forum. (But agree, sadly, that’s often not when disguised as “religion.”)

        2. kitryan*

          I don’t necessarily believe that it should be an immediate disqualification because of the risk of opening up a religious discrimination can of worms and I agree that there’s usually going to be other, non-religious based signs of poor judgment in such cases, but I do not understand how, if you are bringing in religion as an element of your job search process, by having a religious email domain that you pay for (or proactively chose even) and using this in your job search despite there being so many other free options, I’m not supposed to think you’ll want to do the same in your work life? Your job search persona should be *more* professional than your work persona, not *less* professional.

          1. kitryan*

            Sorry- I was more addressing the original letter than the coworker in the first message of this thread.

    2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Is it a personal website or on their work linked website? Neither option sounds good, but the second one seems worse. I, as an ally, would be very upset right along with the LGBTQt staff. If I as a customer, say a link like that on an organization, I’d be very vocal in why I was now a former customer.

      1. ferrina*

        I fired a wedding vendor because he had similar views on his public website. Not someone I want to be affiliated with.

    3. LizB*

      My completely non-expert thoughts: how do y’all know about this ministry and that specific line? Did this new hire bring up the ministry in general, or this calling in particular, in discussion with coworkers? If not, I think the only thing that her coworkers can do is be impeccably professional to her, and until/unless she tries to talk to them about their “lifestyle” they’re “dealing” with (ugh ugh ugh ugh) just have to leave it at that.

      The clients part seems trickier. I also wouldn’t want this person working with lgbtq+ clients because I would be afraid of them receiving a reduced level of service, or even harassment. Depending on your client population and the new hire’s position, this might count as a legitimate concern about her ability to perform her job, but if she hasn’t technically done anything there might not be action you can take. I don’t have good answers here; I think this part of it really really has to go to a lawyer.

    4. to varying degrees*

      Not a whole lot until they do/say something at work. it sounds like the website is their personal/ministry website and if they’re not bringing it to work, linking it on their emails, etc. then no, there’s not a whole lot you can do other than make sure that your staff and clients know that you are an open door to freely report any and all discriminatory behavior (by this person and anyone else).

    5. ScruffyInternHerder*

      This feels like its at least on the line between “you can have a belief but you cannot have a belief AT someone”, if not across it on the “AT” side.

      Can’t really speak about what I’d do in non-polarizing terms because I’ve seen what evangelical ministry did within my extended family (within a nuclear family that is part of my extended). If the minister cared so little what having a belief AT his own child caused and the longer term ramifications of that, I wouldn’t want them working for me in a client facing role either.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Someone further down the page did a better job of describing what I mean by “having a belief at someone” in calling it behavior. You can believe what you want, you don’t get to use that belief in being a glassbowl to someone.

    6. Observer*

      Firstly, get your lawyer involved.

      Secondly, I think that the people who asked how you know about this have a point. If this is something totally separate from work, that has to be treated differently than if they are linking to it in work materials, linking to work in their personal / ministry presence, or talking about this at work. The latter has to be a HARD no. Because that goes from personal expression of religion which is protected by law to something that clearly has a negative effect on your also legally protected staff, which is not protected by law.

      The main exception I would think is if your primary target market is people who lgbtq, because there the risk is very high that there will be a problem.

      But, talk to your lawyer.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep, get the lawyer involved. As this letter just showed, sometimes the law has different parameters than what we’d assume, so you need to get legal counsel on this.

    7. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      It depends on what kind of client work you’re talking about, and whether or not that value is affecting that work.

      If you’re contractors who just happen to be very queer-friendly, it’s hard to argue that it’s relevant. If you’re crisis counselors working with queer teens, that’s a different story, but I’d be surprised it didn’t come up in the hiring process. Also, IANAL.

    8. Teapot Unionist*

      I am one of the LGBTQ employees. The ministry link was clearly attached to their open to the public social media and was easily discovered in a very quick google search after introductions to the rest of the staff. Our HR department has consulted their attorney and the national level org as well.

      I agree with the parallel to the KKK or any other hate group. Some things can’t be compartmentalized into just “your own time.” Our work includes work with faith communities and leaders on the regular–just usually more progressive ones.

      1. aebhel*

        Yeah, this. Doing conversion therapy (!!!) is way different than attending church, even attending a very conservative church.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has shown that they have a much broader interpretation of religious protections than many of us (including me) think is reasonable. This is an issue that needs a lawyer’s advice.

      3. I should really pick a name*

        It sounds like you’re doing the right thing. The attorney is likely to have better recommendations than we would.

    9. just another queer reader*


      Other people gave good advice, but just a note: “conversion therapy” is dangerous and ineffective (and recognized as such by all the major medical associations). It’s also illegal for minors in 20+ states.

      (If parents are stressing about their kid being queer, they should go to PFLAG!)

      1. Teapot Unionist*

        Indeed. And it is illegal in my state to subject minors to conversion therapy. We are not a youth-serving organization, but we work with people who work with youth. I am trying to dance around a little bit to not make it obvious where I work. But, civil rights is one of our major prongs of work. It is especially complicated given the nature of what we do.

    10. learnedthehardway*

      As long as they are keeping their personal and work lives separate, I don’t see that there is much for you to do about it. ie. if they are not treating their LBGTQ colleagues any different from their non-LGBTQ colleagues, and if they are not discussing their ministry at work, then I would leave it alone. Otherwise, you run the risk of discriminating against the person because of his religious beliefs, which are also protected.

  9. BradC*

    Since a candidate is only likely to use their external email during the application process, I think you have to let it go.
    Aggressively religious signatures in company email, however, especially if its a customer-facing position, is definitely something you can say something about.

    1. NeedRain47*

      This is what I was thinking too. They’re using their personal email during the application process, so although this would make me worry that they’d proselytize at work, it isn’t positive proof that they would.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I agree with you both.

        I think the best you can do is a strict, one-strike-and-you’re-out non-proselytizing policy, and explicitly include passive proselytizing (even giving email-addresses, signatures, and backgrounds as examples thereof).

        If you can get it on the books before the start date, I’d even discuss it as part of the offer to make sure they’re on the same page.

        1. Curious*

          But the EEOC guidance (EEOC-NVTA-2008-2) explains that proselytizing must be accommodated, unless it creates an undue burden. A “strict one-strike-and-you’re-out” non-proselytizing policy” that “explicitly includes passive proselytizing ” would seem inconsistent with the EEOC guidance.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Wow. That certainly puts this conversation into a different context.

            I withdraw my suggestion and it’s time to go figure out what reality I find myself in.

      2. DontMindMe*

        This was my thought! For me the biggest problem is that OP is essentially asking if it’s ok to assume that they’ll do this in person at work. They absolutely might, but it’s just as likely they will understand that it’s not appropriate from the office or in their work signature.

    2. Anne Shirley*

      This was my thought. The LW’s whole point is predicated on “[knowing] that they would insist on trying to convert people to their religion within the workplace” and, respectfully, they don’t know that, they’re assuming (maybe correctly! maybe not!) based on an email signature.

      To be clear I am not religious and it would annoy me too, but this is a reason to check out the candidate’s references thoroughly and make sure that the company anti-proselytizing policy is crystal clear for everyone, not a reason to make assumptions about what they will do as an employee (with, presumably, an org email address).

    3. to varying degrees*

      Same. I think it’s a stupid email (and incredibly ineffective to achieving the desired goals) but assuming that your staff are issued work emails and the place has a firm policy/control over any and all email signatures, then yeah, it shouldn’t be considered when evaluating the candidate. But like someone else said, there are probably other flags that you’re seeing.

    4. Letter Writer*

      For context, this person was actually interviewing for an extremely part-time position in which they would not have a company-issued email address and would use their own email address for all work-related emails—mostly just emailing with full-time staff members but potentially also emailing with customers on rare occasions. That said, I’m not sure there’s any way they’d have known this particular fact (no company-issued email address) as a job applicant.

      1. NeedRain47*

        It seems like it’d be a way, way better idea to have them create an email address specifically for their work instead of requiring them to use their existing personal one. I mean it can be a gmail account or whatever. But mixing the two seems like a recipe for disaster even if proselytizing is not on the table.

      2. Observer*

        in which they would not have a company-issued email address and would use their own email address for all work-related emails—mostly just emailing with full-time staff members but potentially also emailing with customers on rare occasions.

        Please don’t do that. You are seriously putting your company at risk. It’s not just that potential for problematic email addresses. It’s the potential for mis-directed emails. And, yes, that can happen even with separate emails, but the chance of crossing streams is much reduced. It’s also the (in)ability to monitor client communications, continuity of communications (eg this person moves on and you have zero access to anything they said to a client) and lack of access if you ever get hit by some sort of investigation.

        1. Letter Writer*

          I appreciate the point you make and I agree in at least some respects! It’s a fairly unusual situation—there are hundreds of employees in this particular part-time role, mostly working just a few hours for us each week on top of potentially multiple other jobs, and my guess is that part of the thought is that we’re unlikely to convince employees for whom we’re such a small part-time job to consistently check a whole new email address. In any case, it’s very much not something I’m able to change from my role within the company.

          1. Observer*

            and my guess is that part of the thought is that we’re unlikely to convince employees for whom we’re such a small part-time job to consistently check a whole new email address.

            That’s a a sign of REALLY poor management. When you’re on the clock, you check your email. Or do you not expect people to consistently clock in for the time that they are supposed to be working?

          2. Rosemary*

            I think if the ONLY people they are emailing are other employees at your company, it is fine if they use their personal email. However, if they are ever emailing customers – I would strongly recommend getting them a company email. My company hires a lot of freelancers – when communicating with just them, we typically use their personal email. But if they are included on any client communications, we almost always give them a company email address.

          3. Splendid Colors*

            I understand that your organization might be trying to save money by not assigning additional internal email addresses for hundreds of part-timers. (I just got corporate email after using personal email and hadn’t really thought about having to pay for individual users’ email before this.)

            But it seems like such a gaping security hole to have hundreds of employees using external email addresses. Do you have actual IT or legal staff telling your decision-makers that this is an OK practice that won’t bite them in the seat eventually? Or trying to find ways to reduce the cost?

      3. lyngend (canada)*

        In this type of situation, I would insist on the new hire getting a new email address to use for work.
        And personally, I’d suggest having a general company email for this position, like “” so that there’s no issue about crossing personal and business lines.

  10. Veryanon*

    Many years ago, I was interviewing a job candidate who stopped the interview to ask me if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. In the middle of the interview! It was a very bizarre experience and I have to admit I had a difficult time trying to get back on track with the interview after that.
    I didn’t hire him for other reasons (his overall interview really wasn’t good and his skills weren’t a good fit) but I often wonder if he ended up getting hired somewhere.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      I was interviewing for a job as the branch manager of a small-town public library. I was told by my future boss – the mayor! – that I should “pray about whether God says it’s the right job for me.”

      (Turns out she was right, insomuch as if that had been a dealbreaker for me I would have been a bad fit for the job, but still very much not okay to say!)

    2. Jessica*

      I would have told him proselytizing is highly inappropriate in a job interview, and if he brought it up again, I would terminate the interview immediately.

      One of my pet peeves, as someone who does a lot of interviewing, is how few companies have policies to protect interviewers, or even clear training on what to do if someone harasses you while interviewing.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      If someone did that in an interview with me it would be a hard NO on hiring them. Aggressive proselytizing in an interview would be an instant disqualification in my book. As in, “call security to escort them out” level disqualification. I would not have continued the interview after that bad of a lapse in judgement.

      I’ve worked with a few very religious people – crosses on them and their walls, celebrating even minor Christian holidays, etc. I’ve even taken the on-call so they could attend religious services. But they never tried to proselytize to me. I supported them in exercising their faith, and they left others alone to enjoy theirs.

      Having a deeply held religious faith and proselytizing are two different things. The first is fine, the second is not.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Not even just proselytizing; this person asked one of the most personal never-ask-strangers question and I’d tell him I was offended and that he’d need to apologize. My relationship with spirit is the most personal thing in my life.

  11. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    [“I didn’t take the email address and signature into account in my assessment of the candidate, who ended up being a poor fit for completely unrelated reasons in a subsequent stage of the interview process that I wasn’t involved in…. ]

    As long as you can fully document those “completely unrelated reasons” while making no reference to the religious email domain, you and your employer should be okay.

    1. NeedRain47*

      LW wouldn’t be able to document it b/c they weren’t involved. Hopefully the organization on the whole has some kind of documentation procedure for hiring that would show that they followed the rules, that’s how it worked whenever I was on hiring committees. We were basically document who met the most qualifications from the job description as evidence for who was interviewed. After that it could be a little nebulous if people were equally qualified but it doesn’t sound like that was the case here.

    2. Letter Writer*

      Yeah, I’m not worried about legal issues in this particular case. I conducted an initial interview, and gave the candidate an overall positive rating within our application management system. The candidate then took a quite objective and concrete skills-based assessment, which was scored by a colleague of mine who likely never even saw the candidate’s email address, and it was that skills-based assessment that disqualified the candidate. I wrote to Alison because I thought this example was an interesting, somewhat internet-specific example of a grey area between religious expression and proselytizing, and I was curious for her thoughts on it more generally.

  12. ReadyNPC*

    But what would constitute the most qualified applicant? Say you have this person and another with similar credentials but went with the other person because the lack of proselytizing would make them a better cultural fit. Is that enough to have the hiring party in the clear?

    1. Lacey*

      I think you’d probably want to say, “a better culture fit” without referencing religion. But even then, it’s questionable, because “culture fit” has often been a way to hire white men over women and people of color.

    2. Sal*

      This is not my area of legal expertise, but I would say no. You MIGHT be okay if the person who ends up being hired is also of the same religion (then the hiring party could say, “See, I didn’t not hire Proselytizer because of their religion, I hired Hired when they are that religion too!”), but even then you’re not hiring someone because of their religious practice (as long as that practice is deemed akin to the inoffensiveness of “have a blessed day”)–you’re just calling it “cultural fit.” I would get a very good lawyer who does employment law in your jurisdiction (specifically, your federal circuit) to answer this question before making a decision.

    3. LizB*

      Unless their credentials are 100% identical, you should have something you can cite other than “cultural fit” if questioned. Candidate B has worked with state government and you’ve only work with local; Candidate B has 4 more months of experience than you; your degree is a BA in Llamas and theirs is a BS in Llamas. It should never really get to the point of having to give that much detail, but any of those reasons are valid ways to make hiring decisions.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        Yes, there’s always something, if you even need to tender an explanation. “We are proceeding with another candidate” is really sufficient. But here, you could truthfully highlight the other candidate’s professionalism!

      2. ferrina*

        Yeah, there’s always another reason. No one will have identical skills, and usually someone will be able to point out skill differences and why Random Skill will help (oh, they have experience working with the same copier type we use, and every week we lose over an hour of staff time trying to use the category, and having an SME of their caliber is critical!). This is a normal part of hiring when you are trying to decide between two good candidates.

        But as someone pointed out up thread, usually a candidate like this won’t be your top candidate for other reasons.

  13. Emily*

    Hiring discrimination is very easy to get away with because unless you actually tell the candidate “we’re not hiring you because of [x illegal reason]”, or you do something like pull an offer after the candidate discloses something (like a pregnancy), they can’t really know.

    And unless you do something really dumb like put it in writing, or you’re a very large company where it’s possible to systematically analyze hiring decisions (and even then…), it’s very hard to prove even if someone were looking into it.

    I do not think that you should break the law on this. But if you are a job seeker, you definitely shouldn’t count on these legal protections to actually protect you.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      True, but… I wouldn’t discourage victims of discrimination from pursuing some form of justice. Companies are often very wary of going through a full trial and tend to settle quickly if there seems to be enough plausible evidence. On one hand, a settlement could remain sealed from public record — the company doesn’t want further evidence of a pattern of discrimination — on the other hand, there will be no evidence of a pattern if no one steps forward.

      1. ferrina*

        There’s the case of the letter where the LW was applying for a job and the person that interviewed them reached out afterwards to talk about their scars and proselytize. LW rightly escalated the issue in that company, the person got fired and the company wanted to talk to LW more about the job (which LW declined).

        In this case it was enough just to flag it. In some cases you’ll need to go to court, which will take a certain burden of proof to win. You don’t always need to win- some companies will settle just to get it over with- but sometimes it will be a lot more drawn out. Each person should decide for themselves and their circumstances what path is right for that case.

        1. ferrina*

          Here’s the original letter:

          And here’s the update:

          This wasn’t a case of hiring discrimination, but it was a close cousin to it. The company handled it really well, and the LW had an email. I misremembered the proselytizing- there were religious connotations in the original email, but different folks would differ on whether that’s proselytizing (see: comments throughout this thread). But the email was definitely problematic!

  14. OrigCassandra*

    Thank you for this post, OP and Alison and Donna. It’s dreadfully difficult to draw bright lines here, so I appreciate the clarity and care you all brought to the question.

  15. mlem*

    Would you be able, in an interview, to point out the proselytizing in the email and then say, “You will not be able to proselytize like this to coworkers or customers in this position. Would that be a problem for you?” Or would that also be dangerous territory?

    1. NeedRain47*

      I am not HR, but was taught to just never mention religion in an interview. Sometimes it sort of comes up if folks have church-related activities on their resume but you just stick to asking about the activities that might be relevant to the job.

    2. Velociraptor Attack*

      I would imagine that would be dangerous territory because if you then later rejected the candidate for completely valid separate reasons, they could easily tie it to that statement.

    3. Jessica*

      What if you didn’t reference their email, but asked about willingness to not proselytize at work, and asked that question routinely to every candidate interviewed?

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        I think that would turn off good candidates who are now going “this company is so weird!” and would worry they are LOOKING for folks who want to do that. If I were asked about that I would be really weirded out.

      2. Observer*

        That’s pretty much the gold standard.

        And it’s good idea, not just because of legal peril. But because you really don’t know who is going to be a problem.

      3. Tinkerbell*

        It would probably be a bad idea to mention proselytizing directly, but I bet there’s an interview question like “tell me about your experience working with a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds with co-workers and customers” that would get you the same data :-)

      4. kitryan*

        Interestingly, I was asked/told this at a job interview.
        I was applying for a position at a Catholic high school (not as a teacher but I would have been working w/students) and was asked if I would have a problem not discussing my personal religious beliefs with students. It was asked in a pretty non-offensive way, and my name is easily read as probably Jewish. I don’t know how the discussion would have gone or if the question would have even been asked if I had a probably Christian or probably Catholic name. I think it probably was something covered with each applicant, based on how smoothly it was handled.

    4. Critical Rolls*

      I wouldn’t do it directly. Ideally there is already something in the planned interview questions that addresses DEI, and I would just pay very close attention to that section. “We value diverse and inclusive perspectives here at Top Teapots. Can you tell us about your experience working with diverse colleagues or customers?”

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, that’s what I’d do. I’d ask everyone I interviewed a question about their approach to inclusion / promoting an inclusive working environment / valuing different perspectives. That way you can get some really useful evidence about people at interview.

      2. ferrina*

        Love this solution! This really gets to the heart of the matter, and the right candidate will love that you asked this question.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, one thing I judge companies on is how many older people, women, and non-white people are involved in the interview process. If they are all young, white males I will probably not fit.

          The DEI behavioral question is a good one, but it can devolve to the white guy with “one black friend”.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      There was an extremely interesting episode of LA Law in one of the later seasons about this. The partners had a lengthy discussion with a job candidate about her religious views and how well she would fit into the culture of the office (while of course Arnie aggressively flirted with her).

    6. CarlEatsShoes*

      My immediate reaction was that you should not do this. Especially with the way legal cases have been coming down, and with this Supreme Court, it seems like the trend is that “religious freedom” means the freedom to try to force Christianity onto others. Not that your case is going to go to the Supreme Court, but I do think it has emboldened a lot of religious folk in certain circles who have been convinced they are victims and discriminated against if they cannot push their religion onto others. I just wouldn’t touch this at all.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      NO – that would be a bad way to go about it. Instead, as an interviewer, I would make it a standard question in my interviews to say “Our company respects the rights of workers to have a workplace free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. Our company does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and is careful to follow human rights legislation. Are you comfortable with upholding these values at work?”

      Or, I might ask (as a standard interview question of all applicants), “How have you dealt with a situation where your personal values were at odds with a co-worker’s values or the company’s values?” and see how they reply. They might not even bring up their religion, but they will probably make it pretty clear about whether they can deal with other perspectives professionally.

  16. SQL Coder Cat*

    This is an interesting case. I guess it’s the workplace equivalent of “innocent until proven guilty”- you have to assume they won’t proselytize until they do. That said, the answer makes me feel icky, because it’s a clear warning that they might, and if they do, they could cause serious harm to others. You can’t consider it if they don’t cross the line- but if they were the best qualified, I’d be sure to stress a few things in the onboarding…

  17. Dr. Rebecca*

    IANAL, but I wonder if there’s room for an interpretation of the law that makes it okay to say “I’m not going to hire people who behave X-way no matter what their religion,” whatever X is, if X is not a specifically protected behavior. Like: praying at work is fine and for all religions, even if they need to take breaks to do so, but proselytizing is not protected because it impinges on *others’* freedom of religion, so I’d hire an observant Muslim who needed prayer breaks, but not a pagan/wiccan who hands out “have you considered our blessed mother goddess Gaia” pamphlets to the clientele (assuming the latter brings it up in the interview process as a non-negotiable…) even though my own religious sympathies are closer to the latter’s belief system?

    Luckily, I’m not in a position to hire anyone, because I find irritating ALL types of people who think they know better than I do how I should think, regardless of what they’re pushing.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      How would you know if they’re going to do it on the job until you’ve already hired them?

    2. Littorally*

      You’d have to be sure you weren’t still targeting behaviors that are highly associated with a specific religion or group of religions, because just saying that it’s a rule regardless of religion doesn’t mean anything when you’re having a factual disparate impact.

      You’re likely better off to say “You’re free to behave in X-way outside of the office, but for [valid employer obligations reason] we cannot accommodate this behavior in the office.” It’s less about specifically protected behaviors and more about adhering firmly to the letter of the law in terms of what constitutes an undue burden on an employer.

  18. MK*

    As a Christian, though not strictly a practicing one, I do wonder about these people’s (or their churces’, I suppose) interpretation of the Third Commandment.

  19. Anon for this*

    I had a recruiter reach out to me multiple times on LinkedIn and they had some Bible verse in their signature. I didn’t want to work with them because of it. It’s not the same, because I’m not paying them either way, but it sure is signaling in my mind.

    1. mlem*

      I kept getting spam from a recruiter who had, in smaller lighter text at the bottom of the text, “There is no downtime in God’s economy!” Which is both so weird and so suggestive of prosperity gospel that I took time to boggle before flagging it as spam.

  20. Catwhisperer*

    I’m wondering if this is something that would be permissible to ask about during the hiring process, because it speaks to the candidate’s professionalism. Like, could you ask a follow up question about why they applied using that e-mail address instead of a more generic one? It’s difficult to understand their intent without having more information but I’m not sure if asking that during the interview would put the company at risk if they decided not to hire the candidate.

    I agree with Alison’s comment that “christ died for you” is offensive and excessively proselytising, but I can also see a scenario in which the applicant was just clueless about how their personal e-mail came across in a professional setting.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      I have non religious but unusual personal email domains, and I get asked about it when applying for jobs. Sometimes they just want to check they have the right email. Sometimes it’s a little more about other business commitments. Every recruiter I have ever worked with has always said you should be prepared to discuss everything on your resume in an interview, and in my experience that includes things like your email address.

    2. Giant Kitty*

      If an applicant was clueless that “Jesus died for your sins” & a link to a proselytizing website is inappropriate in a professional setting, that’s a good indication to me that they lack the critical thinking skills to make other sound decisions.

  21. Observer*

    Do yourself a favor and create something as part of your on-boarding process in which you make it clear to EVERYONE, that religious proselytizing and any for of discrimination (religiously based or not!) will not be tolerated. And make that part of your ongoing training / anti-harassment efforts.

    Because not every person who harasses or proselytizes puts a sign up during the application process. And not everyone who put this on their personal email signature is going to proselytize a work.

    Oh, and I suggest that you create a standard signature block that you require people to use. There are a lot of good reasons for this, but making sure that people don’t do stupid things that could create problems for you, is one of them. Because even if someone is not proselytizing, we’ve seen enough overtly religious tag lines as part of a signature block that can be a problem.

    I’m not talking about “have a blessed day”, but stuff like these domain names or “Take the Lord into your heart”, etc. Having a standard signature block for EVERYONE avoids the problem of targeting religious expression. And it also keeps people from doing other stupid stuff (like the people who have “humorous” tag lines that are not quite as funny as they think.)

    1. Random Bystander*

      Yes, standard signature blocks are good.

      Where I work, there is a very specific signature template that must be used (right up to including this particular colored line that is like a hard rule between the email text and the signature). Prior to that, you had people whose signatures included all kinds of crazy fonts (and maybe even more than one font, frequently including ones that are very difficult to read like pseudo-handwriting fonts), multiple colors, quotes, pictures (gifs and the like, not photos), and so on and so forth (and perhaps not even including the office phone #). Now, it’s all the same color and font, and all the important info is present, but not all the extraneous fluff.

    2. Sara without an H*

      This is good advice, although I make it clear that “proselytizing” wasn’t limited to religion. (We’ve had a number of letters in the past complaining about employees who wanted to police their coworkers food choices.)

      I also like the recommendation for a standard signature block, since it heads off inappropriate whimsy, as well as questionable religious or political stuff.

  22. Ormond Sackler*

    How is this not religious discrimination (legally for sure, but also ethically)? The applicant (theoretically) would be rejected solely because they revealed their religious beliefs. It’s possible that would aggressively proselytize at work, but very far from “clear” that they would. How is this any different from having a religious bumper sticker on a car or an email address like jesuslover@aol? If the candidate in question was from another group that Allison looks upon more favorably, would the response be the same?

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Behaviors, not beliefs. The candidate is free to *believe* any way they want, but their *behaviors* are impinging on others right to do the same or not as they might wish.

    2. mlem*

      Pushing links to people for the sake of trying to convert them is not at all the same as simply revealing one’s religious beliefs.

    3. Cake or Death*

      “If the candidate in question was from another group that Allison looks upon more favorably, would the response be the same?”

      That’s uncalled for and rude. Allison doesn’t discriminate against any religions, and your insinuation is baseless and insulting.

      “How is this not religious discrimination (legally for sure, but also ethically)?”

      …did you happen to miss the entire explanation from the employment lawyer? Are you an employment lawyer? Do you have any sort of expertise that would give you any sort of legitimacy in questioning someone who actually is an employment lawyer?

      Or are you just being defensive because somehow this letter made you feel attacked?

      1. Ormond Sackler*

        I missed the part of the letter about the signature, so this was more hardcore proselytizing than just the domain name (which I’d thought was the only thing). However, it still doesn’t mean that the applicant would try to spread their beliefs in the workplace, any more than would cover his desk with Yankee gear.

        However, it seems you missed the employment lawyer’s explanation that not hiring them for this reason probably WOULD be religious discrimination.

        I would not say I feel too defensive…honestly, based on past experience my expectation is that anyone who would sign up for that email domain is an idiot, and personally I’d rather not work with them. (Which seems to have been borne out by the interview). However, that is 100% stereotyping and unfair, and almost certainly illegal.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          Except that someone with Yankees stuff all over their desk probably isn’t going to be in my face every day trying to get me to be a Yankees fan. This is a false analogy.

          1. Evan Þ*

            And there’re many religious people who don’t get in your face about their religious beliefs.

          2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Yes, and they’re not going to tell you that you’re going to hell if you root for the Red Sox instead of the Yankees.

            Definitely a false analogy.

    4. mreasy*

      I would have a hard time with or whatever. Not bc I have a problem with JC or his fans as a rule, but because that is an unprofessional email signature. And it would make me worry about their understanding of business norms. Similarly someone who applied using, sag ilovemytwinboyz89@hotmail, catsarewhereitsat@yahoo, Depends on the job of course! I’ve hired baristas & factory workers and I am not concerned about their email addy or spelling or interview skills – because those don’t reflect on the environment they will be working on, vs a role requiring diplomacy, writing, public presentations. I’d feel the same way about jesuslover@ .

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      People get dinged for subtle things that indicate unprofessionalism all the time. People might get just a half point off for a childish email account name or for using weird colored fonts or for having a quote from a violent movie under their signature. If anything, I think religion here privileges something that is pretty equivalent to those.

    6. Littorally*

      Alison talks often about how in an interview scenario, the employer has limited information to work on and therefore the information they do have has to be highly scrutinized.

      You’re saying, it’s far from “clear” that they would [proselytize in the office].” But the OP already has the datapoint that the candidate is willing to proselytize, albeit in a fairly passive manner, in a workplace environment — they used an email service designed to proselytize to apply for the job! That’s the foot they’ve put forward here, so I would say it’s not unreasonable to work on the assumption that how they present themselves is a decent indicator of how they mean to go on.

        1. kitryan*

          Yes! They’re doing it *right* *now*. We *know* they are doing it right now, to the hiring manager/resume screener/HR person/whatever, so what on earth makes it so probable to many commenters that suddenly, when hired, they’ll be all about workplace norms and ‘live and let live’ with their coworkers? We’re supposed to believe that it’s super probable that they save their proselytizing strictly for their personal life and their *job applications* (but not the workplace)? It’s somehow unreasonable and biased to think that how they behave in their job application might have any bearing on their workplace behavior and understanding of workplace norms? Why is this?
          *note- not talking about legal obligation to refrain from discrimination, but a surprising number of commenters seem to be shocked (that there’s gambling going on in this establishment) that anyone would even consider the possibility that the guy with the weirdly religiously aggressive email domain and email signature they’re using for a job application might be generally weirdly religiously aggressive, and frankly, it’s not a huge leap, it’s more a tiny hop.

    7. Observer*

      The applicant (theoretically) would be rejected solely because they revealed their religious belief

      This tells me that you are not arguing in good faith. Because the OP and Alison are clear that what they are worried about is the PROSELYTIZING. The reality is that the link is explicitly designed to proselytize. That is BEHAVIOR and if it comes into work, it’s behavior that an employer actually has a legal obligation to prevent. Yes, we don’t know that the person *would* bring it into work, but we do know that they have already brought it into the job search process.

      If the candidate in question was from another group that Allison looks upon more favorably,

      This is both rude and aggressively ignorant. Alison makes no judgement on the religion per se. But she DOES call out – quite explicitly – the history and extremely problematic behavior linked to proselytization of this particular religion.

      1. CarlEatsShoes*

        The problem here, I believe, is that a lot of people (including some on this Supreme Court) confuse freedom of religion with the “right” to proselytize and/or the “right” to discriminate (against LGBTQ, etc.) supposedly on the basis of religious beliefs. Sadly.

    8. E*

      The problem isn’t “this person is a Christian”, the problem is “this person doesn’t understand professional communication norms”.

  23. LilacLily*

    Reminds me of a situation at my last job. Me and my coworker were interviewing for a vacancy on our team and came across a good resume that had a bible passage in it. We were weirded out but figured, from his background (only a recent previous office job), that he just didn’t understand professional norms when it came to writing resumes and elected to ignore it. We ended up hiring him in the end… and a couple of weeks in the job he added a bible passage as his status on Microsoft Teams! Which was constantly on display in all chats he was part of!

    Me and my coworker did not know what to do, if anything, given this was religious in nature. It just looked completely out of touch, same as if someone had added a cutesy message to their Teams status. In the end I left that job before either of us did anything, but I always wondered if we would have had to if someone else who worked closely with him and/or our team felt offended or uncomfortable by the religious message that was now in constant display on Teams. I personally did not appreciate seeing reference to God in a work environment but did not know how to talk to the employee about it.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      That’s where HR (if your company had it) could be helpful. They could probably provide suggestions on how to phrase it.

  24. Hiring Mgr*

    Not religious at all but I think it’s a leap to say this person would actually try to convert people or proselytize. I’m imagining they just wanted to use a free religious email.

    1. Velociraptor Attack*

      Well, they already are proselytizing by using the free religious email that includes a piece attempting to convert.

    2. Artemesia*

      Gmail is free and he could have gotten a box in a few seconds to use for professional contact. This is iMHO a huge red flag that this guy would be a god botherer if hired. And it is a lot harder to deal with a person proselytizing and otherwise making a nuisance of himself once hired. He immediately becomes a whiny persecuted discriminated victim.

    3. Girasol*

      That’s what I was thinking. I’m imagining some inexperienced young person whose bible study group said, “Hey, let’s all get email service from!” Then months later the same person, who would never dream of evangelizing in the workplace, sends an email without remembering the domain. If it were something more intentional, like a resume full of religious references, an email signature of “John Doe, Saved By Christ!” or “Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?” as an interview question, that would be concerning. I’d take a proselytizing email domain as one strike against the person for lack of attention to detail, like careless spelling errors in a resume, and be watchful for other red flags.

    4. Observer*

      I’m imagining they just wanted to use a free religious email.

      I added the bolding. Because here is the question. Getting a *religious* email requires some effort. Which is a pretty strong signal of their need to advertise their religious affiliation. That is a flag. Maybe a flag that legally needs to be ignored. But let’s not be stupid and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I get that but if I wear a cross or star of David, or a yarmulke that’s also advertising religious affiliation and I’ve not heard anyone claiming those are red flags

        1. NoHamAndNoWine*

          Yes but Judaism doesn’t have a tradition of proselytizing. In contrast, proselytizing is very important in Christianity.

        2. Appletini*

          Religious affiliation is not the same as proselytization, though, or put another way, *being* from a religion is not the same as actively taking pieces of others’ time to promote that religion.

          Also, a red flag is not a necessary disqualifier by itself, it’s a warning of potential issues. For instance, if the employee presents in their interview as someone who wouldn’t proselytize (wouldn’t it be so cool if they discussed the positives of working in a pluralistic workplace?) then they’ve put up green flags that overrule the red flag.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            That was my point, that affiliation should not be a flag. Agree on the proselytizing. To me it’s the difference between wearing a cross necklace and leaving bible quotes on my desk

            1. aebhel*

              Well, yeah, except that the email in question… also had a bible quote. Along with a link to an explicitly evangelical website whose purpose is to convert nonbelievers. That’s wayyy different than just wearing a cross necklace.

            2. kitryan*

              Having the domain isn’t (in my opinion) equivalent to a cross necklace. It’s equivalent to a person saying the thing every time you talk to them. If you went up to someone and asked them the time and they responded, ‘Jesus died for you, it’s 4pm’, that’s not appropriate.
              However, when I get an email like this, it’s making me open my inbox and read : “Joe at Jesus died for you dot com, subject, my job application, I’d like to apply for the llama header position…”. That’s similarly intrusive to me, a person just doing my non Christian daily thing.
              Having the signature in the email as described as well, is like going up to someone to ask them the time and having them say ‘Jesus died for you, it’s 4pm, also, ‘ and then they hand you a tract. It’s even more over the top.

              1. kitryan*

                The second example bit was supposed to say “‘Jesus died for you, it’s 4pm, also *bible verse*’, and then they hand you a tract.” but I used carats initially, so it got stripped out of the comment. But I learned something new regarding comment formatting, so that’s good!

            3. Jessica*

              Putting a fish or a cross or even a bible quote in your sig is displaying a Christian religious affiliation. That’s passive.

              Putting “Jesus died for you!” with a link to a website that attempts to convert you is a lot more than indicating your Christian religious affiliation. That is active behavior.

            4. Observer*

              That was my point, that affiliation should not be a flag

              So, I realize that I mis-spoke. The word I should have used is not “affiliation” but *attitude*.

        3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          But that’s something that people who meet you *in person* will see. Very different from your email address, which goes out into the world without you.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            True, but apparently this person made it through at least two rounds of interviews with no issues?

        4. kitryan*

          To be equivalent, the yarmulke would have to have embroidered on it, ‘Ask me about G-d’.
          A Star of David or yarmulke, a hijab, or a cross necklace are on your person. They are part of a personal religious (or possibly also cultural) practice and generally do not intrude on others. The email domain and signature is a communication with others, and a very pointed ‘my way is the right way ‘ communication. And more so, a communication in a job application, where you’re supposed to be putting your best work appropriate foot forward.

        5. Curmudgeon in California*

          If I wore a pentagram to an interview I would get bounced in many places, even though it is not in any way proselytizing. If I had an email sig that said “Come to the Goddess” that would be proselytizing.

        6. Observer*

          I’m not saying that people need to keep their religious affiliation secret. But the examples you mention are very different than the signature, link and domain name.

          The yarmulka is not really intended (in most cases) to telegraph being Jewish to start with. And while wearing a Magen David obviously makes it clear what your religious affiliation probably is, what the OP described (even before you get to the additions), is a thought out and effortful decision to push their religious faith into every interaction. And they are choosing to highlight the parts that are the most linked to the proselytizing stream of the religion.

          In other words, this is a choice that says “I need to make sure that you KNOW that I am a ‘good christian’ and that you should really accept the lord into your heart, even if I don’t say so explicitly”.

          Wearing a crucifix doesn’t do the same thing.

    5. Appletini*

      In the context of US history and society, you think it’s a “leap” to conclude that someone insistent on using their email address to promote their religion might not use other methods to promote their religion such as proselytizing to coworkers? Such an email choice is not context-free.

    6. Letter Writer*

      Two points of clarification:

      (1) It’s not a free service.

      (2) As others have pointed out, it’s not just that it’s a religious email address. [FirstNameLastName]@Christ.DiedFor.Us would have caught my attention in a negative way, but I don’t think it would have seemed to me to stray quite so far toward proselytizing if it were just a domain name. It was more the fact that the candidate’s signature contained an explicitly proselytizing quotation, along with a link to a site that was even more direct about its stated mission of converting people to Christianity.

  25. Modesty Poncho*

    Wow, fascinating question and answer. This is a great one.

    “I guess it would depend on what was specifically said. If it was something offensive, then maybe. If not, then definitely not.”

    This is…I have trouble imagining a way to phrase an actual prostelitization that isn’t offensive, because the act itself is offensive to me. “Have a blessed day” doesn’t qualify here, but “I hope you’ve accepted Jesus” absolutely does. I suppose an open invitation to join someone at Church is different from “did you know you’re going to hell?” but it really made me think

  26. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    What if it weren’t Judeo/Christian/Abrahamic?
    Please indulge me:
    What if the email was Pagan or Wiccan v Buddhist or Flying Spaghetti Monster?
    I think taking away the ubiquity of Christianity, for which people have strong, personal feelings and replacing it with something more foreign/less common/less live (l)earned feelings, it would just seem off. Like, this person is more focused on X party of his/her life than getting a job.
    As L square writes, “go Yankees” isn’t a problem, but tells you something about where the candidate’s head is.

    1. Kaye*

      Or, to take it out of the realm of religion altogether, what if the signature was something like ‘Approved MLMbrand rep – click here to see my current catalogue’? Again, you couldn’t tell – they might not be pushing their stuff in the workplace, but then again they very well might.

    2. Emily*

      I would not have an issue with the Yankees fan email domain. I’d put that in “funny and quirky.” I don’t have a fully-formed ideology about this, but that’s my intuition. I’m not worried about that person proselytizing about the Yankees at work. And if they do, other people will tease them a little and we can handle it without lawsuits. Whereas religion can get legally dicey so quickly in so many ways, both in terms of protecting that person’s rights if they got hired, and also protecting the rights of other employees.

      1. Mid*

        There also isn’t a long, bloody history of people trying to force other sports fans to become Yankee fans, or making laws forcing people to follow the rules of Yankee Fandom, which is why it probably feels different.

    3. HannahS*

      Well, so far the Yankees are not responsive for the murders of many thousands of Jews. Fun hypothetical though?

    4. Observer*

      I think taking away the ubiquity of Christianity, for which people have strong, personal feelings and replacing it with something more foreign/less common/less live (l)earned feelings, it would just seem off

      I think that the particular religion DOES matter. In the case of Christianity, there is history, current practice in some sectors and the fact of dominance. All of that together creates a different situation than a religious tradition that does not have that history and is also quite marginalized.

      What if the email was Pagan or Wiccan v Buddhist or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

      I’d still have an issue with someone who feels the need to parade their religious affiliation this way because it’s an indication that they may have a problem with professional boundaries.

    5. Jessica*

      So, FYI:

      -Judeo-Christian isn’t a thing. It’s used by Christians to erase/coopt Judaism and to Other Islam, and Christians generally use it to try to make things that are exclusively Christian seem generally religious. (Judaism has as much in common with Islam as it does with Christianity–possibly more, since we are technically allowed to pray in mosques but not churches, so it’s weird to try to group Judaism and Christianity together without including Islam.)

      -As more people get pushback on “Judeo-Christian,” they seem to be switching to “Abrahamic” to describe practices/theology/etc. that are STILL exclusively Christian (and erase all the Abrahamic religions that aren’t Christianity, Judaism, or Islam).

      So leave the rest of us out of Christian stuff, thanks.

      Say Christianity when you’re talking about Christianity.

      “What if the email was Pagan or Wiccan v Buddhist or Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

      If it had a link to a proselytizing website, I’d have an issue with it.

      But Christian specificity DOES matter. We live in a hegemonically Christian country in which the law itself is frequently written to promote Christian interests and at least tacitly pressure other cultures into assimilation. We live in a society in which almost everyone with authority over our laws, our economy, etc. is Christian. We live in a society in which most violent white supremacist groups threatening members of minority cultures are Christian. We live in a society in which Christian holidays are federal holidays. We live in a society where people running for office who aren’t Christian have to prove that they’re good, ethical people *in spite* of not being Christian. We live in a society in which most of our pop culture makes Christian assumptions about how things like belief and religion and culture and forgiveness and relationships and community work.

      We live in a society that has been shaped by almost 2000 years of Christian coercion and violence against non-Christians.

      So yeah, I’d find a neo-pagan attempting to convert me distasteful. I’d find it annoying. I might even find it offensive.

      But I wouldn’t find it *threatening* in the way Christian proselytizing is because they don’t have all that power and history lurking behind them, allowing them to deploy cultural pressure while being able to claim that as an individual they’re not pressuring anyone.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        I am an ex-Christian, and one of the things that drove me out was the emphasis on proselytizing. Remember the “I found it” campaign? It used deceptive advertising and high pressure sales tactics to “sell” religion. I went through all the training, and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I started questioning the whole thing, and found it wanting.

        I did have a “new convert to paganism” phase where I was seriously obnoxious, and I’m still embarrassed about it.

      2. Observer*

        But I wouldn’t find it *threatening* in the way Christian proselytizing is because they don’t have all that power and history lurking behind them, allowing them to deploy cultural pressure while being able to claim that as an individual they’re not pressuring anyone.


        1. Not Tom, Just Petty.*

          Thank you all for the responses. I learned a lot and unlearned some very important things as well.

  27. Llellayena*

    I think there’s a very different context between a personal email that you happen to be using for job hunting (with the bible quotes and link) vs a business based email. It is perfectly valid to tell your employees that their work email sig can’t contain bible verses or other religious references as they are representing the company when they use that email. But for a private email I don’t think it’s a problem, even in a job hunting context. It might be a little off-putting to the person receiving it, but it should not be enough to affect hiring. Proselytizing can be addressed as a performance issue/religious harassment after hire if necessary, but that type of sig isn’t enough to be sure that will be a problem.

  28. UKgreen*

    I’m an atheist, and so while I’m not necessarily offended by the religious content, I would see that email address as being inappropriately unprofessional just as someone who uses crap like ‘’ or ‘’ as their email handle.

    1. Appletini*

      There’s also this, yeah. Such email addresses aren’t really business-appropriate, even beyond the specifics of religion.

  29. Linda*

    I wish there were a Satanic Temple version of this email setup. I could probably sort out how to do something similar myself, but I’m lazy.

  30. Redaktorin*

    Fortunately, the sort of drip who would do this is almost never going to be the most qualified.

    But I’m very disappointed to see commenters insisting that it’s not proselytizing to insert into your email signature a link to a website urging people to convert to Christianity. This is actually the very definition of proselytizing, and it makes many non-Christians uncomfortable. This is not a kind or respectful way to interact with others in a professional setting.

    It hurts me to encounter this stuff. Seriously. Whether or not your nonna really means it that way is irreleveant.

    1. Redaktorin*

      FWIW, I see multiple “not religious” people who were raised Christian by Christian families insisting this doesn’t count.

      I don’t really think members of the dominant culture who opted out of a couple parts of that culture as adults get to be the experts on what is an imposition here.

      1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        “I don’t really think members of the dominant culture who opted out of a couple parts of that culture as adults get to be the experts on what is an imposition here.”

        Agreed, and I don’t know why they think they would.

        1. Redaktorin*

          With respect, you are confusing a lawyer’s statement that this behavior doesn’t do enough demonstrable damage to result in legally enforced consequences (in this case, the consequence would be that employers can refuse to engage with you and you can’t sue them) with an endorsement of said behavior.

          A lot of things fall outside of legal regulation but are still mean and unprofessional. I’m telling you that sticking a link urging me to convert into every email you ever send me would be mean and unprofessional.

          1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

            People love to do that switcheroo in comment sections all the time, and it’s very frustrating. “I have the legal right to do this” when the conversation is “this behavior is unwanted, disrespectful, and potentially harmful” is the rhetorical equivalent of “but I’m not even touching you! I’m not even touching you!”

      2. Citra*

        I think everyone gets to be an expert on what they consider to be an imposition on themselves, frankly, and I don’t understand why anyone would tell another person they don’t have the right to decide if they personally feel insulted or imposed upon by something.

        Things like, “This is an imposition,” or, “This is not an imposition,” aren’t defined by one small group of people who make the rules for everyone else, and everyone else must listen and obey even if they don’t feel the same. Plenty of people weren’t raised in a religion or particular religion but aren’t offended by the religious expression of others, no matter which religion it is, whether it’s a more or less dominant one in the culture. I don’t feel any more (or less) offended or imposed upon by having a Muslim friend say, “May Allah bless you,” than I do a Christian friend saying, “My God bless you.” I don’t feel offended at all by it, in fact, and I am allowed to not feel offended and think it’s just fine. Just because some people are offended by it doesn’t mean I have to be, too; I can set my own boundaries, without needing to consult others or to dictate to them what theirs should be.

        1. Appletini*

          Personal assessments are fine for personal life, but what about work? When one of your employees who is bisexual comes to tell you that another employee who is fundamentalist Christian has been leaving tracts on her desk for weeks and escalated this morning to cornering her in the breakroom and telling her how she’s going to Hell if she doesn’t end her sinful ways, are you going to tell her that because you’re not offended she needs to STFU and if she asks you again to talk to the Christian employee you’ll write her up?

          (Don’t tell me this situation wouldn’t happen. I’m directly describing something I know several examples of via different people.)

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            I had a proselytizer added to my group and he did exactly this to his coworkers. He also told a gay coworker that he had no issue with gay people, but marriage between gay people shouldn’t be legalized and he followed that up with “What’s next? People marrying their pets?”

            In addressing this, I never once mentioned religion, but he kept telling me I was persecuting him because I wasn’t allowing him to practice his religion freely. (His example of persecution was that he wasn’t allowed to talk about Jesus at work but a Muslim coworker was allowed to pray at work.) I cannot tell you how many times I had to say “This is about your behavior at work and the treatment of your coworkers. This is not about religion.” I finally got him to cut it out after he escalated it to HR (as a complaint against me), and HR said “You can’t harass your coworkers like this, so cut it out.”

        2. Redaktorin*

          I’m a bit confused by this comment, since I never wrote that all people must be offended by the same things I am and you seem to be responding to that argument?

          I will say that I have no objection to people telling me that they want their god to bless me, whoever that god may be. You and I actually agree there! But that this is wildly different from someone urging me to believe in the same god as them. So “Jesus bless you” gets a shrug and “You should accept Jesus into your heart” rapidly becomes awful.

          At some point, if a behavior is offensive to a sizable group of people in a historically marginalized class, you should stop doing it at work and other public places, out of consideration for the people who can’t avoid you. If said action doesn’t personally offend you or you were able to locate a single [Jew/black person/lesbian/wheelchair user/etc] who told you it was fine, that doesn’t especially matter. We live in a society. Part of living in a society is adjusting your behavior in situations in which other people can’t avoid you to try and achieve the lowest possible rate of bothering strangers.

          If you don’t understand this, then frankly, you have problems that fall outside the scope of a work etiquette blog.

          1. Citra*

            No, I’m responding to this:

            “I don’t really think members of the dominant culture who opted out of a couple parts of that culture as adults get to be the experts on what is an imposition here.”

            They “get to be the experts” on what they consider to be an imposition, just as you do. You are declaring that the opinions and feelings of some people shouldn’t count, when it comes to an issue that is entirely and fully based on personal opinion and feeling.

            1. Jessica*

              No, people from Christian backgrounds aren’t the best people to decide FOR EVERYONE, to SET THE STANDARD, for what is Christian imposition, because unlike people from non-Christian cultures, they may not actually recognize that a normative Christian attitude or practice isn’t actually universal, given that they don’t have an entire cultural context from a non-Christian culture with its own practices and norms as contrast. That’s not their fault, but it is a good reason why they probably shouldn’t be main barometer for, for example, setting a company policy about religious expression at work.

              You can see this in action every time a Jew writes to Alison about experiencing antisemitism from Christians at work. People who claim to be ex-Christian are often worse about telling us that it wasn’t antisemitic, that it’s normal, that it’s well-intentioned, etc. than actual practicing Christians. They’re still steeped in Christian cultural norms.

        3. Jessica*

          “Things like, “This is an imposition,” or, “This is not an imposition,” aren’t defined by one small group of people who make the rules for everyone else, and everyone else must listen and obey even if they don’t feel the same.”

          Except that is literally what a company policy is.

    2. LizB*

      Agreed that it’s disappointing, but I think it’s sadly inevitable because of how some proselytizing religions are set up. There are a lot of people, including commenters here, who have been taught that the act of proselytizing is inherently good, or at worst harmless, so as long as you do it gently/passively you can’t possibly offend anyone. And then when those of us who do experience it as harmful say, hey, that’s not really the way it works for us, we get a total disconnect.

      For commenters who think it’s not a big deal: imagine there was a religion, not your religion, wherein gently booping someone on the nose was a central part of their belief system, thought to be good for the soul of both the booper and the booped, and adherents of the religion were commanded in their sacred texts to boop as many people per day as possible. Imagine how that would feel to you. That’s how even the gentlest of proselytizing can come across to those of us who are actively not Christian. The boopers sincerely think they’re doing a good thing for themselves and the people they encounter, and might think of it as simply expressing their own religious beliefs, but it’s still invasive and off-putting even if you know it’s meant well.

      1. Jackalope*

        I understand the idea you’re trying to get across here, but since I generally associate the idea of nose booping with pets, the idea of a nose booping religion sounds super adorable. Although it’s a religious practice that would probably have fared poorly during COVID.

  31. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    I agree that it’s at least a flag, like many other things, that would warrant a check on professional behavior/norms. I mean, I have a super bland email: like lastname_firstname@gmail and another like lastname_initial_firstname@gmail just for applying to jobs! And that’s because the first one got full of stuff related to my kids (school, etc) and I worry about missing something. It is so was to make an email that’s bland that I would say least need to check references on that topic in more depth. Again, not because it’s religious but because it’s not professional.

    I think there’s probably other stuff that would make me concerned there too… Like if they had a limerick of the day, a link to the dark web, or a quote from My Little Ponies.

    1. nm*

      I had a student once who emailed me from [their initials]-malware as their email address…the email contents were also super weird, referencing homework assignments that didn’t exist, so i assumed it was some kind of phishing scam and notified the student in person next i saw them. Turned out that was their real email! I did not give them the requested homework extension, since the assignment didn’t exist.

  32. Keymaster of Gozer*

    I’d definately feel iffy about them because a) that’s really NOT a professional email address and b) aggressive statements of faith (I count ‘christ died for YOU’ as aggressive) are showing a distinct lack of professionalism in assuming everyone is like them. I value tolerance in a workplace and would react the same to e.g. ‘only women have babies’ or ‘you’re a bad person if you eat meat’ because it’s basically saying you cannot accept other viewpoints.

    Be professional.

  33. Don*

    The number of fish in here determined to tell us we’re all over-reacting this so-called flood would be amusing if it wasn’t just a repeat of basically every day of my entire life up till now.

    1. Former Hominid*

      That’s a poetic and accurate statement. I think if those people here who claim their family members constant attempts to convert non-Christians into Christians was harmless, might do well to translate “proselytizing” in their heads to “constant attempts to convert non-Christians into Christians” because that’s what proselytizing is. It doesn’t sound super benign when you take the gloss off and spell it out does it? It certainly doesn’t to me, when historically to my people “proselytizing” meant that AND “we’ll kill you if you don’t”

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, to certain non-Christian populations there is a historical threat contained in even the softest Christian proselytization attempts.

  34. UpNorth*

    A simple solution to prevent the person from putting that in their email once they are hired is to have a corporate policy that only the “template” signature may be used. No “Jesus Saves”, no “Yankees Suck”. If someone tries to proselytize to me at work they are not going to like the response they get.

  35. Another JD*

    I would never force my staff to type the domain name “” to even set up an interview. It’s too close to forcing them to write out a statement that may violate their own beliefs.

  36. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I’m finding this letter, the answer and the commentary fascinating because it feels so heavily cultural.

    I think sometimes there can be clashes of the rights and needs of protected groups, and in this case I think there’s a potential clash between what we can generously call “freedom of religious expression” on one hand, and freedom *from* religion at work on the other.

    1. bunniferous*

      Also, different regions in the US have different “comfort” levels on these things. I can go one COUNTY over (in the course of my employment) to go to the water utility office and the employees at a county government utility have religious pictures/statements etc on the sides of their cubbies (the ones the public access at the water department.) I live in the South and that county is pretty rural. In general religious expression in our area is way more open than I imagine it would be in the larger cities, or up North. There is a tightrope to be walked between free practice of a faith and making sure the rights of ALL are respected-but it is absolutely true that work is a place we need to focus on WORK. If we “want to let our light shine” let it be in our excellence at our job and treating others well.

  37. Iworktheretoo*

    They’d never get interviewed, never mind hired. As far as I’m concerned the combination of all of the religious Dogma on their emails and application constitutes religious harassment of me. If someone’s going to proselytize to me via an email then they just disqualified themselves.

    1. Giant Kitty*

      I agree completely with this. If they are proselytizing at me before they’ve even gotten an interview, I don’t trust them not to continue with such behavior once they’ve gotten the job.

  38. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    This is interesting discussion, particularly in light of my open forum question last week (coworkers put wreaths on doors but made the Jewish staffs wreaths with blue ribbon). I didn’t note it there, but one of the folks had a whole nativity in their office. I don’t care about it, insofar as I also don’t care about their wall art, but I’m starting to think the issue is related to a comfort pushing religion into the workplace. This is different in my mind to just mentioning or talking about religion, but sort of bringing it in more forcefully. Like if all discussions have to include a Bible reference. It gets a bit forceful after awhile and it’s ripe for making others uncomfortable. :(

  39. FashionablyEvil*

    I hate this kind of stuff—I had a grad school classmate who asked me to connect her with someone else in my professional network which, normally, I’d be happy to do. But said classmate had recently “found Jesus” and insisted on signing her emails, “In Christ, Susan.” I told her I would not be making an introduction unless she removed the “In Christ.” She declined and we haven’t been in touch since.

    I have to admit, I am curious about how she tells that story and whether it’s a “time that I remained strong in my faith though it was tested!” moment in her memory.

  40. Uncle Boner*

    I can appreciate each person’s reaction to the statements made like “Have a blessed day!” or “Christ died for you!” …we react based on our experiences in the past.

    For me, I am sensitive because I’m a practicing Catholic in a VERY protestant-dominated geography. I’ve been told more than once that my beliefs are “wrong” or that we “say the Lord’s prayer incorrectly.” I once had a manager who signed his work emails “In His name,” (meaning Christ).

    That said – the responses here are subjective (meaning YOURS) and not objective (meaning the “reasonable person standard” as the law requires).

    Yes – you CAN reject the applicant for doing these things…but you run the risk that they file suit and 12 people in the jury box do NOT agree with you that it’s “offensive.” Keep in mind, jury selection does not allow for a religious test.

  41. bunniferous*

    Nobody ever got argued or pushed into true faith. Any faith. (not talking about historical forced conversions which I find horrifying as anyone should.)

  42. Littorally*

    I’m curious — where’s the discussion here of reference checks? It seems to me like if the candidate were actually strong enough to make it to final rounds where this email domain would be a deciding factor, you’d be making reference calls and would have the opportunity to ask previous employers about their actual in-office conduct.

    By itself, I’d say it’s a significant red flag but not necessarily a full-on dealbreaker in isolation, in the same way that an otherwise strong candidate being significantly late to their interview without an excuse/notification is a significant red flag but not necessarily a dealbreaker. You’ve got one indication that they’re willing to be unprofessional in a workplace environment, but no data on whether that’s a habit or something that they could set aside to do the job. I wouldn’t think of it as “holding it against them” so much as it is having received one valuable data point about their behavior.

    Personally, this sounds to me like a fairly passive form of proselytization, more akin to leaving out pamphlets than accosting people in the hall; the domain provider is applying the signature, as opposed to it being something the candidate composed themself, and “learn more” is pretty standard wording for a link to further information in a wide variety of contexts. However, it’s still a bad first impression, and doesn’t belong in the workplace.

    1. Mid*

      Passive or not, it’s still proselytizing, and it’s inappropriate in the workplace.

      I switched to a new doctor’s office because every time I visited the old doc’s office, there was a new sign up talking about Jesus, and it made me feel unsafe to ask for the medical care I needed.

      If this person is interacting with coworkers or clients, choosing to have a religious quote in their email signature is indeed attempting to proselytize, and shouldn’t be allowed in the workplace, period.

  43. Avery*

    I do wonder if people would be reacting differently if the situation were, say…
    “Proud adherent of the Satanic Temple. Learn more about the Satanic Temple here:” at
    “Life is a chain of suffering. Learn more about escaping samsara here:”
    “Constantly engaging in jihad. Learn more about following Allah’s path here:”
    Or, of course…
    “Religion is the opiate of the masses. Learn more about why God is a myth here:” at
    Remove our familiarity with how Christianity already permeates American society, and it feels a little differently, doesn’t it?

    1. Appletini*

      FWIW, none of those are strictly professional in that unless one’s work explicitly includes religion, religion should not generally be mentioned at work. However, I disagree that Christianity’s forcible hegemony over US culture is context which can be removed from the question at hand. Or put another way this isn’t about people being mean to Christians for no reason, this is about the massive history and often violent practice of Christian efforts to convert others in the US. (I specify in the US because I don’t think getting into Islam’s history of conversion is applicable either in US context.)

    2. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      “Remove our familiarity with how Christianity already permeates American society, and it feels a little differently, doesn’t it?”

      Ah yes, the classic, ‘this thing with a totally different context and history feels different, doesn’t it?’ Context and history have a way of doing that, yes. Not sure what point you’re making.

      That said, none of your examples belong in an applicant email.

      1. Giant Kitty*

        “ That said, none of your examples belong in an applicant email.”

        I am not OP, but I believe this was their point? Many people are glossing over how unprofessional & offensive this is because they were raised in Christianity and don’t think of it as proselytizing.

        1. Avery*

          This was, in fact, my point. I was not trying to excuse the Christian hegemony, but instead to show how Christianity’s omnipresence shouldn’t be taken for granted by using examples from religions that aren’t part of that hegemony.
          (For the record, I’m raised Jewish, currently somewhere on the agnostic-atheist spectrum.)

  44. Letter Writer*

    Thanks for the answer, Alison (and Donna), and thanks everyone for the interesting discussion! I thought I’d provide some extra context that didn’t make it into my letter because I was trying to keep it from getting too lengthy.

    (1) The candidate was interviewing for a position that is remote, with most interaction with other staff taking place over email. It’s also a very part-time position that does not come with a company email address, so the candidate would have been using their personal email for work correspondence, mostly with full-time employees but perhaps occasionally with customers.

    (2) The email service in question is (a) paid and (b) very clear about its proselytizing mission, so it’s hard for me to imagine the whole thing being unintentional on the candidate’s part, as some commenters have speculated. The link in the candidate’s signature was, and there’s more information about the service here:

    1. Mid*

      I would encourage your company to have company email addresses for all people employed by the company. It’s a strange policy and likely a liability to have someone conducting business under their personal email.

      1. Observer*

        No question about it – it is most definitely a risk for the organization. For the reasons I put into my other post about.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Having a business email address also would give the employer access if the employee is suddenly on leave and someone needs access, or if they get fired, etc. The company should maintain control and access to anything said in its name.

    2. Littorally*

      Oh, that does make an interesting difference!

      Among other things, the fact that the position would require using a personal email address for work is… well, first off, it’s a bit worrying in all honesty. Seems like an employer would want a little more control and oversight than that. But, to your benefit in this case, it also gives you a much stronger position to discuss what a professional email address for this purpose would look like. I wonder if you either have or would be able to create a formal set of guidelines — ie, must use one of the following generally known and trusted domains, email username and signature should follow these guidelines for professionalism, etc.

      In that case, you could have an upfront discussion with the candidate — something I was hesitant about before, since it’d likely be waving a cape in front of a bull, but now you’ve got a valid reason to say something like, “For this position, you will need to use a personal email address to collaborate with teammates. The email you used to set up this interview wouldn’t meet our guidelines; would you have an objection to creating a new email meeting this standard for this job?”

      1. Littorally*

        And I guess to elaborate a bit, since I hit submit and then realized I left this implied, the question opens up a wider discussion about the candidate’s willingness to set aside religion in the workplace, without jumping into the ethically murky waters of asking a question that boils down to “we think you’re going to be an ass because of protected class reasons, are you going to be an ass?”

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I checked out both links (and both pages gave me unpleasant flashbacks). The second link is to a site that has a menu across the top of the page, and who woulda guessed that one of the menu items is Witnessing with email!

      With detailed explanations on how to witness with your email signature…

      Yeah, no, case closed. That was not an accident. Even if the candidate did not mean to send this email sig to a prospective employer, they most definitely do send it to everyone else, and not in a “ooh look at this motivational quote I found!” kind of way.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      *It’s also a very part-time position that does not come with a company email address, so the candidate would have been using their personal email for work correspondence*

      Oh boy. That’s a significant red flag, objectively far worse than the candidate’s misstep. Even leaving aside how tacky it would look to third parties, the data, privacy and IP implications are horrible.

      Am I reading correctly that full-time employees have company email accounts, just not this position? It’s 2023!

      1. Letter Writer*

        You are indeed reading this correctly! I’m definitely sympathetic to the arguments in favor of giving all employees company email addresses, though I think in our particular situation there are good arguments in both directions. I’ll avoid going into too much detail about the specific nature of the job for reasons of anonymity, but I do think the specific circumstances and nature of the work make the lack of company-issued email addresses less strange in our particular situation than it may seem in the abstract.

        1. Observer*

          No, no good arguments.

          I saw your other post about it, and no. There is no good reason why work communications should ever be going through personal email.

          What is more if you are dealing with a position that is doing anything with customer / client data, and I do mean ANYTHING, you could be facing legal issues. Certainly, if people are using personal email to communicate with outside entities, you ARE going to have problems. No doubt about it. The only questions are HOW BAD and WHEN.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            If the organization is subject to any kind of transparency requirements or record-keeping requirements, employees using private email for business can be considered a huge violation. I realize the context of this is far different, but the last Mayor in my city got in huge trouble for using his private Gmail account for discussions with constituents. He was even doing things like telling people on his official “” address “let’s move this discussion to my Gmail account” in contexts where that might have meant “let’s discuss our illegal quid pro quo.” Local reporters fought in court to get his private Gmail messages discussing City matters released. A lot of it was him venting about his colleagues unprofessionally, but some of it was juuuust this side of illegal.

        2. Observer*

          By the way, has anyone thought about the damage that could be done if they hired someone like this and they emailed clients with this kind of signature. Even if it was only 3 clients, that is quite possibly 3 clients that will TALK.

    5. Giant Kitty*

      From the linked site:

      “E-mail service that proclaims the gospel in every message

      Nearly everyone has an email account, and now [b]you can witness to the lost with every email you send[/b]!”

      That is one great big giant pile of grossly offensive NOPE! And they are paying for it? I wouldn’t even interview this person, no more than I’d interview someone whose email linked them to other overtly offensive sites like the KKK or Stormfront. They’d never know why, their application would go right into the circular file.

    6. Swiftie*

      “It’s also a very part-time position that does not come with a company email address, so the candidate would have been using their personal email for work correspondence, mostly with full-time employees but perhaps occasionally with customers.”

      I know you explained in another comment all the reasons why your company is apparently too special or whatever to NOT have a generic work email for these part-timers…but like, your company still needs to get a generic work email for these part-timers. I don’t know the specifics of your company but if I were a customer interacting with an employee of yours and their email address was even something innocuous like “”, I’d side-eye the whole thing. I’d start wondering what the heck kind of possibly scammy company I was dealing with, for starters.

      1. Letter Writer*

        I certainly don’t think this company is “too special or whatever”! Just trying to provide some context for the situation. Another piece of context that may be relevant is that customer interaction for these part-time employees is very minimal. The overwhelming majority of the time, the only people they’re emailing with are us (the full-time staff who supervise them).

        All of that said: I am definitely sympathetic to the idea that all employees should have company email addresses! It’s simply not something that’s within my power to change.

        1. Rosemary*

          “Very minimal” is not the same as “not at all”… Even if it is not something you have the power to change, I would strongly consider taking this up with your manager or whoever and point out all of the concerns other commenters have mentioned.

  45. Sara without an H*

    My advice to OP would be to schedule some time with their HR people and ask for guidance. It is absolutely essential to have clearly-stated policies and procedures in place BEFORE an incident happens. If the OP’s company doesn’t have anti-harassment policies and procedures in place, well, consider this a shot across the bow. Get this stuff written up and distributed, with appropriate training for all supervisors.

    I’m a retired librarian. In recent years, a bunch of public libraries have landed in hot water due to unclear policies about who gets to use library meeting rooms. When you’ve gone for years, allowing any and all community groups to book meeting space without any rules or criteria, it’s too late to draw a line when the local Klan (or similar organization) tries to book space for a meeting.

    Short version: If this situation isn’t covered in your policy manual and supervisor training, you need to fix that, fast.

  46. Citra*

    So this kind of stood out to me:

    “Or is it the digital equivalent of ending every single conversation (including, effectively, this job interview!) with, “I hope you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart as your lord and savior”? It feels more like the latter to me.”

    But…did they actually end the interview with, “I hope you’ve accepted Jesus?” Not “effectively,” but literally?

    Because you’re claiming that the signature of their personal email means they will likely proselytize in the workplace, but you don’t mention that they actually /did/ do that in the interview. I think that’s a pretty key issue, honestly, because to take the signature of their personal email and use it make assumptions about what their behavior in a professional environment must be, while apparently discounting what their behavior in that professional setting actually /was/, confuses me.

    Do employees at this workplace use their personal emails for work emails? Because if not, I don’t see how this email signature even matters, aside from the fact that they definitely should have gotten just a basic gmail account or something to use for job-hunting. I agree with that point quite strongly; the email address and signature aren’t great. But the assumption that the email sig automatically means “will proselytize to coworkers and clients in the office,” seems odd to me in light of the fact that this person was actually interviewed and apparently did not proselytize or discuss religion at all. (I’m absolutely sure this LW would have mentioned it if they had.)

    There are any number of reasons why this person might have this email address and have used it for this particular job application, including a range from “Loves proselytizing everywhere!” to “Normal email wasn’t working,” to, “Didn’t realize the email signature would be there.” IMO their actual behavior is a lot more important than their personal email signature which would not be used at work anyway.

    1. Appletini*

      Do employees at this workplace use their personal emails for work emails?

      As it turns out the Letter Writer has clarified in a comment that the employees do use their personal emails (which has other issues beyond this one).

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I left a reply on LW’s comment that got stuck in moderation, because I helpfully posted a link – but the second link the LW provided is to a site that has a menu item/page specifically on how to “witness with email”, with quotes and links to “witnessing websites” one can use in their signature – “The footers and their matching witnessing websites are the reason FaithNames was formed. It’s not about the email, it’s about witnessing to the lost using every available tool, including email. ”

      So to your question… yep. This candidate used their email to “witness to the lost”, while applying for a job to work for said lost. That to me is a fairly solid base for assumptions about what their behavior in a professional environment must be.

      1. Citra*

        That was not my question, actually, which was specifically about the candidate’s speech and behavior in the interview. If they did not, then your assumption, no matter how solid you feel its base is, is incorrect.

    3. Giant Kitty*

      Here’s a quote from the website the candidate used “ E-mail service that proclaims the gospel in every message

      Nearly everyone has an email account, and now you can witness to the lost with every email you send!”

      It’s a paid service, not free, so there is no chance this was an accident or they didn’t know how it appear. They are paying to proselytize with every email! So they aren’t just cluelessly unprofessional, they are deliberately so.

    4. Citra*

      Yes, terrible email, etc. etc….but did the candidate proselytize in person, literally, not “effectively” by including a link and quote in their email?

      Nobody forces anyone to read email sigs or clink links therein.

  47. Sassenach*

    I am wondering if the applicant is also self-selecting out of companies and organizations that are not “like-minded”. She would be making assumptions of course and never know for sure but she is, in a sense, putting it all out there and not hiding her beliefs or intentions. Could she be fine with being rejected if her email signature block is the reason? I think possibly yes. We will never know.

  48. Holly Hendricks*

    If two candidates were close in skills, I would definitely prefer the one who didn’t raise the flag of aggressive proselytizing as something I would have to spend time managing down the road. I would also have to wonder if they weren’t looking to work for others who shared their worldview.

  49. Jones*

    It’s a shame that this probably falls under illegal religious discrimination because this is the exact kind of employee you really don’t want to hire. Anyone enough of a religious nut job who would pay for an email like this and use it when applying for a job is absolutely unsuitable for an office job. In the future you’d be best off finding some ambiguous soft-skills type reason from the interview to reject them, and just not saying/writing anywhere your real primary reasons for rejecting them.

    1. Sunshine*

      I agree that the signature is inappropriate, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage people to find workarounds for illegal discrimination so they can, in fact, illegally discriminate. It’s illegal for a reason – we don’t get to bring our personal feelings about another religion into hiring decisions.

      1. Really anon today*

        Is it “personal feelings about another religion” or “feelings about the behavior this person is exhibiting that happen to be on the topic of religion?” I think it’s an important distinction. If it wasn’t religious, but it would be equally obnoxious or unprofessional, then it’s the later. If it’s only obnoxious or unprofessional because it’s religious, then it’s the former.

        For example, if instead of religious stuff, it was selling weight loss plans, it would be equally unprofessional in my mind.

        1. Sunshine*

          I agree with that, but the answer to the letter seems to suggest that it would in fact be religious discrimination if this person was otherwise the best candidate. The comment I’m responding to was specifically referring to this person as a “religious nut job” and suggesting that even though this is “probably” religious discrimination, OP can get around the issue of religious discrimination by making up other reasons not to hire them and declining to write their “real” reason. I’m just discouraging that idea.

        2. Appletini*

          This. It is so frustrating that whenever one criticises a behavior (such as proselytization) certain people turn the criticism into an attack on belief, in order to continue practicing the behavior.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I agree. Great candidates are hard to find. If this person is the best of everyone that LW interviewed, godspeed (and I mean it in a non-witnessing-to-lost-way)! In LW’s case, the candidate was a bad fit for a number of other, completely professional reasons.

        This might be the humanist in me, but I believe that someone who can do a great job and conduct themselves professionally at work, would also have the common sense not to try and “save” their coworkers. And vice versa, someone who is detached from reality and professionalism enough to send an email with “witnessing links” to their hiring manager, most likely won’t be the best candidate in the end – they’ll slip up on something else, as this candidate in fact did.

    2. Splendid Colors*

      It’s a good thing the candidate failed the skills assessment–that’s hard data to counter any lawsuit. From THIS candidate.

      Letter Writer’s HR needs to work on a policy in case the next person who applies with a red flag for potential drama related to a protected status is competent enough to qualify otherwise.

  50. Olivia*

    I keep seeing comments from people along the lines of “I know lots of people like this and they would never bring it into work.” And I would like to make 2 points:

    1) Most people saying this do not actually work with the person in question (because they’re talking about family members and/or not people whom they identified as coworkers), and so they would not necessarily know.

    2) There absolutely are people who will bring this nonsense into work, whether or not the conservative Christians one personally knows would.

    I used to work with someone who was really obnoxious about religion, and a lot of other things. It also wasn’t the only way in which she was a bad employee/coworker, so yeah there are probably other red flags with someone who would do this at work, because with bad judgment in one area often have it in other areas, too.

    At any rate, the idea that there’s probably nothing to worry about because of the people you know or because you personally haven’t had the misfortune of working with someone like this, kinda falls under the fallacy of thinking that your experience is universal. We don’t know what this person would do as an employee, but we know that they really want to advertise their religion to every single person they email, so that doesn’t look great.

    1. Mid*

      I think furthering your points could be 3) many people are so used to Christianity and proselytizing that they aren’t even aware that it’s happening and probably not the best judges of how it feels to be on the receiving end of it.

    2. Liz*

      As someone who has worked with a variety of people and never had anyone proselytize at me, I back this comment up 100%! One of the most religious people I ever knew was very good about not proselytizing, bc hey, it’s a workplace and that’s inappropriate! But he knew that and that there is a thing like separation of church and work (even if he maybe (I don’t know) didn’t believe in separation of church and state, ugh).

  51. Wendy*

    Simple solution…

    Just do not do this at work

    If you want to do this in a separate email address that is not used for work purposes, go ahead

    That solves the issue

    1. Littorally*

      If the candidate had written in, I think we’d all be saying that for sure. This isn’t useful for the LW, though.

  52. Elm*

    I’ve seen this kind of thing escalate and escalate, to the point where customers were effectively held hostage (as in not given their purchases) until they accepted Jesus. I wasn’t in a management position and couldn’t do anything other than try to interrupt and report the issue…except the managers were often from the same church. (This was a totally secular job.) Customer complaints went unheeded and we lost business.

    My gut went to the “ick” place too, but it would for sure be illegal to not interview someone based on their religion. (I don’t mind Christians. I just have lived near two very scary cults and am on alert!) This can serve as a reminder to make the company culture very clear. Is it secular? Does it serve people of all backgrounds? Does it celebrate pride or recognize holidays form various religions? All stuff that should be brought up to ALL interviewees so both sides can decide if there’s a culture match.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      No, it’s not just you! It’s the normal response to an attempt to force something on you.

  53. Erika Allbright*

    I have a occasional business contact who’s email address basically is ‘I’m enthusiastic about sexual relations’ with a cutesy misspelling. SO CRINGEY. Have considered mentioning it, but ultimately left it alone.

  54. e271828*

    Sometimes you blow a dog whistle and it just annoys the cats instead of attracting more dogs.

  55. Aunt Esme*

    Since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in Hell, I doubt they were the source of the leaflet you describe.

  56. Hiring Maven*

    I find Donna’s ultimate verdict quite surprising. I am not Christian and wear jewelry that indicates that, and if I was on the panel to interview this candidate, with my employer knowing that the candidate might/likely would proselytize to me, it would feel like my employer set me up to be harassed.

  57. Just Move On*

    This person was a job applicant. Most of us in the US follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Act which basically means you set aside judgment other than basing their application on whether or not they are qualified. If hired, the company can then set guidelines as to what should or shouldn’t be included in a tag line of an email. Totally, within their purview to control that interaction. I had someone apply with a personal email address of I hired that person because she was qualified. Now, she has a company email address that has nothing to do with whether or not she is a hotmama. Since the letter writer stated that this person wasn’t qualified, what is the big deal? If that person wants to provide a link or have Jesus/Allah/God/Yahweh/Buddha in their email address, why does it matter? Say no to them professionally and move on.

    1. Letter Writer*

      “Say no to them professionally and move on.”

      This is indeed what happened—the applicant was rejected in the same professional manner that other applicants who don’t end up being the right fit get rejected (with no mention of their email address and signature, because, as I mentioned in my letter, their email address and signature had nothing to do with their application ultimately getting rejected).

    2. Jessica*

      Uh, there are things that you can judge on that aren’t purely “can they do the job?”

      If an otherwise highly qualified candidates sexually harasses an interviewer, you can very much not hire them because of that.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Right. In addition to “can they do the job?”, shouldn’t there also be a “will everyone else be able to do their jobs if we hire this person?”

        Not that extreme, but I remember sitting in a panel interview thinking “if this guy becomes my teammate, I’ll have to start looking, because not only will he not do any work ever, neither will the rest of us because he will talk us all to death.” His resume was 7 pages, small print, for an SWE position, and he blathered nonstop about himself, while evading any technical questions. But the management seemed to love him. Luckily for us, at the interview before the one I was in, he’d bombed a technical question about something he would’ve had to do every day for his job; and so was not hired. But I clearly remember thinking “if he comes here, I won’t be able to stay. Bummer!”

  58. JM60*

    There was a case where a cashier would say “Have a blessed day” to customers and the court said that should be allowed because it did not impose a hardship on the employer.

    I think this goes to show that whether or not something is legal when it comes to religion depends on what judge you get, and some judges – who are often devoutly religious themselves – allow people to get away with things they shouldn’t in the name of religion.

    I don’t think a cashier should be fired for saying “Have a blessed day” once. But it would be reasonable to tell them to stop, and to take disciplinary actions up to firing if they refuse to stop.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I’ve had plenty of cashiers and phone customer service reps say “have a blessed day” to me and generally I don’t care about that. I don’t say it, but they do, and I say “you too” and move on. I think a coworker trying to get me to adopt their religious beliefs – whatever those may be – is the offense.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        And they aren’t getting me to adopt them because they think that these beliefs are cool,worked for them, and I might like them too – it’s because they think I’m lost. No, thanks.

      2. JM60*

        I think the problem comes from involving others in your religion. Attempting to get a customer to adopt their religion is certainly much worse than merely saying “have a blessed day”, but I think both are unprofessional (albeit, to different degrees).

      3. Splendid Colors*

        I haven’t lived in a part of the country where it’s customary to wish customers “have a blessed day” instead of “have a nice day.” But it seems like it would be far more annoying to have it happen all day, every day in the workplace than just when I get that clerk at the store. I’d be extremely annoyed if I had to hear “Jesus died for your sins” at the checkout. I’d be calling HR if a coworker said it (or appended it to their emails at work) multiple times.

  59. Samwise*

    I’m wondering how young or savvy this applicant is. I work with college undergraduates — before the university issues them an email address, many of them have unprofessional addresses — nicknames, sports or hobbies (eg. soccergirl), jokey words — and very unprofessional automated signatures — inspirational quotations, bible verses, song lyrics, whatever.

    They personalize their email addresses and signatures, make them expressive.

    Same thing with voicemail setups.

    I’d err on the side of “naive, easy problem to fix if hired”. Unless it’s truly hateful, bigoted, or offensive.

  60. Michelle Smith*

    I don’t really understand what qualifies as offensive. I find basically all messages trying to persuade me to follow an organized religion to be offensive but I doubt that’s the legal barometer. I wish she had been more specific.

  61. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Alison, what are your thoughts about that signature being unprofessional? The @JesusSaves domain was just eye rolly to me, but the bible quotes crossed a line.
    I admit that when my spawn was young and I hired P/T nannies and tutors a lot, anyone who included religion went into the no pile. I saw it as very bad judgment for jobs where judgment was important, and I was concerned about them pushing Christianity on my Jewish daughter. I was also very concerned about homophobia. Religion just has no place in a job application email.

  62. Kat*

    I once called a job applicant who answered the phone, “Praise the Lord!” It was almost shouted.

    It was downright startling.

  63. KeepReligionOutOfIt*

    As someone who spent my entire childhood getting told I was going to hell, that Jesus died for me and I needed to love him for it, that I was evil because I didn’t believe in Jesus, and much, much worse I find all of those signatures (have a blessed day, bible quotes, etc) incredibly offensive. The active proselytizing goes three levels beyond. They’re only considered acceptable because Christianity is an acceptable default and often not treated as actual religious practice.

    Use a gmail account for job searching; keep your religious pushing out of it

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Trouble is, nobody’s asking whether it’s OK to use a religious proselytising email.

  64. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    “There was a case where a cashier would say “Have a blessed day” to customers and the court said that should be allowed because it did not impose a hardship on the employer.”

    I would go out of my way to avoid being told to have a blessed day, so that would be a hardship in the way of lost revenue.

    1. Splendid Colors*

      I would too, if there was an easy alternative to the store. (Driving to a different location, using a competitor, etc.)

  65. spruce*

    I’m coming at this as someone outside the US, so the legal ramifications are different. To me, adding a proselytizing line to what is a professional email (it’s applying for a job) shows a lack of good judgement that should be taken in account when evaluating a candidate.

    It would be inappropriate to have that in your email signature as an employee, so it’s inappropriate as a candidate.

    It doesn’t have anything to do with sharing one’s religion in a job application. For instance, there could be a line about personal interests in the CV that lists “coordination of my church’s Sunday school” and it would be perfectly appropriate and professional. It’s specifically the proselytizing that is completely out of line and shows poor judgement.

  66. Kat Proud*

    I once worked in HR and had a CV through with an email address like “” – my initial feeling (and like the OP declined to interview for other reasons) was that it was a bit unprofessional.

  67. DJ Abbott*

    Sorry, I know I’m late, but as a person who grew up in a fundamentalist area, I need to weigh in.
    This email address and signature would be notice that this person will take any opportunity to proselytize at me. I would feel threatened and never be comfortable with him.
    Someone who is this in-your-face is not going to be quiet and respectful. They will take or make any opportunity to push their religion on anyone.
    I do appreciate that he’s open about it though. The fundamentalists where I grew up could be sneaky. They would invite people to an innocuous sounding event, then try to convert everyone. They even had a marketing campaign where there were bumper stickers and signs with a vague, exciting phrase and a phone number. When I called to see what the excitement was about, someone tried to convert me. So disrespectful! :(

    1. Splendid Colors*

      I remember something like that on campus, maybe in the 1980s? Or maybe when I returned to school in the early 2000s?

  68. Pierrot the Clown*

    I’m Jewish and it’s interesting to see the range of opinions that come out on AAM posts like this, including some problematic ones about what it means to proselytize. Like many people here, I’m pretty disheartened though not surprised by the comments stating that the applicant was not proselytizing and that this is something people do “passively”. With all due respect, if you are part of that religious group, you are likely not the one being proselytized to! As a Jewish person, a message that says or has a link to a website stating that if I do not convert, I’ll be destined for eternal damnation is proselytizing to me in a literal sense and is also vaguely threatening (even if it was in the person’s signature and not exclusively sent to me). I feel differently about a psalm or the name/numbers for a bible verse or some other declaration of belief that does not imply that people who don’t believe are wrong.

    In any case, there are a lot of comments about what should happen in an ideal world. There have been so many lawsuits that have made it to the supreme court in which people have either sued over their ability to discriminate against other protected classes due to their religious freedom and they have one. As long as the Supreme Court and many court districts and circuits support this, in a situation where an employer could not demonstrate specifically why the other candidate got the position over the proselytizer I do not think it would bode well for the employer. The lawyer is informing us of correct information, so it’s odd to read comments saying that she’s wrong or defending the applicant’s actions. Allison did not ask her “do you agree with the applicant’s choice?”, she’s asking about the legal ramifications.

    1. Pierrot the Clown*

      Ugh, I found several typos. I meant “won”, not one, and I did not mean to put “either” at the beginning of that sentence. Oops

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I grew up in a city dominated by fundamentalists and I live in Chicago now. Most of the people here have not seen fundamentalism in action and don’t understand it. They’re kind, supportive people who go to liberal churches and/or social groups and they think everyone is like themselves. It’s difficult to make them understand the horrors of aggressive fundamentalism when they haven’t seen or experienced it.
      This gives fundamentalists more opportunity for what they’re doing. It’s the intolerance paradox. Christian fundamentalist leaders are actively trying to take over the country and make it a theocracy. Sadly, the nice people who don’t understand them won’t understand until it’s too late.

  69. Appletini*

    *looks at the comments* Half of these definitely show why the US is spiraling into theocracy.

  70. Liz*

    Geez and here I was so worried a web search would pop up random relatively innocuous things that I created a special job-applying Gmail address that is not even close to my “regular” Gmail!

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