An Atheist Outnumbered by Christians at Work (an ethical dilemma)


We have gotten a new administrator where I work (nursing home) who is apparently very religious. We had tornado warnings at work yesterday and when news came of a touchdown the next town over he (kind of jokingly) said if anyone's not right with God they've got about 15 minutes. On top of that, they've started praying at inservices and drop Christian slurs all over the place. The DON is big into the church, the ADON is religious. Most of the doctors are big into church. This is a small southern town and it's gospel music, neatly cropped hair, button down shirts and Hush Puppies all the way. They think I'm so meek and sweet as sugar, the patients love me and I love them (and I do!) I wonder what they would think if they knew. I make these natural hippie soaps and so many people scramble to buy them (even though these soaps are very expensive to make I sell them super cheap just because it makes me happy that I can make something other people like and I like to see them happy). They probably think I'm a Christian like them.

I just wonder what they would think of me if they knew. Maybe it shouldn't be a big deal to me, but it bothers me. I think they may feel a combination of disgust, pity, anger and frustration and I'm afraid they would even fire me. Of course, they can't discriminate on religion, but you know how the cookie crumbles...I have a big heart and I really care about other people, but I'm as atheist as Carl Sagan. I fight hard to respect them with their religion, but I somehow doubt the favor would be returned.

Ever dealt with or seen this? What do you think the outcome would be if a small, devoutly religious southern community who was all about appearances found out a valued employee held such an abhorrent (to them) view of the world?


511 Posts

That is hard to answer. The best thing and hardest thing you can do is to make a personal assessment of each persons character not religious views.

We all know religious does not necessarily mean christian-like...and besides christians fall short in areas of their life... Some christians can be some of the most intolerable people,

I'm christian but more accepting/respectful of other views.

If it's bothering you that no one knows, tell one co-worker you feel you can trust and who will not tell anyone else. But be careful, its part of our job to try to tell others about Who JESUS is? So you may be asked questions and your co-worker may try to convert you.....

oh yeah, HE is real. Lol! Good-luck.. I liked that 15min joke

netglow, ASN, RN

4,412 Posts

Jo... Yikes! I am very uncomfortable around very, very "religious" people, like you are describing. I believe in God, but not a churchy type. I don't have a problem with anybodys religion as long as it doesn't get pushed on others... especially in the workplace. Honestly, I don't think I could work somewhere like that... just couldn't. That kind of thing just creeps me out. :chair:

vashtee, RN

1,065 Posts

Specializes in DOU.

I don't see why it's anyone's business that you aren't a believer. I'd probably just keep it to myself and say "I prefer to keep my relationship with God private".

allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU. Has 27 years experience.

I don't know if an atheist could say that, since they don't think there IS a god.... ;)

I agree I'd keep it to myself, and say "I don't think it's wise to discuss religion at work".


76 Posts

Specializes in ER, Labor and Delivery, Infection Contro. Has 11 years experience.

Are you enjoying yourself? Sounds like you really don't have an issue except the fact that you somehow think you are superior and if "they" all knew about you it would devistate them. I doubt it. You said the town is like that. What do you expect? It really doesnt sound like much about nursing here.


1,845 Posts

Specializes in Psych, LTC, Acute Care.

There are plenty of Atheist where I work and I am a Christian who goes to church 1-2 times a week. If they are true christians, the only thing that they should do is treat you with respect. You have to get over the religious remarks, you can excuse yourself if someone makes them. I would not go around blaring that you are an atheist. The residents may get highly offended and think differently of you because they are more old fashioned. Is it worth you you going around telling everyone about it? No. Maybe you should have tried it a month ago when you were too scared to tell you boss you wanted to leave. I betcha five dollars he could have cared less about it. I think as long as your nice and caring to the residents, who cares what your religion is?


110 Posts

I too, believe the Lord Jesus Christ is my Savior. Having said that ....if the people who work at your facility are Christians then you have no reason to be afraid because a Christian would never judge anyone or put them down in fact, that is the total opposite of what we believe. As a Chrisitian we strive on a daily basis to be like our Saviour and NOT to say that we dont mess up ...we're human. This is the great thing about America....everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions. At work they were only doing what your doing on the computer. By the way, THANK YOU for what you contribute to sounds like you really do care about your patients, those are things we both have in common and YOU CANT get fired for doing your job well and caring about your patients!! Hope all goes well and have a great Easter!! Feel free to message me if you need to vent!

pagandeva2000, LPN

7,984 Posts

Specializes in Community Health, Med-Surg, Home Health.

I can understand some of your feelings, but in the bigger scheme of things, it may not worth mentioning. I don't believe that religion or politics should be part of the workplace. It is more important to me that a person practices safe care than what they do when they leave my presence. I am well aware that people find ways to make havoc for those who don't share their happens every day. But it doesn't mean that you have to reveal yourself, so to speak, simply because it isn't their business.

As time goes on and people become more familar with me, they are able to sense that I am not a traditional person. Sometimes, they may hear me play soft music with chimes, winds, dolphins, many metaphysical people tend to do, they may hear me speak of how colors motivate me, etc... However, they did also see that I am a teamplayer, I stay to myself, am not intrusive and (most) feel that I am decent to work with. It should be the same for you or anyone else. WHat one believes privately should not be a big deal as long as you are a safe practitioner and don't make trouble for everyone else.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

But it doesn't mean that you have to reveal yourself, so to speak, simply because it isn't their business.

i agree, that you needn't disclose anything personal about yourself, including religion.

however, revealing the naturally loving and honorable part of yourself, should be sufficient in making yourself an asset to the organization.

whatever they know or don't know about you, they will embrace the 'Christian' qualities you exude to your pts and others.

and jo, don't feel "outnumbered"...

we are all flowers in a grand, diverse garden.

only some continue to blossom and bloom.

me thinks you will continue to be a perennial delight.:redpinkhe



207 Posts

I would keep my views to myself- I believe to each their own, I believe in God and think we are all saved. My experience once I had ignorantly told a person at work in a LTC I am not Christian. The well meaning Hyper-Christian ask me to attend their church, even cried when she asked told me she was concerned for me to be saved. It is very uncomfortable. Later some Christians turned downright hateful towards me because my religous views were different and acted like I had a desease. It's scary thinking how they the potential of being less than professional towards patients who are not Christian.

Frankly, in a situation like yours, I would just lie. "Of course I'm right with Jesus."

I'm old and tired. I don't need people worrying about or at me, which is what they would do, and it WOULD be out of caring, because they like you and would be terrified that you are going to Hell. And that's out of caring, not being meanies.


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