Tag Archives: Tolerance

How to talk to your co-workers about your faith

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Apologetics 315! Thanks for the link Brian!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the linky, Binky!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from The Happy Catholic! Thanks for the link, Julie!

Today, I’ll talk a little bit about how to go about raising your colors in the workplace. Before we start, here are some catch-up posts on why apologetics matters:

How to be yourself at work, without making other people angry

First of all, concentrate on working hard for the first 3 months after you start a job. Your ability to to raise your colors in the workplace is conditional on your ability to do your job well. For example, I decided to cut my career short a while back in order to go back to school and achieve some more goals, before returning to work:

  • get a Masters degree in computer science (3.9 GPA)
  • get computer science articles published in peer-reviewed journals
  • present research at professional conferences
  • apply for and be awarded patents

Secondly, never fight about work-related conflicts. Your job is not the means by which you will make your mark on the world. You make your mark solely by being an ambassador for Christ. Never sour a work relationship by arguing. State your reasons, and document your dissent. Christianity isn’t about you. Or climbing a corporate ladder.

Let me be clear: With respect to your Christian commitment, your pride, popularity and reputation are expendable.

Thirdly, take every opportunity to make yourself the servant of your co-workers, especially those who may not be as senior or technical as you. In every job I have had so far, I’ve tried to help clean things up, wash dirty coffee mugs and dishes, and keep a supply cough drops, and other healthy snacks, etc. Also, don’t get promoted to manager.

Fourth, after a few months, start to build your bookshelf at work. To start with, only stock debate books from academic presses, especially Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. These kinds of books connect evidence to the claims of Christianity. It is much easier to discuss public, testable evidence with your co-workers than whether they are going to Hell or not .

Here are some examples of debate books I stock:

Leave these books out on your desk as you read them, with a bookmark to show you are reading them. If asked to explain them, take no position but explain both sides. Speak quietly and don’t interrupt. Stop talking after 2 minutes. Offer to continue the conversations off-site. Learn what your co-workers believe as they talk to you about your perfectly acceptable debate books.

As you read, note arguments and evidence used for and against your beliefs. When you eventually do get to the point where you are explaining your beliefs to people, you’ll need to link them up with evidence and defeat objections. Keep the discussion on public evidence, show you are operating at a research level, and you should be able to avoid blow-ups.

Fifth, expand your book collection with books from any academic press. Your goal is to show that these topics require study and can be debated rationally using evidence. Even if you only read popular level books to start, it is important to project to your co-workers how you approach faith just like any other discipline – by studying it.

If you get no flak from anyone, you can add more books on other issues, like the history, foreign policy, health care, education, philosophy of religion, astrobiology, global warming, economics and family/parenting. These books allow you to link your beliefs to other areas, so that turning the conversation to Christianity becomes easier.

The academic books are useful to convey that you have a serious approach to faith. But you probably will face much more ordinary objections. So, you should be reading mostly popular books to address them. That’s where books by people like Lee Strobel and Paul Copan are useful. After those two, you can move on to edited collections like “Passionate Conviction” or “Signs of Intelligence”.

An important rule is never to discuss the person’s personal life or morality. And never discuss Christian-ese hymns, prayer, church, feelings, emotions, intuitions, religious experiences, or your own life. Untestable faith claims scare people. Stick to the public, testable evidence. Debate whether DNA is designed, not whether they should stop shacking up.

Only talk to people who don’t offend easily and who don’t subscribe to politically correct ideologies. I avoid talking about spiritual things with people from groups that vote overwhelmingly democrat, such as single or divorced women. Eventually, the victim-mentality people will learn to behave in order to talk with you. Avoid breaking cover to anyone in your chain of command.

Sixth, you need to get comfortable with opposing views. In order to do that, you need to get used to being quiet and tolerant, and listening for extended periods of time, while ideas you oppose are forcefully presented. The goal is to be able to recognize your opponent’s arguments and argue for them better than they can themselves.

Start with these university debate transcripts: (print them out, leave them on your desk)

Your goal is to speak about Christianity the same way Craig does. Move on to audio and video debates in this list, only after you master reading debates. Debate your friends and family first for practice. I will write a separate post on what to buy to augment your resource collection with actual debates and lectures that you can lend out.

Another important point: your goal is not to win during the discussion. Try not to beat up your opponent. Instead, explore the issue from both sides using public, testable evidence. Let the person decide for themselves what they think, after the discussion is over. Here’s a great book on tactics that will help you.

An example of authentic Christianity in the public square

One last thing. You may be encouraged by listening to some lectures by Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here). Bradley is the best active proponent of public, authentic Christianity. He is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor. He has a huge pile of grants and research papers, and directed a research lab when he was at Texas A&M.

Here are a couple of different versions of the same lecture on integrating faith and vocation:

And here are a few other Bradley lectures I really like:

More Bradley lectures are here.

Canadian Human Rights Commissions are bad for business

Denyse O’Leary has a re-cap of the sorry state of free speech in Canada, here.

It is worth noting how these Human Rights Commissions don’t just affect individual liberty – they affect commerce, as well! Businesses can be sued just as easily as individuals. All it takes is a victim from a special interest group to feel “offended”.

Closet Conservative linked to this St. Catharines Standard story:

The owner of a downtown St. Catharines fitness club faces a mediation hearing today for allegedly denying a pre-operation transsexual access to the women’s only areas of his gym.

The transsexual — now a woman, but a man at the time of the incident two years ago — is taking the case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, John Fulton said Tuesday.

Mark Steyn has more stories of business owners and professionals facing “Human Rights” suits from offended clients. Excerpt:

What’s the “proper conduct” for Mr Fulton? Decline to let the pre-op use the ladies’ changing room and get a “human rights” complaint? Or let the Big Swinging Dick have the run of the shower and get a whole bunch of other suits from his outraged female members?

What’s the “proper conduct” for Dr Stubbs? Decline to perform a labiaplasty on the post-op transsexual because he’s no idea what he’s getting into (so to speak)? Or perform it and risk a malpractice suit for botching an operation?

What’s the “proper conduct” for Gator Ted? Tell the medical marijuana guy to stop smoking pot in his doorway and be hauled before the commissars? Or let the guy go ahead and get sued by the trucker sitting next to him at the bar when he fails his drug test?

There is no “proper conduct”, only the whims and caprices of nuisance plaintiffs backed by the Ontario government’s social engineers. Bar owners and fitness clubs run up five- and six-figure legal bills. The nuisance plaintiffs get the tab picked up by taxpayers, and thus have no incentive to settle.

Canada may have a fiscal conservative running the economy today, but Stephen Harper still doesn’t have the majority government he needs to abolish these kangaroo courts once and for all.

So it may not be time for Americans to flee Obama’s socialist paradise for Canada, yet. Will Canada win back the right to free speech? Maybe. Time will tell.

Do free speech and transparency actually make people happier?

I was browsing over at the Anchoress, and I found this fascinating article on free speech, political correctness and self-censorship.This is a huge issue for Christians, especially given what is happening in countries like Canada with these politically correct, multi-cultural censorship tribunals. In the post, the Anchoress urges us to be less worried about offending people.

In our politically correct age, where everyone is afraid of giving offense, being misconstrued-and -then-sued, or simply fearful of falling out-of-step with the trendoids, we almost never hear or read anything that is uncontrolled.

But “free speech” cannot be controlled or it is not “free” at all. And we in America have for too long engaged in self-censorship in favor of “niceness.”

Sometimes, you have to lose control and let the words fly, and if you cannot do that, you are not free.

People in my office know that my favorite way to end a conversation is by apologizing. I probably apologize about 15 times a day. Why do I have to do that? The people I work now with are the most tolerant people I have ever worked with. But I never know if a member of some left-wing special interest victim group is listening, and they may sue me if they don’t like what I say.

And what is the effect of this PC victim mentality? Fewer friendships between people who disagree. Shouldn’t these “victims” get used to the idea that some people disagree with them? People disagree with me all the time. My Christian beliefs were mocked by the media and secular teachers all the way from kindergarden to grad school. I didn’t complain! I wasn’t offended by people who disagreed with me.

The Anchoress also cites a study from Science Daily that argues that self-censorship makes people very unhappy. The study notes:

They figured that well-intentioned people are careful – sometimes hyper-careful – not to say the wrong thing about race in a mixed-race group. Furthermore, they thought that such effortful self-control might actually cause both unease and guarded behavior, which could in turn be misconstrued as racial prejudice.

…independent black observers found that the powerless volunteers were much more direct and authentic in conversation. And perhaps most striking, blacks saw the less inhibited whites as less prejudiced against blacks. In other words, relinquishing power over oneself appears to thwart over-thinking and “liberate” people for more authentic relationships.

As a person of color myself, I would just state that the joy of having authentic relationships with different people is real. I love intimacy. I love being myself. I love opening myself up to people. I love disagreements. If I cannot say what I really think about issues that matter, how am I supposed to be able to form authentic friendships with people with whom I disagree? Enforced segregation by worldview is very bad.

The Anchoress goes on in her post to list how free speech has been curtailed in a number of instances, even in the media, where there is supposed to be freedom of the press.

If we lose our freedom to speak out – to opine loudly, to mock, to question, even to demandthen we have lost everything.

And the truth is, we have already – thanks to political correctness and self-censorship – fallen into the mindset that our speech should be controlled, measured and unfree.

Her post made me recall a podcast that Dennis Prager did a while back on the issue of transparency. For those who don’t know, Prager has a regular “Happiness Hour” every week on his show. Prager makes the point that being transparent with your neighbors, and not censoring yourself, leads to happiness. There is also a partial transcript here. Here’s an excerpt:

You have to let out your secrets. Keeping yourself bottled is a recipe for misery, anger and pathology. I must have hit paydirt here, because all the lines lit up before I even gave the number.

Keeping stuff inside of you, and usually, we do it because we’re embarrassed by it. But you know, everybody has things that they are embarrassed by. The more that you keep hidden, the less chance of happiness you have. Why would one want to go through life hiding? It’s like wearing a veil over your psyche, and over your soul, or even a burka, completely covered. I’ve never followed it, because…I’ve never been hurt by opening up. I mean, it hasn’t always received the response that I wanted. It’s inevitable that it won’t.

The Anchoress ends by mentioning the movie “The Lives of Others“. I just watched it myself yesterday evening, because I saw that it was number ONE on National Review’s list of top conservative movies. And now I am going to make it clear to you. WATCH THIS MOVIE. This is the most amazing movie I have seen in a long time. I give it my highest recommendation!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks so much for the link! New readers may want to take a look around since I cover a lot of different topics here, from free speech to economics to science to public policy!