Answering the Inevitable

  1. 3
    I've written this three times now, but I can't find an eloquent way to write what I really want to know:

    Please, please tell me that my future fellow nurses and clients will (mostly) not judge me harshly or negatively for being Pagan.

    I know that sounds silly, but as a CNA in a Lutheran-run LTC, I realized that I ran the real risk of losing my job if anyone guessed my religion. That was many years ago, so I'd like to believe things have changed, but with some of the comments I have observed in my nursing classes, I don't know how to tactfully sidestep conversations about faith.

    I'm worried that having a real discussion about faith, and being honest, will get me noticed in the wrong ways. I am not ashamed of my faith, but I also realize I live somewhere being non-Christian is quite the gossip fodder. When there are only a few employers in the area, and everyone talks, I'd hate for gossip to get my resume "lost" to the Catholic Hospital or the Lutheran LTC.

    Has anyone dealt with this? I refuse to lie about my religion, I'd just like suggestions on how to tactfully avoid those discussions or maybe a way to discuss it without the inevitable whispers and judgment.

    Thank you.
  2. 22 Comments so far...

  3. 10
    Your religion is NO ONE else's business. All you have to say is "I'm sorry, but my parents taught me never to talk about religion or politics in public, so I don't." Then tactfully redirect the conversation to something with less potential to be explosive.
    weemsp, Vishwamitr, nursel56, and 7 others like this.
  4. 2
    I vaguely remember a co-worker of mine being a Pagan but I remember more clearly her penchant for ribald coversation in inappropriate areas during our shift.
    Make it a practice to avoid all talk of religion and politics at work,that's just good common sense.
    Vishwamitr and herring_RN like this.
  5. 0
    Especially if you work in critical care areas, you will be asked by patients your religion. Reply #2 here, and reply #4, here:
    Do You Have To Be Religious/Spiritual to be a good Nurse? - Nursing and Spirituality

    ^is how i, a lifelong atheist, handle it. Turns out, the patients don't reeeally care or want to know, when they ask,
    they are usually wanting a springboard to discuss THEIR own beliefs.

    Each nurse has to decide on her own, what she reveals about her own personal beliefs in her WORK setting. Me, i wish everyone would leave their religions and politics at home when they punch in, and just be neutral,
    and work to remember, these moments are not about US, but, are about honoring whatever the patient needs.


    Now, whatever you choose to tell your fellow students, or coworkers, is another matter. Yes, non-christian religions, or having zero-religion, can cause many to view you with suspicion. Poll after poll shows atheists are always #1 on minorities viewed negatively, and i'd imagine, pagans are right up there, too.
    Nowadays, i have learned the hard way, it's easier and more peaceful for ME to not reveal my atheism to coworkers. Otherwise, i am very 'out', but, not at work. I once found my car keyed with the words, "you will burn in hell" keyed into the paint of my car at work, back when i was out at work, too. (this was several decades ago, back when atheism was viewed even worse than it is today, we've come a long way nowadays, oh the changes i've seen!)

    I do not have the time, nor any interest, to have debates at work.
    I have to keep my attitude GOOD at work, and fielding questions like, "Well, if you don't believe in gods, what keeps you from just killing people then?", or "You? An atheist? But, but, you're so nice!!" etc, doesn't' much improve my inner peace.
    I never ever lie, nope, that's the one line i won't cross to be true to my own self,
    but, i just think political topics and religious topics do NOT foster the most harmonious teamwork, imo. IT'S FAR EASIER TO STEP OVER THESE TOPICS than you might realize.

    but, this is a personal choice, that you have to decide, what's right for one nurse, might not fit how you feel about things.....

    but, i'm warning you, as much as i admire those who are very out, you have a right to know------ there is a price to be paid for being known to belong to a very misunderstood minority.
    Last edit by somenurse on Jan 2, '13
  6. 2
    btw, to the OP, once in an interview at a religious hospital, they did directly ask me some religiously-based questions, which i answered both truthfully, but, without revealing my own beliefs. One of the religious questions was about my favorite bible quote, which i readily answered something like, "I much admire the sentiment in Matthew 25, and wish more people did see caring about each other along those lines." or something like that. (Matt 25 contains the verses about "when i was hungry, you gave me food, when i was sick, you cared for me" etc etc.)

    And i wasn't lying, i do think that verse is lovely, and contains a great idea, that how we behave, how we treat each other, is most important.

    I got the job, and worked there and no one ever ever realized i was god-free.
    weemsp and CrufflerJJ like this.
  7. 0
    I can't say that I've had to deal with your situation, but I can certainly empathize. I would call myself a closet-Pagan and I can appreciate you wanting to shout out loud how you feel, BUT I don't think we live in that kind of world right now. You would do best to simply smile sweetly and say something benign if someone asks you. The Christian faith has murdered millions in their zest to eliminate all other religions. Don't become another statistic in their long history of intolerance and annihilation. Let them learn through your example and maybe someday we will live in a religion-tolerant world. Blessed Be.
  8. 0
    When I was growing up, being known as a born-again Christian was bad news. They were ridiculed in a pretty ferocious manner (this was So. Cal in the 60's and 70's).

    When I did become a Christian in my late 20's, it was very hard for me to use the term, born-again.

    So yeah, I know how you feel. I like Viva's advice and I don't talk about religion (or politics) at work.
  9. 0
    I don't know why this would be an "inevitable" question. I don't think I've ever been asked my religious beliefs by a co-worker and, if I was, it was only because I went to a Jesuit college not because anyone cared about my religious beliefs. I was asked by a patient once if I was Catholic but that was only in the context of the mother wanted to know if I was familiar with a particular story from the Bible because she believed that her only daughter was not going to die because of this story. I just said "No" (I was raised Catholic but had long since divorced myself from the religion, but there was no reason to have that discussion with this woman) and let her talk. I listened knowing all the while that there would be no miracle for her daughter- who had a highly malignant, inoperable, incurable brain tumor.

    There's nothing wrong with sidestepping the conversation or just declining to participate.
  10. 4
    Your employer has no right to know your religious preferences or practices unless you are in the clergy. They pay you to practice nursing not preach.
    weemsp, sharpeimom, VivaLasViejas, and 1 other like this.
  11. 0
    Don't go into details about your beliefs.

    Be vague, non-committal, and all that jazz. Your beliefs belong to YOU, until shared with others.

    Blessed be!


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