Answering the Inevitable

  1. 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

  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    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.
  4. by   ktwlpn
    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.
  5. by   somenurse
    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. by   somenurse
    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.
  7. by   Shesmu
    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. by   Spidey's mom
    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. by   KelRN215
    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. by   tewdles
    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.
  11. by   CrufflerJJ
    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!
  12. by   CountryMomma
    I'd like to thank everyone for answering. The respect and lack of shock makes me hopeful that it really *is* becoming less of an issue.

    I know one poster said it was not any of my employers business what faith I am, but when that employers Vision, Mission, and Core Principles all include the words Christian, Christ, or God, it is easy to call a worker to the carpet, say they are not aligned with the Core Principles of the company, and dismiss them. ND is an at-will employment state, which affords me little in the way of protection, especially when the community I hope to work in is so small and interconnected.

    That being said, I am actually less worried about it now. I'm gathering that it would be okay for me to politely sidestep the discussion. Or turn it into a different avenue of topic.

    Believe it or not, I have already been asked why my kids aren't in Awana, and my oldest is in 1st grade. I don't even know what Awana is, other than something similar to Sunday School, but a few of the PTA moms are curious. So, I guess it is considered to be more acceptable here? Maybe because it is assumed that everyone *is* Christian.

    Thankfully, the biggest Christian holiday has passed and maybe it will be less of a topic, too!

    Thank you for giving me the pointers and hope. I think I can confidently shut it down before it starts.

    (And just to be clear, I am not "open" about my faith, and neither am I "in the closet". If it were just me and my husband, I would be less worried, but I cannot afford to have my kids ostracized for our religion, so I stay pretty low key.)
  13. by   james0007
    Each of us has spiritual abilities to one degree or another, but am able to summon these powers at will. I can have a profound effect upon your life. All you have to do is ask. I can bless an amulet for you or cast a spell for you. And am so certain you will be pleased with the results, I absolutely, unconditionally guarantee everything is possible with my super natural powers.he can make people like you at your working place and around you
  14. by   somenurse
    Quote from james0007
    Each of us has spiritual abilities to one degree or another, but am able to summon these powers at will. I can have a profound effect upon your life. All you have to do is ask. I can bless an amulet for you or cast a spell for you. And am so certain you will be pleased with the results, I absolutely, unconditionally guarantee everything is possible with my super natural powers.he can make people like you at your working place and around you

    oh my, James, i doubt you have any supernatural powers,
    and i suspect,
    that if people like or dislike the OP, that it is up to the OP to cause that, not you, some stranger far away. I think the OP's satisfaction with her life,
    or anyone's satisfaction with their life,
    is up to that individual,
    not you. By the way, the OP never mentioned if she is happy with her friendships, or her life in general---the OP might be very very happy with her life, who knows,
    ---------------she was only asking about handling one specific question.

    but, it's kind of sweet you would offer to make someone's life all perfect and all,
    but, it is really up to each of us to manage our own lives, not you.

    also, if you are $elling something,
    especially something as questionable as your ability to make strangers lives all peachy-fine with your supernatural powers,
    this effort to possibly collect money(???) for your service(???) cuz you mention a "guarantee"
    well, not sure, but
    this *might* be against this website rules, but, i don't know that for sure.
    Last edit by somenurse on Jan 3, '13