The "Have you found a church yet?" Question

  1. I would like to get some input on how to handle this question at work. I always find good advice on this forum, and I really don't know what to do about this. I am a new grad and moved to a new city for my job. I'm working at an amazing facility, I love my job and all of the nurses I have met have been great. However, I've only been here a month and have already been asked by several different nurses "If I've found a church yet?" I have no idea how to respond to this question. First off, I find this question so offensive. It really has no place in the workplace. I'm supposed to be free from discrimination of religion at work, but to me this question is very hostile. There seems to be a pervasive attitude in our culture that as long as you have some sort of religion people are tolerant, but if you don't believe in any god, people see no reason to treat you like a human being. When I was little and people asked me my religion I would tell them "I'm Atheist," which is what my parents taught me to say. But I learned early on (by age 8 or so) that people were mean to me if I said that, so since then I have spent my life trying to dodge the question.

    Part of me says, that nurses are caring and non-judgemental in nature, and I shouldn't worry so much. But, I've met so many nurses who constantly talk about god and religion stuff, that I would not be comfortable with them knowing my beliefs. I have picked up on the attitude from some nurses that you cannot be a good nurse without believing in god, and I would hate for their opinion of me to suffer because of this. However, I have found no good way of handling this issue.

    The other day I was asked by a nurse on my unit if I'd found a church yet, and I stumbled and said "I don't really do church" trying to make light of it. I am always very careful of my tone of voice and I didn't say it offensively or even with any conviction, however her face went sort of blank and she didn't know what to say back to me. Meanwhile, another nurse whipped her head around to see who had just said that. They are both very nice people and good nurses, and now I'm completely uncomfortable around them.

    Nursing is a second career for me, and I love it. I have worked extremely hard to get here, I love being able to take care of my patients and I want to learn as much as I can. I know I can't be successful without being a part of the nursing team on my unit, and I'm worried that this is going to cause me problems. It frustrates me that I don't feel like I can be honest about my beliefs without suffering prejudice, especially when the attitude is coming from other nurses. And I don't feel it's right to flat out lie, or even worse, go to a church a few times just so I can try to "fit in." But I don't want to go to work and feel uncomfortable around my co-workers. I don't know that there is any good solution to this, but at this point, anything that might help would be greatly appreciated.

    ***Please don't derail this thread with a discussion of religion, that is NOT what I am asking for. I realize this is a passionate topic for many people and it's why I'm asking this here and not to people at work. So, please keep this thread on point. Thanks
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    About Annaiya, NP

    Joined: Jan '06; Posts: 561; Likes: 356

    87 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    I would just say that I prefer to keep my religious affiliation private. And give them a big smile, even if it hurts.
  4. by   Nurse_Diane
    Or how about:

    "I'm all set, thanks."

    if they ask you which church, say

    "I'm all set, thanks"

    and on and on until they get a clue
  5. by   roser13
    I would just say "YES" very emphatically. I might be one who would ask you that because to me, "finding a church" implies that you have found a home. Acceptance. Others to minister to you.

    So on behalf of all of us who mean well, I'm sorry if the question is offensive. Truly, we mean well!
  6. by   nursejoy1
    I am not trying to get off topic, but I do feel as if you can be an excellent nurse, no matter what God (or none) you believe in. It is the compassion for your patients and passion for nursing that makes you a good nurse. And I was raised Christian. And, I agree with caliotter on this one.
  7. by   Nurse_Diane
    Quote from roser13
    I would just say "YES" very emphatically.)
    why would she have to lie to make others happy?

    That doesn't make sense to me, sorry.
  8. by   rn-2-b-n-09
    Okay, just out of curiosity, are you at a "faith-based" hospital? If so, this would be expected...
  9. by   oramar
    I am really flabergastic by this question, never worked in an enviroment where someone would ask that question.
  10. by   Kaileeia
    I have people ask me if I go to church and so forth, I tell them that I do not and it doesn't matter if you go to church or not, as long as God is in your heart or not.

    It's not much of an answer, but it gets people to leave me alone. Either they think I believe or I do not by the comment I make, but to each their own, right?

    Personally, I am Agnostic and I cannot stand church, I always fall asleep or start drawing when my Mother forces me to go some Sundays... (Yes, I am 24 next week and my Mother still forces me and I still fall asleep or draw... sad, I know!)

    As I said, to each their own!
  11. by   hiddencatRN
    I would just say "I don't go to church." And leave it at that. I understand that it makes you uncomfortable, but I think the best approach is to be matter-of-fact and get it out in the open. Hopefully they're just trying to chat you up and while they might be shocked to meet (their first?) atheist, will get over it.
  12. by   llg
    When pressed, I usually just smile and say, "Thanks for asking, but I am not a church-goer" and leave it at that.
  13. by   anon695
    Nobody has asked me that (yet) but as an atheist, I'd probably be somewhat surprised and reply with something really goofy like "I didn't know I'd lost it!" giggle, and hope they laugh too.
  14. by   netglow
    I agree with roser. I do have faith, but feel strange with churchy people myself, so I can share the shiver of awkwardness you feel.

    I can see from what roser says that it's possible that some of your coworkers really like you as a person, and might want to extend a casual invite to you. It could be that asking you if you've found a church yet is their way of carefully asking, as they don't want you to feel awkward. I do know that some people are so involved with their congregation that their world revolves around it, family and most friends are members. Some of these congregations fill all your free time with activities, trips, things for the kids to do, etc. Instead of going out for lunch or a drink some time with the gang, inviting you to a service is a way of extending a friendship, they might think they are welcoming you in this way. A way of wanting you to feel at home.

    I'd say be careful not to hurt feelings.

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