I Don’t Want To Pray!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a practice in a nursing home of prayer before meals: Is “MY” job as the social worker, administrator and my mother to say “anyone” can say the prayer?

I work in the kitchen of a nursing home. At meal times, it is our job to say the ” meal Prayer.” For the last few months, my religious beliefs have changed, and I feel that I have the right to turn down saying the prayer. However, my supervisor is my mother, making this even more difficult. I would like to know if it is “MY” job as the social worker, administrator and my mother say “anyone” can say the prayer. But knowing other departments–THEY DON”T. Any ideas for me?

Signed, Praying in Iowa

Dear Praying in Iowa:

As social director, might it also be your job to assign others to pray rather than to find that task always in your lap? And when it is in your lap, might there not be a creative way to please both those who want a prayer and your own beliefs that at present make prayer out of bounds? How? By reading inspirational poetry or words of a famous writer or song?

I respect your desire not to be a hypocrite, appearing to believe in prayer when perhaps you don’t. You should not feel compelled to do so, and your mother should understand, or at least should approve of a decision to find a creative way to deal with your current thinking that you do not want to pray. It shouldn’t become a matter of conflict; rather simply one that you do not talk about and shift in practice from you praying to the alternatives suggested.

So be pleasant but assertive and I’m sure you can assign others to pray and/or use that time for reading inspirational, non-religious verse.Do let us know what how you handle this minor, yet real pressure to do what you do not believe.Finding creative ways to please and to do what is right come from thinking WEGO.

Follow Up: Since writing in to you a few events have happened. I’m a dietary aide. A fellow co-worker has told me and my supervisor (mother) confirmed that my administrator told my supervisor that if “they won’t say the pray, then I guess they can get fired.”  This has raised my anxiety because it went from a small issue to discrimination and threats. After these words being said. What actions can I take to ensure that I have a job and my religious beliefs?

I respect the Catholics, Lutherans and other religious people in our job/workplace. Why can he not support my decision to pray? Please help Praying Not To Pray in Iowa

More:Your uneasiness about presenting a prayer at mealtime has escalated to a power struggle between the administrator and you. I assume your employer is private; however, because your employer no doubt has clients/patients who are supported by Medicare/medicade federal funds probably are part of the workplace’s financial picture.

If so, there is a good case for not being forced to participate in a religious practice. So, if you want to fight this rather than be bullied to pray, you might consult an attorney. Usually first consultations are free. If the attorney feels you have a case and is willing to represent you, she/he should have a high possibility of persuading your administrator to reconsider firing you and to excuse you from leading prayer.

Probably if you tell your administrator that you feel strongly that you should not be forced to prayer and that if you are you will consult an attorney, that may be all it takes to resolve this matter in your favor. Have you met with your administrator? If so, have you expressed your commitment to doing good work and that because of a change in beliefs you feel it is against your convictions to pray, a task that need not be integral to your job as a dietary aid? If you have not, this is the time to do so and to politely and firmly request that you be excused from the task of prayer. If you do, I predict that you and your administrator can come to a peaceful resolution to your situation.WEGO symbolizes working cooperatively. To achieve that we each must work together with hands, head, and heart. And I must add we must sincerely voice what we feel is right and reasonable in keeping with our values.

William Gorden