'Share The Gospel
At Every Opportunity'?
I know your plate is full with the recent blatant violations of the First Amendment, but I was wondering if you could spare some time to give me some advice on a smaller matter.
I recently found this "Corporate Statement" on a corporation's main web page:
Apache Digital Corporation provides high quality, high performance computer systems and services to an international market at competitive prices. Striving to conduct business in accordance with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, we wish to bless people and share the gospel at every opportunity. We operate daily in the strength that God provides. Because he loves us, God promises to give us success in daily life when we seek to please him.
This offends me greatly, and if that were all it did, I'd ignore it (like the obscene text message I received on my cell phone today). :) My concern is that a corporate mission statement that explicitly references a certain religion may constitute discrimination on the basis of religion. In this case, as an employee of this company, you are instructed to "share the gospel at every opportunity."
I'd like to gently explain to this company (in a productive and helpful manner) that their corporate statement may be illegal and certainly will be offensive to some of their current, former, and prospective clients. First, is it even a good idea for me to attempt this? Second, am I correct about the illegality of a non-religious, non-tax-exempt corporation requiring its employees to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ "at every opportunity?"
The only reason I'd even consider this action is the influence of PAM. Thanks for your hard work,
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: "Val Henson"
Subject: Re: Question about overtly religious mission statement
Date: October 25, 2001 3:06 AM
I'd like to gently explain to this company (in a productive and helpful manner) that their corporate statement may be illegal and certainly will be offensive to some of their current, former, and prospective clients.
I wish I could say that there were such a thing, but I fear that once it's gone this far, I doubt there's any such thing as "explaining" anything to them, particularly if being "gentle" about it is one of your goals.
Besides, you don't tell us what your relationship is with this company: do you work there?
I do know that you could make a solid case that "share the Gospel" means to proselytize or recuit for the faith, and that "being nice" or "being a good citizen" or any such thing would not fly as a definition for this language. So, if these were explicit instructions in the Employee Handbook, you'd probably win -- but what would you win? Such a company might not be able to, for example, get government contracts (but then, with George Bush II in office, this might be just what gets them the contract -- and a tax-exemption, to boot, because if they are a ministry first, and a business on the side, like most hospitals -- well, you know).
In lieu of them making specific instructions to their employees, you have, simply, the owners of the company utilizing the publicity which that company's business generates. There is not only nothing wrong with a private company doing that, but to do that is actually protected by our Constitution -- as long as it doesn't spill over to actually telling employees to do it, too. In fact, I might be willing to die for their right to do that simply because it is part of Liberty of Speech and Religious Liberty.
One thing's for certain, I don't have to buy any of their products if I don't want to. Back when I used to shop with my conscience I was shopping for a bicycle. I soon discovered that basically two kinds of people open up bike shops around here: hard-core nuts-n'-granola Liberals and Evangelical Christians. Since I don't care for either viewpoint, and since both tend to think of their bike shop as along the lines of a "ministry" or "outreach" for their ideology, I didn't want to support such outreaches. Today, having developed Positive Atheism to (among other things) specifically address this type of attitude and behavior on my part, I am much less concerned about these kinds of things.
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