Outrageous: Mandatory University Training Negatively Stereotypes Catholics

You can’t make this stuff up, but this is where we’re heading if Catholics don’t stand up for their right to be respected and to live their faith fully in public.

A catholic blogger who works at a state university was shocked to find out that her bi-annual mandatory training (which must be undergone by all employees) included this slide on the topic of “religious harassment”:

This slide is new. The catholic blogger has given the same assessment exam at least five times before and this is the first year this new slide has appeared. She writes about her reaction:

[I was] stunned. I didn’t know what to think. First of all, I’ve never met anyone, Catholic, Christian, or otherwise who would grab someone’s hands and begin praying out loud in the workplace. The scenario continues with the Catholic becoming upset, treating this new employee rudely, and disintegrates into being downright hateful. What this person is described doing would be considered against the very tenets of the Catholic Faith. It’s completely implausible!

She accurately observers the counter-productivity of this offensive approach:

By creating this implausible scenario, the trainers did exactly what they’re trying to educate people from doing. They used an offensive stereotype about Catholics, implying we would be the type of people to blatantly intimidate or harass another faith. Under the guise of educating people, the trainers actually become the ones who offend.

I couldn’t say it better myself. But let me add: so-called “religious harassment” training such as this doesn’t actually reduce religious “harassment”, it marginalizes and stigmatizes the religious witness of all.

Won’t people who care about keeping their job react to training such as this by seeking to minimize the external markers of their faith, out of fear that living their faith fully might single them out for “religious harassment”? What Catholic working for a non-Catholic employer hasn’t had to think through carefully if it would be okay for them to bring, say, a religious icon or picture of the holy family to put on their desk or in their cubicle? Training such as these has a chilling effect on everyone’s external markers of faith. How ironic, considering this policy’s supposed commitment to “diversity.”

The catholic blogger notes that this harassment code carries with it significant consequences — this is no laughing matter, in other words:

Slide 5 reiterates that at our employer: “Harassment and/or discrimination based on sex, race, religion, color, age, national origin/ethnicity, disability, veteran status, genetic information and/or sexual orientation will not be tolerated.

Once again, tolerance actually translates to intolerance (of Catholicism).



  • James

    This would be funny if it weren’t true. And typical.

  • Francis

    Wow, Thomas, don’t you think you owe your readers a little more than simply altering your original post to make yourself look a little better in all of this? I mean, I’m sure it was an honest mistake that you jumped to the conclusion that this originated with the EEOC. But you were the one who wrote that, and you were the one who encouraged your readers to react by contacting the EEOC, and you were the one who put their email address in your original post. As a reader, I feel like a fool for taking your article to heart and following through by contacting the EEOC. You owe us all an apology.

    • Paul H

      I don’t know that I would go quite as far as to use the phrase “you owe us an apology.” But I do think it would be best for Thomas to edit the original post to include some type of “mea culpa” statement, and some acknowledgement that the slide might not have been produced by the U.S. EEOC.

  • Sandmama

    In addition to being stupid because the so-called Catholic acts in a completely un-Catholic way, this example is extra silly because Muslims believe in the veneration of Saints and in seeking their aid, even Catholic Saints. No Muslim I know would be offended if you mentioned that we (Catholics) have a Saint for lost objects…

  • Shelly @ Of Sound Mind and Spirit

    Hi all,

    I wrote the original piece and I’d like to clarify a few things. First, I do not know who wrote the training slide. I do have a phone call in now to my HR department and will report back when I have some factual to confirm. If you read my original post, I never suggested that this was from the national EEOC. Second, in my job-at my campus, I have never felt pressured into participating in something that goes against my morals/faith. I have only experienced tolerance and support there from my colleagues and coworkers. I think that’s why I was so shocked at the suggested scenario. I appreciate the outpouring of response that this is offensive, confirming my own emotion at the time, and I’d like to ask for your patience as I track down more information. Thank you.

    • Tim

      Shelly, thanks for the update. I did send a request to the EEOC and they have confirmed that a) they did not conduct the training and b) did not produce the offending slide.

    • Gra 18 Pa 7

      Thank you for making an effort to get more information about the source of this offensive slide from your HR department. Would you please post the name of the university that presented this training?

  • Susan

    Dear Linda Li,

    Thank you again, and I’m sorry my letter made you feel attacked. I looked again at the American Papist blog and noted that you responded to the boards there as well. That means a lot to me, and says a lot about you personally, and about the agency you work for. I responded to your post as well with an apology, and noted that many of my brother and sister Catholics are a lot less quick to place blame on the EEOC than I was.

    Thank you for caring, and for not being (as you so aptly put it) a “faceless bureaucrat.” Thank you for all you do to promote fairness.

    Kind Regards,

  • John V

    “We need a new slide for religious harassment.”

    “OK. Let’s see. How about this:

    Janice is Catholic. Khalilah is not religious. One day Janice loses her favorite ring, so she puts her hands together and starts praying to St. Anthony. Khalilah grabs Janice’s hands, pulls them apart, and says “You don’t believe that stuff, do you?” Janice reminds Khalilah that she is Catholic. Khalilah gets upset, tells Janice that she’s a superstitious fool, and storms off. Over the next couple weeks, Khalilah stops by Janice’s desk over and over again to ask if she found her ring. When Janice said that she had not, Khalilah would smirk and tell her it’s because prayers are useless. As a new employee. Janice is scared to mention anything to her supervisor, because she knows her supervisor is an atheist.

    “Nah. That’s just not realistic.”

    “Yeah. I guess you’re right. Back to the drawing board.

    . . . .



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