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).



  • Shelly @ Of Sound Mind and Spirit

    Thanks to everyone for your patience. I have done some follow-up and can now confirm the university system wrote/developed the training program. However, good news! As a result of my complaint, the university has revised the slide. See my new posting: http://www.soundmindandspirit.com/2011/10/anti-catholic-eeo-training-scenario.html

  • Juan

    Thank you for your e-mail. We apologize for the delay in responding to your email.

    The mission of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is to ensure equality of opportunity in the workplace and enforce federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – including discrimination based on religion. After investigating the situation, we have determined that the training mentioned by Thomas Peters in his American Papist blog was conducted by a local university, not by the EEOC. The EEOC did not develop the slide used in the presentation. We recognize that the individual who initiated the blog regarding the training felt uncomfortable with the depiction of her faith in the slide and suggest that she contact her employer and ask that it consider revising the training materials.

    To learn more about the EEOC, including discrimination based on religion, you can visit us at http://www.eeoc.gov.

    Alternatively, you may call us at 1-800-669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820) to discuss your situation.


    U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • William

    Apparently, Catholic-bashing does not constitute harassment, and is not only tolerated but encouraged!



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