Christianity – The New Minority?

While it may seem counterintuitive, considering that Christianity is the majority religion in the US, I’ve been noticing an interesting trend in the media: there seems to be a growing number of cases in which Christian employees maintain that they were subject to religious discrimination in the workplace. 

In Vail, Colorado a Christian woman will receive $80,000 from The Vail Corporation as part of a settlement from a religious and gender discrimination lawsuit. Lisa Marie Cornwell, an emergency services supervisor at Vail’s ski resort, was forbidden from discussing her faith with another Christian employee, prohibited from listening to Christian music and denied her requests for scheduling accommodation so that she could attend her preferred religious services.  

In Jonesboro, Arkansas two Jehovah’s Witnesses received more than $1.3 million in a religious discrimination lawsuit against AT&T. Jose Gonzalez and Glenn Owen, former customer service technicians, lost their jobs after attending a Jehovah’s Witness Convention even though the men submitted several written requests to miss work for the event.

In Dearborn, Michigan a Christian high school wrestling coach has filed a federal religious discrimination lawsuit against the principal of Fordson High School and the Dearborn school system because he believes that he was terminated due to his association with an assistant coach who helped convert a Muslim student. 

Although the American population continues to overwhelmingly self-identify as Christian, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s U.S. Religion Landscape Survey found more than 100 different expressions of the Christian tradition within the United States. This, in addition to the growth in the number of atheist, agnostic, and unaffiliated individuals over the past ten years, means that the religious landscape of America is becoming ever more diverse.  As a result, our nation’s Christian majority might be more prone to feeling like a minority these days. 

This trend isn’t limited to the United States either. A recent study conducted by the Sunday Telegraph found that one in five British church-goers “faced opposition at work because of their beliefs.” This is a particularly telling in light of a series of cases over past several months in which UK Christians have been reprimanded after expressing their religious views, including a cause in which a nurse was temporarily suspended without pay for asking a patient whether she would like to be prayed for.

In other Christian related workplace news, I also found an example of inclusivity in a very unexpected place this week – the Episcopal Church. Two openly gay priests were nominated as candidates for the assistant bishop position at the Diocese of Los Angeles. Check out The Washington Post’s On Faith blog for several perspectives on the matter of openly gay clergy.