Prayers Meetings Before Work

Do any of you have any issues with people wanting to have a "prayer meeting" before work? We have a supervisor who does this on a weekly basis and now other employees are starting to complain because of the playing of religious music and employees jumping up and saying things like "thank you Jesus" and "Praise the Lord".

My personal opinion is that there is a time and place for everything and work isn't the place to do this. I also feel a supervisor is putting themselves on the line promoting something like this with employees maybe feeling pressured to join the group or some kind of retaliation for not joining the group.

How do you guys handle situations and requests like this?


  • 16 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • We once allowed a bible study group to meet in one of the meeting rooms after work. It didn't cause any problems, but it made management nervous.

    We had them start after work to make sure the meeting never had a chance of running into work time, or having any impact on other employees coming in (people started coming in 10-15 minutes before work time, but everyone left at 4:30).

    The employees in the study group never interfered with the other employees, but management became increasingly nervous due to the fear other groups would demand space too. Eventually we asked the group to meet somewhere else. They found a nearby restaurant willing to accomodate them and that is where they went.

    Are you saying the employees jump up and say things during the day, or during the meeting? You would certainly want to address these issues differently depending upon when they jump up. However, either way you have a situation where one's religious expression is having a negative impact on others. That means it has to stop.

    Good luck!

  • I do like Nae's suggestion of them meeting together in another location, such as a restaurant. But, let me ask a question, what would be your response if a group of Muslims, or even an individual, asked permission to pray facing Mecca at certain times during the day? Would you make that accomodation? That is becoming an issue in some workplaces. Do you allow other secular oriented groups to meet on company premises? A chess club? Bowling league? Book club? You do have an obligation to be consistent.

    I find this a difficult question to deal with because my faith tells me to side with those who want to hold the prayer meeting, but on the other hand, the workplace is not a church. If it gets noisy and obtrudes on other employees creating a disturbance, then the group is going too far and should be told to tone it down if they want to continue holding their meetings. The supervisor should be told that he/she could be setting up themselves and the company for a discrimination case if not careful. If there is any hint of favortisim shown to participants, you've got a big problem.
  • I once had to deal with a complaint that employees were loudly discussing things up and down the hall, which created a disturbance to other employees and interfered with the ability to work. I would treat this in the same manner. If the music and praising creates a disturbance in the work place, it needs to be addressed. Making a reasonable accommodation to someone whose religion requires them to pray and face a certain way, does not create a disturbance to others.

    It the Bible study group was not creating a disturbance, it would not have been a concern.
  • Dasher:

    I agree with you on how to treat the disruption and the basis the employer should use when dealing with the noisy employees. However, I disagree on your final point. If you make room for this group to study you have to be prepared to make room for other groups. That could include a group who studies Satanism or one who wants to organize a union. Either of these could become a major nightmare. It seems preferable to me to avoid the possibility all together and request that the group study elsewhere.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Nae, you just hit a home run...... unions. Yep, allow the Prayer meetings then you must allow union meetings.
  • I like the idea of asking them to meet elsewhere before work if they feel the need to
    have the meeting. The two employees who complained did not even really object to the prayer meetings at 7AM before work. The complaints were about the loud music and the jumping up and praising all during the day that disrupted them as they all work in a common area.

    The other issue I have is with the supervisor leading the prayer meetings and employees feeling they are either getting favortism or others are being slighted because they do not wish to join in the meetings.

    You are right that a door is being opened up to let any and all groups meet.

    Thanks for your input.

  • Like others have said, I'd focus on the behavior (assuming that you have investigated it and not relied on hearsay of other employees who may have their own agenda).

    Playing loud music in a work area seems like an issue you could address with your existing policies. Jumping up and yelling though just seems odd to me. If the behavior is as you have reported it seems a little obnoxious. Maybe I am not spiritual enough but I dont jump up and yell "Praise Jesus!" at work.

    As for favoritism, unless you have seen evidence of that, I dont think you should jump to conclusions.

    And let me conclude with this. People of faith often have to work alongside others who use daily profanity and talk freely on subjects that are often offensive to them. So be a little gracious if they have sought to create a time of prayer together. Unless you can't point to a verifiable negative impact in your workplace, I wouldn't prohibit these types of activities.
  • Good point, Paul, concerning the language and stories in the workplace that can be offensive. Several years ago we made an issue of this and there have been several times we have warned or disciplined ee's for using foul language.
  • I see red flags all over the place. Don't you have enough on your plate without looking to "out of the workplace" stuff for entertainment?

    I have to side with Nae on this. You can not pick and choose which door you want to open to which group.
  • Its interesting that Nae grouped "studying Satanism and organizing unions" together...
  • Satanism is a gateway to unionism.

  • Hmmm.. that would be an interesting way to ban the prayer meetings.

    "Sorry, but if we allow your prayer meetings then we have to allow the satanists to gather and if we allow the satanists to gather, it won't be long before they'll start organizing a union."
  • Back in the day, you could trust Satanists to stay away from unions. They've lost their honor in recent years, unfortunately.
  • You guys are cracking me up now!

    On second read though I totally agree with Nae.

    My emphasis on the behavior is what keeps me out of trouble and not having to be in a position to sanction or not sanction the reason for the behavior (we are praising God for heaven's sake -- I can just hear it). What I meant by the last sentence was if there is quiet praising in an office, it is not an isse because no one knows but you and your God. It is the behavior that made it an issue with management in the first place.
  • This is a great read... For those who have complained about the EEOC's penchant for telling you what you've done wrong, but being unable to tell you how to do it right, this may be the start of a much-needed new direction.

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