Request for prayer group

Some employees have asked if they can hold a prayer group in a small meeting room during lunch.  We have allowed use of a conference room for a weight watchers group and so I think we might be on shaky ground if we say no to the prayer group.  Any ideas?


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  • Some corporations, such as Johnson Wax, have so-called "affinity" groups for employees with shared interests who want to network with others.  You might to write up a policy covering such groups, noting when, how often, and where they can meet, and then communicate how groups can start.
  • I think the only possible trouble with allowing such a group is if it would be led by someone in top management (CEO, company president, etc.).  You never want to have a situation where people should feel they are going to be treated less favorably if they don't participate in such a group.

    Depending on your company's make-up (including size), you might want to consider whether the "small" group that's being started now may someday become a large one where more employees than not are participating. If the group does become big, it's important to communicate that participation in such a group has no negative or positive impact/reflection whatsoever on employees.

    For that matter, perhaps this should be part of the policy that babaHR suggested you create when it comes to these groups--that being a part of any of them--or not choosing to take part--has no bearing on their performance.

    You don't want non-participants of a prayer group believing that a colleague received a promotion because they prayed with their manager twice a week.

  • I believe that, within reason,  it is all or nothing when you give employee groups access to company space for non-work activities. I agree with kylie though, that when the object of the meeting is something as compelling as religion, the risk of impropriety/favoritism based on participation is definitley increased. So, when you are choosing "all or nothing" maybe nothing is a better alternative.

  • I think at this point, if you choose nothing, it looks like discrimination, and you have hard feelings from all groups.  Plus, I think a lot of people way over-react to people who want to pray.  Most people and groups who pray just want to left alone at that.  It can be a bonding experience, and who knows, your office might benefit from it. 
  • I agree with what has been said. If you are allowing other groups to congretate during work house in your facility, it certainly will appear discriminatory if you don't allow a prayer group. As long as there is no pressure, like kylie said, but a high level exec, and the group  members are not pressuring people to join, i would allow it.
  • I would agree with all of the posts- if you are having apprehension, I would err on the side of good judgment and allow the prayer group. Many  larger company's are employing non denominational ministers to help employees deal with workplace stress  as well as family care and loss issues and offer prayer to those who seek it. I think the key is to make sure that you have a solid policy for use of office space for non- work related activities and word the policy to state that participation is voluntary.





    HR Manager 

  • There's a lot of positive reasons to allow this..employees who feel that they are accepted and able to be open at work about essential elements of their life like faith tend to be more loyal and productive.  pretending faith does not exist between 9 and 5 is at best silly, at worst, a loss of a wonderful chance to build on the strengths of diversity. I just wrote about this issue the other day...



  • All or nothing is the general approach.

    It's not discriminatory to decide to go "nothing" simply because you have a request from an organization that raises the spectre of opening pandora's box to problems down the road.  That is, it's not specifically that the group is a prayer gruop, it is that you hadn't really considered the wide variety of organizations that may wish to use company facilities when you said yes to Weight Watchers.  For example, if you go with the "all" approach, you also permit union activity on your site in your meeting rooms.  That your Company had not really considered how far "all" really was until faced with a relgious group's request does not make you discriminatory against religion per se.  You could have had a request by sado-masochists for co-worker relationships to meet on company property and that, too, would have given you pause to consider how far down the "all" path you would be willing to go.

    The nothing route is dreary.  It doesn't promote work-life balance.  It doesn't open the door to a variety of sticky situations that others have discussed.  Personally, I've only been involved with the nothing crowd, but if someone could post or private message some "all" policies to you, that may help you figure out what you want to do.

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