Religious Crimes and Misdemeanors

It could never happen here, you say. Here in America, the government could never forbid us from wearing crosses to work. It could never deny citizens the right to quietly read a Bible on a work break. If that's what you thought, think again. If the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has its way, all these things could happen—and very soon. Several months ago the EEOC proposed a set of guidelines on so-called religious "harassment" in the workplace. The guidelines are modeled on rules against sexual harassment. If they're implemented, religious harassment would be defined as anything that creates an "intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment." The problem is that the EEOC hasn't come up with any objective standards for the kinds of behavior covered. In essence, defining what constitutes harassment is left up to individual employees. That means anyone who feels uncomfortable with religious symbols—like the cross around your neck or the Bible on your desk—could complain that he feels harassed. Faced with such a subjective definition, employers are likely to launch a pre-emptive strike against potential lawsuits and simply ban religious expression of any kind, even the most innocuous. In fact, that process has already begun. According to U.S. Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the EEOC's proposed guidelines have already prompted some companies to ban things like religious bumper stickers from the workplace. Under these guidelines, Christians could be reduced to hiding their crosses under their clothing and sneaking their Bibles into their desks. In fact, having a Bible at work could be treated as legally equivalent to having pornography hidden in a desk drawer. This is an outrage to believers of all faiths. What an irony if a country founded on religious freedom would end up censoring religion from the workplace. The good news is that U.S. Representative Howard McKeon of California has proposed a resolution deleting religion as a category from the final EEOC guidelines on harassment. More than 120 members of Congress have signed the McKeon Resolution. This is the final stage of a long-standing battle. Here on "BreakPoint," I first told our listeners about the threat posed by the EEOC guidelines in March. I invited you to contact the commission and express your concerns. And more than a thousand of you did just that. Thanks to the tireless efforts of people like you, the EEOC has extended the period for public comment on the proposed guidelines until June 13. Please take this opportunity to make your voice heard again. We won the first round; now it's time for the knockout punch. Please call EEOC acting chairman Tony Gallegos at the phone number below and tell him you support the McKeon Resolution deleting religion as a category from the proposed guidelines on harassment. This is the countdown for religious liberty in the workplace. Don't miss this chance to make a difference. Otherwise wearing a cross to work could end up being a federal crime.


Chuck Colson


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