The C Word

As a Christian it has never truly occurred to me to think about where the “best” place might be for me to work, but a new survey on the “Best Christian Places to Work in the US and Canada” has me thinking. Certainly, as a person of faith who is concerned about the environment, I don’t think I’d pursue a job at a nuclear plant or at a company clear-cutting forests. But, overall, I consider just about any place of employment a great place to be while being a Christian. That said, however, I doubt I could get a job at any of the employers that made the list. You see, I’m not really “their kind” of Christian – because when they say “Christian” – they mean a religious right kind of Christian.

Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI) surveyed more than 11,800 employees in 124 organizations “to identify great workplaces with a Christian mission and/or values.” The surveys ostensibly asked about such things as “job satisfaction, organizational commitment, Christian witness, supervisory effectiveness, work satisfaction, personal growth and development, management effectiveness, customer/supporter satisfaction, teamwork, communications and pay and benefits.”

The list that came out show organizations with a lot in common – they are mainly non-profit outfits, churches, schools, and colleges. Most of them require applicants for employment to agree with a specific statement of faith to work there.

Take the Alliance Defense Fund for example. Before you can even see if they have any jobs available you must click a button that says “I agree” after reading their 7 point Statement of Belief that includes:

1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God.

2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

3. We believe in the deity and humanity of Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, in His present rule as Head of the Church and in His personal return in power and glory.

Liberal Christians need not apply …

Over at InterVarsity Press in Westmont, Illinois, applicants must agree to their Doctrinal Basis document and must re-affirm it each year, lest liberalism creep up on their employees during their employment. Their doctrinal document is similar to ADF’s asking potential employees to affirm the authority of the Bible, Jesus’ humanity and divinity and the belief that he one day will personally return to earth to “judge all people.”

If you’re a parent and you want to get involved with MOPS or “Mothers of Pre-schoolers” you’ll also be asked to give consent to a statement of faith:

Churches/parachurches and individual MOPS ministry leaders must embrace and agree on the basic, orthodox truths of the Christian faith and the essential issues of salvation. We believe the Bible is the foundation for these truths. It is God’s Word, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is authoritative on all matters on which it speaks.

Their belief statement also includes adherence to the doctrine of the Trinity and substitutionary atonement.

Isn’t all of this illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Not since President Obama has reaffirmed support for such hiring practices for non-profit charities. Unfortunately, these outfits can continue to discriminate on the basis of faith.

What troubles me is the complete hijacking of the word “Christian” in this context. Some of the best places I’ve worked as a Christian were in the newsrooms of radio and television stations. There I encountered the ills of the world and honed my compassion for all living beings. There saw the suffering of the world up close and personal. As an observer in the form of a reporter, I witnessed many acts of grace, of kindness, of healing in the midst of sorrow and pain.

We do ourselves and the world a disservice when we, as Christians or a person of any faith, close ourselves off in professions that only fit and reaffirm our narrow world view. These “Christian” organizations may do some good works, but they are crippling themselves and their employees by providing an atmosphere that does not challenge their faith. Christians who congregate in offices of only like-minded people can soon become hardened in their beliefs – feeling no compassion for those around them who may think differently, act differently, or believe differently.

Any person of faith needs to be out in the world – challenged by the things they see, broken-hearted by the world’s suffering, reaching out to those who are in need, no matter how their beliefs may differ. Cutting ourselves off from the world in the “Best Christian Workplaces” where we can never be challenged only serves to further divide an already partisan world.

Anywhere can be the “Best Christian Workplace” – so long as it is a place where our deepest passion meets the world’s deepest need.