Soapbox Issues

Organised religion and why it bothers me

religion quote

When I was finishing my Masters in psychology, I wanted to become a school psychologist. However, I had found out that I wouldn’t be eligible to be a counsellor in public schools because they had a different program where you had to first be a teacher. I wasn’t too worried though because I was told there would be jobs in private schools. Great. It seemed a better deal too due to being based at one school than float around two or three.

It was only when I started to look for jobs and applying for them did I realise how naive I had been. You see, most of the private schools are based on some Christian faith. And while that didn’t bother me, I would most likely be a problem to them. While we do have Equal Employment Opportunity laws in this country, there were still several private schools who require their staff to be of a Christian faith or they get around advertising specifically for someone Christian by insisting that one of your referees has to be a priest. In short, for someone like me, who is not Christian and basically, non-religious, there are fewer schools I can apply to.

Back then, I still applied to those schools which didn’t require me to be Christian or have a priest as my referee. Sure they asked as part of the criteria how willing I would be to support the values of the school which I was perfectly fine with. My personal belief is that I don’t have to be of a certain faith to endorse and work in accordance to the values of that faith if required. And my understanding was that most values of tolerance, respect, honesty and integrity are preached by all religions and practised by all decent human beings.

I never got a call for an interview back then. I put it down to my lack of experience. Eventually though, a Greek Orthodox school gave me my break and I was a school counsellor with them for two years. I didn’t have to convert my religion or change my beliefs. When I didn’t know something, I asked. I was respectful and wore a skirt when I attended church once. The students, who were my main focus and predominantly Greek and Serbian, actually liked that I was from a different community and religion. It meant I wouldn’t bump into them or people they knew in social gatherings and that they could therefore trust me more. It was great.

Since I was working part-time at two schools, I had my eye out on a full time job. One did come up at a prestigious private school of a Christian faith. They didn’t require me to be Christian but just asked how I’d uphold their values. And with my experience, I thought I might get a call for an interview. A friend of mine also applied. She is non-religious too. Neither of us got a call for an interview.

Once again, I let it go. I didn’t bother contacting them for feedback after they sent a letter saying they had more applicants. I got a job within the health system instead and was quite happy with that as it was going to be a great learning experience. In the past few months, I have mentioned being a bit tired with my work. So I decided to look for other jobs and thought it might be good to get back to a school environment. Plus this time around, I had a lot more experience — 2 years within schools and 5 years in mental health.

As luck would have it, a position for a full time school psychologist was advertised in a private school and it didn’t require a priest as a referee. However, it did ask me which church I was affiliated with and how I was willing to uphold the Christian values of the school. I was honest and stated I wasn’t affiliated with any church and then wrote how I am tolerant, honest, respectful, believe in equality and not afraid to learn and ask questions when in doubt. They had also asked for a photo which I felt was not something they should ask for and didn’t end up sending one.

It’s been 10 days since the applications closed. I haven’t heard back from them.

For a position due to commence in three weeks’ time, I’m pretty sure they would have started interviewing now. Yet, it appears they may be judging people based on religion or photos. Without sounding cocky, I believe I have enough experience to at least get an interview. Sure, they may not like me after the interview or I could do badly at it but I do honestly think my resume looks good.

Which begs the question: why in 2015 is religion still such an issue?

I could understand if I was to teach religion, I would need to be religious. I can understand if they only had students from that particular Christian denomination, religion would be important {they don’t}. And even if they did, are they just teaching children to be intolerant of religions that are different from theirs?

I am not just blaming Christianity here. It just happens to be the majority here. I have a problem with religion in general. There are extremists in all religions. There are idiots in all religions. People have been at war for centuries thanks to religion. There are people dying due to wars within the same religion but due to different denominations.

It’s not the Gods or Goddesses I have a problem with.

It’s the organised religion. It’s the people who follow it blindly and believe that those who don’t share their beliefs are doomed. It’s the people who follow the religions and think themselves as being better than others.

I’m sure all the gods preached tolerance, kindness, peace and love.

Yet, I don’t see it being practised on a large scale.

Having questioned organised religion for a long time {in spite of having a fairly religious mother}, I gave up on it once I left home. I haven’t however, given up on being kind, tolerant, helpful, honest and admitting when I’m wrong, and never intentionally hurting someone. I do that not because I’m afraid I’d go to hell if I didn’t {I don’t believe in heaven or hell} but because those are my values. Those are what I live by. Those are what I think makes a decent, good-enough human being.

In the end, it’s not the number of times a person visits a temple, church or mosque or the number of religious rituals a person follows but rather how many people they’ve been kind to or helped out that really matters.

What’s your view on religion? 

Do you think schools or organisations should be allowed to ask a person’s faith {unless I guess it’s a place of worship, I suppose}?

If you are a parent, would you want your child’s teachers, coaches, or counsellors to be of the same faith?

Do share!

***Linking with Grace for FYBF***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • jess
    February 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Interesting post! I have never applied for a school psychologist position but have considered it in the past and wondered how my lack of religious standing would impact it. I consider myself a very tolerant, accepting person and I went to Catholic schools my whole life even though I am no denomination. I wonder….!
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      It’s a tough one. One of my friends who was homosexual worked as a counsellor in a Catholic school. She told them she was raised Catholic {truth} but didn’t divulge her sexuality at any point. She was only there for 12 months but thought it would harm her chances. I guess if you went to Catholic schools yourself, you could say you were raised Catholic and that might still give you an in? Who knows…?

  • jess
    February 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Interesting post! I have never applied for a school psychologist position but have considered it in the past and wondered how my lack of religious standing would impact it. I consider myself a very tolerant, accepting person and I went to Catholic schools my whole life even though I am no denomination. I wonder….!
    jess recently posted…On trying to appreciate summer.My Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      It’s a tough one. One of my friends who was homosexual worked as a counsellor in a Catholic school. She told them she was raised Catholic {truth} but didn’t divulge her sexuality at any point. She was only there for 12 months but thought it would harm her chances. I guess if you went to Catholic schools yourself, you could say you were raised Catholic and that might still give you an in? Who knows…?

  • Barbara Radisalvjeivc
    February 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Most Christian schools believe that the school is a ministry and that every school employee is a minister or representative of their faith. I taught at a number of Christian schools and public schools and their missions are different. I can understand why that might not be obvious to someone who does not share that faith.
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks for your view Barbara. That’s what one of my friends who is Christian was trying to explain to me. I still find it hard to understand if an employee is willing to follow their mission statement, why discriminate based purely on religion? And it also goes against EEO laws if I’m not mistaken. Once again, I understand if it was a teacher of religious studies or even a pastoral care coordinator — yes, they would have to be of that religion. But if you are going to teach maths or physics, where does religion come into play?

  • Barbara Radisalvjeivc
    February 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Most Christian schools believe that the school is a ministry and that every school employee is a minister or representative of their faith. I taught at a number of Christian schools and public schools and their missions are different. I can understand why that might not be obvious to someone who does not share that faith.
    Barbara Radisalvjeivc recently posted…A Brief Look at HOW SWEET THE SOUND by Amy SorrellsMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks for your view Barbara. That’s what one of my friends who is Christian was trying to explain to me. I still find it hard to understand if an employee is willing to follow their mission statement, why discriminate based purely on religion? And it also goes against EEO laws if I’m not mistaken. Once again, I understand if it was a teacher of religious studies or even a pastoral care coordinator — yes, they would have to be of that religion. But if you are going to teach maths or physics, where does religion come into play?

  • vishalbheeroo
    February 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    It’s sad how religion divides people and make men& women unreasonable. It’s all over the place and I can’t understand how a film, stand up comedy can be detrimental to religion. Why do we equate everything to religion which deter logic and verges towards insanity. What does religion got to with talent? I just can’t understand!!

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      I agree Vishal…it saddens me too to see how people use religion as a divisive tool. At the end of the day, we are all human beings. That should be it.

  • vishalbheeroo
    February 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    It’s sad how religion divides people and make men& women unreasonable. It’s all over the place and I can’t understand how a film, stand up comedy can be detrimental to religion. Why do we equate everything to religion which deter logic and verges towards insanity. What does religion got to with talent? I just can’t understand!!

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      I agree Vishal…it saddens me too to see how people use religion as a divisive tool. At the end of the day, we are all human beings. That should be it.

  • Shailaja V
    February 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Very very well said, Sanch! I cannot believe that you did not get a post because you had no religion. Is the world really so close-minded today? How tragic! And how many people are you denying their right to a good job, secure future just because they have no religion? Sad state of affairs.
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  • Shailaja V
    February 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Very very well said, Sanch! I cannot believe that you did not get a post because you had no religion. Is the world really so close-minded today? How tragic! And how many people are you denying their right to a good job, secure future just because they have no religion? Sad state of affairs.
    Shailaja V recently posted…Wishlist for 2015: A Mother’s HopeMy Profile

  • missrbit
    February 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Wow, I didn’t realise this happened. I went to an Irish Catholic school that (naturally) was heavily focused on faith. However, my parents are not Catholic and neither were many of our teachers. We did have several Irish nuns as teachers/principals though. I understand the importance of faith in a school like this, however I don’t agree on hiring teachers based solely on religion, especially, as you said, they are willing to uphold the school’s values and mission statement.
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  • missrbit
    February 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Wow, I didn’t realise this happened. I went to an Irish Catholic school that (naturally) was heavily focused on faith. However, my parents are not Catholic and neither were many of our teachers. We did have several Irish nuns as teachers/principals though. I understand the importance of faith in a school like this, however I don’t agree on hiring teachers based solely on religion, especially, as you said, they are willing to uphold the school’s values and mission statement.
    missrbit recently posted…Five in Five: Worth Casing AwardsMy Profile

  • elly stornebrink
    February 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    As you said Rachna, it shouldn’t make any difference what faith you practice or not as long as you adhere to their values. And I don’t know about where you live, however here in Canada, it would be against the law to ask for a photo, never mind asking about your religion! It seems that a lot of trouble has occurred due to religious zealots and otherwise, including wars. I see eye to eye with you on this and suggest that you call the school directly…if you want the job! 😉 <3
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  • elly stornebrink
    February 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    As you said Rachna, it shouldn’t make any difference what faith you practice or not as long as you adhere to their values. And I don’t know about where you live, however here in Canada, it would be against the law to ask for a photo, never mind asking about your religion! It seems that a lot of trouble has occurred due to religious zealots and otherwise, including wars. I see eye to eye with you on this and suggest that you call the school directly…if you want the job! 😉 <3
    elly stornebrink recently posted…NaBloPoMo: Make…Dinner?My Profile

  • Beloo Mehra
    February 5, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Great post, Sanch. I know a little bit about how private schools in the Christian-dominated Western countries work. So I am not surprised that you have had such an experience looking for jobs there. I think the problem lies in the word ‘organized’ more than the word ‘religion’, but then we also seem to have forgotten what the word ‘religion’ was supposed to really mean. I am tempted to write so much here, maybe I will write a response-post on my blog, well, maybe 🙂 Of course I will let you know if I ever get to write it.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…BLEW: On Blogging, Learning, Education & Writing (and a bit about NRIs & ex-NRIs too)My Profile

  • Beloo Mehra
    February 5, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Great post, Sanch. I know a little bit about how private schools in the Christian-dominated Western countries work. So I am not surprised that you have had such an experience looking for jobs there. I think the problem lies in the word ‘organized’ more than the word ‘religion’, but then we also seem to have forgotten what the word ‘religion’ was supposed to really mean. I am tempted to write so much here, maybe I will write a response-post on my blog, well, maybe 🙂 Of course I will let you know if I ever get to write it.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…BLEW: On Blogging, Learning, Education & Writing (and a bit about NRIs & ex-NRIs too)My Profile

  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    February 6, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Great post Sanch. My step kids attend a religious school (not our choice) and some of the things they have said that they’ve picked up there have been pretty interesting to say the least. I’m an atheist myself and got myself into hot water for (of all things) giving them a run-down on evolution when they asked. Thankfully, evolution is part of the curriculum and I really don’t know how they teach it alongside creationism.
    I am sorry to hear that you’ve essentially faced discrimination for not being religious; I hope the irony is not lost on those who are doing that to you. It’s so wrong that religious institutions are allowed to discriminate!
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  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    February 6, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Great post Sanch. My step kids attend a religious school (not our choice) and some of the things they have said that they’ve picked up there have been pretty interesting to say the least. I’m an atheist myself and got myself into hot water for (of all things) giving them a run-down on evolution when they asked. Thankfully, evolution is part of the curriculum and I really don’t know how they teach it alongside creationism.
    I am sorry to hear that you’ve essentially faced discrimination for not being religious; I hope the irony is not lost on those who are doing that to you. It’s so wrong that religious institutions are allowed to discriminate!
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  • Bec @ The Plumbette
    February 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Well firstly a religious school must not discriminate on religious bounds by law as you say. Secondly, I have been to a Christian school and the teachers and staff have shared the same faith. Faith is more than just doing good to other people. There is a whole spiritual aspect as well. If I was in your position, I’d enquire about your application. There is no harm in asking them and finding out what is going on.
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  • Bec @ The Plumbette
    February 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Well firstly a religious school must not discriminate on religious bounds by law as you say. Secondly, I have been to a Christian school and the teachers and staff have shared the same faith. Faith is more than just doing good to other people. There is a whole spiritual aspect as well. If I was in your position, I’d enquire about your application. There is no harm in asking them and finding out what is going on.
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  • Roshan Radhakrishnan
    February 6, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Oh I so totally agree with what you said right here.. had recently written (link ought to be there with my comment) on the irony of how religion is dividing people instead of unifying and surprisingly, atheists were doing a better job of showcasing God’s compassion.

    Today’s India is sadly starting to fall into much the same category as you speak of. Job opportunities aside, even residence in flats and localities is now dependent on religion
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…Can the words of Atheists save the world’s most religiously diverse country?My Profile

  • Roshan Radhakrishnan
    February 6, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Oh I so totally agree with what you said right here.. had recently written (link ought to be there with my comment) on the irony of how religion is dividing people instead of unifying and surprisingly, atheists were doing a better job of showcasing God’s compassion.

    Today’s India is sadly starting to fall into much the same category as you speak of. Job opportunities aside, even residence in flats and localities is now dependent on religion
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…Can the words of Atheists save the world’s most religiously diverse country?My Profile

  • Avada Kedavra
    February 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    That’s really sad. I had no idea Christian schools made such a big deal about religion. This is the first time I heard something like this. I think it is not so bad in US since it is against law to ask for someone’s religion, ethnicity or race in job applications here.
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  • Avada Kedavra
    February 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    That’s really sad. I had no idea Christian schools made such a big deal about religion. This is the first time I heard something like this. I think it is not so bad in US since it is against law to ask for someone’s religion, ethnicity or race in job applications here.
    Avada Kedavra recently posted…New yearMy Profile

  • Grace
    February 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I’m a Christian and went to a private Christian primary school for 2 years. All of our teachers were of the same faith but As a parent today, I certainly wouldn’t expect that to be a criteria for my boys’ future school.
    When you think about all those so called religious leaders at schools who are now under investigation for the royal commission for child abuse, you would think private religious schools would start realising that it’s not about the religious background of the employee but their values that are most important.
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  • Grace
    February 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I’m a Christian and went to a private Christian primary school for 2 years. All of our teachers were of the same faith but As a parent today, I certainly wouldn’t expect that to be a criteria for my boys’ future school.
    When you think about all those so called religious leaders at schools who are now under investigation for the royal commission for child abuse, you would think private religious schools would start realising that it’s not about the religious background of the employee but their values that are most important.
    Grace recently posted…Popping the Camping CherryMy Profile

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