If you’re planning to bring a ham sandwich to work with you tomorrow, you may want to reconsider.
According to CoExist House, an interfaith group with chapters in the U.S. and the UK, employers should set guidelines that ensure employees of faith are not offended by what the left likes to call “microaggressions.” These are tiny instances of unintended offense caused when people don’t spend all of their energy trying to make sure that no one ever gets their feathers ruffled.
Andy Dinham, a University of London professor who wrote the CoExist guidelines, says that pork products should never be allowed in an office. “It would be good etiquette to avoid heating up foods that might be prohibited for people of other faiths,” he said. High on the list are pork products, which are eschewed by both Muslims and Jews.
Dinham doesn’t stop with ham-related food items. To make the workplace as welcoming as possible to people of all religions, he recommends making sure every corporate event serves halal and kosher food that has been specially certified. He also recommends keeping alcohol off the table, as this might also offend people of certain faiths.
Dinham said, “We have lost the ability to talk about religious belief because of a century of secular assumptions, and most religious belief is either highly visible and we don’t recognise it, or it’s invisible and we miss it entirely.”
OR…OR…it’s not incumbent on the entire world to live their lives according to everyone else’s religious beliefs. How about that? No? No, of course not.
Religious freedom is a great thing, but it’s a two-way street. Sure, you can choose not to eat ham. You can choose to pray to Mecca twice a day. You can choose to do whatever you need to do to live up to your religious standards, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. But the other side of that is recognizing that you don’t have the right to expect those around you to change their lives so you feel more comfortable.
What if my religion actually requires me to eat a ham sandwich for lunch? What about that, smart guy? Who wins then?
Look, we already have several countries that are run as theocracies. Go live there if you want your religion to be enforced by law. Once you make the decision to live in a free society, you need to understand what that entails. It comes with a lot of great stuff – free speech, free exercise of religion, no fear of being tossed in the slammer for something you believe – but it also comes with one big downside: you’re going to have to put up with some opinions you don’t like. You’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone believes as you do. And, in fact, some people really don’t give a damn what you believe.