What I love about my church

We had Stake Conference today. If you're not LDS that just means we had a semi-annual gathering of members of the church from the Camarillo-Oxnard CA area.

One of the speakers at the meeting was the mission president of the Ventura CA mission, President Richard Ellsworth. Mission presidents are the men who supervise all the missionaries in a local geographic area. They serve by calling, or volunteer appointment for a period of three years.

Among other encouraging comments, President Ellsworth reminded us of an easy way to bring up the subject of the church in conversation with friends, co-workers and neighbors.

He suggested that it is easy and natural to say, for example when discussing the behavior of teen-age children, "What I love about my church is that we have published standards for our youth that help them to know what is acceptable behavior."

Why would President Ellsworth teach us this technique? It is because sharing the good news of the restored gospel is a part of our faith. It is also one of the things that most church members find difficult to do. You see we are mostly a quiet and conservative bunch and often fear how others will respond when we bring up the subject of our religion.

Besides, it isn't always considered 'politically correct' to talk about religious issues at work or even in an educational environment such as a classroom. In fact, simply talking about your religious beliefs with coworkers has been considered religious harassment in the workplace.

Quoting from an article entitled, "Thou Shalt Not Discuss Religion," on the Liberty Council Web site, consider these three circumstances:

1. Vanessa McCauley, a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines for 12 years, learned that her employment came to an abrupt end when she decided to read her Bible and profess her religious beliefs in the workplace.

2. Mr. Turner, employed by the State of California Department of Education, asserted he was reprimanded for discussing religion with his co-workers and keeping religious pamphlets in his work cubicle. His employer issued an order to forbid him to discuss religion in the workplace.

3. A clerk at a California medical clinic alleged he was fired from his job in 1993 after attempting to share his Christian convictions with co-workers.

The author of the article concludes, "In a day of fallen values and absent character, it seems silly for employers to worry about religion in the workplace. However, as long as millions of people seek to share with others the joy of their faith, these feelings will continue to spill over into the workplace."

And, "there is no reason why casual conversation, allowed over breaks, cannot focus on religion as well as last night's softball game. An employer should not establish rules so harsh as to ban all outward displays of religion in an attempt to avoid disputes."

I hope that outward displays of religion are never banned in the workplace. I often wear a tie pin that has an image of the Angel Moroni on it surrounded by the name of my mission: "Costa Rica San Jose Mission".

My wife wears a CTR ring which of course stands for 'Choose the Right." Both the tie pin and ring have been the subject of conversations when noticed by co-workers, customers or vendors.

When asked about the pin I have said, "It's a reminder of the two years I spent in Central America as a missionary over thirty years ago." Sometimes it leads to further conversation. "Oh you were a missionary..."

What I love about my church is that the leaders of the church encourage me to share the joy I feel from my association and membership in the church and how it helps my family be happy. I just wish it weren't considered so politically incorrect to talk about religion in the workplace.

What do you think? Have you noticed this same concern in your workplace about religious discussions? Are you aware of employers attempting to ban such conversations?

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