Outside the Box: Religion is mixing with business and raising workplace questions for employers

by | Sep 28, 2023 | Stock Market

The relationship between religion and business in the United States has moved into a decisive new phase. Not long ago the topic might be politely avoided at the office. Now it’s more likely that religion itself — from its role in ESG-related controversies to its practice among employees — might be the main topic.  Two recent events highlight this consequential shift in the culture of business. 

The first was the controversial swirl of circumstances around the plans of the Los Angeles Dodgers to celebrate Pride Night at Dodger Stadium last June 16.  The Dodgers initially planned to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an AIDS-service group, on Pride Night. Then the Dodgers revoked the honor in response to conservative Catholic protests that accused the Sisters of being anti-Catholic (the Sisters say they are inspired by Catholic nuns’ heroic service to the poor; their opponents say the Sisters mock the Catholic faith). Then the Dodgers restored the honor in response to LGBTQ and progressive Catholic protests against the protest.  The twists and turns captured one reality of the brave new world of religion and business: That it is marked by culture war clashes in which what is understood to be “religious” and what is understood to be “secular” seem locked in never-ending battle.  The other key event came a few weeks later: The unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that employers must accommodate employees’ religious concerns (for instance, not working on Sundays or other observed days of rest and prayer) unless such concerns pose a “substantial burden” on a business. The previous standard had held that a business for m …

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