Religious Harassment

Bashir was living in North Kansas City in 2005 when she converted to Islam. According to court documents, that’s when her troubles at AT&T began.

In court documents, Bashir said her work environment became hostile when co-workers made harassing comments about her religion and referred to her hijab as “that thing on her head.”

Bible verses were left on her desk. Co-workers asked if she was going to blow up the building and called her a “towelhead” and a terrorist.

In the recent case of “Jurors Vs. Despised Telephone Company” an ex-employee was awarded five million dollars for claiming that she was harassed by her coworkers and management for being a Muslim. I have my own ideas about this case and see it as nothing but a failure of the jury system to produce a verdict based on evidence and common sense. For a completely opposite and obviously wrong point of view, please read this post on Gone Mild.

The line “Bible verses were left on her desk” figured prominently in every press report about this case. That’s why the day after the verdict I brought a camera to work and took a picture of my own five-million-dollar desk.

My actual desk at work. Usually this stuff is neatly stacked on the side.

I am sure the jury at my trial will be happy to overlook the fact that I brought most of this collection to work myself. Some people enjoy a morning cup of coffee; I like nothing more than to share another message of imminent damnation I find in the mail with my coworkers. As a Jew and an atheist I only wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me they are praying for me, invited me to their church, or brought me a magazine for developmentally disabled adults Watchtower in every Eastern European language known to man. I have no problem with that at all. As a matter of fact, I always thank the people who pray for me or invite me to Sunday services. People might believe the strangest things but at least they care enough for me to pray for my everlasting soul, so it doesn’t burn in hell, surrounded by fires and brimstone and perverted sexual activities. I would hate to be on their bad side, even though I am always tempted to paraphrase the old saying “Don’t pray for me, just support me financially”.

When people wish me Merry Christmas, I reply with Merry Christmas every time. I know it’s not being said to offend me, and the last thing they want in return is a short lecture on Judaism and/or atheism. There is already too little good will left in people and I am not about to kill the rest of it by being an asshole. I’d like to think that I have an unspoken pact with my coworkers, friends who are religious, and people who read this blog – in return for all the prayers and church invites, I get to make fun of over-the-top religiosity on the blog and in person. We both win: I am being properly prayed for and my coworkers are being educated on the finer, some previously unknown points of holy scriptures in my presentation.

As much as I am tolerant and lighthearted towards other people’s amusing personal beliefs, I have zero patience when religion extends its Taliban-like tentacles into my personal life as an American citizen. And while our leaders may not be dressed up as characters in the Mummy movies, their motives are no different than Taliban – imposing their religious beliefs on others on the state and federal level. The means are so far different: here they use democracy, in Afghanistan – weapons and terror; but every time Governor Brownback signs another moronic religion-inspired piece of legislation, he might as well appear in a more appropriate dress.

This photo of KS Governor Brownback was taken by a friend and a local blogger whose name I will protect from a possible fatwa.

Its not a headdress or a blanket wrap that a medieval lunatic makes. It’s the attempts to interfere with my kid’s education by taking it back 300 years; it’s constant struggle to force women to have unwanted children by eliminating abortion and morning-after pills; it’s idiotic efforts to preach abstinence to teenagers; it’s creation of loopholes to make it harder to get contraception; it’s encouraging doctors to lie to women; it’s constant references to “the bible is clear on the subject of…” and the “institution of marriage”.

I realize that many people I like in real life are the same people who elect religious hypocrites like Brownback to power, but history shows that commingling religion and state is never beneficial for the country and this time it’s not going to be different.

If a women gets millions of dollars for bible verses allegedly left on her desk, how much money is every one of us entitled to for the bible verses codified into law.

I’ll take my share in cash, check or direct deposit….