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‘Hiding me – why I don’t discuss my faith with my colleagues’

"When I see the looks on people’s faces, I instantly regret sharing my faith. And when I hear the comments and the questions, I definitely regret sharing it."

I instantly regret sharing my religion with those I work with. That’s why when I walk into the pharmacy, I leave parts of who I am at the door, says The Dispenser

Nobody wants to be judged. Nobody likes being judged. But it happens, we get judged. In reality, we secretly judge others.

For most of my life, I have been judged and stereotyped – that’s why I don’t willingly offer certain bits of information about myself. I hide who I really am, because I know I will get judged and it wears me down after a while. I shouldn’t hide or worry about other people's opinions, but when I do tell people I go to church, the reactions are always predictable.

“Wow, you?” Yes, me. Then there’s the: “Oh really?” Yes, really. On occasion, it’s been: “Why?” More often than not, though, it’s: “No, you don’t!"

Why do people get shocked at this piece of information about me? Why do their attitudes change when they get this little bit of knowledge? Why is it so hard to believe that I have faith?

At work, I am a different person – I have to be. I am confident in my job, a strong leader, a good teacher. I can be a little outspoken, I can be diplomatic; I can keep calm in most situations. I have to be these things so I can do well. But outside of work, I go to church. Not regularly, but I do go.

When I tell people that I don’t attend a traditional, wooden pew, hymn-singing church, I instantly get called a “happy clapper”. I’ve also been called a bible-basher, but I don’t even know any bible quotes to throw at someone who calls me that.

When I see the looks on people’s faces, I instantly regret sharing my faith. And when I hear the comments and the questions, I definitely regret sharing it. I get confused as to why it's a surprise. I get a little angry at being judged and stereotyped as the sort of person who wouldn't go to church. I do get a little hurt at the name calling; I already get called enough names for having a different accent.

Mostly, though, it just makes me sad. Sad that I get these reactions and comments. Sad that I never stick up for myself or speak up for my personal choices or my faith. I never bite back, I never comment, I just keep quiet. Why should I be made to feel like I should have to justify the fact that I believe in God? 

Having faith is my thing, my choice, not other people's. Choosing to go to a church that is full of happy-clapping joy and fun, is also my choice. It’s my special place that’s full of love and friendship, where all are welcome, where no-one is judged. It’s freedom. It’s also a great place to have a brew and meet new people.

So why is it so hard to believe that I am a Christian? There are plenty of us out there. Is it because of how I am at work? I can still have faith and be good at my job. Is it because I don’t spew bible quotes? Is it the way I look, the way I talk, how I dress? Probably. Maybe I’m the prime example of the phrase “never judge a book by its cover”.

Don’t judge me or make assumptions about me by the way I look. And don’t judge me or make assumptions about me when you find out I go to church. That actually hurts. And please don’t treat me any differently. You can still swear around me. You can still curse the heavens around me – it won’t offend me. Asking me ridiculous questions about why I believe in God, however, will offend me.

All of this makes it so hard to be me, a little uncomfortable to be honest. And it’s why I hide who I am. It’s why I’m pretty private. I’m also mixed race and adopted, but that story will really blow people's minds...

The Dispenser is a new, anonymous contributor.

9 Comments

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Religion, Politics and Money

 

The three famous taboos that should never arise in a workplace. There are a lot of countries in the world where religion is intertwined with politics which sometimes make it into the workplace, whether an office, surgery or community pharmacy

Boom Shakalaka, Locum pharmacist

The woke brigade are afraid to share anything.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

The fear of offending people creates an atmosphere of fear. It is the opposite of what we should be striving for. We understand each other by asking, and by listening.

Peter McAuley, Community pharmacist

I have now been retired for several years, but I always wore a jacket with a cross or fish symbol in the lapel. People would look and start a conversation about "what church do you go to", which after time developed into other conversations, when the pharmacy was quiet.
The staff knew I was a Christian, they would ask about "going to church on a Sunday", but I would never initiate the conversation.
It is easy to discuss and share your football passions, who you support etc, but there have been so many reports about people sharing their faith in the workplace and being disciplined by their employer.
The lapel symbol allowed customers to initiate the conversation and many did. 
 

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

As a pharmacist, the interests of patients are paramount. I suggest one owns beliefs come secondary and should not interfere with professional duty.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I don't care what your faith is. I care that you can do your job and that any personally held beliefs or opinions will not impact on my pharmacys ability to provide the best care for our patients. If your faith is incompatible with that, you need to make a choice.

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

I have had to justify decisions that I have made because of my faith- not working on a Sunday was difficult, not selling the morning after pill, not dispensing the abortion pill, not selling items in the shop that were related to the zodiac. In all these cases though the problems were resolved amicably and generally my Christian faith has been respected

 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Abortion pill is always an interesting one, because there's usually a few caveats to it. Many will not sell it, but are happy to dispense it from a prescription in a shop that is not their own. But are happy to dispense contraception.

There's an argument to be made that when objecting encroaches upon someone else's beliefs, then is a line crossed? When all that is required of a Pharmacist is to ensure clinical safety of that medicine, any further opinion beyond that is unprofessionally unwarranted.

Alas, it is an discussion that won't get resolved here, and has been going on for a long time. I'm glad you found an amicable resolution to it that doesn't encroach upon your beliefs, and I hope patients have not been too affected by your faith!

Bob Dunkley, Locum pharmacist

In all my ( nearly) 50 years on the register I have never come across any discussion of a person's faith. In my experience people just aren't interested- they want to know whether you can do the job, not the particular flavour of religion you hold to. 

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