Two conflicting stories from Turkish acquintances illustrate the dilemma:
- A worker's boss frequently badgers him about taking time to pray during the work day. "Are you going to pray now?" his boss asks. "Everyone else is." The worker says to me, "I have a lot of work to do. I need to keep my mind on my work. I eat lunch at my desk. I really don't have time to pray five times a day, and some days I'm lucky if I have time to pray once. My spiritual life is not the business of my boss, and he should not have the right to ask me such questions." A colleague wasn't showing up for work until afternoon. His boss asked, "Where were you?" "Oh, boss, I was praying," the worker said. So the worker wasn't disciplined for not showing up or even required to take personal leave. "He's using prayer time as an excuse not to work," my acquaintance complains bitterly.
- A worker feels certain he has been denied promotions and choice assignments because he is a devout Muslim. Yes, he's a consciencious Muslim but he's also a competent and consciencious worker, he says. If he takes time out during the work day to pray, he stays late to make up the time. But his boss made him feel uncomfortable and ashamed for being religious, he said. While sharing a meal, the boss observed in a suspicious tone that the worker was wearing a ring indicating that he's a devout Muslim. Another time, after meeting the worker's wife, the boss observed, "so your wife wears a scarf. Hmm."
- Too Much Religion or Too Much Secularism? Societies Struggle Where to Draw the Line
- Religious Tension in US Workplace on the Rise (Seattle Times)
- Secularism in Turkey (Workplace)
- Secular Moderns Vs. Traditionally Religious in Turkey -- Survey indicates that 31 percent of Turks believe the "secular lifestyle" is in danger in Turkey. Probably at least as many believe that religious observance is not given the respect it deserves in the workplace.
- For me as an American, the dichotomy between "secular modern" and "traditionally religious" seems unnecessary. Why can't people define themselves as "religious" and "modern," "traditional" and "secular"? There doesn't have to be a contradiction among these values.