This being said, there is one aspect of culture that is particularly contentious even in our multicultural setting, and that is religion. This should not be surprising, since even within a single culture the topic of religion is a sensitive one. There was a time when the American forefathers did not find any unusual issue with the phrase “In God We Trust” so as to embellish it in the nation’s currency. Recently, however, even the invocation of God in inter-denominational prayer and the singing of Christmas carols in public places have come under attack – because it seems that the disbelief in God itself has become a religion to be respected. Religion is so ingrained in the very core of people’s beliefs and aspirations that an attack upon it is taken as an affront against the Supreme Being (or non-being, in the case of atheists) that demands defense and, at times, militant vindication.
The workplace is a particularly delicate place to have problems of religious intolerance. This is because we most likely spend more time at work than at home – at least the greater part of our waking hours. Work demands of us our skills, concentration, creativity, and dedication to the organization’s goal, which is why any irritant to disturb the peace in the workplace will tend to be counterproductive for both the individual and the firm.
The situation becomes complicated when individuals in the workplace would be followers of mainstream or radical religious teachings which draw an opposition to other religions, the followers of which may be their co-workers in the firm. Or, it may also be that actions that appear perfunctory to some may, without their knowledge, be offensive to others or denigrate what they conceive to be sacred and holy. Furthermore, the fact that religious teachings have been imparted by the family to the individual at a tender age may have also impressed upon him the