The Catholic blogger Thomas Peters draws our attention to a slide the EEOC uses in its diversity training programs used around the country. It’s supposed to be an example of the kind of religious intimidation that is illegal in the workplace. It reads:
Khalilah is a Muslim, and Janice is a Catholic. One day, Khalilah loses her favorite ring. Janice grabs Khalilah’s hands, bows her head, and starts praying to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things. Khalilah pulls her hands back and reminds Janice that she is a Muslim. Janice gets upset, tells Khalilah that she will never find her ring because she is a heathen, and storms off. Over the next couple of weeks, Janice stops by Khalilah’s desk over and over again to ask if she found her ring. When Khalilah said that she had not, Janice would smirk and tell her it is because she refuses to pray to St. Anthony. As a new employee, Khalilah is scared to mention anything to her supervisor, because she knows her supervisor is also Catholic.
The Catholic blogger who was confronted by this slide in a mandatory diversity training program at her state university says:
Stunned. I didn’t know what to think. First of all, I’ve never met anyone, Catholic, Christian, or otherwise who would grab someone’s hands and begin praying out loud in the workplace. The scenario continues with the Catholic becoming upset, treating this new employee rudely, and disintegrates into being downright hateful. What this person is described doing would be considered against the very tenets of the Catholic Faith. It’s completely implausible!
At first I tried to dismiss this, telling myself that something has to be used as an example. But as I continued through the training, reading more likely examples presented in other areas, I became more and more incensed at the derogatory, negative, and completely false stereotype used to represent Catholics. Ironically, an earlier slide had cautioned us that stereotypes or assumptions “can easily get people into trouble for … harassment or discrimination.”
This strikes me as a bit overheated. It’s hard to imagine any hypothetical scenario in which a believer in a religion would be happy with a (hypothetical) member of her religion is shown to behave in a discreditable light. If the situation here were reversed, and the Muslim behaved like a bully, I can easily imagine Muslims in that training session being bothered by it. Even though this hypothetical Catholic woman is shown behaving in an obviously un-Catholic manner, it’s sadly true that people of every religion are not always faithful to their religion, or examples of their religion at its best.
But … come on, this EEOC example is ridiculous, a malicious cartoon. Like the blogger, I have never heard of any Christian doing this sort of thing, or anything remotely like it. Telling a non-Christian colleague that she won’t find her lost ring because she is a heathen who won’t pray to St. Anthony? Really? Only in the fevered imagination of Jack Chick or an EEOC diversity trainer.