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A time for courage, conviction, and compassion

Labor Day 2022 and the threat to Christians at work


A time for courage, conviction, and compassion

Traditionally, Labor Day commemorates the achievements of the labor movement in America. Simple cultural artifacts like the weekend hint at a deeper issue of worker’s rights—an issue that, historically, has produced conflict and political turmoil. Who is owed what in an employer-employee relationship? That’s not always an easy question to answer, and even when we discern good answers, that does not mean that bad actors will fulfill their duties toward others. When that happens, what must or can be done to achieve justice?

The simple fact is that both business owners and employees have rights. Lately, both have had their liberties threatened in a particularly pernicious way—along the lines of religious and moral principles. Countless articles, news reports, and prominent court cases have highlighted the plight of Christian bakers and photographers who refuse to participate in same-sex “marriages.” Obviously, there is a grave injustice in forcing business owners to render goods and services that would condone grievous sin.

But, on Labor Day, we must also remember the plight of those Christians who aren’t business owners but employees. Human Resources departments across much of the world—not just this land—have made it their business to enforce a new morality and new religion upon corporate workers. Simply put, employers are putting the screws to their employees to comply with sexual license and confusion, particularly concerning LGBT issues.

And there is a playbook to forcing compliance. For example, a company may offer employees the opportunity to add pronouns to their email signatures or their names while on a video conference. Those that do and do not do so are noted. One gets a feel for the room: who is progressive on this issue, and who isn’t? Then, it is suggested that employees voluntarily do so out of courtesy to others. Again, all reactions are duly noted. Eventually, the suggestions become stronger, heavier, and more pointed. The opponents of transgenderism will be clearly identified and must be forced to reevaluate their wrong-think. Who lands on the top of the termination list when the company needs to make cuts? When opportunities for promotion present themselves, who gets passed over?

June—now the high holy season of “Pride Month”—has now become a season for Christian dread. Now, HR sees who does not put on the rainbow lanyard or wave a rainbow flag in their cubicle. Who doesn’t confess the creed of “affirmation and inclusion” through highly charged symbols? And who even dares think what would happen should a Christian loudly and publically reject such religious behaviors in their own workplace, like Daniel praying to the Lord God of Israel with his windows wide open? 

Human Resources departments have made it their business to enforce a new morality and new religion upon corporate workers.

Can you imagine? Well, perhaps we need to. This sort of despotic behavior doesn’t go away by means of compromise and compliance. It must be opposed with courage, conviction, and compassion.

As to courage, Christians must identify their fears. We fear the loss of social standing, promotion, and employment altogether. We don’t want to lose our livelihoods, but we may do so by speaking the truth. No amount of money is worth having if we lack integrity. Where we stand in the eyes of God matters most. We must bravely proclaim the truth.

As to conviction, we must know the truth and act according to that truth, not just personal prejudices and incidental dislikes. What do we believe concerning sexual morality and the definition of marriage, and why? It is wrong for a company to affirm and endorse immorality, and doubly so for it to bully its workers into doing so. There are good reasons and arguments that establish this. These aren’t feelings of distaste. These are bedrock convictions.

As to compassion, fellow Christians must unite around those who suffer for the truth in solidarity and support. If a doctor is kicked out of a hospital system for refusing to play the pronoun game and starts his own practice, new Christian patients need to be lined up around the block. Yes, at present, we need to be advocating and voting for our best interests, but we can also strategize and act for the future. What careers should we be preparing our children to enter? Where will they be able to make a living in relative peace? If they are entrepreneurial, will they make it a priority to hire fellow Christians who’d otherwise be overlooked or misused by the wider world?

The livelihoods of very real people are increasingly in jeopardy simply because they confess biblical Christian faith and attempt to live in fidelity to its teachings. We can’t hide our heads in the sand. The LGBTQ movement presents a very real threat to the freedom of employees, professionals, and business owners, sector by sector. As we enjoy the last charms of summer this Labor Day, perhaps we can think and talk about what to do next, as we labor on.

Barton J. Gingerich

The Rev. Barton J. Gingerich is the rector of St. Jude’s Anglican Church (REC) in Richmond, Va. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Patrick Henry College and a Master of Divinity with a concentration in historical theology from Reformed Episcopal Seminary.

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