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nicole29's avatar

What are your thoughts about this work situation involving Christian music?

Asked by nicole29 (751 points ) July 25th, 2012

I work in the central pharmacy of a very large hospital. The pharmacy has a large open area with all of the medications, computers, etc. where we work all day. Often times, there is music playing on one of the computers – usually Pandora.

A couple technicians put on rap, Nicki Minaj, and other music that has explicit lyrics – which are not edited on Pandora. The music is often pretty loud, and as an intern that works over there, I’ve had pharmacists ask me to turn it off before. I usually just turn it down, especially when I’m working up there answering the phone.

Lately, one of the techs has been playing Christian music. Now – disclaimer – I do not have a problem with religion, or people who are religious. So please no personal attacks here. I was uncomfortable with it playing on the computer that I had to work at, right next to the phone I use, while I was working. So, I just turned it off. When I walked away, it was turned back on. This happened three times in one day. I let it go. The next time we worked together, it happened again.

The person who plays the music is very confrontational, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking her to turn it off. So, I spoke with the manager, in private, about the volume and genre of music being played – and just suggested that he address what is and is not appropriate music for work.

A few days later, he announced that due to issues with the music being played, only the hospital radio station was allowed in the pharmacy.

This girl took it as a personal attack on her music. She made a huge deal of it, going so far as to ask each person in the pharmacy if they had a problem with her Christian music. She even took the schedule off the wall and went through all the people she had worked with, trying to figure out who was not a “Christian”. The rest of the day, she personally informed every employee at shift change of the new policy, stating that SOMEONE had a problem with the Christian station.. trying to cause drama.

Long story short(er), she is making it miserable to work there. She insinuates that it was me, as I’m one of the few that did not discuss it or sympathize with her. She even said that whoever did it is “probably some atheist..” and “a coward..” even mentioned them going to hell for it.. She flat out said that she “will never let this go…” and is set on finding the person who did it… as if they committed some heinous personal attack. It took all I had not to say something.

So, what do you think? Was I wrong to ask, in confidence, for the music to be stopped? Please, no personal attacks. Whether I believe in God, or am Christian is really not the question here.. If she continues this behavior, should I just continue to let it go as I have been? Or should I go to HR?

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38 Answers

athenasgriffin's avatar

No, if the effect of your complaint was to cause all music, regardless of type, being banned, I don’t think she has a right to be angry.

I would say it is a bad idea to in any way talk to pr confront her about this issue. She seems like a trouble maker. I highly doubt it would help. Let her burn her anger out. She seems like an over-inflated balloon that will eventually deflate as long as you don’t give her more air.

Kardamom's avatar

There’s a reason why elevator music is the way it is. It doesn’t contain explicit language, nor does it promote a religion, nor is it loud. They actually have companies that provide music for businesses, that doesn’t have to be quite as boring as what most people think of as elevator music (which is often super-light sappy jazz and cheesy instrumental cover versions of popular songs). You can get light jazz, light country, light pop or light classical. Those are much better choices.

In your office, because it’s in a public place, should never have had any of the music like the rap or the loud music or the explicit language music, nor the Christian music.

I think it’s fine that you spoke to the manager in private, but this woman knows that you turned off her music, as opposed to just turning it down, like you did with the other “inappropriate” music. LOL, I only mean inappropriate in this, particular situation, with the music being played so that the general public can hear it, otherwise, I’ve got no beef with the music one way or the other. But you’re on her shit list, and until you report her bad behavior to HR or your boss, she’s going to keep it up, and that’s not right at all.

I think the bigger problem you have now is the woman’s aggressive behavior that she’s exercising since the music policy has been changed. I think what you need to do is document what she’s said and done, and go once again to the boss and let him know that there’s a much bigger problem, that has nothing to do with the music, but with the aggressive attitude and inappropriate behavior of this particular employee. Let him know that you didn’t mean to cause any problems, and you think the change in music policy was a good one, but you don’t think that you should have to be harrassed by this woman, nor should anyone else.

Judi's avatar

I’m a Christian and it’s people like her that give us a bad name. The policy should have been put in place when the foul language music started. Neither are appropriate in the workplace or in the customers place.
I almost changed banks because they had tvs playing Fox news behind all the tellers. I asked them why they would risk losing customers to promote partisanship. They finally got the message. I must not have been the only one who complained.
Neutral is always wisest in public places.

Nullo's avatar

She probably saw it as a personal attack. There’s a growing anti-Christian sentiment in the U.S., likely even in your workplace, since that, and not the inappropriate rap music, is what triggered the ban. Your co-worker was probably trying to balance out the Nicki Minaj.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Leave a Marylin Manson CD on her desk with a post-it note that says “lol there is no god” and watch her self destruct and get fired. No more problem.

Jokes aside, it is better to avoid going behind peoples backs. However, if anyone to blame it is management for allowing this to happen in the first place. There should have been rules on music genre and volume put in place years ago.

dabbler's avatar

I don’t think there is a growing anti-Christian sentiment in the U.S. but there is a growing anti-fundamentalist/evangelical sentiment. No one like having someone else’s religious beliefs shoved down their throat whether they’re Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu, or non-zealot Christian.

@nicole29 Good on you for raising the issue of all the sorts of inappropriate music through proper channels, that was the adult thing to do.

Shippy's avatar

I just find her behavior very childish. I personally would not have minded it, but some days I probably would have. Its just common courtesy to play music at a certain level, and to try and accommodate everyones tastes. It is manners thats all.

filmfann's avatar

@dabbler As a Christian, I can tell you there is a large anti-Christian sentiment right here on Fluther.

@nicole29 I hope you see that you brought on this problem. When others asked you to turn off your music, you turned it down. When they turned off your music, you turned it back on. You aren’t being even and fair here.
Personally, I dislike most Christian music that isn’t Christmas music. I also dislike most rap.
This person is wrong to attack you for your lack of belief, to be sure.
The hospitals solution is probably the best one, and you will both have to live with it.

Kayak8's avatar

This is why I have an iPod to listen to what I want to hear privately without disturbing or offending those around me . . .

bkcunningham's avatar

@filmfann explains my sentiments exactly.

Ron_C's avatar

I have a personal problem with christian music as exemplified by that girl’s attitude when she found she could not play her favorite music. I hate the self-righteous attitude that comes with anything christian. The christian involved assume that they are fighting the devil when they don’t get their way. My personal tendency is to oppose them whenever I can do it with out having to work at it I don’t care one way or another about the music, I just love seeing its proponents foaming out their mouth and steam coming out of their ears becauce they are not gettig that they think god wants.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The manager did not handle this situation well at all. When a problem like this comes up in the workplace, it should be discussed as a group. Everyone should be allowed the opportunity to voice their concerns. Everyone should be given the opportunity to offer solutions without being pooh-poohed by others. Then, the group should vote on the best solution. The manager should ask for buy-in from everyone. Then, he should follow up with the team in a reasonable time frame to find out if the agreed upon solution is working.

If no workable solution can be found, music in the pharmacy should be banned or restricted to iPods, as @Kayak8 mentioned. Even then, it depends on whether that is an option. With people responsible for answering phones, that may not be logical.

Please keep us posted on what happens. My SO is in a similar situation. They play cheesy pop music which annoys the dickens out of him.

iphigeneia's avatar

I agree with @athenasgriffin. If her behaviour is seriously so bad that it’s affecting your feelings about work, it doesn’t seem like she’ll be able to keep it up for that long. Give her a few weeks, and if she’s still going on about it I’m certain you won’t be the only one wanting to speak to HR. Let her dig her own hole.

SuperMouse's avatar

I really think it is important not to turn this into a Christian/anti-Christian discussion. Jerks come in all stripes from evangelical to atheist.

@nicole29 when you didn’t mind (the rap) music, didn’t you do the same thing as your co-worker did with the Christian music? When asked you turned it down and when no one said anything it was turned back up. This seems to be exactly what happened with the co-worker, when you wanted it off it was off then she turned it back on. The only difference seems to be that you went to the boss with your issues about the music and no one else did so. I think a better choice might have been to speak to this person as well as others who are exposed to the music, and make a choice that is amenable to everyone in the office as well as comfortable in a public place serving customers such as the pharmacy where you work.

This co-worker does seem to be behaving in an unreasonable and immature manner, but that is out of your control and your only choice is how you react to it. You have a couple of choices here… You can face her and own up to going to the boss and see if you can reach some sort of happy conclusion. If you do this you are probably going to have to apologize for bypassing her and going straight to the boss. You could go to the boss again and explain that you are being harassed by the co-worker and ask that something be done to stop it. Finally, you can just deal with it until the person leaves you alone, you quit, or the nastiness fades into background noise.

Judi's avatar

@RonC, You Devils advocate, you.

Nullo's avatar

@Judi She just needs some spiritual growth, and she’ll settle down.

@dabbler Increasingly, the only publicly acceptable sort of Christian is the one that you can’t tell is Christian. Evangelism, (or “shoving religion down your throat,” as you put it with such hostility) for instance, is fundamental to the faith, going back to the Great Commission.
It’s getting to the point where Christian-themed classical music isn’t tolerated anymore.

dabbler's avatar

There’s a difference between sharing your faith and imposing it on others. If your faith can’t exist besides those of others you have crossed the line in my opinion, and that’s shoving it down other’s throats.

Judi's avatar

And… Shoving vulgarities down people’s throats is just as bad. Both are offensive to many.

SuperMouse's avatar

@dabbler what do you think are the chances this person was listening because they like the music and not to shove their beliefs down anyone’s throats? I love Lifehouse and they started out as the worship band at the Malibu Vineyard church. I also enjoy Jars of Clay and they are considered Christian music.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@nicole29 Her behavior is inappropriate and bordering on harassment. You should either speak to your manager again or go to HR.

@filmfann The issues isn’t whether there is any anti-Christian sentiment at all, it is whether or not that sentiment is growing. American Christians—like most majorities—tend to assume that everyone who is not explicitly and ostentatiously against them is for them and one of them (cf. how shocked people were when gays started coming out of the closet en masse—despite what some assumed, it wasn’t because of any vast increase in the number of gays in existence). So while anti-Christian sentiment may exist, and may it may be easier to express it without being executed or ostracized these days, that doesn’t mean that it exists to a greater degree these days.

@Nullo As someone who once studied for the clergy, I disagree with your take on the Great Commission. Evangelism is part of Christianity, but the sort of thing that people find offensive these days is the arrogant assertion of faith more reminiscent of the Pharisees than of Jesus. Christians were called to spread the Word through being a good example and preaching to those willing to listen, not by attempting to take over countries and enforce Christian dogma on their citizens. If you cannot tell the difference between these two methods of approaching others in faith, then I would suggest you have a lot more spiritual work to do on yourself before you make even the tiniest attempt to judge others or society.

nicole29's avatar

@filmfan I think you misunderstood. I never turn the music on, I simply turn it down when other people have it on. I understand that it would be quite hypocritical of me to judge others’ music if I was guilty of playing my own.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Heh, i was about to ask where people were getting the idea that you did the same thing, @nicole29, I’m glad to see that I read the question right after all.

As to the question itself, I think you did exactly as you should, and the manager’s action was correct (as @Kardamom said, there is a reason why Elevator Music exists). Different people have different things that they dislike, and the fact that you were triggered to act by the Christian music and not the rap (and I notice you didn’t say that rap players ever turned up the music when you walked away), doesn’t mean that you have an “anti-christian sentiment”. It means one person was obnoxious with it and one wasn’t. Your action was perfectly fine, and if this woman would like to still listen to her music she can do so quite well elsewhere (or with an i-pod), the same way that the Niki Minaj listeners can.

As to the current situation, I agree that you should go to PR. She is making it a hostile workplace, and you have the right to have that resolved, however necessary.

bkcunningham's avatar

@nicole29, in your original post, you said, “A couple technicians put on rap, Nicki Minaj, and other music that has explicit lyrics – which are not edited on Pandora. The music is often pretty loud, and as an intern that works over there, I’ve had pharmacists ask me to turn it off before. I usually just turn it down, especially when I’m working up there answering the phone.”

You turned it down when asked to turn it off.

“Lately, one of the techs has been playing Christian music. Now – disclaimer – I do not have a problem with religion, or people who are religious. So please no personal attacks here. I was uncomfortable with it playing on the computer that I had to work at, right next to the phone I use, while I was working. So, I just turned it off. When I walked away, it was turned back on. This happened three times in one day. I let it go. The next time we worked together, it happened again.”

Here you said you turned the Christian music off.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Before you decide to set up an appt. with HR, please consider talking to the manager again. Let him know what is happening since he set the rule of only the hospital radio station can be played. Managers are often out of the loop in situations like this when personal attacks are made under the radar.

There have been a few times, as a manager, where I just needed to be in the know. If need be, I’ve called in a mediator in order to help resolve the situation.

nicole29's avatar

@bkcunningham Sorry I was not clear. I turned it off when asked (it only happened once)

I turn it down other times. Two separate thoughts – but I can see why it was confusing.

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t understand the need for the manager to make the decision for you before you even approached her.

You turning the music off and then her turning it back on repeatedly without a discussion between the people actually involved (the two of you) was passive aggressive and caused a knee-jerk, “settle down children” type of reaction from the manager. Now your workplace is less enjoyable for everyone.

I’d want to know who was responsible as well so I could figure out how to get something back to fill the dead air.

If you just let her know you weren’t comfortable with the religious-themed music and ask if there’s a middle ground, couldn’t everyone settle on something that’s acceptable? If not, then that’s on her and you don’t have to hide your reasonable objections behind company policy.

Music definitely makes repetitive work more tolerable and helps the time pass. Find a way to get something playing for your coworkers.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@funkdaddy first, there isn’t no music, just a specific radio station. And second, asking her to stop would immediately prompt the question of ‘why’, i would assume. And given her further actions trying to ferret out the ‘non-christian’, I’m sure she would not take the conversation very well. It is part of HR and management’s duties to diffuse situations so that they do not disrupt the workplace. As such, going to a manager for a disruptive workplace, instead of potentially creating a more volatile situation by dealing with in interpersonal conflict in the open, is exactly the right thing to do.

funkdaddy's avatar

@BhacSsylan – reporting someone will rarely be taken well, but a quick “hey, I’m not sure about the Christian music at work, what else would work?” may have dispelled the whole situation.

Taking an appropriate first step on your own isn’t something I’ve seen discouraged in the places I’ve worked. Initiative and respectful discussion are generally encouraged.

That’s all I’m suggesting here.

bkcunningham's avatar

So she doesn’t know you are the one who started all of this with HR?

dabbler's avatar

@SuperMouse “what do you think are the chances this person was listening because they like the music” good point, that’s pretty innocent I’ll agree. I’m referring to what sounds like an inquisition into who’s the unchristian who caused the policy change.

SuperMouse's avatar

@dabbler it does sound as though the Christian music listener turned the situation into a witch-hunt, which in my opinion is utterly ridiculous and constitutes harassment.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@funkdaddy “hey, I’m not sure about the Christian music at work, what else would work?”

Or, it may have blown up in their face, and made her completely sure that @nicole29 is the atheist. I know this must be hard for you to understand since we’re still having this conversation, but it can be very hard to be out as non-religious, or even not the majority religion (ask how Muslims in the US are fairing these days. And it’s a lot harder to hide that). I recently had a vaguely similar situation, where an HR person at my university was using an explicitly religious phase in their email signature. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (proverbs 16:9, if you’re wondering). Their official, university-capacity signature, so we’re clear. It took me a long time to bring it up, because I had literally no idea how my request that it be removed would be taken. Because there is a history of non-religious kids being discriminated against, even when they have the full force of the law behind them. Luckily, my coordinator is fantastic and took care of it within the day when I finally got up the courage to ask, and it’s faded into the background.

Now, it’s entirely possible that if I went up to the actual offender and made my objections known, that this would not have gone well, and that significant hostility may have been sent my way. Would it have been? No clue. Maybe if I had tried “respectful discussion” the end result would have been exactly the same.

Or maybe not.

The point here is that the easiest and best way to diffuse a situation that could have gone badly (and again, considering her further reaction, it seems quite likely it would have), is to actually use the channels that have been set up in order to avoid the problem! These systems have been set up precisely to try and diffuse drama, and to make it so that inter-personal conflicts do not affect the working atmosphere. That they have failed her is bad, but does not mean that attempting to use them was a bad idea.

bkcunningham's avatar

@BhacSsylan, I’m really interested in what you have to say so please don’t think I’m being adversarial with you when I ask if you’d explain why you asked that the HR employee remove the quote. Why did it upset/disturb/make you angry enough to take it to a person of authority and have them see that the HR person remove the quote? It was obviously important enough that you remembered the quote and knew the Biblical reference so I’m interested to know what your reasoning was to take that stand.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@bkcunningham Simply, we are a government institution. As such, having such an explicitly religious quote in official emails is considered an endorsement of religion and thus is illegal. And for evidence of this, when i first mentioned it and my admin looked, her immediate response was “Oh, yeah, she can’t do that”.

Secondly, and more personally, she is in contact with new students who are deciding where to go for graduate school. She is one of the two people who probably have the most contact with new student. To have her use that in her correspondences with potential students is a terrible idea, in my opinion, as it can send the message that this institution is explicitly religious (which, I will say, it is not. Other then this problem I’ve never had any issues whatsoever), which could make new students that would otherwise be comfortable here think twice, and that’s bad for the university.

However, I will say that this is sightly off topic, as @nicole29 doesn’t work for a government entity, i think, and thus the christian music wasn’t illegal, and I don’t mean to imply it was. I was just trying to explain the kinds of feelings that would make one was to go the non-confrontational route (which, again, is why it’s there).

[edit]Oh, and to the fact that i remembered it, firstly I saw it many times, as she sends quite a few messages to staff, and secondly it was quite jarring. As I said, I’ve never had an issue before at all. So, when this suddenly appeared on official emails, many times over, it was quite unexpected.

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes. Thank you, @BhacSsylan.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Not a problem. If that wasn’t clear feel free to PM me, though in the end it wasn’t a big or interesting deal.

funkdaddy's avatar

In this case, I don’t feel like it was about Christian or atheist, it was about inappropriate music, whether it was religious or just not safe for work.

So saying the music isn’t appropriate doesn’t “out” anyone as an atheist, it just lets them know it’s not appropriate.

The only thing telling HR or a manager does is pass the duty along to someone else who you feel is more qualified. If you don’t think you can take care of it, and feel it needs to be done, I suppose that’s better than nothing. To me (personally, and again, I’m not in either of these situations) it feels like tattling.

I try not to say anything behind someone’s back that I wouldn’t say if they were present.

BhacSsylan's avatar

From the OP: ”‘The person who plays the music is very confrontational, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking her to turn it off.”

“This girl took it as a personal attack on her music. She made a huge deal of it, going so far as to ask each person in the pharmacy if they had a problem with her Christian music. She even took the schedule off the wall and went through all the people she had worked with, trying to figure out who was not a “Christian”.”

And I’m sorry, if you really think that passing a duty along to someone who is more qualified is a problem, then I’m not sure we’re capable of convincing each other on this.

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