Last week, my friend sent me a screenshot of a memo sent to the staff of their office by the HR manager. The memo welcomed them back to work after the holiday, and enjoined them to start the year with the Lord. On that premise, the staff were expected to meet for a devotion to usher the business into the new year.
My friend went on to decry the basis of the email; she mentioned that this prayer wheel had been going round for a bit in their office and she was tired of the mandated attendance. She had gotten tired of making excuses for not attending. I calmed her down,stating that she could always go out of the office for a stroll if she didn’t want to attend the devotion.
Whilst I have always believed that religion and spirituality are very personal matters, I am not oblivious of the fact that Nigeria is a very religion-centric nation. We are corporately religious. You find offices where meetings are paused so that staff can go and pray – during work hours. There are also offices where praise and worship sessions go on, and you can hear the clapping/tongue speaking through the walls.
Our constitution provides for freedom of association, and as such every citizen of Nigeria is free to be a part of any constituted body. However, where does one draw the line? Especially in the work place.
If the core purpose of the establishment is not based on religion or spirituality, should staff be invited to come for devotional meetings? Should prayer sessions be held in the office at all? Or is it a case of ‘This is Who We Are, and It Is a Part of Our Lives’.
In secondary schools, and certain universities in Nigeria, there are penalties for not attending prayer meetings. This is almost understandable, since there are rules and regulations in those schools. However, when one transcends into the work place, should such restrictions still be imposed?
I asked another friend who works in a bank about this. According to her, there was morning devotion in her office. While it was not compulsory to attend, those who didn’t attend were looked at ‘one kain’. I asked if that look was not imagined, as I was unable to really digest the idea of Spiritual Stigmatization.
Proponents of religion in the work place state that they would like to incorporate their personal beliefs into every facet of their life, and the office should not be an exception. If having a closer connection to God allows them get their deliverables out better, then they should be allowed to nurture their spirituality – at work.
The third side of this discourse is those who don’t care either way – as long as they’re not disturbed. As long as you don’t ask them not to park in a certain place because it interfere with the spot earmarked for prayer, they’re fine. As long as your tambourine shaking takes place in the basement and doesn’t disturb the conference call they’re having… then keep it up. Someone said she doesn’t mind the joint prayer sessions… as long as all parties invited are allowed to contribute in the way their faith permits.
What do you guys think? Do you think prayer sessions should be kept out of the work place? Or should they be seen as part of a person’s well-being (like having the gym at work) and be allowed to stay? Or will the exclusion of prayer session from the work place be an indication that we’re becoming ‘Godless like the West’?
Let’s talk about it!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Lucian Coman