Is it Freedom of or Freedom from Religion in Organizations?
Journal of International Business and Law, vol.
January (1st Quarter/Winter)
Organizations in the United States and throughout the world struggle with religious expression in the workplace. Though the US Constitution provides citizens with freedom of religion, as does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by 169 Countries, this right to free exercise of religion has been translated to freedom from religion in many organizations around the world. Religion, a salient part of personal identity for more than 80% of the world’s population, gets hidden if one’s religion does not contain visible garb. The ability to learn from one another, put aside stereotypes, and discover commonalities may be denied individuals. This paper examines the concept of freedom of religion or freedom from religion through the lens of two stories drawn from academic and international settings in the United States, Sweden, Egypt, and Israel attempting to highlight the difficulties of bringing religious faith into more active engagement with organizations. Categorical themes are developed to understand why freedom from religion occurs within these settings. Themes include contextual norms, trust, fear, privacy concerns, and a lack of tools.