Christians more wary of Bible at work than atheist colleagues

Published 22 October 2010  |  
"The Bible is everything, isn’t it?" says Graham Ledger, 55, a bus driver from Cheltenham. He has one next to him on his bus. It sits, everyday, beside the ticket machine.

"I brought it to read then people started to comment on it," says Graham. "I said it was a great book."

But, according to research carried out by Bible Society, not everyone is as happy as Graham to take a Bible to work. While most Christians said they would feel fine having their Bible at work, 43 per cent said they would feel uncomfortable actually getting it out to read and almost a third were worried about what work colleagues might think.

In fact, Christians are more likely to feel uncomfortable about having their Bible on display at work than their work colleagues. Seventy five per cent of atheists questioned said they would not consider it to be a problem.

The online survey for Bible Society was carried out by Christian Research and ICM and comes after a number of high profile cases where Christians have found themselves in trouble for encouraging people to think about faith in God or for offering to pray with people in the workplace.

It found that while Christians may feel uncomfortable about reading their Bible at work, in breaks or at lunchtimes, only 14 per cent of workers would feel uncomfortable if they did it and as many as half would be happy to talk about the Bible with Christian colleagues.

Benita Hewitt from Christian Research says: "We wanted to see, in the light of news stories about Christians getting into trouble at work, how people felt about openly reading a Bible at work.

"Interestingly we found that 60 per cent of workers think their employer wouldn’t see it as a problem at all and only 2 per cent felt that openly reading the Bible at work might lead to a formal response."

The research has been released as part of Bible Society’s Take Your Bible to Work Day on Monday 25 October when Christians across the country have been invited to do more than just celebrate the Bible in church and take a Bible to work as a statement of faith.

Taking a Bible to work is one of six ways churchgoers are being invited to celebrate the Bible’s message of freedom as part of this year’s Bible Sunday on Sunday 24 October and to demonstrate how the Bible isn’t just for Sunday; it’s for the whole of life and for everyone, everywhere.

Bus driver Graham Ledger will have his Bible at work on Monday as will Mike Keene. Mike, who is Parks Horticultural Officer at Chelmsford Borough Council, either takes his Bible into work or uses an email Bible reading resource at his desk. While he’s had curiosity, surprise and interest from workmates, Mike says that he’s "never felt awkward" about reading his Bible at work.

And both Graham Ledger and Mike Keene’s employers have no objection to them having a Bible at work. You can read more about their stories in two case studies to follow.

Ann Holt, Bible Society’s Director of Programme, says: "In the culturally diverse climate in which we live, we are urging sensitivity and remind people that they do need to bear in mind their conditions of employment when deciding whether to take their Bible to work and to be considerate towards others who may not share their views.

"However, while we recognise the plural nature of our culture, we are inviting people to take their Bible to work because we believe it is their right to do so in a free society. We believe the Bible’s message provides a framework for living the whole of life, and is not simply a resource for personal piety or a support for those who like religion."

Reacting to the survey results Ann says, "There are a variety of issues here from a misplaced fear about a hostile reception to having a Bible at work to a lack of certainty about what to do with it if you do to take it to work. This makes the need to break down the divide between the sacred and the secular all the more urgent. We need more training on the significance of the Bible in our everyday lives."

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