Reader Laurel Harry, a member of the American Humanist Association, recently shared the following letter with us (reprinted here with her permission):
I am writing regarding the use of “Have a blessed day” by employees of large corporations. Living in the South, I have been increasingly on the receiving end of this expression, much to my dismay. After the last incident, I decided to contact one of the offending corporations, Krispy Kreme. My initial letter and two follow-ups have been met with perfect silence. I know that other large corporations (Cracker Barrel and American Airlines come to mind) are also guilty of allowing their employees to indulge in this practice, and I feel that it’s on the upswing. I’ve decided to give a little more pushback by sharing the letter below.
ATTN: Head of Customer Relations
Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation
Winston-Salem, NC 27102
Dear Sir or Madam,
This morning, September 8, I purchased doughnuts for a birthday party at your Salisbury, NC, location. I was efficiently and courteously waited on by a counter sales employee, who, at the conclusion of the transaction, told me to “Have a blessed day.”
I am sure you are aware of the recent Pew survey on religion in the United States which found that that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today is 16.1% and that “among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.” Also interesting to note is that this year’s freshman class at Harvard is 36% agnostic/atheist!
Use of the phrase, “Have a blessed day” has been a topic for discussion by various corporations, and was directly addressed by the Society for Human Resource Management in a 2013 training presentation that stated: “We would consider that allowing this [phrase] could be perceived as an endorsement of one type of religion and may lead to other employees asking to add similar religious sounding phrases to their … greetings. We also consider that … greetings are for business purposes only and not to convey personal wishes, however nice. … We would not approve this request.”
I would be interested to know if Krispy Kreme has a corporate policy on the use of religious greetings or phrases by employees, and whether the customer service training employees receive addresses this issue. As a company with a strong international presence, surely cultural differences and religious sensitivity are of paramount concern. I am a life-long customer of Krispy Kreme and a devoted fan of your products. However, to quote Krispy Kreme’s founder, Vernon Rudolph, now might be a good time to “coach the team to ever-better results.” I look forward to hearing from you on this important issue.