The Humanist Dilemma: Should I Take a Job with a Christian Organization—or Save Myself?

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Jesus on the Job: I have recently started looking around for a new job, as the school I currently work at has announced pay cuts for the upcoming academic year. I’ve sent my resume to a lot of different places. Mostly, I’ve used the employment search engine Indeed, and my focus has been “education,” “social services,” and the like.

So far, only one place I applied to has responded. It’s for a position that fundraises to help orphan children in various countries. The problem: I am an atheist (although “culturally Christian”). I am firm in my beliefs and opinions, but this organization rambles on about Jesus and such. I responded to the director, who expressed his interest in me through an email. While I replied with gratitude for his interest, I was upfront about not believing. He in turn confirmed that the organization was founded in Jesus Christ, and that my beliefs would be challenged there. I read into it that I present them with an opportunity to “show me the way.” I have not spoken with the director yet, but invited him to call me at his convenience next week.

Am I being overly sensitive? Am I setting myself up for an awkward situation?

—Will my beliefs be challenged or carpetbombed?


Dear Bombed,

I’d say you can safely expect to be overwhelmed with God-talk and proselytizing from most (if not all) of the staff in the organization, and you will also be required to spread the word yourself as an intrinsic facet of your job. So no, you’re not being overly sensitive, and yes, taking this job would be setting yourself up for an awkward situation, to put it mildly.

Keep looking for a better fit. It sounds like you can keep your current job for the time being, even if you prefer to leave because of the pay cut. Don’t move to a position that is apt to make you miserable, one from which you are likely to resign or be fired sooner rather than later, and for which you will then have to explain your brief tenure on your next job search. (“I was hoping the entire organization would convert to my views, but it didn’t” is not likely to favorably impress future interviewers.)

I’ll actually be surprised if this organization is still interested in you after your “confession” of nonbelief. If they are, maybe they can’t find qualified Christians for the job, or the position’s turnover is so high they’re willing to overlook clear indicators of a culture clash. There may be laws preventing them from discriminating on the basis of religion, in which case they’d need to show that they considered and perhaps hired a token non-Christian or two.

Very likely that callback will never come, in which case everyone will have saved time and energy. But if it does—and you really aren’t ready to excuse yourself from consideration at this point—do what you can to stall the process with this prospect while expanding your networking for options that are likely to suit you better. While no one likes a pay cut, it may be preferable to selling your soul.