Bible Study on City Time Redux

Last week, I posted about Mayor Langford’s Bible study on city time. Today, a commenter asked:

When is a lunch hour considered “city time” and “taxpayer’s money”?

While the City Chambers might not be the best place for it, the fact remains everyone is welcome to a lunch hour. That is their time.

So, in the interest of answering what may have been an honest question, here’s the text of the email that was sent to city employees. For obvious reasons, I’m excluding the names of senders and recipients.

Subject: Bible Study with the Mayor
When: Friday, January 25, 2008 11:00 AM-12:00 PM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).
Where: Council Chamber

These are exciting times for the City of Birmingham!

Mayor Langford will conduct Bible Study this Friday, January 25, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Anyone interested in attending is more than welcome.

To Department Heads, please have this invitation passed on to your staff and ensure they are aware it IS NOT mandatory to attend, but they are more than welcome to participate.

We already work together as a family. If we pray together, touch and agree together, imagine what we can accomplish together!

“More Magic Than Ever!”

As I noted in the initial post, the email does make it clear that attendance is not mandatory, but I see nothing to indicate that this time would be considered lunch hour. My source was told by city employees that they did not have to take lunch hour to attend.

And now city employees are circulating an email that encourages online Bible reading, with detailed links provided but no caveat that they should be used after hours. Good to know they’re staying busy.

You know, when the boss says he’s going to lead Bible study during work hours, I don’t think it really matters if he says it isn’t mandatory. The people who work for him will feel pressured to support it, because that equates to supporting him.

And I have to wonder how he’d react if another employee wanted to offer a Qur’an study or a Wicca study or even a Bible study from a different perspective. Would city workers get a free pass to attend those as well? If he’s going to do it for one, he has to do it for all. Otherwise, we have city government endorsing a particular religion. Perhaps it would be best to keep the Bible study out of the office.

14 Responses to “Bible Study on City Time Redux”

  1. The Mad Patriot says:

    I guess it would be too much to ask for the city government to have a Constitution study, wouldn’t it? :P

  2. jaleo23 says:

    I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again. Mayor Langford is a loofy individual that should know better, but what can one if the majority of the people that voted October 9th wanted him in as mayor? Unfortunately, just like else where in Alabama, there are people within Birmingham that likes to keep religion in every aspect of their lives including their jobs. There is really nothing at all any city resident can do until 2011, so all us the citizens of Birmingham can do is complain and hope that a more progressive mayoral candidate with crossover-appeal will run until then. In the meanwhile, let’s focus on more important issues at hand like reducing the city’s crime problems.

  3. Bhmhomeboy says:

    Lunch hour or not the City Hall Chambers belong to the Taxpayers 24/7. Mayor Langford should hold his Bible Study at a nearby Church and not City Hall Chambers. This reminds me of Roy Moore and the 10 Commandments Monument controversy. Maybe instead of conducting Bible study on City time in City Hall, the Mayor can meet with public safety officials to develop solutions and strategies to combat crime. I don’t have a problem with the Mayor being religious, but he should do it on his own time and on his own dime.

  4. Kiki says:

    Sending out an email about a religious event on “company time” whether that “company” is the City Hall or IBM is unethical. If you worked for a church, I could understand it, but otherwise, there is no reason to send this kind of email out. Also, the time is 11, not 12, which makes me think the traditional lunch hour would still be available for actual eating–it doesn’t say bring your lunch–but thank goodness it doesn’t say lunch provided! That would be even more of taxpayers wasted money.

    And if I was on the staff and recieved this invitaion, I would be upset for certain for the very reason you mentioned here, Kathy–if I don’t want to participate, don’t I still feel pressured to because my superior is the one holding this Bible study? Is he going to judge me? Isn’t he going to wonder why I didn’t come? This leads to more unethical questions–religion belongs in your heart and soul and church and your private dwelling-not the workplace–be it City Hall, the White House or Wal Mart! If they want to pray together off the clock, they can, but whatever happened to separation of church and state?

  5. Jonathan says:

    I was going to say in the 1/25/08 posting, but moved my comments here:

    @Bhmhomeboy – Paid or not, a lunch hour is still your lunch hour to do with whatever you please. They should be allowed to go do whatever they want to do during their lunch hour – whether it be a Bible Study, going to Synagogue or whatever they desire. If you’re honestly saying they shouldn’t be allowed to attend a Bible study on their lunch hour, that’s ridiculous. If that’s unacceptable behavior then we should start monitoring all city worker’s lunch hours to make sure it’s the appropriate use of taxpayer money. Bottom line – Your lunch hour is your lunch hour.

    @Kathy – If what you are saying is true about it NOT being their lunch hour, then I would have to recant my statement. I only assumed this would only be attempted under a lunch hour premise as this is how it’s been done at other places.

    @MadPatriot – We could only hope for Constitution classes. :)

    @Kiki – I agree if we are looking for equality then either A) The chambers should be open to any religious organization for studies and worship or B) No religious organization should be allowed. The latter choice would probably be the better of the two to keep things civil and correct you know? And I totally agree that the whole apartment loft thing was a crock.

    I just want equality for all. Sounds cliche’, but here’s an example. At my current employer I receive invitations to participate in Islam Awareness meetings and GLBT Awareness discussions. However, we are not allowed to have a Christianity Meeting for discussions and awareness. Is that right? Going back to what I said earlier about the use of the Chambers, either allow all groups to have an Awareness Meeting or don’t allow any. That seems to be the only fair and logical decision.

  6. Jonathan says:

    One other thing – Pressure from supervisors happens every year at every place I’ve ever worked. It happens during the annual United Way drive. United Way has inserted itself into almost every large corporation and has forced participation by many who don’t want to participate.

    I am swamped with emails every day during the campaign period saying how I should support the United Way by giving monthly out of my paycheck. My bosses expect it. Will I be judged b/c I don’t participate? Are they going to think I just don’t care? Will I be passed over for a raise or promotion? Maybe I give lots of money to various charities, I just want to choose where my money goes. Does that matter to them though? No. United Way forces corporations to make their employees give.

    At one job, as a condition of my employment I was told I would give a certain percentage to the corporate charity fund each year. That fact was non-negotiable. I in turn, turned down the job. I will not be forced to give to a charity that I don’t select.

  7. Del says:

    Jonathan – twenty years and a bit ago, when I worked for an insurance company, I refused to give to UW on principal. My dept supervisor ended up “giving” for me so our department (of two, him & me) could have 100% participation. I thought then and I think now that UW’s coercive methods are absolutely disgraceful.

    As far as Larry’s group, 11:00 sounds a little early in the day for lunch to me, but I suppose it’s possible that this is a lunch hour activity. I agree with your point about equality for all, but Kathy’s statement that if the boss is leading the study group, you’re going to feel undue pressure, is also true. Frankly, I don’t care if they’re reading the Great Books Series or discussing existentialism and nihilism in there—anything they’re doing on the city nickel that isn’t city work would piss me off.

    But I don’t live in Birmingham.

  8. Bhmhomeboy says:

    Johnathan, I’m not saying City Employees cannot attend Church or anyother religious institution during their lunch hour. I’m saying they shouldn’t be attending a religious service led by their Boss in City Hall on City Time. They are perfectly welcome to take their Bible Study to the nearest church during their lunch hour. I’m just afraid they will study the Bible from 11-12 in City Hall then go out to eat from 12-1. That makes it a 2 hour lunch. I’m sure they are not going to forego eating all day in order to pray. All I’m saying is take it out of City Hall just like Roy Moore had to remove the 10 Commandments Monument form the Supreme Court Building. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

  9. Kiki says:

    Ha! I just saw on the news that Larry Langfor has now proposed to build a $90 million dollar “Olympic style” facility in 5 Points West-half of which is to be paid for with taxpayer dollars! He hopes to attract more people to “revitalize” the area! And school kids will be able to use it too! How generous of him. Perhaps the $90 mil would be better spent revitalizing the B’ham City school system–keep the closing schools open and fix the moldering, rotting buildings these children and teachers are sent to school in everyday. Buy some decent on sight computer equipment (not the third world laptops he suggested for every B’ham city school kids in 2007-dumb!) and new textbooks and desks. Maybe he’s never heard the expression k.i.s.s. (keep it simple stupid). He is truly nuts if you ask me.

  10. anna says:

    They have tons of other issues to be studying other than the Bible. Can y’all say CARAZAY?

  11. Jennifer says:

    I don’t know Kiki…I think Birmingham city has a real need for a first class Equestrian facility. Just the other day I was lamenting to my husband that we don’t have access to one. Maybe I should pray about it.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Hey, I never said Langford was a smart man. I was just debating the Bible Study/Lunch Hour issue. :) I think the man is a idiot personally. He’s left bankruptcy and destruction in his wake everywhere he’s been.

    Like Kiki was commenting on, the taxpayers money should be going to the school systems or something else worthwhile instead of a stupid dome stadium or the”Olympic” style facilities. No one is going to come here if crime and poverty are allowed to remain and increase in some places.

    I’m definitely with you guys on your opinion’s of King Larry.

  13. Bhmhomeboy says:

    I also don’t believe it was appropraite for the Mayor to direct his Department heads to distribute the invitation to their staff.

  14. Kiki says:

    I understand where you’re coming from, Jonathan. I am just a firm believer of separation of Church and State. And I agree, unless all groups can have their “spritual”or “awareness” meetings there (and that includes the pagans, Wiccans, Jews, atheists and Catholics!) no one can have them. No exceptions. Especially during business hours–and since all sorts of city business meeting are held down there after business hours, there simply can be no other meetings!

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