Today was orientation/corporate brainwashing day at my new job. The ambulance company is owned by a hospital...a big-R-religious hospital. I admit, I'm a little slow, it didn't occur to me that St. X's hospital was going to involve quite this much religion. So not only was today, rah rah our company rocks propaganda, it was all about the big JC.
The first two speakers were the CLO (chief learning officer) and CEO of the hospital. Both mentioned how important diversity was in the patients and the staff; both mentioned the religious roots and guiding principles of the hospital. Then came the man in the clerical collar, the VP of "the mission". Every company has a mission statement, but here, they mean "Mission", like convert the natives and save their souls kind of Mission. Again, he mentions diversity and how it isn't just race or creed, but religion, culture and such that it is important for us to respect. And then...he busts out the hard stuff.
We were all to "accept" the "Mission" of the hospital. It even has a ceremony. Which started with two bible readings that had to be read by people being oriented. Proceeded to a mini-sermon on all the good we can accomplish with the healing arts and God's love. Then to a call-and-response segment, our line - "We will". By this time, I'm ready to sink under the table and hide until I can make a clean getaway out the door - but hey, this can't get any worse, right? I can make it through...I think I can...I think I can...I think I can.
It got worse. Next up was the "pinning" part of the ceremony. Father Do-gooder actually said that we didn't have to wear our pins if we didn't want to. The other man called each person there by name, and they were to come up and receive their pin from Father Do-gooder. He actually pointed at the person and said "Bob, please come up". I was about fifth around the table. I spent the first four people trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do when it was my turn. When the person next to me was handed his pin and released with "Go forth and heal", I turned about 3 darker shades of red. Here it comes..."Jen, please come up".
I went with the polite, "No thank you, I'm not interested". The man calling the names looked surprised, but Father Do-gooder didn't hear me. He turns around with the pin and says, "Well?" I repeated, "No thank you". The Father looked at me like I had sprouted horns and sacrificed a small animal in the middle of the room. I don't think anyone has done anything to disagree with him in a very long time. Then he caught himself and the other man called the next name. And everyone else in the room got up and took the stupid pin that was being handed out like communion wafers. And then we got to close with a prayer to the Saint that founded the hospital (but not the one it is named after), and "Amen".
Okay, I knew I was going to look like a jerk to be the first one to say no. But. I really thought that maybe somebody else there who was uncomfortable with the whole ceremony might take strength from an example and say no. That maybe by the end of 18 people, I would not be standing alone. Apparently I'm the only one with the strength of my non-convictions. To be fair, there were definitely some people there who were all about the religious stuff, but I don't think you can preach "Diversity" one minute and then expect people to take part in a religious ritual and accept a pin symbolizing "the spirit of Jesus Christ" ten minutes later. I'm all about helping people, but I don't think you have to accept the "ethics and morality" of a specific religious body to do accomplish that.