In terms of work environments, many who have worked in contexts outside of local churches (which excludes many life-long clergy), see the weirdness of our church parishes. I attribute this to freedom of religion, which allows us to decide how we want to operate. This quirk of our existence means that churches and those who support them are on their own to find whatever works best for them.
Sometimes it appears that the general culture is much more advanced than our church culture. That lag is what turns people off, in part. For example, secular workplaces are more ethnically diverse than the vast majority of our churches at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. For decades this hour has been known as the most segregated hour in America.
In health care contexts, employees are required by law to observe a strict confidentiality with patients and residents. Churches found this regulation to be a stumbling block when HIPPA first went into effect 10 years ago. By now, we have learned that confidentiality is part of, not separate from, any pastoral care and spiritual direction.
And, how long will same-sex unions be a right granted and practiced freely in some states but a rite denied by many national church assemblies?
I think sometimes we have hidden behind the freedom of religion as an excuse not to change instead of using to create positive changes. As protection, insulation from the world. Those who visit us on Sunday mornings will observe these differences from their every day, working lives, and maybe even see the hypocrisy of our saying we are "open" when we are not. They would probably notice the culture lag too. Who could blame them?
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