Passive Aggressive Christianity November 5, 2008

Passive Aggressive Christianity

Have you ever shared office space with a religious co-worker?

I did. One day, I saw the awful book The Secret on her desk. I decided to make the offhand comment, “You’re reading that book?!”

To which she responded with a completely serious tone: “I’m sorry I’m not reading one of your atheist books.”


I’m not sure what Anthony in Salt Lake City, Utah was saying at work, but when a new lady found herself sharing space with him, she placed this message on his side of the cubicle:

Anthony writes: “Apparently she thinks I’m going to poke the messiah’s high school yearbook picture all day.”

Any advice for how he ought to respond? (Granted we have no idea what, if anything, he did to warrant the note.)

(via Passive Aggressive Notes — thanks to Becky for the link!)

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  • Simply put a picture of the FSM (or maybe something a bit more graphic) next to it with the same message.

  • I’m pretty sure I saw a picture of the Macho Man Randy Savage with that same expression somewhere. You should pin that to your wall immediately with the message “TOUCH THIS AND I’LL SNAP YOU LIKE A SLIM JIM OOOOUUGGGHHH YEEEYUHHHH!!!”


    It’s difficult to convey the message in a way she’ll be receptive too. Chances are, she’ll be defensive. Christians in this country love being able to claim persecution, so you might as well be as ridiculous as you can and call it a day.

  • Also… Hermant? A Scientology advert? Really?

    Context-based advertising, I take it?

  • Awesomesauce

    Find some arbitrary picture and attach a note that reads,


    Also, I would advise not touching the jesus, as I’m sure nothing would make this woman happier than to have a reason to be offended.

  • Richard Wade

    It all depends on what, if anything Anthony did or said to warrant the note. Since they work in close quarters, a respectful conversation for coming to an understanding would probably be a good idea. Putting up countering pictures and notes would just be childish antagonism and it would not reflect well on Anthony’s maturity or character to do so.

  • Awesomesauce

    Oh Richard, always coming up with good responses. Where’s the atheist immaturity and snark 😛

  • Todd M

    Why the need to do anything other than be respectful of their opinions, expect them to be respectful of yours, and move on?

  • Larry Huffman

    Well…what he does depends on whether or not this was provoked…which it sounds as if it wasn’t. If not…if this woman was just paranoid for no reason…then I would feed it back to her.

    I would find the most blasphemous (yet not pornographic) pictures of jesus: Cartoons or any other number of humorous photshop creations that can be found. I would cycle them every day or so. Keep the impact up..with the exact same sign. If she complains, I would kindly tell her that my beliefs are exactly as the pictures show, and she is to respect my beliefs as well, and not touch.

    I could tell this was Utah…that picture is one of the ‘old standards’ for mormons. And yes, I have seen a lot of those up on desks.

    The alternative choice of action for him may be to discuss with his employer. If he really wants to smack her for such stupidity…he can go to his employer and complain that people’s personal religious items are out of place in the workplace. There are some exceptions, but in most cases a company would rule on his side and ban all religious memorabilia from being displayed (I have seen this in a company I worked for…in Utah, no less…and I was not either one of the parties in question). Of course, this could cost him more than one at-work relationship. So, I think I would be putting the Jesus on Groundhog day picture up (the one where jesus is on the cross and sees his shadow so more winter…lol).

    I might even take an empty picture frame and on the top of it put “My god of the day”…and each day bring something stupid or hopefully offensive and place it in the frame. Let anyone try to claim that is not my god for that day. I would start with a big picture of the devil in all of his biblical glory…just to make her wonder if her children are safe. 😉

  • Larry Huffman

    To those who say this should be handled respectful etc…I agree…if this was somehow provoked. I do not know the person reporting this…but it seems odd that this would come up out of the blue. If he said something or removed a picture on his own, or something like that…then this sign has different implications and a respectful dialogue is called for to get them abck on track.

    However…if it was unprovoked…just some fundy that made stupid assumptions about him…well, the fact that they have to work closely is why I would do what I suggested above. She has already set the standerd of communication…it is through notes on pointed religious items.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I would complain of religious persecution…namely, It sucks to have to look at a picture of jesus all day that my co-worker obviously wants me to see. Again…if this was unprovoked, then I think respect was out the window when the new person made assumptions about her new co-workers. I think she needs a lesson in how to make friends and influence people, and she absolutely needs a lesson in employee rights with respect to religion in the workplace.

    We only know one side of the story…so, my answers were based on the tale as it was told.

  • Larry Huffman

    OK…one more comment…after further review:

    If you look carefully, you will see that there is another note below the jesus picture also telling people not to remove something from the wall. It might mean the same picture…or it might mean something else. It does not seem to mention belief based on what we can see.

    I am going out on a limb here and betting that she has had problems with her personal stuff causing issues before. She is new, so who knows, maybe that is why she is no longer where she was before this job. To show up and put multiple notes on stuff telling people not to remove them is just a bit whacky, regardless of religion. Especially if there was nothing leading up to this that made her suspect these new co-workers.

    I do have a question though…are you sure this isn’t the whacky christian lady from trading spouses? (Yep…a nice big picture of the biblical devil: horns, tail, pitchfork…maybe eating jesus like a turkey leg would be fitting to display on my side of the belief wall)

  • Perhaps he should also place an image of Jesus in the cube, without comment.

    Personally, I prefer the “Black Jesus“. But he would be more accurate and less offensive if he put up a more representative image of Jesus.

    “Surfer-dude Jesus” speaks more about this woman’s worldview than she might be aware of.

  • noodleguy

    Simply put a picture of the FSM next to it with the same message.

    RAmen brother!

  • Larry Huffman

    I guess I should admit that today, after watching the religious successfully vote to take away their fellow american’s rights yesterday in Cali…I am going to come down more harshly on this kind of behavior.


  • Um, do you really think its fair to call defensiveness over “The Secret” passive aggressive Christianity? The book is New Age, not Christian.

  • SnugglyBuffalo

    The important point to note is that this was put up in his side of the cubicle. Following the link, it sounds like she literally took all his stuff and moved it to the “other side” (not sure if that means the other half of the wall, or to the opposite wall, or what).

    Putting up a not-so-subtle note with a picture of Jesus is one thing, but to do it in someone else’s space, and to move that person’s stuff to make room for it? I’d say it’s something that needs to be dealt with before it gets any worse.

    Much as I’d like to suggest putting up your own notes/pictures, I have to agree with Richard that a respectful conversation (if such a thing is possible, which this woman’s behavior calls into question) is the route to take.

  • wintremute

    post another note next to it that asks “who’s the hippie?”

  • I’d give her a copy of The God Delusion. She was kind enough to provide a picture of that bearded hippy chap..wassisname..Chuck Norris? It’s only fair to buy her something in return. If she’s not a great reader then something shorter like the company’s equal opportunity policy might be better.

    After that I might deface the picture with cartoon penises or something immature.

  • Becky

    SnugglyBuffalo- You are so right… this whole thing just bugs me, because as the co-worker says: [the thing that is odd] “is the fact that this particular wall was originally my half — she took everything i had on that end and moved it to the other side.”

    Ugh. Knowing me though, I wouldn’t say/do anything. Provoking someone due to religion is not a battle I choose. I like the idea of hanging up the FSM with the same text, though. BRILLIANT! 🙂

  • Would it be fair to say, “Please be respectful of my space and keep your sh*t on your own side then”?

    Or, please refrain from posted non-work related material on this board. (If applicable)

    Or, just put up a big “WWJD” thing beside it and ignore it all anyway.

    Or, just put up a big note beside it that says, “OK!”

  • Dheak

    Add some shades over the picture and you’ve got the Big Lebowski. Replace the warning with a new tag that reads: The Dude Abides.

  • bignose

    Pin, in her cubicle, a picture of a gay couple getting married, with a note:

    “Please respect people, not beliefs”.

  • Y’know, he could just put it on her side of the wall and replace it with a note that reads “don’t put your crap over here, please respect my beliefs.”

  • Óli

    Put up a picture of the FSM on her wall seems appropriate.

  • I found my old Bible in my mothers garage a while back and asked her if I could have it. “Only if you promise not to destroy it,” she said. I have never done anything to indicate that I would destroy a book.

    I think he should ask “what have I ever done that would indicate to you that I would mess with your personal belongings?”

  • TXatheist

    His side of the cubicle? Take it down and put a note next to it “post on your side please”

  • MisterDomino

    Just ignore it. It’s not really that big of a deal.

    Obviously, she has some issues with personal property (someone was not taught to share in kindergarten, eh?) or is just afraid because she doesn’t understand her coworker. People place things that aren’t work-related in their cubicles all the time and I don’t see how a photogenic Jeebus is cause for alarm.

    If she’s just doing this to provoke him, then he shouldn’t give her the satisfaction. Besides, I doubt he wants to get caught up in an I Love Lucy situation where she draws a line across the cubicle. He does have to work there, after all.

    Now, if it came with a big caption that said, “Jesus is watching you…,” and the picture was an Uncle Sam-esque pointing Jesus, then I might be a bit skiddish about her mental stability.

  • Stephen

    Put up a bunch of pictures of imaginary beings, then, a note reading, “Imaginary beings continued on next cube wall”.

  • Jen

    I would probably move it to her side of the cubicle. Then I would ignore it. If it ended up on my side again, I would remove it and put in the hands of the HR person.

    No, I am lying. I would probably do nothing and complain about her to anyone who would listen. But my FSM, I would hate her forever.

  • Gabriel G.

    1. Tear it up and post it back on her side with the text under it “Where’s your god now?”

    2. Post a picture of the Invisible Pink Unicorn with the words “Please be respectful of my beliefs, as stupid as they may be. Thank you.”

  • QrazyQat

    I’d point out to her that the picture is on my side and is therefore not being respectful of me. Then I’d ask if she thought she needn’t be respectful of others, and if that is what her religion teaches her.

  • Epistaxis

    Leave a big visible fingerprint on it.

  • Rachel

    Print out/cut out a bunch of pictures of people pointing. Then surround the Jesus picture with those with the note “I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU!!”.

    Fight childish behavior with more childish behavior!

  • He should just write a big OKIE-DOKIE on it (the don’t touch! note) in cheerful green Sharpie and then ignore it, and her, too, as much as possible. Half the stuff suggested here would get him in serious trouble if he put them up on a shared wall – or a private one for that matter. If she felt the need to take a specific half of the board she’s got more problems than being Mormon.

  • Put up some porn with a note: “Please respect my religious beliefs. I’m a Vaginarian.”

  • Wow, some of the suggested responses here are really… passive-aggressive. Except for the “tear it up” one, which is just plain aggressive (and hopefully not serious).

    I’d probably make an off-hand comment about it: “What a silly thing to be afraid of!”

    And if you want your side of the cubicle back, confront the person. No reason to be afraid of a little direct social interaction.

  • Tolga K.

    He should just throw it away and let his coworker deal with it however she pleases. As soon as he retaliates, he becomes more guilty.

    If you were looking for something whitty, I would say to post the same message on her side of the board, but instead of a picture of Jesus, an empty black piece of paper.

  • Aj

    FSM or Jesus riding a dinosaur would be my choice, with text saying “TOUCH ME, I LIKE IT”.

  • Elle Cohen

    Tell you boss, check the company policy, their may be rules about what sort of pictures (ect) that people can display. Acting in a way that will only make the situation worse makes all athiests look bad. The point is not to punish her for her beleifs, as much as I think that beleiving in jesus is about as silly as beleiving in pink unicorns (I think it is far more likely unicorns are white,) the better way to make her respect you and your thoughts on religion is to handel the situation profesionaly. Tell the boss, or file a official complaint.

    Thanks — Elle

  • Shane

    Put up a picture of gay transsexual striptease Jesus?

    Or would that only make things worse?

    That’s probably what I would do anyway. Either that or a picture of Jesus and Mohammad making out.

  • Michael

    Could just let it go. Or tell your boss. Letting it go rubs me up the wrong way though – it could certainly be considered harassment, and you have the right not to be harassed in the workplace. Consider if he had done something similar to her, I’m sure she’d be all over that.

  • Rat Bastard

    On HIS side? Off base. I’d tell her that she is out of line with putting stuff on my side. Once. Then, its off to HR. Seriously, a decent response depends on the size of the company, but she’s doing stuff (religion has nothing to do with it) that is territorial and provocative in nature. Share the space! She’s trying to provoke, end of story. Then again, maybe if I use latex gloves when I pluck the pic off MY side of the cubicle to throw it on the firelog later at home, I can claim, “I don’t know where it is! (true- where are the oxidized molecules, now?) I didn’t touch it! (also true, ’cause I had gloves).

  • I would put a sign next to it that says “He touched me first!” Like the song, “He touched me and made me whole!”

    Or you could put a sign that says, “But how am I supposed to be healed?” like the woman who reached out and touched Jesus and was miraculously healed.

  • I believe an image of MC Hammer would be appropriate, with the necessary caption of “Stop! Can’t touch this!” included.

  • llewelly

    For those of you wondering why the woman felt it necessary to add the “Don’t touch” message to her Manly Mormon Jesus picture, it’s explained in the linked article:

    odder still, he says, “is the fact that this particular wall was originally my half — she took everything i had on that end and moved it to the other side.”

  • llewelly

    FSM or Jesus riding a dinosaur would be my choice, with text saying “TOUCH ME, I LIKE IT”.

    That caption goes best with a classic catholic picture of Jesus being whipped .

  • Aj

    I’d go for: “WHIP IT!”.

  • Stephen

    The only remotely sensible first response is, as a couple of posters have already said, to talk politely to the woman and find out precisely where she’s coming from.

    If she is in fact a fundy nutcase intent on ramming her beliefs down other people’s throats, then the next step for Anthony is to tell management politely but very firmly that her behaviour towards him is unacceptable.

    There is a narrow range of possible responses (where she turns out to be a bit irritating but not really a major problem) where responding with FSM posters etc would be appropriate. But it’s a very narrow window. If Anthony rushes into that sort of reaction he risks being seen as perpetrator instead of victim.

  • Do nothing. Be respectful of her opinions, just as you would want her to be respectful of yours. Lead by example.

  • Tim Bob

    there is only one thing to do in these circumstances, you must STEAL JESUS and hold him for ransom, replace him with a note stating “if you ever want to see your jesus again you must do exactly as i say” then provide a short list of shit you dont want her to do.

  • Tommy C

    Hemant says: One day, I saw the awful book The Secret on her desk. I decided to make the offhand comment, “You’re reading that book?!”

    “You’re reading that book?!” is not exactly offhand (given your emphasis on ‘that,’) and is clearly passive-aggressive. I probably would’ve said, or at least thought, the same thing, but later I’d have to admit that I started the passive-aggressive battle.

  • Sinister Dexter

    Don’t actually touch the picture, but make a little word balloon like you see in comic strips that says, “Yeah! Hands off, pal!” or something like that, and pin it next to Jesus so it looks as though he’s speaking. Heck, why not make a whole bunch that each say different things, and put a new one up every time she leaves the room? Then when she complains, insist that you had nothing to do with it, and therefore it must be a miracle.

  • David D.G.

    People, the juvenile revenge suggestions do not do us credit, especially on the FRIENDLY ATHEIST website. I certainly understand the desire to be snarky in response to rude behavior, and I have entertained revenge fantasies on numerous occasions myself; but in this situation, I think that the least you could do is make it clear that this is all you’re doing. If you don’t, I can only conclude that your suggestions are meant seriously, and this reflects on you even more poorly than this woman’s hyperdefensiveness and rudeness reflect on her. Assuming the account we were given is sufficient and accurate, she may have some emotional issues for which she should be pitied rather than condemned.

    ~David D.G.

  • TXatheist

    David D.G., I hear you but what do you recommend? My point is silence only reinforces people like her to do this imo. But I”m listening for a better solution 🙂

  • Maybe a picture of the FSM with the message: EAT ME.

  • Tim Bob

    david d.g. personally i don’t feel the need to prove to anyone im “the better person” I dont mean to be rude or offensive to you, but i’m a little tired of people saying that, it’s really annoying. it doesn’t make you wiser or more mature to sit still and be quiet. I feel that people do this sort of thing because they don’t expect you to stand up to them. atleast in my experience. I’m not saying you’re a lesser man to sit idley by in the face jebus.. but so what seriously if people are going to judge you because you came back with a comical scheme then big deal theyre idiots too. I know who i am and so do my friends im not here to please people or branch out to huggin jebus folk. There is absolutely nothing wrong with suprising someone with a sarcastic ploy when they expected to go unchallenged. besides it’s fricken hilarious hahhahha

  • TXatheist

    Good ol’ Texas behavior…
    the first is a very conservative school and the second is a xian school

  • noodleguy

    @ David

    Well, honestly there are times when maturity is called for and there are times when a sense of humor is.

    I think you’d be right, except that this is a picture she posted on HIS side of the wall. That’s just absurd, and frankly he’s justified in putting up a freaking picture of his own if he wants, and he’s even more justified in taking her picture down.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that most of these are only meant somewhat seriously. Probably the best thing to do would be to go to HR about it.

    I wouldn’t assume that the account we’re being given is accurate or complete. It sounds like one small part of an ongoing war.

  • Tim Bob

    @ noodleguy,

    agreed.. on all parts. You can pretty much be assured that had he posted a figure of “non-belief” of recognizable non-belief, if there were such a thing… wether his side of the wall or not, you’d have a christian there to tell you, theyre offended i look at this as someone opening the door to fun. by posting the pic of jebus it is now acceptable to post an image of your liking ; )

  • Soitgoes

    Go immediately to human resources. If that fails to solve the problem, call the ACLU, FFRF, etc.

    Remember the Smallkowski(sp?) incident.

  • Yeah, in my first comment I didn’t realize she’d pasted the picture up in his space. If someone did that to me, I would either throw it out, or move it into their space. If they said something or did it again, I would make it very clear that they were free to hang up whatever pictures they want in their own space (as allowed by their workplace rules, whatever they may be).

  • His co-worker worships an old photo of Chuck Norris? geez… that’s kinda weird.

    I can respect your property, but I reserve the right to mock your beliefs.

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