Chris MacDonald Discusses Religious Accomodations

Chris MacDonald Discusses Religious Accomodations

Chris MacDonald, a celebrated expert in business ethics, discusses the ethics of religious accommodation. As always, his posts are well worth reading, and I believe you will find his site educational and relevant.

James Pilant

When is Accommodating Religious Requirements Unethical? | The Business Ethics Blog

Two questions arise.

First, should religious requirements be accommodated at all? There is broad agreement, I think, that reasonable efforts should be made to accommodate religious belief and practice. It would be a bad thing, in a society that believes in freedom of religion, to tell people that adhering to their religions means exclusion from university or healthcare or for that matter from employment. It is generally (though not universally) believed that religious commitments are particularly deep and meaningful ones, central to a person’s self-identity, and so limiting someone’s expression of their devotion to their religion is significantly worse than, say, interfering with their interest in watching their favourite TV show.

Second, if we are willing to accommodate religion, what specific kinds of requests ought not be accepted? The usual route is to say that only “reasonable” accommodations must be made — not ones that disrupt operations, or that impose onerous costs, or that jeopardize safety. So, modifying dress codes to accommodate religious dress requirements is generally OK. Allowing people a few minutes during the day to pray is OK. And so on. But anything that would jeopardize health and safety (e.g., a religious head covering that precludes the wearing of a safety helmet) doesn’t have to be accommodated.

When is Accommodating Religious Requirements Unethical? | The Business Ethics Blog.