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Nearly 200 Muslim employees dismissed after conflict with prayer accommodations

Nearly 200 Muslim employees dismissed after conflict with prayer accommodations

Image of Muslim employees praying from CBS News story 

The employees, who worked at a Cargill meatpacking plant in Colorado, were fired when they stopped coming to work after they and their employer could not come to an agreement on prayer-time.

According to a company spokesperson, the dispute was over simultaneous prayer; the company claims it allows employees to pray, but that they refused to let 11 workers pray simultaneously because it would be disruptive to the work schedule and business needs. In 2009, Cargill set aside prayer areas for their workers.

The Council on American Islamic Relations is working to find a compromise that would allow the workers to be re-hired, but Cargill is already replacing some of the employees.

This is not the first time that American companies have had conflicts with Muslim workers over daily praying; the Huffington Post wrote about this in 2011, noting that many Islamic scholars said it was OK to shift praying around a work schedule if needed.

It’s widely accepted that Americans spend more time at work than we have historically, and more than the citizens of any other nation. Is this conflict purely a matter of religious differences, or simply an early warning for a broader conflict over the amount of time we all spend at work?

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Paul Woodrum

Have any Episcopalians asked for time for Morning, Noontime, and Evening Prayers as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer? Oh, they haven’t? Maybe they should for equality and their own souls’ sake.

Ann Fontaine

If these peole were Christians — there would be all kinds of outrage and FOX news hysteria.

Chris Harwood

If these people were Christians they’d be expected to get back to work including on Sunday, unless they could prove they were Mormons or Seventh Day. I can’t help but think that work pressure is part of the reason the church is shrinking and/or becoming something only the rich and upper middle class do. More and more jobs require working on Sunday. Some groups have an easier time getting companies to rearrange the schedule for them. It’s easier for a Jew, Mormon, or Seventh Day member to get their Sabbath off than many other Christians for Sunday because some Christians agree to work on Sunday so going to church isn’t seen as a strict rule like a Sikh turban, or Muslim prayer. And if it’s not a hard rule, it’s easier for businesses to force workers to comply. Like British Airways banning cross necklaces or pins because they aren’t required of all Christians, Sunday isn’t a strict observance for all so businesses often just state during the hiring process that working Sunday is required, leaving the applicant to accept or not take the job.

What would happen if more Christians demanded the time to worship as Muslims do? Then again, what would our country club churches do if a bunch of lower class workers actually showed up?

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