Skip to comments.The Extraordinary Case Of The Pagan And The Multicultural Prayer Room
Posted on 09/13/2006 10:47:08 AM PDT by Lorianne
An extraordinary one might almost say unbelievable industrial tribunal case in Manchester in March gave a rare insight into how attempts to accommodate multicultural religious needs at work actually appear only to apply to Muslims. It developed around a spat between Muslim employees at the Royal Mail and a member of the Odinist Fellowship (a group that apparently worships the old Nordic gods).
The case Royal Mail group PLC versus Donald Holden was described in a document posted on the TUC website by Robin Jackson, the information officer of the Odinist Fellowship, who attended both days of the hearing. Mr Jackson reported:
Many of you will be surprised, as I was, to learn that, increasingly, employers with a large proportion of Muslim staff are being obliged to set aside rooms in the workplace for Muslim prayers, and to allow their employees to take time away from their duties to engage in these prayers. At the Mail Centre where Donald worked, there was just such a room, which was designated as a Multicultural Room. That is important, because never, at any time, did the Royal Mail claim that the Room was solely for Muslim use, or that non-Muslims might not use it for their own purposes.
Mr Holden tried to use the room for his own religious purposes which is ostensibly what it was for but it quickly became apparent that it was, in reality, a Muslim Club Room, full of Korans and prayer calendars. Mr Holden left sheets of paper about Odinism in the room, on a chair by the sink.
One item of evidence at the tribunal was a book which required users of the room to sign for a key on entering and leaving. Mr Holdens visits were always of short duration, and mainly on a Saturday, when the place was mostly empty. Mr Jackson takes up the story:
I was able to see for myself, that certain names and signatures, evidently belonging to Muslim employees, recurred time and time again in the signing-in book, sometimes three or four times in a single shift, and that the duration of their stays was half an hour or more. Some would call this skiving.
Obviously Mr Holdens use of the room was not welcomed by the Muslim employees and eventually an anonymous complaint was made to the management that a muddy footprint had been left on the carpet of the Multicultural Room. As Mr Jackson reports: What could this mean? There could be only one possible interpretation: quite clearly, the culprit had intended to attack the Muslim religion. And not only was it, self-evidently, an anti-Muslim footprint, but on closer examination it became obvious that it must have been an anti-Islamic boot; and no doubt that anti-Islamic boot had been wielded by an Islamophobic foot. And who else could that Islamophobic foot belong to? The principle suspect had to be Donald, of course!
Incredibly, the Royal Mail set up hidden cameras in the room to trap the culprit who was causing the damage. After five months of this surveillance no doubt costing thousands of pounds the management admitted that they had nothing on Mr Holden. In fact, during the tribunal hearing, no-one could be found who had actually seen the muddy footprint.
But the Royal Mail management did see Mr Holden in the room, leaving his literature on the chair by the sink and briefly appearing to pray. Then, on 23 February 2005, Mr Holden was hauled before the Royal Mail management to explain his actions. He was unsure at this point what he had done that needed explanation. None of the managers could agree what exactly his offence had been. Nevertheless, despite the vagueness of it all, he was suspended from work, accused of religiously aggravated harassment directed against the Muslim faith.
The investigating officer claimed it was because he was leaving his Odinist literature in the room, and suggested to Mr Holden that he was not a real believer and that there was no such religion as Odinism. He also confiscated Mr Holdens religious literature and destroyed it. Imagine what would have happened if he had done that to Islamic literature!
However, Mr Holdens suspension from the Royal Mail continued, and after a failed appeal, he eventually took action under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. The Royal Mail then dismissed him. He had worked for them for thirty-three years with a completely unblemished record. He lost his pension rights and his livelihood. And all because, the Royal Mail said, he walked on the carpet in the Multicultural Room, with his shoes on.
The Tribunal heard this tale with incredulity and decided that Mr Holden had been unfairly dismissed, and ordered the Royal Mail to pay a substantial compensation package likely to run into six figures.
Another outcome of this extraordinary case is that Odinism is now a legally recognised religion and, by extension, so so are all pagan religions
Sounds like the plot line from a Monty Python skit.
Odinism is all well and good, but I hear you can go blind from it.
I'm a born again pagan.
No, no -- that's ostracism.
I salute this person. Yes, his "Odinist" faith is pure bunk, but, by golly, if there's going to be a prayer room at the office, it had better be open to prayers of any kind.
Six-figure revenge. Sweet.
No that's Onanism and I'd wager that's what those fellows taking 3 or four trips into that locked room are practicing!
This sounds like a job for the Viking Kitties.
My employer in Monroe, MI set up a prayer area, complete with foot washing station, for the muslim employees. 90 percent of the afternoon shift are muslims who commute from Dearborn, MI. The company set up the prayer area after complaints of the muslims washing their feet in the rest room sinks.
Yeah, the only way it could have been better is if the guy had been a Satanist. Then the Powers That Are would get stuck between their hatred of Christianity (and thus feelings of alliance with the guy), and their desire to promote Islam over everything else (which would make them want to fire him).
"Odinism is all well and good, but I hear you can go blind from it."
Only in one eye.
I don't suppose by any chance that Odinists use pigs as sacrificial animals, do they?
Many Odinists probably retire early.
"This is our Multiculteral Room. Our Muslim employees use it for prayers"
"Why not call it the Muslim Room?"
"Then people would feel they couldn't use it"
"Why else can use it?"
"Well, no one really but that's beside the point"
"Well, what is the point?"
"The point is that you ask too many questions"
There is at least one FReeper in that camp. I can't remember his screen name, but no doubt he and perhaps a few cohorts will show up here...
Who, Boris Vallejo? ;)
Threw out his literature?
That'd make any Odinist get plenty Thor.
There is a small but vibrant Odinism movement in the UK. There is also a very small, about twenty or so, Odin-worshippers in Grass Valley, California - the Sacramento Bee did a bit of coverage on them a couple years ago. Regardless, if the man entered a "multicultural" room and not a mosque then there was no offense in wearing his shoes. The real offense is that the UK taxpayers are funding a defacto mosque in a Royal Mail facility.
Uhhhh, here's a tip:
REAL Prophets climb mountains to be closer to God.
They don't crawl into holes to hear the hissings of the Serpent.
IOW, Satanists were already involved in this case...
Actually quite a bit of Loki seemingly at work here - we ought not be so quick to dismiss
IA guys are like HR. They're there for the good of the company.
I have no problem with that. That's cool, and that's what they're hired to do.
I do have a problem with the way they present themselves as "we're here to help you," because 99.8% of the time, they're not.
Odinist-type pagan earth-worshippers (i.e. neoliberals) and Islamists must be quite opposed to each other. More so, IMO, than to believers in the god of Abraham.
I love loki. The white chocolate raspberry truffle is the BEST.
Better watch it, tall, or you'll get beaned with a hammer.
I understand Odinist women wear mail corsets that are quite form-fitting and, therefore, totally unacceptable in a Muslim prayer room.
They'd better watch out for him, too.
Straight on- if he had gone in there with a mirror to worship himself there would have been no right to abuse him.
He would have been stuipd, however, because he could do the same thing over at the DNC and get paid to do it, but that's beside the point.
This thread is becoming an Odinist shrine.
No, I meant why do you say there is no such religion as Odinism?
But substitute any other word or religion for Odinist and it sums up the same, perpetually offended Muslims expecting - and receiving - preferential treatment. Suppose Mr. Holden had left his Bible or Torah in the room? I think the result would be the same. Are all users of the multicultural prayer room supposed to remove their shoes before entering? Is this clearly indicated, as many other religions do not require removal of shoes? We do know that Mr. Holden did have the audacity to use a room designated for prayer by all, but understood as prayer for one group only.
Shalom to you, too.
"Hold still - this won't hurt a bit!"
And my grandfather said he didn't see any reason why his grandson, a nice Jewish boy, should waste college credit taking a class on European pagan religions.
Ha! I proved him wrong with that trivia!
(First time the class was of any use besides getting me a date with this really tall Swedish chick.)
Well I hope the class was worth it right there.
"Better watch it, tall, or you'll get beaned with a hammer."
That was Thor, Odin's son.
Odin would probably sick a bird on you, or just lift his eyepatch and fry you.
Oh, come on. Odin is at least as valid a god as allah. No less blood-thirsty, of course, but at least he's willing to swing the axe himself, and not ask women and children to do it for him.
"Well I hope the class was worth it right there."
It was. She was, save for Mrs. MWT, the only girl I ever dated that didn't require me to completely pretzel my back to kiss her when standing.
For reason unknown, really short chicks always dug me, and I was afraid I would smush them accidently.
Not so much. Remember, Satanists are into blood sacrifices.
Pigs are a particular favorite.
Now, put those two together... and imagine that the hypothetical Satanist wished to sacrifice a pig in a ceremony in that room on his lunch hour....
Think about where that would have lead. :)