Some Enchanted Bureaucracy

Apropos of my forthcoming piece in SOCIETY of this name, our own Matt Frost dishes that

there’s a whole set of internal regulations covering which team-building exercises federal employees may opt out of on the basis of religious conflict. So not everybody who works for the government has to dabble in bureaucratic paganism. You can sit and look sullen, like the atheists’ kids at Bible study, while your co-workers meditate.

Or you can read all about it in US Office of Personnel Management EEOC Notice N-915.022:

Although the courts and the Commission have not addressed the particular conflicts raised by the “new age” training programs, this issue can be resolved under the traditional Title VII theory of religious accommodation. While there may be some disagreement over whether the training programs themselves are religious, an employee need only demonstrate that participation in the programs in some manner conflicts with his/her personal religious beliefs.

Hilarity ensues. But it’s not always fun, games, and the pantheist version of Homer’s Land of Chocolate dream. Sometimes togetherness calls for a firmer touch:

PROVO, Utah — No one really disputes that Chad Hudgens was waterboarded outside a Provo office park last May 29, right before lunch, by his boss.

There is also general agreement that Hudgens volunteered for the “team-building exercise,” that he lay on his back with his head downhill, and that co-workers knelt on either side of him, pinning the young sales rep down while their supervisor poured water from a gallon jug over his nose and mouth.

And it’s widely acknowledged that the supervisor, Joshua Christopherson, then told the assembled sales team, whose numbers had been lagging: “You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales.”