Religion sets boundaries. It sets boundaries for how we live in a secular world, and it sets boundaries for how we live out our moral and ethical lives within the religion. Religion is the broad-brush term used for what is often truly a personal relationship with God or a higher being. Most of us cannot speak for all religions. It might be a bold statement to say we can speak for any religion. However, we can speak for our own personal relationships with God, or the higher being we have chosen to follow. INDEPENDENCE Regarding religion in general, if a person is very personally involved in a particular religion it can certainly bring for them a form of independence. It usually involves a form of faith. Faith gives a person a freedom to take risks, to live in a particular way, even when it seems contrary to how others live. Depending on the religion, it can be a very private thing, or it can be something that involves actively living it out in the secular world. Either way, being active in a religion can give a person a sense of freedom and courage and boldness as he converses with others, walks out his daily life, and as he makes tough decisions. By faith we can seek to concur the world around us. By having a supreme being who we believe is there for us, we can take some risks that we might not ever take if we thought we had to figure it out all by ourselves. There is this sense that the Supreme being is watching over and protecting us. Of course this would not be classified as independence necessarily because it would be a form of dependence on the Supreme. However, regarding the secular world, it produces a freedom, or independence in one's lifestyle. In the Christian religion, for example, the believer has certain ethical and moral beliefs that he feels he must live by, and his faith in that religion will give him strength, and reason to live out that lifestyle. He can feel free to not cheat the customer if the company uses deception to make sales, or such. He can do this because he has been taught in that religion a set of rights and wrongs to follow. There is something about having the religious teachings, and believing them to be true, that offers freedom and courage to live it out at any cost. HINDRANCE Often religion hinders us from doing what we really want to do. It seems to have boundaries for behavior. Sometimes we would rather those boundaries not be there. Religion also has rules that are often contrary to what the secular world expects, or allows. There are times when how one dresses, where and how one prays, even the religious paraphernalia one might have in his office or work space, can cause stress in the workplace. There is this idea that you are supposed to leave your religion at the door before you walk in. How one lives out his religion can hinder him in getting promotions, making certain decisions, following some of the social employee expectations, and even make a difference if he gets a job or not. Religion can cause conflict and hinder one's progress in his career. Many companies don't like religious talk in the workplace. Government rules in government workplaces are often very strict regarding religion. This is especially true if there is a person working there who is easily offended by religion. Often one person in the office can say he is offended, and that will cause some kind of restriction to be written that will prohibit some religious practice from being allowed there. Having a Bible nearby, or heaven forbid reading it, where it can be seen is often the spark of a conflict. Saying "God bless you" to the wrong person can begin a battle that may not have a good ending. However, rarely does saying "God Damn" ever have such an impact. Religion and beliefs, and the living out of those two can be the source of many negatives in the workplace. It can hinder promotions, transfers, and even prevent one from getting a job in the first place. It can cause stress in the office and hinder production. Maybe the question that may need to be asked here is, who is causing this kind of conflict? Is it the person of the faith? Is it the secular world? Is it the government? Is it people who are offended? Who is it that really initiates the conflict, who is wrong? What should one do with the independence he has discovered in his religion or faith? Sometimes that person does use it as a weapon or declaration of war. Sometimes he is just living his faith, and people around him see it as offensive, so they declare war. Religion and personal faith can certainly result in both independence and in hindrances. Isn't that true when it comes to general lifestyles? One doesn't have to be a religious person to see profanity as a bad thing. It doesn't have to be a religious person who finds it offensive when the boss tries to get you to lie or cheat on a project, and there is conflict. Religion can lead to conflict, but so can politics. Both can be very connected to a broad-brush organization, or a very personal belief system. Both can be the source of bitterness. Too often we blame religion when it might be better to take a look at the big picture and find solutions.