Keeping Your Content Neutral

Warning: If you’re a person who believes religion should not only be a part of your life but everyone else’s as well, please change the channel and find something else to read.

What would you do if you were in a situation where the views expressed in a document will be associated with your name or that of your business – but those views go against your own?

I very rarely rant. I have a slow-burning fuse and I’m usually the one talking James down from the ledge of the bell tower when he has a sniper rifle in his hands. He doesn’t get upset easily either, but he has his trigger points, like we all do.

Growing up in the United States, I’ve become numb to the religious groups who come banging on my front door. I roll my eyes when I see political figures trying to force feed religion into state. I mind my own business and avoid those who can’t do the same.

James and I faced a situation this week where we had to take a look at how we felt about our association with a project. The project had been going along smoothly, until the client requested a religiously sensitive addition. James recommended an edit to make the addition more neutral and wide-reaching.

The client refused the suggestion and included heavy-handed opinions and patronizing comments in his reply. James blew.

Luckily, he knows how to avoid a knee-jerk reaction. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t react, though. He ranted and typed out at least 20 different replies, deleting each one after pouring out his anger. He wanted to drop the project rather than have our names associated with the content, but I asked James to hold off on a decision while I took a closer look at the situation.

I have some advice: When it comes to your business, unless your target market involves politics or religion, keep sensitive matter under wraps. Remember who you’re writing for.

Some people believe that church-going right-wingers are the majority of people shaping large and small business today. They write their content accordingly, including quotes from the bible or other references to their religious following.

Don’t do it. Don’t risk offending or excluding readers who have different sets of religious, political, and moral values than your own.

I find it a huge turn-off when the author of an informational piece of literature I’m reading and enjoying suddenly spouts scripture, chapter and verse. I have big issues with people who take on the holier-than-thou attitude. Even if the author has the best intentions at heart, the matter still rubs me – and many others – the wrong way.

Americans are pushy when it comes to their views. I try to be aware of that trait in myself and be the exception to the rule. I’ve seen how Americans appear through the eyes of other cultures. I understand James’ frustration when he rants over someone else’s carelessness and lack of tolerance or respect.

While there might be a current trend in the United States to promote religion in the workplace and in business, waving religious affiliations like a banner, JCME isn’t participating in this trend. One of the things we’re proud of is writing unbiased content that reaches all people. Religion and business don’t mix.

I have no problem with any belief or religious group. To each his own, and to each the freedom of choice. I do have a problem with people who try to shove my nose in their religion, though.

Want to know my religious associations? Want to know who I’m going to vote for in the next election? Send me an email and ask me. You won’t find out by reading any of the web content or ebooks we produce.

An article on Buzzle.com says, “There are also the zealots who are responsible for a dramatic rise in legal-based action. Since 1992, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports a 29% spike in the number of religious-based discrimination charges, making those the third-fastest-growing claim, after sexual harassment and disability.” Luckily, I’ve never personally experienced extreme religious discrimination, but I know many friends who have gone through that situation.

Do yourself and your business a favor: Separate religion and business. Remember your target audience and keep your content neutral.

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