SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett has fallen under scrutiny for being proudly Catholic, to the point where some are concerned that she would serve her beliefs more than the American people as a Supreme Court justice. But this is a misinformed assumption; many professionals of faith can and do successfully work in the public sector without their beliefs infringing upon those with whom they work or the people their position serves. Personally, since becoming a Christian several years ago, I have learned the difference between having a faith platform and a faith practice as an owner of multiple businesses and restaurants.
This is not an endorsement of Barrett, but instead, a defense of the truth that individuals of faith can and should be trusted to both faithfully serve God and their constituents with just as much integrity as someone with no religious convictions.
It’s critical to note that one can have a faith-informed approach without their faith limiting their workplace decisions. After giving my life to God, I started to make some changes right away concerning my presence at work to better align with my faith. But those shifts did not directly impact my colleagues or employees, although they absolutely benefited from the positive personal changes I made. As a direct result of my faith, I made a point to stop swearing at work and having angry outbursts. While I certainly don’t have a perfect track record in those areas, those around me were grateful to see me take a more gentle and joyful approach in the workplace, and they witnessed the dichotomy of my faith influencing my work while they still felt fully free to express their personal beliefs.
During orientation for new employees at my businesses, the first thing we teach them is that the driving force behind what we do is to serve God by serving others. But the second thing we tell them is that they do not have to believe in God to work for us. Much of our staff are atheists or even antagonistic towards Christians. Nevertheless, all reap the same benefits and are rewarded based on their work performance regardless of their beliefs.
Another true to life example of the principle of being a successful, non-partisan professional are Chip and Joanna Gaines. As serial entrepreneurs with an enormous following, this couple is not shy about sharing their faith and family values with the world. They often credit their shared beliefs and trust in God as the source of success for their relationship that America knows and loves. While their worldview undoubtedly informs their approach to work, they can work with, employ and serve people from all walks of life while still being true to their authentic selves.
Additionally, Chick?Fil?A CEO Dan Cathy, MLB player Albert Pujols and President George W. Bush are all successful individuals of faith who are able to entertain, inspire and serve people with their skills and platform while still practicing their faith. In fact, were it not for their firm beliefs, who knows whether these men would have the legacy they do today. I know that for me, since becoming a Christian, the impact I have on my restaurant workers and customers is much different and far better from the influence I had before coming to Christ, which is how my business changed from a toxic work environment to being recognized as one of the top places to work in Tennessee just a few years after I started following the Lord.
As these men and women and the many others who have gone before them have exemplified, faith expression does not have to equal faith exertion. If Justice Barrett is anything like me or the countless individuals of faith I know in the secular workplace, her openness about her beliefs is merely a testament to her genuineness as a person, rather than an indicator of the choices she makes in the courtroom. As Americans, we must champion the ability for individuals of any faith to be open about their beliefs and still qualified to serve in the public sector.
Peter Demos is the author of “Afraid to Trust,” restaurateur, president and CEO of Demos’ Brands and Demos Family Kitchen and leadership source expert.