This is one of the questions we are asked most frequently, and it’s a loaded question … but the answer is pretty simple: No.
There are a few things that play into our view of this, and we’ll do our best to unpack those in this post.
The Legal View
First, that would be illegal. Our homebuilding company is a for-profit corporation, not a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religious beliefs (along with several other things). There is a “ministerial exception,” but that typically applies to churches and religious organizations.
Scripture is clear on our role as believers when it comes to the laws of the land:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” – Romans 13:1-7 (NIV)
The “Holy Huddle” View
Second, we wouldn’t want to only hire Christians … even if it was legal. That would fly in the face of what we’re trying to do here. All throughout the gospels, you can read how crowds of people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs were attracted to Jesus. He lived in an intentional and loving way that caused non-religious people from all walks of life to be drawn to Him. He didn’t just huddle up with people who looked and thought like He did. In fact, the only people that felt uncomfortable around him was the self-righteous religious crowd.
The Bible says nothing about Jesus investigating the theology of the disciples before He asked them to join Him. Think about it: if Jesus had required His disciples to have the same view of God that He did, no person on earth would have qualified. I was reading a book by Bill Johnson recently that had the ring of truth: “Only the contrite in heart could keep up with His constant coloring outside the lines and stay unoffended.”
Let’s take a quick look at the little group of 12 people Jesus handpicked to be his closest companions and disciples, and see if they had different backgrounds and beliefs:
- Simon the Zealot: The Zealots were a group of religious radicals in first century Israel who were bent on rebelling against the Roman occupying force, and expelling them from the Holy Land by force of arms. Zealots felt it was their holy duty to kill all Romans, and they incited anarchy in every available opportunity. From the Roman government’s perspective, they were terrorists. This was the disciple that always had a crazy look in his eye.
- Matthew the Tax Collector: Matthew worked for the Roman government. He was likely viewed as a traitor by even the most upstanding Jews, but what do you think the Zealot thought of someone who served Roman occupying force and literally took money from the locals and gave it to the Romans? Do you think the Zealot and the tax collector had similar theology and world views?
- Judas the Betrayer: Judas obviously didn’t believe what Jesus believed. He obviously wasn’t a Christian. Yet Jesus still invited him in his intimate little group. “For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.” (John 6:64) Jesus KNEW FROM THE BEGINNING Judas didn’t believe and would betray Him, and He still kept him in the circle of his closest companions, and loved him right up until the end!
If our charge as believers is to be like Jesus, we have a pretty clear picture that he didn’t require people to hold the same beliefs as Him to walk life beside Him or to be loved by Him.
We’re simply looking for great people to join us, regardless of their faith. If they pass our rigorous selection process, and they’re willing to serve others and commit to our cultural cornerstones of excellence, growth, generosity, and unity … they’re welcomed with open arms. We never want to just huddle with people that look and think like we do! That is the opposite of what Jesus did.
We’re constantly trying to strike the right balance of taking a bold stance regarding our faith in the marketplace, while also being sensitive to ensure we don’t alienate those amongst us who may not believe what we do. We honestly spend a lot of time talking about the latter. So we’re constantly asking if something really did feel optional. Would people have felt awkward if they didn’t participate? We don’t want anyone to feel like we’re forcing anything on them. We’d like them to opt into it because they were compelled … not coerced.
Jesus never alienated the people that came to check out what He was doing. While He never watered down the message, He was always intentional about what He said, when He said it, and how He said it. When He was talking to his closest disciples, He might say something differently than when he was among the Pharisees or Gentiles. He had a masterful way of framing his words in a way that people could hear them. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus didn’t avoid conflict, but at the same time He cared so deeply for the people he was interacting with that He was very strategic and intentional in His approach. We hope to be that same way.
The President’s Personal View
As the president of Betenbough Homes, I’d like to explain my personal view of this. First of all, understand that I LOVE this company! I absolutely love what I get to do every day! I’d do it for free! I honestly look forward to coming to work on Monday morning as much as I do going home on Friday afternoon. I try to hold it loosely, and keep it on the alter, because I don’t want it to become an idol. If God called me away from here, I would go … but I hope to serve here for the rest of my life.
I say all that so you can feel the weight of this next statement: If we only hired Christians, I would quit. As president, I’d obviously try to convince everyone to never go in that direction, but if there was a line drawn in the sand and the decision was made … I’d have to gracefully bow out, because I couldn’t personally commit to something like that. That’s how strongly I feel about it. That may be the only thing I feel that strongly about. To me, it is a hill worth dying on.
I sincerely believe that Jesus didn’t stiff-arm non-believers. Scripture clearly shows He didn’t even keep them out of His most intimate group of 12 friends. Think about how ineffective we’d be if we only interacted with other Christians! Business is a unique platform where we get to have relationships with people with all different types of beliefs. It’s a reason to interact with them daily, live life with them, and show that you genuinely care for them. It’s a unique opportunity to have conversations with people who might not ever step through the doors of a church. Why would we try to keep those people out?!
So How Do Non-Believers Fit In?
We frequently get asked a few other questions related to this topic, and we’ll try to speak to these in future posts, including things like:
- How do they respond to all the Christian elements around the office?
- Do you find a way to include them?
- How do you build a culture that engages people, regardless of where they are spiritually?
To start, here is a post I wrote a couple years ago that talks about creating a mission into which everyone can join in on. It also speaks more about the unique ministry opportunity a business can have: