Religion, Spirituality, and the Workplace: Challenges for Public Administration


Stephen M. King is an associate professor of government and chair of the Department of Government at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. Previously, he taught at Campbell University, Regent University, Oral Roberts University, and Washington State University. His primary areas of academic interests include public administration, religion and politics, and public policy.


The relationship between religion and politics in the United States is a much-studied academic area, particularly evident in political institutional and behavioral venues such as interest groups, electoral behavior, and political culture. One academic area that has not received much attention is the influence of religion on public administration. Recently, however, public administration scholars have begun to mimic their counterparts in the business world by examining the role of religion and spirituality in the public workplace, especially with regard to organizational performance, ethical behavior patterns, decision making, and the personal spiritual health of employees. This article examines the role and impact of religion and spirituality in the workplace, reviews court cases and political measures regarding religious expression in the public sector, explores a private sector model to explain the interrelationship between religion and spirituality in the public workplace, and challenges public administrators to consider the positive role that religion and spirituality can play in the public workplace.