It’s finally happening. First, the lesbian mayor of Houston tried to subpoena sermons dealing with homosexuality, and now a man has been fired for what he said within the walls of his own church.
Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh Day Adventist and lay preacher, was hired by Georgia’s Department of Public Health (DPH) in May 2014. He accepted the job, but was terminated just days later, before he even started work.
Shortly after Walsh accepted the position, DPH’s Chief of Staff James Howgate asked the devout Seventh Day Adventist to send him the links to his sermons. Walsh complied, likely under the unfortunately misguided belief that his sermons were off limits with regard to his job. Shortly thereafter, he was fired, and now First Liberty Institute is filing a religious discrimination lawsuit on his behalf.
First Liberty has obtained several damning emails from DPH Director of Human Resources Lee Rudd, and others. Rudd initially sent out an email on May 7 announcing the hiring of Walsh, saying he would start work in June 2014.
Then the emails take a more sinister tone as Rudd tells several employees to go through hours of Walsh’s sermons on YouTube, and “make notes.”
There are also several emails pertaining to the backlash the DPH was getting for hiring Walsh. This is just one of them:
The sermons were reviewed, and the very next day, Walsh was terminated.
The DPH is claiming innocence, saying the real reason Walsh was let go was because he didn’t “disclose outside income.”
David French of National Review writes:
“The health department has since claimed that the sermons that officials were ‘assigned’ to watch had nothing at all to do with Walsh’s termination. Instead, they claim they fired him because they believed Walsh failed to disclose outside income while working in California–an assertion that Walsh contests and asserts never came up at any stage of the Georgia interview process.”
First Liberty is not only calling BS on the “disclosure” claim, but also arguing that to review Walsh’s sermons in the first place is a direct violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which reads:
“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer…to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
Why would an employer ask for someone’s sermons? Why would the director of human resources have his employees scour those sermons and take extensive notes? These are questions that cannot be sufficiently answered by the DPH.
In fact, the DPH’s own council warned them, saying that Dr. Walsh’s faith could in no way impact his employment. Yet here we are.
This is possibly the most obvious case of religious discrimination I’ve ever seen. It’s amateur hour, and it’s sickening. If there’s any justice remaining in the American justice system, Walsh will win this case, and the Georgia DPH employees who participated in his firing will be punished with extreme prejudice.
If the DPH gets away with it, we’ve entered a new phase in the American system in which the words spoken inside our churches, synagogues, and temples are no longer sacrosanct, but scrutinized.
It’s a slippery slope. First, the faithful will be terminated for their personal beliefs, then the beliefs themselves will become the target. When that happens, God help us.