Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

June 29, 2005

Fired for Religious Beliefs

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:55 am

There seems to be an increasing trend towards employers — generally large corporations — firing employees for their religious beliefs. Not for trying to foist their beliefs on others, but on merely holding them, or expressing them outside of work on the employee’s own time. If you’ve been paying attention for the last few years, you can guess what religious beliefs are causing so much offense to employers.

AT&T fired one employee for refusing to “value” homosexuality. Not that he was going to discriminate against anyone for practicing it. They wanted him to value the act itself:

AT&T fired Buonanno after he refused to sign a “certificate of understanding” acknowledging he agreed to “value” homosexuality among fellow workers.

The court, in last Friday’s ruling, said AT&T Broadband failed to show it could not have accommodated Buonanno’s beliefs “without undue hardship.”

As a conservative Christian, Buonanno could not honestly value or agree with homosexuality, which he views as a sin — even though he pledged to AT&T not to discriminate against or harass anyone, said his lawyer.

When he refused to sign the certificate of understanding, he was fired.

The court awared Mr. Buonanno $146,269 for lost salary and benefits. But he still hasto find another job.

More recently, Allstate fired a manager — and had security escort him from the building — after they discovered that, on his own time, he’d written a column in a Christian web site expressing the (a?) Christian view on homosexuality. The company claims that by writing this article outside of work he violated the company’s policy on “Diversity and Inclusion.” I guess this means they don’t
“include” Christians.

Also, Kodak fired an 23-year veteran employee for complaining that he found memo sent to him on National Coming-Out Day to be “offensive.” A later company-wide criticizing the employee states, “As you all know, our strategic thrust to build a Winning & Inclusive Culture drives us to behave in ways that value everyone regardless of differences.” As long as those differences don’t include certain views on what constitutes “offensive.” I guess coming out as being offended by certain beliefs on National Coming-Out Day is a fireable offense.

Ironically, the second Kodak memo stated, “we are all free to have our own personal beliefs” — but they fired him anyway. Kodak got a 100% rating as a “gay-friendly” employer, and was listed in “10 Best Places for Lesbians to Work (1999).”

In the 19th century, it was considered acceptable to fire employees for “not voting right.” In the 20th century, this became unacceptable. In the second half of the 20th century it also became unacceptable to fire employees, or discriminate in hiring, because of their race, gender, or religious or political beliefs.

It seems they are turning back the clock — it is becomeing acceptable, even mandatory, for companies to discriminate on the basis of religious or political beliefs.

Only now, discrimination is called “tolerance” and “diversity.”

(Hat tip: Clayton Cramer.)

4 Responses to “Fired for Religious Beliefs”

  1. ollie Says:

    So, you were actually ok with a court ruling? :-)
    (For what it is worth, I think that the court got this one right)

  2. romy Says:

    come on, DR, you know the only belief that isn’t valued in corporate or academic settings is the conservative or religious one. unless you are the “right” kind of conservative, which is to say a middle-of-the-road-and-leaning-left republican. or the “right” kind of religious, which means you go to church/services for funerals and maybe weddings, christmas and easter (or the main high holy days). anything more than that and you’re a fanatic.

    what, this is news to you?

    (there’s no punctuation to make a grim smiley …)

  3. Different River Says:

    Ollie: Did I ever say every court decision is wrong?

    Romy: No, it’s not quite news to me (call me “shocked but not surprised”), except for the sheer brazenness of it. I mean, even if they were firing somebody for their religion, you’d think they’d at least be ashamed enough to come up with some other excuse for it, like claiming poor job performance, or falsely accusing him of sexual harrassment. The fact that some employers are now telling people, “You are being fired for your beliefs” means that they believe firing people for their beliefs is perfectly acceptable. And that is a step backwards.

    When they want to fire someone for their beliefs and they make up some pretext (say, punctuation errors in a memo, or changing their hours every day and firing them for being one minute late), at least they are implicitly admitting that what they are doing is wrong. This doesn’t really help the person being fired, but at least it doesn’t indicate a general societal problem. If “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue,” when vice stops paying, it’s bad news.

    By the way, this sort of thing has been long in coming. It started when the courts declared, implicitly, that there was a “right not to be offended” that applied to certain people, and took priority over everyone else’ right to freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. For example, in 1993, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska was ordered to remove a photo of his wife from his desk, because his (feminist) officemate claimed it created a “hostile work environment” for her. (It was a photo from a beach vacation; the wife was wearing a bikini.)

    In 1998, despite graduating from law school and passing the bar exam, Matthew Hale was denied a license to practice law in Illinois because he’s a racist and an antisemite. Illinois, like most (all?) states, requires lawyers not only tohave a law degree (generally) and pass the bar exam, but also to pass a background check on their “character and fitness.” (This is why all lawyers are completely ethical, of course.) Generally, this used to exclude convicted murders and the like, but in this case, they decided that someone who held racist views did not have the appropriate character and fitness, so they denied him the license.

    Now I’m against against racism and antisemitism as much as anybody (I’m Jewish!), but I saw then that this would lead to what we have now. As I said then (too bad I didn’t have a blog then, or I’d link to my prediction!), if they can deny Matthew Hale a law license for being racist and antisemitic, they could eventually deny licenses to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, and Evangelical Christians on the grounds of “homophobia” because the Bible says that the homosexual act is an abomination. (Or, they could ask them to sign a statement affirming that they reject that teaching of the Bible, which would be equally repugnant.)

    Well, we are clearly headed in that direction. No one’s been denied a law license for their religious beliefs, but in Canada, a teacher had his license revoked for expressing similar views. And in the U.S., we have had several Democratic Senators imply that believing Catholics should not be judges, a woman fired for saying “Have a blessed day” at work, now these people fired for refusing to “value homosexuality” and the like.

    And if that’s not enough, the Washington Blade — a gay-oriented newspaper in our nation’s capital — has an editorial titled, “Lock up the ‘ex-gays’” — in other words, if you’re gay once, they want to make it a crime to go straight.

    They have now come full-circle, from advocating for the right to be gay, to advocating against the right to be straight.

  4. mike Says:

    forget this shit i got fired today because i said i am voting for ron paul and that freaked my boss out, 20 minutes later……..sorry but we have to let you go. stupid shit

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