Ran across this story Thursday. A portion is reprinted here. The whole story plus other links are at the link.This story has a lot of twists and looks to me like one that may well wend its way to the Supreme Court. With the makeup of the current Court, that is a real concern.
An Iowa newspaper editor who was fired after posting an anti-LGBT blog post is irate over the firing and claims that his religious freedom was violated.
Media critic Jim Romenesko reported on his blog Wednesday that Bob Eschliman, former editor of Newton Daily News, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that he was fired for being a Christian.
Eschliman — who refers to himself on his Facebook page as an “Evil Conservative” — is being represented by an attorney from the Liberty Institute, a Christian law practice dedicated to injecting faith into public policy and to fighting efforts by the courts to separate matters of church and state.
The former editor was fired in May after publishing an anti-LGBT rant on his personal blog, in which he railed against “the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo,” claiming that LGBT people of faith are attempting to rewrite the Bible to “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God.’”
Eschliman expressed an opinion publicly although not while he was working. Can he not express his personal opinions, especially religious ones, publicly without fearing loss of job and benefits? On the other hand, people in management positions can be fired without cause. Does the owner of the business not have the right(?) to pick employees at the highest levels.
Just a few weeks ago the SCOTUS told us that corporations had a right to impose their religious beliefs as part of the employment contract. Does it not also have a right to remove employees whose religious beliefs come in conflict with business practices? The guarantee of religious freedom is that the government will not interfere with a person’s freedom or create a state religion. It says nothing about private businesses. During my working days our company decided we would be a 7 day a week, 24 hour a day operation. When one man objected saying Sunday was a sacred day for him, the boss told him “Well., I guess you have a decision to make then.”
One issue that must loom large in the background is the effect of Mr. Eschliman’s now known religious conservatism may have on the business. Were I a subscriber, I would most likely drop the paper because I would think that the editor would be putting his slant into news stories. Beyond that there may be an effect on advertiser orders. Advertisers simply quit advertising in that paper fearing that they may be considered guilty by association for supporting this paper with its business.
Once upon a time in America (settle back, it’s story time) printing presses were in great supply. If a person had an opinion, they could buy a printing press and publish and distribute it. Nowadays our comparable technology would be the internet. As of today the internet remains open and neutral. If Mr. Eschliman has an opinion that he feels he must share with others, he can pay a small fee and grab a chunk of internet real estate to sound off.
If net neutrality is squashed by the FCC (and that is what I expect) then outlets for dissenting voices may well be choked by “the market.”
While I may disagree with Mr. Eschliman’s views – and I certainly do – to me it is much more important that he and any others who feel they need to express themselves in public have an outlet on the internet.
No, the First Amendment does not protect you in a private workplace.
However, Eschliman isn’t suing for a First Amendment violation; he’s filing a religious discrimination claim with the EEOC, which enforces the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a provision of which protects workers against employer retaliation for religious beliefs and expression.