Evangelical extremist fires employee for not attending bible study classes

Some Americans may be aware that since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, the religious right has ramped up its crusade to force the evangelical religion into all segments of society beginning with public schools and state governments. It is probably not as widely known that there are also evangelicals who are forcing their brand of Christianity down the throats of Americans at their places of employment. It is likely less well known because employees are reticent to complain about employers forcing religious compliance because doing so will result in losing their jobs.

One Oregon man is the rare exception and is doing more than complaining; he is suing his former evangelical employer for terminating his employment in construction because he refused to attend mandatory bible studies. It is the ultimate example of what is likely on the near horizon now that Trump has given the religious right unwarranted and unconstitutional authority over the people.

The 34-year-old construction worker in Albany Oregon, Ryan Coleman, filed an $800,000 lawsuit against Dahled Up Construction Company because the owner, Joel Dahl, terminated his employment after Coleman refused to attend any more bible study classes. Shortly after beginning his construction job last October he realized his boss required all employees to attend Christian bible classes during work time as a condition of continued employment.

Mr. Coleman, who is not a practicing Christian, informed his new boss that he was uncomfortable attending Jesus lessons and that it was illegal for him to require employees to study the Christian bible. The boss was not going to bend and insisted that to keep his job Coleman would have to come to Jesus class. Since he needed a job, Mr. Coleman said that he believed he had no other choice and suffered forced bible study classes just to keep his job.

That began in October of last year. Fast forward to April 2018 when Mr. Coleman had enough Christianity forced on him and told his boss by phone that he had a constitutional right to refuse being forced into religious studies. That was too much for the evangelical to take and he summarily terminated Mr. Coleman’s employment for not coming to Jesus. The termination prompted Coleman to file the lawsuit alleging that Dahl discriminated against him due to his non-Christian religious beliefs.

Coleman said that because he is half Native American, his religious beliefs are indigenous. In fact, despite not legally having to submit to religious indoctrination, Coleman tried to “keep an open mind about being forced to study the Christian Bible to keep his job;” by April, “he could no longer continue the practice.” Coleman lasted at the evangelical’s company a little over six months until he was terminated for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of religion. He took the time to explain to “The Oregonian/OregonLive” how he was terminated over the phone after he told Dahl:

I’ve kept an open mind, and it’s [forced bible study] just not my thing.”

The company owner replied, “Well, I’m going to have to replace you. You’re not going to tell me how to run my own company.’”

Mr. Coleman said, “I’m not trying to tell you how to run your own company, but you’re not going to tell me what god to pray to.”

Corinne Schram is Mr. Coleman’s attorney and she stated the obvious:

This is so illegal. Unless you are a religious organization like a church, you cannot force your employees to participate in religious activities.”

It is unclear if churches or any religious organization can legally require an employee to suffer religious indoctrination or be forced to participate in religious activities. However, what is clear is that a private employer forcing an employee to participate in any religious activity is illegal. It is also immoral, unconstitutional, and patently un-American. But not many people are accusing religious extremists of being moral or law-abiding – it is a direct result of an immoral criminal in the White House giving evangelical extremists authority over the rest of the population.

According to the evangelical malcontent forcing his employees to sit through Jesus training, it is legal to force religion down his employee’s throats because he pays them. The cretin, as true an evangelical extremist as one could imagine, dispatched his lawyer, Kent Hickam, to inform The Oregonian/OregonLive that there is no dispute that the religious extremist requires all employees to attend Bible study classes, and that it is legal because the company owner pays them to attend.

The attorney also played the persecuted Christian card saying his client is being taken advantage of with the lawsuit Mr. Coleman rightfully claimed is about discrimination against him due to his non-Christian religious beliefs. The evangelical’s lawyer said:

“Mr. Dahl feels that it’s unfortunate that he (Coleman) is now trying to exploit Mr. Dahl’s honorable intentions for unjustified financial gain.”

Mr. Coleman was satisfied with the financial gain he earned working for the construction company, but he lost that “gain” when Dahl dishonorably terminated his employment because he did not want to be indoctrinated with Jesus lessons.

This idea of evangelicals forcing their employees to comply with their religious beliefs is not necessarily new, but it is becoming more blatant since evangelicals aided Trump’s ascendancy to a place he has no right visiting, much less occupying. Remember, the Hobby Lobby case centered around the company owners’ belief that they have a constitutional right to force their employees to adhere to the owners’ religious belief that using contraception is a sin. It is a similar situation in the Catholic hospital industry where employees have to comply with Vatican prohibitions on any form of birth control considered unnatural or lose their jobs.

Although this unconstitutional practice of forcing religion on employees or public school students is not common knowledge, it is a common occurrence; and it is going to increase now that Trump is prodding evangelicals to violate the law. That is precisely what the criminal did last week when he directed about 100 members of the clergy to campaign for him and Republicans from the pulpit in direct violation of the Johnson Amendment. Of course the faithful, whether they are members of the clergy or evangelical extremist employers, do not need permission from Trump to force religion down Americans’ throats, but the assurance that Trump’s Department of Justice will support the faithful over the Constitution does embolden and empower the extremists.

It is almost impossible to believe that Mr. Coleman will not win his discrimination lawsuit and one hopes it is financially painful for the evangelical malcontent. Whether a painful financial settlement will encourage the evangelical to stop forcing his employees to suffer mandatory bible classes is unclear. What is abundantly clear is that the company’s owner did force religious indoctrination on his employees in direct violation of the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws. Because like evangelical extremists and their facilitator Trump, Coleman’s employer believes the Constitution, like the rule of law, does not apply to the faithful. It is a dangerous mindset that is going to get much worse as America continues its lurch towards an evangelical theocracy.

Image: Patheos

Alabama woman’s experience portends the American Taliban’s rise to power

It is unclear why Americans love war, or why some Americans particularly love wars against other Americans. Despite the horrors of the American Civil War, many of Trump’s acolytes yearn to wage war against other Americans opposed to Trump and his tyrannical style of ruling, but there is a particular bent among his religious right devotees to wage war against women. That is, after all, one of the primary reasons so-called Christians lovingly embraced a confessed sinner like Trump – he pledged to win the war against women by eliminating their constitutional right to self-determination regarding their reproductive health and so much more.

It is a sad state of affairs, but since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration the evangelical extremist cult’s rise to power has resulted in a wave of attacks against women and their constitutional rights.

Those assaults are borne of what the religious right regards as its constitutional religious freedom to put women in their biblical place – under control of religious men. It is also noteworthy that since Trump handed control over to evangelical extremists, his acolytes in the “family values” movement have felt emboldened to take matters into their own hands and forego Trump and Pence bestowing official government authority to control women.

Not too long ago an emboldened “family values” sycophant created a humiliating scene for two women who were legally breastfeeding their infants in public; because doing so offended what is becoming the “unofficial” modesty police.

Apparently, because Trump and Pence are dragging their feet in designating a Taliban-like religious agency to police women’s activities, the “family values” cult is preparing the population for the official modesty police. The breastfeeding “incident” in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago humiliated a breastfeeding mother because a “modest” family values woman was uncomfortable, but at least she was not forced to leave by management. It was not so “easy” for a woman in bible-thumping Alabama who dared wear shorts in oppressive 100 degree heat in the dead of summer.

The incident occurred in a Mobile shopping mall where security guards at The Shoppes at Bel Air are harassing women for wearing shorts. The shopper, Gabrielle Gibson, described on Facebook how she was “harassed” and “abused” by mall security serving as “modesty police” for the “family friendly” management. Ms. Gibson was “kicked out” of the mall because she was wearing shorts “prompting other women to come forward to share their personal stories of abuse and harassment by mall security guards doubling as family values police.”

Ms. Gibson explained that she was shopping when a security guard approached her after “looking at her a** cheeks” and told her she was being evicted for wearing shorts. Ms. Gibson’s “a** cheeks” were not exposed, but that is not the point. According to Ms. Gibson:

“I was literally harassed and kicked out of the Bell Air mall in Mobile, AL today because of what I’m wearing. Apparently grown men couldn’t contain themselves so I get kicked out. Security officer J. Mathis initiated that he was looking at my a** cheeks and it was a problem. Don’t look at my a** then; there’s a thought? As well. security officer Davis and head of security Jim Chavis were extremely rude and completely unprofessional about the situation.

They went as far as to threaten to call a police officer. From what I saw today everyone had short shorties on. I mean come on, its August and 100° outside. I don’t know why I was pinpointed. I’m just disgusted with the behavior of all these people.”

Of course, being residents of the evangelical cult’s second most religious state in America and one Hell-bent on exercising some evangelical religious freedom, the mall’s management denied ever doing anything wrong; they were simply freely exercising their religious freedom to enforce their Puritanical dress code. The Shoppes at Bel Air released a statement in support of a blatant attack on a woman exercising her constitutional right of self-determination regarding clothing. The mall management’s statement:

Given the high degree of importance we place on maintaining a family-friendly shopping environment, our policy requires all of our customers to dress in a manner that reflects our [religious] code of conduct. Anyone who violates this [religious] policy will be asked to change or to leave the premises.”

A perusal of the corporate ownership of the “mall” failed to turn up any known evangelical extremist involvement, so it is apparent, at least to this author, that enforcing a “family-friendly” dress code was under purview of the local bible-thumpers, not the corporate office in New York. Alabama is, after all, the second “most religious” state in the nation and also contains a vile religious freedom amendment that gives veritable impunity to “freely exercise” religion without interference of any state or federal law – such as anti-discrimination laws. It is likely why the mall’s modesty police threatened to summon the real police to officially enforce the family friendly “code of conduct.”

As it should have, the incident drew outrage from women whose only recourse is protesting what was a very public “slut shaming” to enforce some nasty Puritanical malcontent’s “code of conduct.”  A group of “concerned women” organized a protest as a response to Ms. Gibson’s horrible experience at being “slut-shamed”  by modesty police. The concerned ladies are calling their protest the “Bel Air Mall “Daisy Duke” SlutWalk.”

“Ok ladies – it’s time to bring out the booty shorts and crop tops (if you’re feeling it.) One gorgeous young woman was SHAMED and ASKED TO LEAVE because her shorts were “too short.” I have personally worn shorts shorter than what she wore and walked past security and police and no one said one word. It’s summertime. In South Alabama. It’s hot. WEAR WHAT YOU WANT. Don’t allow anyone to shame you for what you choose to wear. We’re banding together to support our sister in solidarity – women’s bodies are not shameful. We shouldn’t be forced to cover up because men can’t control themselves. Bring your ass (literally) and descend on Bel Air with us. Share with your friends! #SistersInSolidarity #StopShaming#WhatIWearDoesntEqualConsent

Now, although this ardent feminist author fully supports the “concerned” women rushing to defend Ms. Gibson and other women’s right to wear what they want, the choice of a name for the protest, “slut walk,” is curious. It plays directly into the narrative the religious right promotes ad nauseam; that women wearing shorts, short skirts, crop tops etc. are sluts.

For dog’s sake, feminists have been screaming about being “slut shamed” for years over how they dress, and sleazy defense attorneys have convinced juries for decades that raped women deserved what they got for “dressing like sluts.” Of course that is not the case, but the last thing women living in a misogynistic society need is other women donning “daisy Dukes” to participate in a slut walk. Women have a difficult enough time living in a burgeoning theocracy – giving the theocrats more ammunition is foolish and dangerous.

It is important to reiterate that this flagrant discrimination against women, and “slut-shaming,” although not unique, is on the rise due to Trump emboldening the faithful to use “religious liberty” to attack women.

It is worth mentioning that the modesty police are not confined to uber-religious states like Alabama. Some Americans may recall that about a year ago Speaker of the House Paul Ryan laid down some modesty rules against women who exposed their shoulders – sleeveless tops apparently violate the House’s Puritanical dress code. In July of last year a female reporter was attempting to do her job and enter the speaker’s lobby when she was told her dress wasn’t appropriate for entry. The offensive dress was of the sleeveless variety and just like in Puritanical America, a woman exposing her shoulders is “inappropriate.” It is also verboten for women to wear “sleeveless tops, sleeveless dresses, open-toed shoes or sneakers.

It is nearly impossible to believe that 21st Century American women are being subjected to Taliban-like abuse at the hands of religious extremists. And make no mistake, these assaults on women’s rights are solely the purview of religious extremists. Whether it is being evicted from a public place for their choice of attire, or being humiliated for choosing to breastfeed in a public place, or being restricted from using birth control because the religious right opposes women having “consequence free” sex, or daring to choose when to give birth; there is a war against women borne of religious zealotry. The religious right loves to demean Muslim adherents for following Sharia law, but they are on a crusade to impose their evangelical version of Sharia on American women under the banner of religious freedom. It would be considered a horrific situation in normal times, but now that the “American Taliban” have two champions running the Executive Department, America’s women are in deep trouble.

It is still a mystery why American men are sitting idly by watching passively as their mothers, girlfriends, wives, daughters, and sisters are subjected to maltreatment by what can only be defined as the American Taliban.  Today the evangelical modesty police are just evicting women from public places for not wearing family friendly attire, perhaps American men will wake up when women in their lives are stoned to death for wearing shorts, or baring their shoulders – it is what occurred under Taliban rule.

Image: Patheos