“Unfortunately, it’s happening more frequently as time goes on,” said Jason Craddock, an attorney representing a federal worker who is facing loss of his job for refusal to watch a workplace “training” video that promotes the lifestyle of the LGBT “community.”
David Hall, a 14-year veteran of the Social Security Administration (SSA), has already been suspended, without pay, and expects that he will be eventually terminated.
Doug Nguyen, the regional communications director for the Chicago SSA, explained that the “diversity-training program” is in “support of an inclusive work environment.” Nguyen argued that the “mandatory video training reminds our employees of their responsibility, as representatives of the agency, to provide the highest levels of service to our customers. The training includes a brief session on tips for increasing cultural awareness in a diverse and inclusive environment.”
Hall disagreed with Nguyen’s characterization of the video. “I would argue that it’s not a training video. It’s promoting an agenda and a lifestyle that I simply don’t agree with.” Hall said his understanding is that the video is just homosexual propaganda, and that he has a constitutional right not to participate in “abomination training.”
According to Hall, “We have never done that for another particular class of people. We haven’t done it for veterans, the disabled, blacks, Hispanics, or anything else.”
Hall recalled that SSA employees received an e-mail from the agency in late April, ordering them to watch a 17-minute LGBT diversity and inclusion training video at their work stations. After watching it, they were required to certify that they had viewed the video. “They wanted me to certify that I had completed the training. I’m not going to certify sin.” Hall added that he is a Christian — “not anti-anyone or anything,” but “for God, for Jesus,” and that he believes the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.
And since Hall works for the federal government, promotion of the LGBT lifestyle would appear to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the federal government is, in effect, promoting the religious viewpoint that sexual relations outside of a heterosexual marriage are acceptable. Certainly, if the federal government required any of its employees to watch a film arguing that sexual relations should only take place in a marriage relationship, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) would most likely file a lawsuit against such a video’s use in the federal workplace, even if the film never mentioned the Bible, Christianity, or religion at all.
After his supervisor gave him a direct order to watch the video on June 2 and again on June 14, an official reprimand was placed in his file. Hall said that he has never been reprimanded before, but eventually Hall was suspended, without pay, for two days in mid-August.
Hall asked for a religious accommodation so he could skip viewing the video, but his supervisors denied his request. After returning to work from his suspension, Hall was told he would either watch the video or face a longer suspension, without pay. Hall expects he will eventually be fired.
“I think this is an issue they are prepared to go to the mat with, but I’m not going to give up my faith or compromise my beliefs just to go along. I don’t believe God wants me to do that,” Hall said.
Hall insists that he is not against the LGBT community, but that he believes “tolerance is a two-way street.” He said that the Constitution protects his religious freedom, just as it protects the rights of others. “For me, I know I’m not a martyr or a bigot. I’m not asking for anyone’s approval or forgiveness; I’m simply trying to live out my life, my faith and be obedient to the will of God.”
After praying about the issue, and discussing the possible consequences with his friends and his family — he and his wife are concerned about the mortgage, a car payment, and the fear of losing his health insurance through his job with SSA — Hall is prepared to continue his stand.
Hall explained part of his motivation. “This is something I want to fight and expose, to give other Christians the courage of their convictions. I can’t tell you how many I’ve worked with that have told me, ‘Dave, we agree with you 100 percent. I wish I had the courage to do that.”
But, Hall continued, “They’re scared.… Their fears being realized through me.”
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, told LifeSite News, “David Hall is a hero. He is absolutely correct: LGBT ‘diversity’ sessions and films are NOT truly ‘diverse’ because they disrespect or ignore faith-based and moral opposition to homosexualism and transsexualism.”
LaBarbera added, “Hall is also correct that this is pure propaganda, designed to legitimize a sin movement. Ironically, people are getting fired and disciplined simply for refusing to bend their faith to appease an Orwellian ideology that purports to be about — get this — ‘non-discrimination!’ By calling out this forced groupthink, David Hall is helping to educate others — and ultimately standing up for our First Amendment freedoms. People like him willing to suffer for liberty’s sake keep us all free.”
Some, however, do not consider religious liberty as all that important. In fact, some believe it is often used to enable bigotry and discrimination. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, has actually dismissed religious liberty as a “black hole” that can be used to skirt anti-discrimination laws.
Hall’s attorney, Jason Craddock, is no doubt correct in predicting that these types of cases will continue to occur, largely because religious liberty is held in such low regard by modern American culture — particularly the cultural elites in media, entertainment, and academia. Craddock recently represented Jim Walder, the owner of Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton, Illinois. Walder refused to host a same-sex civil union ceremony at Timber Creek in 2011, citing his religious views.
This led an administrative law judge to order Walder to pay $30,000 in damages to the couple and $50,000 to their attorneys, and to cease violating the Illiniois Human Rights Act by his denial of access to his facilities by couples, based on their sexual orientation. This means that Walder has been punished with a monetary penalty of $80,000, not to mention his own attorney fees.
Such a draconian punishment would seem to violate the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that “excessive fines” are unconstitutional. But considering that the First Amendment is given such little respect, even by the “Libertarian” candidate for president, it is not surprising that the other constitutional liberties protected by the Bill of Rights are also ignored.
Those who really do believe in liberty — religious liberty and other constitutionally protected rights — can admire citizens like David Hall who are willing to put their jobs on the line to advance that liberty.