Like their public sector counterparts, private sector employers are also guilty of anti-Christian discrimination. Moreover, many private corporations choose to police themselves by cleansing from their products and corporate culture anything that speaks of God.
Federal law requires that employers reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of their employees, unless they can demonstrate such accomodations will cause them undue hardship. But in Lodi, California, a company fired a Christian from his computer job over his refusal to work on the Sabbath. People may reasonably disagree with this law on the grounds that an employer should be free to control his employees' work schedule and that employees forced against their will to work on the Sabbath can seek employment elsewhere. But this particular case went beyond clashing freedom claims between employer and employee. The employer reportedly not only refused to accommodate the employee's faith; it allegedly told him that his beliefs were "stupid and ridiculous." Also, other employees were willing to work on Sunday, which would have negated any claim by the employer that it was suffering an undue hardship by accommodating the employee. But the employer refused to budge, prompting Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute to say, "This case is distinctive in that the employer could show no justification except for insensitivity and intolerance, for not accommodating [a] Christian worker's beliefs."
Dr Pepper, Seven-Up
In 2002, the Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Company (DPSU) introduced its "patriot can" for soft drinks, featuring a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance. The can included a drawing of the Statue of Liberty and the phrase, "One Nation ... Indivisible," but conspicuously omitted the words "under God." When a twelve-year-old girl wrote to complain about the omission, the company responded that there simply wasn't enough room on the can to include the words. A glimpse of the can, however, according to critics, belies that claim. It may have been a submission to political correctness or a desire not to offend a certain segment of the population that led to the omission. But the result was to offend another segment of people-those who understand that God has been and should continue to be a part of American culture. Regardless of its motives, the company erred on the side of excluding, rather than including, God, which is happening with increasing frequency in our society.
In December 2002, Disney World in Orlando, Florida, ended its twenty-eight-year tradition of making on-site religious services available to Christian guests. Though it had provided such services since 1975, Disney World officials said that the 35,000-acre site could not continue to accommodate Sunday services for Catholics and Protestants, and suggested to guests that they go off campus to attend church. This decision represented a radical departure from the beliefs and practices of the park's founder, Walt Disney, who said in an insert to a 1978 record "Magical Music of Walt Disney," "Whatever success I have had in bringing clean, informative entertainment to people of all ages, I attribute in part to my Congregational upbringing and lifelong habit of prayer." Tellingly, while eliminating Christian services, Disney has gone out of its way to solicit the homosexual community, even having an annual "Gay Day" event every year.
Pro-family and religious groups were troubled by Disney's action. Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America criticized Disney's movement away from traditional values. "Disney," said Wright, "ought to be looking at how they can promote a healthy, family-friendly moral tone that would be good for the employees and customers alike. Kicking churches off of the property is exactly the opposite of what Disney needs to be doing... [Disney] is showing that religious families don't need to be accommodated. Disney's decision is very short-sighted because religious communities and activities help set a moral tone." Other critics pointed to the anomaly of Disney's "accommodation" policies in light of research showing that over 75 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian and as little as two percent as homosexual.
Despite their low percentage of the population, homosexuals sometimes appear to have the power of an unchecked majority. Rolf Szabo, an employee for twenty-three years with the Eastman Kodak Company, lost his job when he stood up for his Christian principles at work. Szabo's boss at the company's headquarters in Rochester, New York, sent Szabo e-mails promoting a "Coming Out Day" for homosexuals, as part of Kodak's "Winning & Inclusive Culture" movement designed to promote diversity in the workplace. The memo included suggestions for helping homosexual employees to "come out" at work. Workers were urged to be supportive of the people coming out and acknowledge their "courage" in disclosing their homosexuality. They were told to "be sensitive to the employee's language in defining their personal orientation" and to "acknowledge your level of awareness of this topic, and share your personal willingness to understand." The message also told employees to act quickly and responsibly if they became aware of anti-gay comments or humor at work. A footnote to one of the points cautioned employees to "keep in mind that such behaviors violate Kodak's Values as well as Kodak's Equal Opportunity Employment Policy, which all supervisors are responsible for maintaining in their areas Reported violations of this policy are to be thoroughly investigated. If verified, disciplinary action is to be taken."
Upon receiving the note, Szabo sent his supervisor an e-mail, with a copy to all the recipients of his supervisor's original e-mail, requesting that he not send him this type of information as he found it disgusting and offensive. The supervisor then sent another e-mail to the original employee recipients, apologizing for Szabo's remarks. Its contents are instructive regarding "tolerance:" They demand that everyone adopt the corporation's values. "As you all know," read the supervisor's response, "our strategic thrust to build a Winning & Inclusive Culture drives us to behave in ways that value everyone regardless of differences. While I understand that we are all free to have our own personal beliefs, when we come to the Kodak workplace, our behaviors must align with the Kodak Values. I apologize for the e-mail sent to all of you from Rolf Szabo this morning. Rolf's comments are hurtful to our employees, friends, and family members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. This behavior is not aligned with the Kodak Values and, therefore, is not acceptable."
Thereafter, the company asked Szabo to sign an employee commitment plan, acknowledging he was sorry for his e-mail calling the supervisor's e-mail "offensive" and agreeing to take steps to ensure that this type of thing would not happen again. He was told that his refusal to sign the document would result in his termination. When he refused, Kodak fired him. Kodak touts itself as promoting tolerance and diversity-its website contains a "list of accolades" it has received for "equal opportunity and inclusion." Many of the honors include praise for Kodak's attitude toward the alternative sexual preferences of its employees. But while Kodak brags about its tolerance and diversity, it was obviously intolerant of Szabo's Christian beliefs. By insisting that he act contrary to his deeply held beliefs and in conformity with company values, Kodak demonstrated intolerance of his beliefs and its own hard-line exclusiveness-not to mention its encroachment on Szabo's right to religious freedom.
Motorola is another big corporation that actively promotes a homosexual agenda through mandatory "homophobia" workshops, homosexual sex-education courses, and e-mail recruitment for gay pride parades. According to an engineer with the company, this push is causing a great deal of tension among employees and the "quiet anger" of some who disapprove of the homosexual lifestyle and homosexual activism. On a website bearing the company logo called "Motopride," Bob Williams and Audrey Lin, co-leaders of Motorola's Gay and Lesbian Business Council, wrote, "We are proud of Motorola's growing history with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) community, including its support of our internal GLBT employee group and organizations that are important to us." One employee of the company expressed his concern that Motorola's vision of "tolerance" was more like thought control. "I think the main issue lies in a corporate organization trying to force people to believe certain things with mandatory-type seminars and workshops," he said. "I think that's obviously a violation of numerous principles upon which this nation was founded."
Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which promotes religious freedom issues in the judicial system, sees this type of corporate policy as part of a larger trend. "Diversity training," said Lorence, "is becoming mandatory catechism class for the church of the politically correct." Lorence, addressing the modern concept of tolerance, said that Americans, traditionally, have drawn a distinction between cordial behavior and personal beliefs. "But what is happening now is that we're seeing a subtle but radical transformation of that traditional norm, and the vehicle in which this change is coming is diversity training by employers, either public or private." Lorence said there was a big difference between "being respectful of people's differences," and "compelling a uniformity of thought."
Lorence may be correct that a nationwide trend is underway. American companies are increasingly marketing specifically to homosexual consumers. And, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual advocacy group, at least three hundred of the Fortune 500 companies make sexual orientation a part of their nondiscrimination policies. Other pro-family oriented groups are also concerned that many corporations are going beyond merely prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals and actively promoting a homosexual agenda. This puts pressure on employees who are loyal to their employers, but want to be true to their moral beliefs as well.
Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico also allegedly discriminates against Christians and in favor of homosexual employees. In its equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy, the corporation formally recognized the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Networking Group and gave it access to company "funding, administrative assistance, and use of company facilities and communication channels." But when Christians in the Workplace Networking Group applied for official recognition, they were denied because the Christian workers had "not established the existence of workplace barriers based on religion." The Christian workers strongly disagreed with this assessment and documented in a letter to Margaret Harvey, the company's "diversity, EEO and affirmative action department manager," examples of the company's discrimination against Christians. For instance, the company did not allow references to religious events to be placed on its bulletin boards. Employers could collect donations for any group, provided it was nondenominational. The company's EEO networking group's policy expressly excluded religious groups, and the company required employees to remove posters, books, pictures, and screen savers with religious content. Engineers were forbidden to use biblical references in connection with projects-a reconnaissance robot named Caleb (after the biblical spy) had to be renamed.
In the letter, the Christian group said, "Because of these and similar incidents, many Christian workers are not comfortable with expressing who they are openly for fear of ridicule or reprimand from management or fellow employees." Despite the documentation, the company denied the request as well as similar follow-up requests. The group filed a lawsuit against the company for violation of its constitutional rights.
During this controversy in the early part of 2000, Sandia, despite the soberingly serious nature of its business-it is one of three Department of Energy laboratories that develop top-secret weaponry for the United States government-was so preoccupied with the homosexual gay rights issue that it shut down its plant for two days in April to give employees time to take "diversity training." Attorney Stephen Crampton of the American Family Association (AFA), which represented the Christian employee group, placed the company's priorities in perspective when he said, "Apparently the DOE is more concerned with furthering diversity than it is with national security." Crampton observed that, while Sandia's policy purports to forbid religious discrimination, it "is discriminatory against religion on its face. It is an insult not only to believers in God, but to believers in freedom everywhere " It is hard to deny Crampton's point. After all, the company has subjected its employees to annual "Coming Out Day" celebrations, where they are pressured, just as in the diversity training sessions, to accept, even respect the homosexual lifestyle. Even more amazingly, the company reportedly asked some employees to remove photos of their wives and children to avoid offending homosexuals, who are not legally allowed to marry and supposedly feel uncomfortable publicizing their intimate relationships. When a reporter asked Sandia to explain these policies and alleged discriminatory acts, the company issued a written statement in which it said its policy is "to provide an employee-friendly environment free of prejudice to anyone on the basis of race, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any other basic characteristic.
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