A Baptist mother of two has filed religious discrimination and retaliation charges against a school system that threatened to fire her for privately telling a coworker she’d pray for him.
Attorneys for Toni Richardson, an educational technician with the Augusta (Maine) School Department, are awaiting a response from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the complaint filed May 16. First Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas and the Maine law firm Eaton Peabody filed the complaint May 16 regarding the September 2016 incident at Cony School.
“We want to make sure that teachers and employees everywhere understand that you can certainly talk about your faith in private conversations at work,” First Liberty Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys told Baptist Press, “and that no employee, whether at a school district or elsewhere, should be punished or be threatened with dismissal for engaging in private conversations that say something like, ‘I’m praying for you.'”
The coworker, a fellow member of the Augusta Baptist church where Richardson leads the nursing home ministry, thanked her for her prayers, First Liberty said in a press release. But an Augusta Schools administrator “interrogated” Richardson, “asking whether she had ever identified herself to coworkers as a Christian or privately told a colleague she was praying for him,” First Liberty said.
Four days later, the school told Richardson in a coaching memorandum that “she could not use ‘phrases that integrate public and private belief systems’ while at school,” and threatened her with discipline or termination. The school cited the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, commonly known as separation of church and state.
“I was shocked that my employer punished me for privately telling a coworker, ‘I will pray for you,'” Richardson said in the press release. “I am afraid that I will lose my job if someone hears me privately discussing my faith with a coworker.” According to the memorandum, the document would not be placed in Richardson’s personnel file, and Richardson has subsequently received “all excellent marks” on an annual employee evaluation, Dys said.
The Augusta case and others typically arise out of a misunderstanding of the constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state, Dys said.
“I don’t know that it is often intentional that people are trying to punish people for their religious beliefs, but more often they’ve bought into this idea that there is a so-called separation of church and state which requires them to stamp out any public displays of religion,” Dys told BP. “What we have in fact, though, is a constitution that provides neutrality by the government towards religion. And instead … we’re seeing an increasing hostility towards the free exercise of religion by state actors.”
Amid concerns that the $110 billion arms deal signed by President Donald Trump would allow Saudi Arabia greater access to weapons the nation might use to fund and supply terrorists abroad, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud offered Trump a binding pinky-promise that the weapons would only be used for good, reports confirmed Monday.
“I hereby offer this fully binding pinky promise that we will not use any of the weapons acquired from the United States for global terrorism, harassing Christians, executing gays, or for any other nefarious purposes,” the king said through a translator. “We will only use these weapons for positive, uplifting purposes in the Middle East and around the world.”
After the two world leaders shook pinkies in a solemn ceremony, President Trump expressed his confidence that the king would abide by his pinky promise, despite his accusation that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“I’m very good at negotiating these kinds of deals,” the President told reporters. “I wrote a book on it. It’s a great book—the best, really. Because, you know, if you get the pinky promise, you’re good. You’re good.”
Anytime I post a bit of Trump mockery or displeasure one or more of his adoring little birdletts sends along a complaint that always includes the phrase ‘shut up, he won’.
To this I reply, ‘no’. I realize you Trumpians think the only Amendment that matters is the Second and that the Tyrant and his servants can shout down all disagreement but you’re wrong.
You bullies didn’t shut up about Obama, who was thousands of times more competent than your Orange Caligula, and we won’t be silent while that buffoon of yours attempts to destroy our Democracy by selling out to the Russians.
So expect Trump to be called out and justifiably mocked every time he spews some ignorance from his Orange bile pit. Get used to it, tiny snowflakes, because it’s happening.