As we head into what is perhaps the most widely-celebrated religious holiday in the United States, officials in the Georgia Department of Public Health are facing trouble over religious discrimination. According to a lawsuit filed by Dr. Eric Walsh, the Georgia DPH rescinded their offer to make him a district health director after reviewing his sermons on YouTube. In addition to his work as a public health expert, Walsh is a lay preacher with the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Walsh’s sermons include strong denunciations of the Catholic Church, evolution, and homosexuality. And according to the lawsuit, it was the content of these sermons that led Georgia officials to take back their job offer. Unfortunately for them, if such a thing can be proven, they will be found guilty of religious discrimination.
This is not the first time Walsh has run into trouble for his beliefs. In his job as public health director for Pasadena, California, he was invited to give a commencement speech at Pasadena City College. When activists on campus brought attention to Walsh’s online sermons, however, the controversy began. Liberals were upset about the doctor’s comments declaring homosexuality a sin and his belief that evolution was a “religion created by Satan.” Walsh ultimately resigned his position in the ensuing debate, but not before securing a new job with the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Through his lawyers at the Liberty Institute, Walsh claims he was interviewed on three different occasions for the Georgia position. He was granted the job, contingent only on a background check. “On May 16, 2014,” Walsh said in the official complaint, “after gathering information about my religious expressions, the State of Georgia withdrew its offer and terminated me because of my religious beliefs.”
Whether Walsh can prove his claim remains to be seen, but the evidence against the Georgia Department of Public Health seems solid. Could it be we’ve reached the point where government employers feel authorized to terminate applicants because of their religious beliefs? Do you really have to ask?
This is about more than religious discrimination. Because the employer here is the government, this edges into the category of free speech. Walsh’s views seem stark in our current political climate, but they aren’t really that extreme. He was not advocating for violence against homosexuals. He was not demanding that evolution be thrown out of public schools. He was expressing his opinions as informed by his faith. As far as I know, we still have the right to do that in Obama’s America.
Walsh’s views on these topics may not jibe with current American culture, but that doesn’t make them dangerous. Liberals no longer see room for disagreement on these topics, however. To them, anyone who doesn’t see things according to their own narrow worldview is a hateful bigot. To them, unless you’re ready to conform to the one true religion – liberalism – then you’ve got to go. If a doctor says that guns should be treated like a disease, he can become surgeon general of the United States. If a doctor says homosexuality is a sin, though, he’s out of a job.
Progress marches on.