By Jorge Gomez
In today’s America, radical ideologies appear to be infiltrating virtually every sphere of our lives—and the workplace is no exception. Increasingly, we’re witnessing corporations jumping on the “woke” bandwagon and adopting policies that allegedly promote “diversity, equity and inclusion.” But as is often the case with extreme woke agendas, religious Americans are on the losing end of the bargain.
Instead of equality for all, woke corporate culture encourages the opposite and often leads to religious discrimination. People of faith shoulder the consequences of this discriminatory (and illegal) behavior. It’s religious Americans who are often fired, docked pay, prevented from advancing, retaliated against, and alienated. The bottom line is that the “canceling” of people of faith has become an all-too-familiar pattern.
The evidence continues to grow, as more Americans are being forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood. This is a warning to every person of faith in our country: woke corporate culture is one of the greatest threats to religious liberty. However, there’s hope we can halt this toxic ideology.
Religious Freedom in the Marketplace: Six Cases that Could Change the Law
Over the past year, First Liberty has seen a stark increase in employment discrimination and violations on the basis of religion. Our organization is currently fighting several major workplace religious freedom cases that could shape the law and legal protections for religious employees. We’ve asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear two important cases:
- Christian business owners Aaron and Melissa Klein declined to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, because doing so would force them to convey a message that conflicts with their religious beliefs. An Oregon state agency canceled the Kleins, penalized them $135,000, and effectively forced them to shut down their family-owned bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
- Gerald Groff was wrongfully forced to quit his job as a postal worker because of his religious beliefs. When the United States Postal Service started delivering packages for Amazon on Sundays, Gerald requested a religious accommodation to honor the Sunday Sabbath. But the USPS ultimately denied his request, in direct violation of federal civil rights law.
In addition to our Supreme Court cases, First Liberty is on the frontlines fighting on behalf of:
- Lacey Smith and Marli Brown, two Christian flight attendants who were fired for their religious beliefs. Acting on their beliefs, they asked about Alaska Airlines’ political support for the “Equality” Act, after the company invited employees to discuss the topic in an employee-only forum. Both of them were concerned about the impact the bill could have on religious freedom—a concern shared by millions of Americans. The airline disparaged their beliefs and promptly fired them simply for asking questions. We filed suit in federal court to vindicate their rights.
- Fire Chief Ron Hittle, a devout Christian who sought to live out his faith in the workplace. After 24 years of service, the city of Stockton, California fired him for attending a leadership conference at a church. We’re currently at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that employers cannot discharge or take adverse action against employees on the basis of their religion.
- Robyn Strader, a highly credentialed nurse practitioner who was fired from CVS. The company had previously accommodated her religious beliefs without issue for six-and-a-half years. Why was she fired? Because CVS wants to force its employees to prescribe abortifacients, even when it violates an employee’s religious beliefs. We filed a charge of discrimination at the EEOC, making it clear that Robyn should not be forced to choose between her faith and her livelihood.
- Valerie Kloosterman, a physician assistant who was fired because of her religious beliefs about gender. University of Michigan Health System terminated her for seeking a religious accommodation from referring patients for sex-obscuring procedures and experimental drugs, and from using biology-obscuring pronouns. We’ve filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming the company violated federal law and should right this wrong by giving Valerie her job back.
The outcome of these cases could impact the lives of millions of Americans—and that’s why First Liberty is stepping up in this critical legal battlefront with woke corporations. By defending clients like Melissa, Gerald, Ron, Lacey, Marli, Valerie and Robyn, we’re not just fighting to change the “cancel culture” in the places where they work. We’re taking a stand against injustice. We’re holding corporate America accountable. If we win these cases, it’ll be a huge step forward to ensure companies follow the law and respect our country’s historic commitment to religious freedom.
Whether it’s in the boardroom or the breakroom, woke corporate culture has become a dangerous form of “soft totalitarianism.” It not only forces people of faith to celebrate ideas or actions that go against their religious beliefs. Anyone who doesn’t conform risks losing their jobs, careers and businesses. Make no mistake: The consequences of this toxic ideology are severe. It threatens to destroy the lives of religious Americans.
Canceling someone because of their religious beliefs makes a mockery of our laws. Religious Americans should not be reduced to second-class citizens. As people of faith confront a hostile corporate culture, we urge you to give now and join First Liberty in this fight. Your support is essential—for you, your children and grandchildren, and countless Americans who are singled out for their faith in the workplace.