Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Only Baptists Need Apply

Despite all the noise being made by Christians who claim persecution in modern-day America, the reality is that statistically speaking, nobody is being passed over for employment or public office for being Christian. In some cases such as that of Kim Davis, Christians have been sanctioned for refusing to perform required job functions, but that's hardly the same thing. On the other hand, in some states atheists are not even allowed to hold public office.

In addition, in some parts of the country employers pass over applicants for not being Christian, or even for belonging to the wrong denomination. A case is now going forward against Williamson County, Texas, over allegations that the county had a religious test for applicant seeking employment as constables. Not only were applicants asked about their views on abortion and same-sex marriage, but according to statements from the plaintiff's attorney they were only interested in hiring Baptists.

Video depositions obtained by KVUE show Williamson County Commissioner Lisa Birkman and other commissioners admitting that applicants were asked about abortion and marriage.

“I asked a question on their view on gay marriage to all the applicants for Precinct 3 Constable and their view on abortion,” Birkman says in her deposition.

Lloyd’s lawyer, Wayne Krause Yang, asserted at the press conference that the commissioners refused to hire applicants who were not Baptists.

“If you don’t go to the church that they go to, you can’t have a job as a public employee in Williamson County,” Yang noted.

At least two other applicants have come forward to say that they were also asked religious questions by the commissioners.

So far the county has only admitted asking religious questions of applicants, and it's not clear what evidence the plaintiffs have that the county only hired members of a particular church. Still, the former is bad enough. One of the job-hunting books I read back in the 90's recommended that if asked about political beliefs, reply that you are in favor of lower taxes and think what is going on in Washington is just terrible. Then do not elaborate. But clearly there's no workable dodge like that when asked directly about such hot-button issues.

This sort of thing that needs to stop as soon as possible. Religious tests of any sort for public employees fundamentally violate the Constitution and have no place in a free society that, at least in theory, allows its citizens to practice their religious beliefs as they see fit.

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