Monday School: Cop demoted for not praying

Welcome back to Monday School! Your humble servant for your weekly dose of “The Rational Corrective To All That Nonsense They Tried To Teach You Yesterday!”

This week’s lesson is a very interesting one: should employers be allowed to force their workers to pray in the work place?

I am sure your answer would varry depending who you asked, but the obvious answer should be no. Employers should hire people based on their experience, abilities, education and the work they can do for the job they’re applying for. Religious affiliation should be the last thing employers inquire about when hiring someone for a position. In some countries (such as Canada for example) you are not allowed to ask someone about their religious background, especially when interviewing someone for a position. There are a lot of jobs that require people to be respectful of different people, regardless of their views on the subject.

Which brings us to the case that influenced this entry. In San Juan, Puerto Rico… a police officer has filed suit against the department for demoting him to ‘car washing duty’. The police officer filing the suit states that ‘claims he was reassigned to washing cars and that he lost his weapon after declining prayer participation on the job’. When he refused to pray, he was scorned by his supervisors in front of all his co-workers for not participating, so we can add harrassment in the work place to the list as well.

The ACLU launched the case, hoping to achieve two goal: first to get a court ruling driving home the notion that forced prayer in the workplace violates the separation of church and state. The second is to halt the workplace retaliation purportedly being waged against the officer for not praying. Considering that police stations are funded by public money, they are subject to follow the constutition, especially that part that includes the separation of church and state. This is going to be a slam dunk for the ACLU.

It’s one thing to have religion in a specific workplace, like a Chrstian College (whose actions was the subject of last week’s Monday School) but even there, what they told their employees are limited and has landed them in court as well. It’s even worse for a police station because they are a branch of the government, which is subject to follow all the rules, including the separation of church and state. They have no right to punish someone for refusing to take part in a prayer that never should have been forced on publis employees to begin with. Their job is to protect the constitution, and violating one of the clauses in it sets a bad standard.

“Government agencies cannot require employees to take part in prayer in their workplace,” William Ramirez, executive director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico, said in an advisory. “To do so runs afoul of one of the great pillars of both the U.S. Constitution and the Puerto Rico Constitution, which mandate separation of church and state.”

It’s that simple, it’s hard for the people to follow the constitution if the police themselves cannot follow it either. It’s going to be hard for the police to argue against their the federal and state constitutions they’re swore to uphold, but I’m sure they’ll make an effort and I’ll post an update when that happens.

I find it completely backwards that anyone should be ridiculed for refusing to plead to a supposed god who supposedly has its own plan already written in stone. I personally hope he wins and is returned to his previous station and that his boss is fired for shaming him.

Two hands hard at work are infinitely more powerful than a million clasped in prayer

PJ

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