Tuesday, September 15, 2015

“Faith-Based” Government In Kansas

Let’s say some people at a company want to get together during lunch hour and hold a Bible study. It’s totally voluntary, and they don’t pressure anyone else to attend. This is not likely to cause any problems.

But let’s say the boss organized the Bible study and attends it regularly. Now we might have a problem if subordinates are coerced to attend overtly or even subtly. (If, for example, those who attend get in good with the boss and are first in line for promotions, raises, etc.)

Now let’s say this is taking place at a government office. The problem just got a lot worse because government agencies are absolutely forbidden from using religion as a yardstick to judge employees.

A scenario like this is playing out in Kansas, a state that has been experimenting with a sort of de facto “faith-based” government under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Courtney Canfield, a business-filing specialist at the Secretary of State’s Office, says she was fired in 2013 because she declined to attend a Christian service that was heavily promoted by Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker.
Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, has called the lawsuit baseless. Kobach insists that Canfield was fired for poor performance, but Canfield’s lawsuits notes that she had regular promotions and no disciplinary actions until November of 2013, when a coworker accused her of a relatively trivial infraction of using an office phone to make a personal call.
The argument can be made that Canfield was fired for poor performance, but that doesn't change the fact that these Bible study lunches are illegal.

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