Tag Archives: Freedom of Religion

Your Boss Asks If You Have Prayed About A Work-Related Matter…What Is The Ethical Response?

This question was asked of the New York Times’ “Workologist” (It’s stuff like this that keeps me subscribed despite the paper’s disgraceful partisan bias and unocnscionable manipulation of the news):

I recently had a manager ask me if I have “prayed about” a particular situation at the office… this statement crossed a personal line with me. I am very private about my religious life. Do you have any recommendations on how I could handle this?

The question immediately reminded me of “Breach,” the film about the capture of spy Robert Hannsen (Chris Cooper), who was always urging his clerk (actually the undercover FBO agent recruited to unmask him) to pray. The “Workologist” (Rob Walker) begins by pointing out the obvious: a boss can’t demand that you pray, or fire you for refusing to. Then he adds,

Your manager can’t discriminate against you on the basis of religion, but your company can’t discriminate against him, either — by, say, forbidding him to ever mention prayer. In general, companies are supposed to make an effort to accommodate the religious practices of employees, although this can be weighed against the potential burden on the employer…Faith-related workplace conflicts and litigation have become more common in recent years. So it might be better to think about this incident in the broader context of personal expression and identity…

your best move is to make your own boundaries clear — yet also try to avoid an outright conflict. The fact that you already consider him your “worst manager” might make that difficult. But simply declaring his question inappropriate or offensive won’t help.

Instead, try something like “Well, I’ve thought about it,” and either leave it there or, if that doesn’t seem to connect, add something like “But I’m not comfortable talking about what I do or don’t pray about.” This should be delivered in a friendly-to-neutral tone. You’re not making any judgments — and neither should he.

I find that approach cowardly and dishonest. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Workplace

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/2017: The Infuriating Clinton Enabler Flip-Flops, And Ominous Messages From The Times

Good Morning After…

1 Damn First Amendment! I’m hoping that everyone was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and missed it, but yesterady’s New York Time front page had very strange headline above the fold: “Using Freedom To Lead Attack On Gay Rights.” The online version was more descriptive of te tone of the article: “Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment.” The article seeks to paint the Alliance Defending Freedom, which opposes policies that its members believe infringe on their right to live according to their religious beliefs, as sinister. By emphasizing the fact fact that the guarantees of the First Amendment aid and abet the dastardly objcetives of these horrible people, the Times appears—to me, anyway–to be questioning the First Amendment itself. Don’t all advocacy groups “use freedom” to argue for their positions? Doesn’t the New York Times fight the Republican Party and Donald Trump “with the First Amendment”? Yes, we have free speech in this country, at least until progressives acquire sufficient power to limit it, as their rhetoric increasingly portends. Where is the Times headline, “Progressive Use Freedom to Lead Attack on Liberty”?

From the article:

“We think that in a free society people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman shouldn’t be coerced by the government to promote a different view of marriage,” said Jeremy Tedesco, a senior counsel and vice president of United States advocacy for the group, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We have to figure out how to live in a society with pluralistic and diverse views.”

But civil liberties groups and gay rights advocates say that Alliance Defending Freedom’s arguments about religious liberty and free expression mask another motivation: a deep-seated belief that gay people are immoral and that no one should be forced to recognize them as ordinary members of society.

Oh, no doubt, the civil liberty groups are correct about that, but so what? Motives have never been the criteria whereby legitimate use of the First Amendment is measured and limited.  Whether religious groups believe that LGBT individuals should not have the same rights as other citizens because they have been condemned by God, or whether they just think they are inherently icky, or whether they are inherently icky because they have been condemned by God, or whether they have been condemned by God because God thinks thet thinks they are inherently icky, part of the First Amendment states that they have a right to their beliefs, and another part says that they have a right to argue for those beliefs without government interference. Yup: they are dead wrong about gays (though not necessarily about abortion), just as the Times is wrong about many, many things. But implicating the First Amendment while attacking Alliance Defending Freedom’s positions is a dangerous game, and one more bit of evidence that a large swathe of the ideological Left regards the nation’s core principles of freedom or speech and religion as problems rather than blessings. Continue reading

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The Alabama U.S. Senate Republican Run-Off: The Worst Choice Ever [UPDATED]

And you thought having to choose between Hillary and Donald Trump was bad!

The upcoming Republican run-off for the special election to choose a successor to Alabama previous GOP Senator Jeff Sessions, now U.S. Attorney General, is as bad as it gets. Whoever wins is certain to be elected in super-red Alabama over Democrat Doug Jones, but one GOP candidate is corrupt and absurd, and the other is absurd, a fanatic and a habitual scofflaw. Both can be counted upon to immediately lower the ethical and intellectual level of the U.S. Senate, and normally I would assume that only electing a horseshoe crab or some other lower species could do the latter, while nothing short of sending Hillary Clinton back there could accomplish the former. That Alabama voters would allow their state’s seat in the U.S. Senate to depend on a run-off between these two examples of the worst of the U.S. politics bestiary doesn’t merely show that the state is backwards, it shows that its voters deserve one of these jerks. The rest of us, however, do not.

Let’s look at the two contestants, shall we? First current Senator Luther Strange, whose best feature is his name. Allow me to save you a click by re-posting a substantial section from February’s post about him:

When the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General in hearings that may be best remembered as the time Elizabeth Warren earned the fawning admiration of feminists by behaving like a mean-spirited jerk, it meant that Alabama’s Republican governor got to appoint his successor. There wasn’t much discussion in the news media about who this might be, because it’s hard for journalists to inform the public properly when it is concentrating on bringing down the President, per the orders of their Eldritch Progressive Masters—sorry, I’ve got Dr. Strange stuff rattling around in my brain now—but there was some interesting speculation in Alabama.

You see,  Republican Governor Robert Bentley is fighting to avoid  impeachment as the result of a sex scandal, and one that called his honesty into question as well.

An official fired by Bentley alleged that the Governor had engaged in an extramarital affair with his senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. An audio recording surfaced in which Bentley told a woman named “Rebekah” that he “worr[ied] about loving you so much” and that “[w]hen I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts […] and just pull you real close. I love that, too.” At a press conference, Bentley apologized for the comments but denied having an affair and stated that his relationship with Mason was purely platonic.

Sure.

Bentley invaded the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, saying that  he “had made a mistake” by saying “inappropriate things” to his aide, and apologized to Mason , her family and to the people of Alabama. On April 5, 2016, an impeachment resolution against Bentley was filed in the State Legislature, which appointed a special counsel to lead an investigation into the impeachment charges. Then, in November, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange asked that the investigation be halted pending “related work” by his office. This was widely interpreted to mean that Strange, also a Republican but not an ally of Bentley’s, was overseeing his own investigation of whether charges should be brought against Bentley.

Trump was elected President on November 8, and ten days later he announced his intention to nominate Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. On December 6, 2016, Strange announced that he was a candidate for the soon to be vacant seat, meaning that he would run in the 2018 election, if he wasn’t appointed to fill the vacancy by Bentley.

With the wolves gathering at  his door, however, that’s exactly what Gov. Bentley did. He appointed the man who was overseeing his current impeachment investigation to the U.S. Senate, thus creating a vacancy in the Attorney General’s post. Then he appointed a new AG named Steve Marshall (no relation), who many doubt will vigorously pursue an indictment against the governor.

Can you say, “Appearance of impropriety”?

I can’t imagine a better example of how the law can’t anticipate everything, making ethics indispensable.   There is an Alabama law prohibiting a governor from appointing himself to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy, but nobody foresaw a situation where a governor facing impeachment would interfere with the investigation by appointing a political adversary and the Attorney General overseeing the investigation to fill the slot. This is entirely legal, and spectacularly unethical.

Some in the state wonder if Strange’s request to the legislature wasn’t part of a deal with the Governor, in anticipation of a Sessions departure.  “He definitely slowed down the impeachment process, which put the governor in a place to actually appoint him. That’s the problem we have,” said Ed Henry, the legislator who brought the original  impeachment motion to a vote.  “He stopped an impeachment process and then in turn accepted the nomination to the Senate. I believe the damage is already done.”

For this to have been a pre-arranged  quid pro quo would have required that Strange and Bentley both believe that Trump would win, however. Hmmmm. Maybe they were in league with the Russians too…?

Yet it requires no conspiracy theory to conclude that for Strange to accept Bentley’s appointment makes him complicit in a sequence of events  that appears corrupt. It is too redolent of the Roland Burris affair, when now jailed former Illinois governor Rod Blagojavich was caught selling a Senate appointment. Burris swore in an affidavit  that he had no contact with the governor prior to his appointment to a Senate seat he had no qualifications for, and then as soon as he was safely on office, suddenly remembered that he had met with “Blago.”

The newly minted Senator Strange, had he been an ethics hero—and shouldn’t we be able to expect our elected officials to be ethics heroes?—could have foiled Bentley, inspired Alabamans, and proved that he would be a worthy Senator when he ran in 2018, if he had simply turned down the appointment, saying,

‘I am grateful and honored that Governor Bentley felt that I was qualified to represent the citizen of Alabama in the U.S. Senate. However, I feel I would betray the trust of those same citizens if I were to accept the post under these circumstances. As the lawyer for the people, I am obligated to undertake and oversee a fair and objective investigation of serious allegations against the Governor, and this raised a conflict of interest for me, pitting my personal political ambition against my duties in my current position. Moreover, should I accept the Governor’s offer, it would raise doubts regarding the functioning of the legal system as well as my personal integrity. Therefore I must decline the appointment.’

Nah.

Now, however, the Senator has proven himself unworthy of his new job by accepting it.

Strange!

Now normally I would say that anyone—Kathy Griffin, Jimmy Kimmel, Dormammu—is a preferable U.S. Senate choice than this shameless, ambitious hack. Roy Moore, however, is a piece of work. The one-time kickboxer and full time fundamentalist Christian fanatic first warranted Ethics Alarms notice as an Incompetent Elected Official in 2014, and his recognition came that late only because I viewed his stand-off over displaying the Ten Commandments in his court room and trying to turn Alabama justice into a theocracy too ridiculous to write about (and Ethics Alarms didn’t exist then.) Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/11/17: Irma and Climate Change Hype; Democrats And Anti-Catholic Hypocrisy

Good Morning!

1 I’m in Boston to address a group of new admittees to the Massachusetts bar today.

2. Broadcast journalists were surprisingly restrained with Harvey, but the second major hurricane in less than two weeks is apparently too much for them, as it is for other climate change shills on social media and elsewhere (I’m looking at YOU, Jennifer Lawrence…which, I admit, isn’t all that unpleasant…)

Thus I am hearing (and reading) more and more claims that Hurricane Irma on top of Hurricane Harvey is the result of the nation’s failure to aggressively limit carbon emissions…as if two (or more) big storms in hurricane season is unprecedented, and didn’t, in fact, occur far more frequently when Al Gore was knee-high to a grasshopper. What does the cynical use of the 2017 storms as propaganda for the gullible and weak-minded tell us?

It tells us that the journalists don’t know beans about climate, weather and the science of global warming. It shows us that they are willing to mislead the public out of dishonesty, bias or incompetence, by spreading what amounts to junk science regarding an important policy issue. It tells us that they can’t resist using their position as reporters to boost what is for them a political agenda, for not one of them has first hand knowledge or genuine expertise regarding whether the earth is warming, how much, for how long, to what effect, and what will actually slow it down, and very, very few of them could explain a climate change model if their lives depended on it.

Finally, it tells us they are stupid. Every time it becomes obvious that the news media, elected officials and others are hyping this issue by using weather as an argument that climate change is occurring, they make skeptics more skeptical, and justly so. When advocates and activists resort to phony arguments and fake facts, it is  fair to assume that they don’t have sufficiently persuasive actual facts, and that they cannot be trusted not to cheat to get their way. Continue reading

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Another Religious Freedom vs. Gay Rights Ethics Clash: The Country Mill Farms Farms Affair

Steve Tennes (above) and his devout Catholic family own  Country Mill Farms, Winery, Orchard and Cider Mill. in Charlotte, Michigan. The picturesque locale makes additional income by renting out the venue for weddings and events.

Last August, a visitor to Country Mill’s Facebook page asked if they hosted gay weddings at the farm. Tennes answered in the negative, explaining that his Catholic family believes marriage should be between a man and woman. The Tennes family sells its products at an East Lansing  farmers market, and that city’s officials were notified of their “no gay weddings” policy. A city ordinance  requires that participants in the market, even those not located within East Lansing city limits, have to agree with its non-discrimination ordinance.  “I think it’s a very strong principle that you should not be discriminating against somebody elsewhere and then come here and want to participate in our market,” East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas told the news media.

Lansing  officials urged (threatened?)  Tennes to comply with its ordinance, so the farm stopped hosting weddings of any kind for a while. Then Tennes decided to defy the order and announced on Facebook that the farm would resume hosting weddings, but only those involving a man and a women. In turn, the city told Tennes that his farm would not be welcome at the farmer’s market for the 2017 season.

“It was brought to our attention that The Country Mill’s general business practices do not comply with East Lansing’s Civil Rights ordinances and public policy against discrimination as set forth in Chapter 22 of the City Code and outlined in the 2017 Market Vendor Guidelines, as such, The Country Mill’s presence as a vendor is prohibited by the City’s Farmer’s Market Vendor Guidelines,” the city said in a letter to the family. Just coincidentally I’m sure,  East Lansing recently updated its civil rights ordinance to include discrimination at “all business practices” for participants the city’s farmers market. City Mayor Mark Meadows said the farm’s exclusion is based on the Tennes family’s “business decision” to exclude same-sex weddings. (Since the limitations on the weddings performed undoubtedly forfeits business, I have my doubts about whether the city can win the claim that it is a business decision and not a religious one.)

Now the farm is suing East Lansing. “Our faith and beliefs on marriage and hosting weddings at our home and in our backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing,” Tennes said at a press conference last week “Nor does it have anything to do with the produce that we sell to the people that attend the farmers markets who are from all backgrounds and all beliefs.”

The suit asks the court to restore Country Mill Farms’ freedoms, stop East Lansing’s “discriminatory policy,” and award damages. The city claims its policy is in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling eliminating a ban on same-sex marriage.

My first comment: Yechhh. I’ll sure be clad when society is accustomed enough to same-sex couples that people stop treating them like they are viruses and other people stop bullying those who are slow to accept the cultural shift into submission.

I think East Lansing loses this lawsuit, or at least should.

At first it reminded me of this case, from 2014, where a family-run chapel was initially told by Coeur d’Alene, Idaho that it had to hold same-sex weddings. The city backed down, but the decisive issue in that case was that the chapel’s minister would be forced to do a ceremony that his religious beliefs didn’t permit. Forced speech is as unconstitutional as restricted speech, so the city eventually said, “Never mind!”

I wrote in part,

What’s next, legally requiring citizens to accept invitations to gay weddings? Make sure they get a nice gift? …It appears not to even occur to dedicated gay marriage rights activists that Americans can’t be forced to say what the good people think they should say, or support what the right people insist they should support. I happen to believe that same-sex marriages are good, and that legalizing them is right. Nonetheless, if you tell me I have to officiate at one of them or be fined, we have a problem. This kind of fascism from the left—and that’s what it is— forfeits the support of the fair, the moderate and the sane…Any advance in ethics can become a slippery slope to the unethical, and this is a good example. Personal autonomy still matters; freedom of belief is still an important right to respect and protect. Slippery slopes need sand, and this is an excellent example of why.

The ethics issue here is related, but different. This one reminds me more of the Chic-Fil-A controversy, when various mayors were announcing that because the company’s owner was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, his business wasn’t welcome in their cities. I wrote (in part) about that ethics train wreck: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: U.S. District Judge John Gerrard

flying-spaghetti-monster

Pastafarians are anti-religious wise-asses who claim to adhere to a satirical “religion” created to mock other religions. They have wasted court time and abused the justice system by suing in various states for the right to exercise their non-existent religion by wearing an upside-down spaghetti strainer on their heads for driver’s license photos.  More ridiculous still, they have succeeded in several states and a number of foreign countries.

Nebraska to the rescue: in a Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard dismissed a religious discrimination suit filed by Pastafarian Stephen Cavanaugh. The judge state the obvious fact that  the religion Cavanaugh cited—Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—is not a religion but a parody.

Good. Continue reading

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Now THIS Is Hate Speech…No, Wait, It’s A Gay Writer Hating A Straight Baseball Player, So It’s All Good

Daniel Murphy

 

In March, in a post about Dr. Ben Carson’s awful apology for his ignorant statement on CNN about prison turning prisoners gay, I compared his ignorance to that of Mets second-baseman Daniel Murphy, who had just listened to Billy Bean, a former major league baseball player who is gay, and had been appointed as the sport’s “ambassador for inclusion.”  Murphy said,

“I disagree with his lifestyle.I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

His statement loosely translated means, “I don’t know anything about gays except what I have been told by people who also know nothing about gays but think they do.  I believed all of it, since, honestly, I don’t think about the topic much. But the question was about whether the fact that a team mate was gay would cause me to distrust him or not want to play with him, and my answer is no.”

Later Murphy elaborated,

“Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride.”

I mentioned Murphy then because he, unlike Carson, is just a baseball player, and his having ignorant ideas about gays (what does “disagreeing” with the fact that someone is gay even mean? He’s gay–you can’t “disagree.” Anyone using “lifestyle” to describe gays has just written his ignorance in sky-writing. If one knows any gays at all, the idiocy of this is manifest. What would ever make an 8 year old wake up one morning and say, “I’ve weighed the options, and made my choice: I want to be gay!” This literally never happens.) and stating the ideas out loud only hurts Murphy, while Carson’s ignorance is relevant to the job he’s seeking and his qualifications for it. Carson is a narrow, biased, irresponsible amateur, and thus unqualified to hold office. Nobody, however, should care what Murphy thinks, as long as he can hit and field his position.

For someone who is clueless, Murphy’s comments are even admirable. He’s not going to judge a man’s character based on “his lifestyle” or wish him ill, which makes him infinitely preferable to Slate’s gay issues blogger, Mark Joseph Stern. Continue reading

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