ACLJ Scores Religious Liberty Victory for FBI Agent Ordered to Take Down Bible Verse
The ACLJ secured a victory last week on behalf of a federal law enforcement employee whose religious liberty came under attack.
We are continually taking action to defend the religious liberty of Americans across the country. We’ve told you how we have successfully defended schoolchildren who have been chastised by school officials for displaying their faith at school, and a teacher who was ordered not to display a nativity scene in her holiday display.
We recently took action for a Christian FBI agent who contacted us after being asked to remove a chalkboard containing Bible verses from its current location at the top of his workspace cubicle. We first told you we were engaging this situation here.
This was not the first time that he had been asked to take down the board containing his religious speech. On two prior occasions over the course of two years, superiors had expressed concern or displeasure with his religious speech.
On another occasion, another FBI employee had been instructed to take down a 4th of July decoration because it contained the words, "God Bless America."
During this same time, other employees were allowed to keep their non-religious workspace decorations up which included a beer advertisement, jokes of the day, and holiday décor. A beer ad was apparently deemed perfectly acceptable, but Bible verses meant to cause encouragement were offensive.
When asked to take down his Bible verse this time, the agent respectfully declined because he knew that the practice or policy was being applied in an inconsistent manner that violated his First Amendment rights.
Throughout the course of his career and in the years leading up to this event, our client had maintained an excellent or "outstanding" career rating and knew that his decision to defend his rights might result in disciplinary action.
And, unfortunately, it did.
He was removed from some of his duties and received an unprecedented and unsupported low annual review from his immediate supervisor (the same one who had expressed disagreement with his religious expression in the past) immediately following the incident.
Fortunately, the agent contacted us at the ACLJ. Upon receiving our demand letter, the FBI was very quick to review the matter and correct course.
It strikes me as painfully ironic, that with all that has been happening in the news regarding the culture at the FBI and the need for addressing issues of real concern to the American people, that this agent was needlessly the focus of their attention because of a Bible verse.
But unfortunately, what happened to this agent is all too common. Today’s culture of secularism rules both the government and private realm. The result is the singling out of religious speech, specifically that of Christians, for disfavored and even hostile treatment.
These instances of targeted discrimination against Christians for displaying their faith cannot go unchallenged.
At the ACLJ, we work every day to protect Americans’ inalienable right to free exercise of religion and free speech across the country. But we can only do so if the individuals affected reach out to us. If you or someone you know is experiencing some form of religious discrimination, contact us today at ACLJ.org/HELP.