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US Police officer, demoted for not attending an ‘Islamic appreciation’ event, loses lawsuit

OKLAHOMA police captain Paul Fields was ordered last year to attend a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” which was hosted by the Islamic Society of Tulsa at a local mosque.

He refused to go, saying that the event was not “a police call to service” and that:

Being forced to enter a mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my civil rights.

According to this report, as a result of his refusal. Fields was demoted and reassigned to a different department, suspended for two weeks without pay and prohibited from being promoted for one year.

Captain Paul Fields

Captain Paul Fields

He took the matter to court, and lost.

Last Friday District Court Judge Gregory Frizzell dismissed his case.

Earlier, the Tulsa Police Department issued a statement following expressions of outrage from supporters of the captain, a professed Christian.

One of the Department’s missions is that of community outreach. To facilitate this effort, the Police Department determined this event was a community outreach opportunity and attendance was appropriate. Contrary to what may have already been reported in scheduling this event, the Police Department and the Islamic Society of Tulsa very deliberately arranged attendance so that officers need not participate in any religious discussion or observance that would create any discomfort or inconvenience for them.

However, Fields believed that he was still being required to partake in ways that violated his convictions, whether it included joining in the prayers and sermons or not.

invitation

He subsequently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Tulsa, Chief Charles Jordan and Deputy Chief Alan Webster.

Judge Frizzell threw out Fields’ case, stating that Jordan and Webster had done no wrong.

No reasonable jury could find Fields was personally ordered to attend. The directive at issue permitted him to assign others to attend rather than attend himself.

He added:

Jordan and Webster’s desire to ensure attendance at the Islamic Society’s Appreciation Day similar to other outreach events is understandable given their concern that differing treatment might have violated the Establishment Clause by appearing to disapprove of Islam.

However, Fields’ attorneys with the American Freedom Law Center say they find the ruling to be extremely unsettling. Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel of the Center said:

This ruling is troubling on many levels. Contrary to the judge’s ruling in this case, the evidence is undisputed and overwhelming that Captain Fields was punished for merely raising a religious objection to the mandatory order, and this included punishing him for refusing to attend the Islamic proselytizing event based on his sincerely held religious convictions.  In short, the judge simply got it wrong.

He added:

As the sworn testimony in the case demonstrated, during the Islamic event, the Muslim hosts discussed Islamic religious beliefs. They discussed Mohammed, Mecca, why Muslims pray, how they pray, and what they say when they are praying. They showed the officers a Quran, and they showed the officers Islamic religious books and pamphlets that were for sale, and encouraged the officers to purchase them. Consequently, Captain Fields’ objections were completely justified and substantiated.

Muise added:

Captain Fields, a dedicated and loyal public servant, deserves better treatment than this. Judge Frizzell may have been the first judge to review and decide the important constitutional issues at stake in this case, but he won’t be the last.

Fields’ case will be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has 30 days to file.

 

28 Responses to “US Police officer, demoted for not attending an ‘Islamic appreciation’ event, loses lawsuit”

  1. Angela_K says:

    I don’t defend the actions of the Police Officer but I wonder if the outcome would be the same if a muslim Officer refused to go to a christian church?

  2. JohnMWhite says:

    I find it telling that this officer was suspended without pay and punished rather harshly for just being a bit of a tool, while the violent, vicious treatment of Occupy protesters resulted in, at worst, suspensions with pay while internal investigations cleared officers of their blatant and publicly recorded and displayed wrongdoing.

  3. Sasha says:

    Well, to be honest, I don’t really get this officer’s problem. He wasn’t being asked to do anything offensive, or overtly religious.

    Community outreach schemes are, IMHO, positive whether the community in question is a religious, sexual or ethnic minority. OK, so, they can be a bit right-on, but…

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    Missing in the above: Officer Fields was told not to speak of Christianity during the event.

  5. jay says:

    How is this a not job requirement if they appear to have punished him just for choosing not to go. It’s absurd. He explicitly said he would go as part of a police call.

    I’m with him on this.

  6. AgentCormac says:

    Let’s face it – the guy just didn’t want to set foot into a church run by a rival brand of religion. It could have made him confused, would have sullied his brain and might have poisoned his soul so badly that on judgement day he might very well be cast down into that pit of hell with all those other followers of pretend religions.

    Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon being talked at by a bunch of religiots either. But the point is that as a gun-totting member of the law enforcement community, it is Fields’ job to understand as well as he can the people he might have to deal with and, whether he likes it or not, be aware of what makes them different to himself. He wasn’t prepared to do that and to my mind deserves everything he gets.

  7. Matt Westwood says:

    If I were a pig and told to go into a fucking mosque for a fucking PR stunt I’d tell my boss to shove it up his arse as well. Same applies to a church, but particularly a fucking mosque.

  8. AgentCormac says:

    Rhetoric aside, Matt – the man is supposed to be a totally impartial upholder of the law regardless of the colour, creed or sexuality of the citizens he is paid to protect and serve. What it seems to me he is saying by his posturing is that in his view there are right people (ie good god-fearing xtians like himself) and there are wrong people (ie bad god-fearing muslims like those he was invited to go and understand a little more). His own religious views are tainting his opinion of other people. And while I would happily tar them all with the same ‘stupid’ brush, he is a public servant who is not prepared to accommodate certain sections of the public. He is therefore unworthy of the trust that his society has placed in him.

  9. barriejohn says:

    I agree with AgentCormac: I don’t see what there was about this visit that “violated his convictions”. What is so wrong about entering a mosque? He wasn’t being asked to take part in their “worship”, or support their religious views, and anyone seeing him there would have known that he was attending as part of his job. Again: what’s his problem?

  10. Robster says:

    I’d love to know what they do pray for. They do it 5 times a day don’t they, facing Mecca making strange whining noises. Do they pray for more hession bags for the girls to wear? Perhaps more than 75 virgins in the muzzie heaven upon martyrdom or perhaps some more oil to pay for spreading the nonsense? So much to pray for, so little evidence it works.

  11. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    I’m confused about this, was it in his own time? If so, he has every right to refuse. Was it part of his duties, then he has no right to refuse. From the description, it wasn’t a prayer meeting, it was to visit, get to know and make himself known to the mosque. All police officers should know about any local groupings and should treat them all impartially.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Meanwhile, in “godless” Brighton:

    http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10117520._/?

  13. AgentCormac says:

    Brighton Council should read this, barriejohn.
    http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/council-prayers-campaign-briefing.pdf

  14. Matt Westwood says:

    Has anyone thought of reading out Lucifer’s Manifesto from the delightful Anton Szandor LaVey’s Satanic Bible? It rocks!

  15. Har Davids says:

    What exactly is the problem with entering a mosque? I’ve entered several, people knew I’m an atheist, I got the tour, we chatted about belief and unbelief, and had tea. No big deal there. Someone even offered to pray for me, which was rather nice. I had to decline of course, I not too sure if paradise would be my cup of tea, as I haven’t read any reviews yet.

  16. barriejohn says:

    AgentCormac: Coun Summers would appear to be a bit of a bigot, but it’s disappointing to see the Labour party again supporting this sort of nonsense. Question it and you’re automatically branded!

  17. barriejohn says:

    Har Davids: I love looking around old churches and graveyards, though I know that many atheists would like to see them all pulled down. Christchurch Priory near us is facinating, and full of history (look up Margaret of Salisbury, who has an unused tomb there). That doesn’t mean that I don’t shake my head in disbelief at the ignorance and gullibility of the people who have “worshipped” in such buildings down through the years, nor the wickedness and veniality of those who lorded it over them!

  18. Stephen Mynett says:

    Agreed, there are some fascinating buildings and well worth exploring. Plus we should not deny our history, we should try to learn from it.

  19. Brummie says:

    Most churches, mosques synagogues etc would make wonderful pubs, and be full of mixed socialising humanity all week, not just on one day.

  20. Angela_K says:

    Many years ago I visited a huge mosque in Morocco, it was architecturally a very beautiful and obviously expensive to construct, building. Outside the people lived in squalor, houses made from old bits of corrugated iron. Religion looking after the poor again eh?

  21. Matt Westwood says:

    Pubs and churches.

    The other day we stopped off at a pretty-looking pub in a village in the middle of the country. Had an excellent meal in a cosy room with a roaring fire and convivial company, and it was wonderful.

    Contrast that to when I used to have to go to church on Sundays. It was an ugly building, a modern architectual monstrosity in a “new town”. We had to sit there an hour, and sing songs. before we could be served, and had to listen to the (stupidly dressed) waiter droning on and on about the fact that we wouldn’t be able to sit by a nice warm fire till we were dead, and even then only if we were lucky. And then all I got to eat was a nasty dry biscuit, and before I’d had a chance to take a good guzzle of the wine I was offered, the waiter took it away! That was the most rubbish meal I’d ever had. We went home and cooked a meal of roast beef and tatoes.

  22. barriejohn says:

    As someone with an interest in both history and architecture who would also like to see religion wither on the vine, I often wonder what would be the best fate for our religious buildings. My mother was watching Homes Under the Hammer this very morning, and a couple had purchased a delightful baptist chapel in Rhondda Cynon Taff, mainly so that their son and his death metal band could use the Sunday School room as a recording studio! They had ideas of holding themed civil marriages in the old church hall, but I’m not so sure what the level of demand for that service would be in that area, myself. Sadly, these buildings cannot be stored in scrap yards like our steam locomotives until someone with the money and inclination comes along to put them to use again!

  23. barriejohn says:

    PS It is an amazing coincidence that I was watching that programme just prior to reading the comments here. That is the sort of experience, I have to tell you, which convinces Christians that “God” is arranging things in their lives according to some cosmic plan, and you will never ccnvince them otherwise. “Look,” they say; “Such things could never happen by chance. That is the proof that God is guiding me and ordering my life according to his purposes”!

  24. AgentCormac says:

    barriejohn

    Personally, I’d turn every church, mosque and synagogue into a place of learning where young and old can come to enquire, to wonder, and to fill their heads with knowledge, inspiration and understanding. In other words, the complete antithesis of what such buildings are used for now.

  25. barriejohn says:

    A bit of a pipe-dream, I’m afraid, AgentCormac; but no concidence that those massive gothic museum buildings in Kensington resemble religious buildings. Cathedrals of the mind!

    http://www.bellecoaches.co.uk/uploads/PICS/kensington.jpg

  26. AgentCormac says:

    One day, barriejohn. One day.

  27. Nelmonster says:

    On the subject of what to do with old church buildings, I have visited a good few that have been turned into indoor climbing walls. The height and odd architectural features make an excellent framework for interesting climbs.

  28. john.c says:

    I thought the current norm was to turn them into indian restraunts and carpet or indian food wholesale warehouses.As to the rest, turn them into places of reflection on the sad history they contributed to,or set up local offices of the Richard Dawkins institute for science and reason.