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Atheist cop sues for damages after being humiliated and demoted for refusing to pray

ALVIN Marrero-Mendez, who clocked up 14 years of service as a police officer in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week brought a law suit against his bosses, alleging that he was reassigned from police work to washing cars and relaying messages when he refused to participate in a compulsory Christian prayer.

According to this report, his complaint  alleges that Marrero-Mendez’s superior officers often engaged in religious activities during precinct meetings, including an officially sponsored prayer.

Stock photo of a group of Puerto Rican police

Stock photo of a group of Puerto Rican police

Specifically, it alleges that officer Mendez was asked to give a prayer before a group of officers and when he refused, he was told to leave formation and stand in front of his peers while a superior officer mocked him for rejecting Christianity.

The Puerto Rico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union elaborated in court documents:

When Department supervisors engage in these unconstitutional activities, they subject the officers under their command to unwelcome indoctrination and religious messages, creating a tense and hostile work environment and harming the community as a whole by sending a divisive message of religious favoritism for those who adhere to the supervisors’ preferred faith.

The complaint adds that Mendez is:

An open atheist, and as such, does not subscribe to the Christian faith or any other religious doctrine.

He values his right to adopt no religious beliefs as much as others surely value their right to follow a particular faith. He is deeply offended by and objects to the Defendants’ official religious practices because these practices promote beliefs with which he does not agree. Plaintiff further objects to these practices because they are religiously coercive in that they pressure him to participate in prayer and worship.

The suit alleges that former police commander Guillermo Calixto-Rodríguez ordered Mendez to abandon a formation of fellow officers after Mendez voiced opposition to giving a Christian prayer.

As Plaintiff was walking away, Defendant Calixto-Rodríguez shouted that Plaintiff should stop and stand still until the prayer was finished. Then, in front of the entire formation, Defendant Guillermo Calixto-Rodríguez shouted that Plaintiff was standing apart from everyone else because ‘he doesn’t believe in what we believe’.

Plaintiff felt humiliated and turned his back to the formation until the prayer, which was explicitly Christian, ended.

It goes on to say the incident reduced Mendez to tears, and he vowed to raise the issue with a higher authority. When he did, he was allegedly reassigned to washing cars and relaying messages, often times in the dead of night or in the hottest hours of the afternoon. He also claims that his weekly day off has since been “capriciously denied” without any justification.

William Ramirez, executive director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico, said:

Government agencies cannot require employees to take part in prayer in their workplace,. To do so runs afoul of one of the great pillars of both the US Constitution and the Puerto Rico Constitution, which mandate separation of church and state.

Marrero-Mendez and ACLU have picked a pight with a force not known for its tolerance of people who step out of line.  In 2011 The US Justice Department issued a report which said that police in Puerto Rico routinely use excessive force that unnecessarily injuries hundreds of people and kills others.

The report accuses the 17,000-member Puerto Rico Police Department – the second-largest US police department – of regularly “using force, including deadly force, when no force or lesser force was called for,” unnecessarily injuring hundreds of people and killing “numerous others”.

Oh, and they are pretty damned corrupt as well. More than 1,700 officers were arrested on corruption charges between 2005 and 2010.

17 Responses to “Atheist cop sues for damages after being humiliated and demoted for refusing to pray”

  1. John Dent-Smith says:

    What is it with these Christians,Jesus said to go spread his word,not ram it down peoples necks or punish them for not listening.
    Hope he wins his case

  2. barriejohn says:

    How about this, then?

    http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130226/cleisure/cleisure4.html

    I had Jamaican Christian friends, so I can well believe it!

  3. Charles Stearns says:

    Compulsory xtian prayer, denigration of minority non-believers, punitive actions against those not accepting the fairy-tales — and they’re shocked that many of them are corrupt and sadistic thugs? Seems to me they’re being typical xtians.

  4. Broga says:

    Compulsory accepting of Christianity! Lots of examples in the UK eg 26 unelected bishops influencing our legislation regardless of whether we want them; Thought for the Day forced on us by the BBC; BBC programmes infiltrated with christian messages; swathes of Sunday devoted to religion by the BBC; parents dishonestly pushed to mouth Christianity in churches to get their kids into a school they want; people bankrupted to support churches they happen to live near; the now defunct Pope forced on us at great expence so he could tell us how defective our morals are.

    On the other hand these unfortunate Christians are being discriminated against and the discrimination is fuelled by aggressive secularists.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Don’t miss Countryfile tonight, will you? Charley Boy will be stepping out of his helicopter in freshly laundered “gardening gear” to remind us plebs how important it is that “we” all work together to “save the environment”!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2290763/Prince-Wales-guest-edit-special-edition-BBC-Countryfile-highlight-importance-working-harmony-nature.html

    (That pic speaks volumes – I’d lke to frame it!!)

  6. Canada Dave says:

    This is what religious institutions need.
    To be brought to public account in court to explain why it is that any of what they believe in is true.

    I doubt though that this will gain fair hearing due to the extent to which religion…..christian …has infiltrated the US government and court systems over the years.
    You have only to look at the GW Bush appointments of John Roberts to the supreme court to clearly see the view of the US legal system.

    I fear for this officer though….he will most likely be found some time down the road beaten to death in the back ally slums of Puerto Rico with a cross draped around his neck and a bible lain on his chest.

  7. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: He really gets to me, does Charlie. What’s worse are the people who are so ready to suck up to this patronising twerp.

  8. Angela_K says:

    @barriejohn: Did Charles ask his Aspidistra for permission to go outside I wonder? And don’t forget our future King is a cheerleader for Homeopathy and assorted quackery – he also sucks up to the muslims.

  9. barriejohn says:

    The public are so gullible. Evidently, the Queen will be signing the new Commonwealth Charter – which is supposed to guarantee equal rights for LGBT people amongst others – but, due to its clever wording, is not being forced to use the dreaded word “gay” in public for the first time. They are being discriminated against on “other grounds”!

    http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/lgbt-rights/queen-supports-gay-rights-commonwealth

  10. Trevor Blake says:

    It is not clear that Puerto Rico is as beholden to the United States Constitution as the ACLU suggests. It may be regionally illegal or morally wrong to insist on police prayer, but it is not clear that it is unconstitutional. It maybe that it should be considered unconstitutional, but is it not clear that it is unconstitutional.

  11. Peggy Carrier says:

    Unless you work for a religious organization, religion should not be practiced in the workplace. Yes, humanity, respect for everyone’s beliefs, etc. should. Maybe a moment of silence to practice whatever anyone wants to practice. It is always laughable when someone says that they aren’t allowed to pray. Since you can say a silent prayer at anytime, isn’t someone giving someone else power that they don’t have? Isn’t it being said that someone is actually in your head controlling your thoughts?

    All this reminds me of the tactics that were used in the past to force employees to participate in United Way. It is all hazing and coercion.

  12. jay says:

    Puerto Ricans are US citizens in a US territory. The Constitution applies.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Wikipedia to the rescue. again:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Puerto_Rico

    Last November, the majority voted in favour of becoming a US state, but the result was not as clear-cut as it at first appears.

  14. jay says:

    As with state constitutions, the PR constitution is subservient to the US Constitution

  15. barriejohn says:

    Jay: It makes that clear.

    Since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, the Puerto Rico Constitution is bound to adhere to the postulates of the U.S. Constitution due to the Supremacy Clause, and of relevant Federal legislation due to the Territorial Clause.

  16. Buffy says:

    Yeah, well, there may be Freedom of Religion but as we in the US all know that generally only means Freedom of Christianity, and everybody else has the freedom to burn in hell.

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