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Oh woe! Not another persecuted Christian

Oh woe! Not another persecuted Christian

AN Iowa newspaper editor who was fired after posting an anti-LGBT blog post is furious over his sacking and claims that his religious freedom was violated.

Acccording to this report, peckerhead Bob Eschliman, above, former editor of Newton Daily News, filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that he was fired for being a Christian.

Eschliman — who refers to himself on his Facebook page as an “Evil Conservative” — is being represented by an attorney from the Liberty Institute, a Christian law practice dedicated to injecting faith into public policy and to fighting efforts by the courts to separate matters of church and state.

The former editor was fired in May after publishing an anti-LGBT rant on his personal blog, in which he railed against:

The LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo.

He claimed LGBT people of faith are attempting to rewrite the Bible to:

Make their sinful nature ‘right with God’. (W)e must fight back against the enemy.

Shaw Media, the Daily News‘ publisher, said that Eschliman

Is entitled to his opinion [but]  his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.

Eschliman’s attorney, Liberty’s Matthew Whitaker, said that his client is the victim of workplace discrimination.

In America it is against the law to fire an employee for expressing a religious belief in public. This kind of religious intolerance by an employer has no place in today’s welcoming workforce.

15 responses to “Oh woe! Not another persecuted Christian”

  1. Stephen Mynett says:

    Another familiar bleat from a bigot, I know next to nothing about the Liberty Institute but from the description here it seems they are an American equivalent of the Christian Legal Centre, a well known “let my idiot beliefs allow me to discriminate unit” famous for its bigotry and intolerance.

    It should be simple for anyone to see the difference between having a belief and using that belief to spread hatred and bile, although hatred and bile is very much what the Bible teaches, so I suppose it should not be a surprise that another whining religionist tries to use the law to further his odious ambitions.

  2. Norman Paterson says:

    Seems a bit much that Eschliman can’t say what he wants in his personal blog, even though it’s distasteful to many. I tend to side with Eschliman here.

    For the record, I am not happy about any speech being illegal, though I will grudgingly accept that some might be necessarily so. But for someone to write what he likes in his own blog and that be illegal – it’s a bit like Winston Smith keeping a diary. And what does it have to do with his job? Was the blog hosted on the work computer? Was he blogging when he should have been working? Apparently not. He was just voicing unpopular opinions. Like we all do.

  3. Stephen Turner says:

    I tend to agree that he shouldn’t have been sacked, even though he’s obviously a prat.

    OT, here’s something in the Irish Times about a man who bought a Mass
    kit to become an exorcist…

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/protection-order-granted-against-man-who-said-he-was-exorcist-1.1876047

    (only the first half of the article is relevant).

  4. AgentCormac says:

    I agree with Norman Paterson on this. The man is clearly a deranged and hateful idiot, but like it or not in a democracy he does have the right to say what he wants.

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    I am quite sure that sooner or later my far from neutral or nurturing view of religion expressed here will be brought up at my place of employment. I wish nothing for myself that I do not wish for Mr. Eschliman in this regard. What he and I do away from our workplace, be it legal, is a private affair. He may think I’m wicked for considering sex among consenting informed adults to be less of a bother than he does. I do think he’s a mean-spirited fool. But our wickedness and foolishness is happening outside of work. Let us strive to make the 21st Century see less grundys and pecksniffs.

  6. barriejohn says:

    I think that a newspaper editor should realize that he needs to be careful what he says in public, as he is never really “off duty”. Doesn’t it seem rather odd anyway that an editor should have his own blog? Facebook page and Twitter account perhaps, but personal weblog? No.

  7. KarenJ503 says:

    Excuse me, most of you who’ve already commented here, but if Bob Eschliman didn’t want blowback from posting his bigotry on his Facebook page or anywhere else, he should have made his FB page private. “barriejohn” above is correct.

    Most of you are referring to “his personal blog” as opposed to a workplace blog or column (editorial page), but even a personal blog is wide-open to the world’s view if he doesn’t password-protect it by making it private. Sure, he can say what he wants publicly, but he should recognize there may be adverse consequences (employer mandated rules and standards) as well as beneficial ones (other bigots joining in).

  8. JohnMWhite says:

    @Norman Paterson: “But for someone to write what he likes in his own blog and that be illegal – it’s a bit like Winston Smith keeping a diary.

    It was not illegal for him to say what he did, it was simply considered so potentially damaging to the reputation of the newspaper he is supposed to be in charge of that the paper decided it could no longer retain his services. Freedom of speech, in the US at least, refers to one’s freedom to say what they like (assuming it isn’t immediately dangerous) free of government interference. An employer is under no such obligation: if they think your speech has compromised them they can fire you, and that is what happened here.

    Still, I do appreciate the concern about it being a slippery slope. Can Hobby Lobby start shedding workers who complain about the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception on their personal Twitter account? Does ‘liking’ the Freethinker on Facebook constitute an acceptance of everything it and its commentors say and then my Muslim boss can interpret that as me thinking he’s a mad muzzie who should be shot like a dog or something because one guy said that one time? Employers should have the right to mitigate damage to their reputation caused by their representatives, even in personal time (the Internet, even used in one’s own time, is hardly ‘private’ itself). But we absolutely have to be careful to avoid this becoming a bludgeon that can be used to get rid of people simply for having dissenting views.

    So in short, an editor publicly calling gay people ‘the Gaystapo’ and an enemy that must be fought is a pretty clear case where the publisher can think “crap, this will cost us sales” and ditch him. An editor fired for remarking “I personally don’t believe in gay marriage” would be something quite different.

  9. Barry Duke says:

    I’m in two minds about this case. One part of me says that if this Christian blockhead wanted to express his prejudices within the “confines” of his own blog, that fine by me.

    The trouble is that, with the Internet being so accessible, no such confines exist. Consequently if a person holds a position of influence – in this case being a newspaper editor – expresses hatred for a section of the community, his employers would be correct in thinking that such prejudice may have a negative effect on their business.

    And ask yourself this: if Eschliman had expressed RACIST rather than homophobic sentiments, would you not regard him as a liability and sack him?

    A while back, I had occasion to berate a very close friend for posting an amusing picture on his Facebook page regarding Islam. I was OK with the image itself, but blew a gasket when I saw that it had the British National Party’s emblem in one corner.

    My friend was job-hunting at the time, and I pointed out to him, somewhat forcefully, that if any prospective employer saw that on his FB page, he or she would assume he was a fascist and a racist. Which is most certainly is not. His impressive CV would have been binned. He removed the post immediately.

    Eschliman, as a journalist, must have been more aware than most that there is simply no privacy on the Internet. If he thought it was worth the risk to expose his bigotry on the Internet, why is he now whingeing over the consequences?

  10. Joe V. says:

    The problem I see with this bigot and his employer is that many companies have a “no discrimination” policy in place. This guy has a right to his opinion no matter how wrong headed he is. He was the editor of a well respected newspaper that has a “no discrimination” policy in place and this idiot was open of his intolerance making it public instead of keeping his mouth shut. He was caught and lost his job because of it. He was fired for being an asshole. Get over it and go sob into a double cheeseburger. I don’t blame the newspaper one bit.

    I work in a hospital environment and cannot discuss my work outside of the facilities no matter what my views are. I totally understand the newspaper.

  11. Matt Westwood says:

    There was a case a year or two ago (? can’t remember, I have trouble keeping track of time) where a young foolish lad made a posting on facebook which was considered offensive to squaddies. He was prosecuted and (I believe) jailed for that. The fascist who was “interviewed” on R4 was not even *asked* whether this could have been considered an attack on free speech, it was taken for granted that mockery of our armed forces was clearly and obviously too offensive for the boy to be allowed to remain at liberty.

    This, btw, was I believe before the Lee Rigby incident.

  12. Matt Westwood says:

    … and in response to Barry Duke, it is *essential* that, in order to retain one’s employment prospects, to do *all* one’s social networking under an alias.

    I even remember a case on a discussion group where someone told the story about how he interviewed some guy for a job. Pushed all the right buttons, said all the right things, was a shoo-in. The interviewer googled this guy’s name, and he got a hit where someone with this name was active on a site specialising in adventurous sexual conduct of a certain kind. “Naturally,” said the interviewer, “we turned this guy down straight away.” It was then pointed out by others on that forum that what the interviewer had done was pretty damn illegal in most civilised nations.

  13. sailor1031 says:

    Like most states of the USA Iowa is an “employment at will” state. An employee can be fired for any reason or no reason unless protected by a contract or by state or federal laws such as anti-discrimination laws.

    On the face of it Eschliman was fired for potentially or actually bringing his employer into disrepute. His claimed status as a christian has nothing to do with it and I think he’ll have a difficult time trying to prove that it has – especially as he put the evidence out in public himself.

    The only defence I can see is that being christian requires one to be a foul-mouthed bigot in public. Might fly but I doubt it.

  14. Norman Paterson says:

    I take the point about free speech being free from government sanction.

    I suppose if Eschliman had been applying for this job as editor and his prospective employer had found his blog of objectionable views, I would say that his employer would be entitled to bin his CV and choose someone else. That would seem to be no different from his prospective employer spotting him holding a placard in a demonstration round an abortion clinic, for example (on whichever side of the argument).

    It is a very small step from deciding not to hire a person because of what he says in public, to firing him for the same reason. It would not make much sense for one to be fair but not the other.

  15. Matt Westwood says:

    @Norman: The difference being that if you fail to employ someone on these grounds it is far more difficult to prove that you have been discriminated against.