Fire Department Chaplain Sacked for Transphobic ‘Sin’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Fire Department Chaplain Sacked for Transphobic ‘Sin’
Andrew Fox (center) with attorney Ryan Bangert on Tucker Carlson’s show, Aug. 25, 2022 (Alliance Defending Freedom/YouTube)

The bar for getting sacked from employment for personal opinions dipped a bit lower in December when a volunteer chaplain in the Austin, Texas, Fire Department was fired for expressing the viewpoint — on his own blog, on his own time — that men should not compete in women’s sports.

Being fired for blogging is nothing new, alas. It’s as old as, well, blogging itself. And fireable “offenses” run the gamut from self-destructive posts that mock the boss or dump on the company brand to messages that inadvertently disclose company secrets. Although some terminated employees seek legal redress, the issues are usually complicated, and in right-to-work states (about half of U.S. states) companies can fire employees for practically any reason, or for no reason.

The difference for Andrew Fox, the fired chaplain, is that a government entity terminated his employment. Last week, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the British-born chaplain filed suit in federal court against the city of Austin, alleging that two First Amendment rights — his right to free speech and his right to religious liberty — had been violated.

Fox, an ordained minister, moved to Austin in 2012 and volunteered to serve as chaplain for the Austin Fire Department and its 1,400 uniform and civilian members. In fact, he started from scratch the fire department chaplaincy program, and for the past eight years has been on call 24/7, counseling and praying with firefighters and their families and helping them cope with the harrowing emotional crises that come with the job.

Fox also blogged about religion and philosophy on a personal website. In one issue last year he laid out, as he puts it, his “religious and commonsense view that men and women are biologically different, and men should not compete on women’s sports teams against biological men.” This generated the objection of an anonymous member, or members, of the fire department.

Fox was summoned to a meeting with his betters, where he was informed of his “offense,” which department heads could not identify specifically. He was, however, asked to apologize in writing to the LGBT community, which he did: “I explained that my intent was to foster discussion, not cause offense.”

This was regarded insufficiently penitent, so Fox had another go, apologizing if he had offended anyone. But that effort was rejected as well.

What the department required, Fox realized, was a recantation of his beliefs. This he would not do.

The complaint itself reads:

No one ever accused [Fox] of discriminating against anyone or treating anyone improperly. To the contrary, the City lauded him for his integrity and service. Dr. Fox consistently shared his religious and philosophical reflections online for years without any problem. It was only when Dr. Fox expressed a particular set of views that officials disliked that the City extinguished Dr. Fox’s career. . . . Americans cannot learn to respect each other’s differences when they face career-crushing consequences anytime their personal beliefs, expressed openly on their own time outside of work, contradict the ideological commitments of some HR officials.

Commented Ryan Bangert, ADF senior counsel: “Everyone should be able to speak freely without fear of the government coming after you just because you expressed a view they disagree with.”

Sadly, Fox’s case is just another in a lengthening list of teachers, professors, medical personnel, and others required to compromise religious beliefs or forced to say something they don’t want to say in order to remain employed. (READ MORE from Tom Raabe: The Left Suddenly Discovers Free Speech to Force Transgender Indoctrination on Children)

Sometimes it’s teachers taken to the woodshed for violation of preferred pronoun protocol, refusing to call boys “she” (Nicholas Meriwether) or girls “he” (Peter Vlaming); at other times it’s medical professionals who, in conscience, will not refer patients for abortions (Sandra Rojas). And at still other times it’s fire chiefs who write, on their own time, books directed toward Christian men that rouse “woke” sensitivities. The city of Atlanta settled in 2018 for $1.2 million with Kevin Cochran because he wrote a devotional book that mentions his Christian views of sex and marriage.

Wrote Fox:

I am not the first to face this injustice, but I am speaking out because I’d like to be the last. Who gets to decide what views are acceptable and which ones aren’t on someone’s personal blog? Or will government officials simply start accepting only those who remain completely silent about their faith, political views, or deeply held beliefs?

That is not the America I immigrated to 23 years ago. No matter your opinion on whether men should be allowed to compete on women’s sports teams, it should deeply concern every American that the government can fire someone for expressing it.

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