The State of Georgia is requiring Dr. Eric Walsh to surrender copies of his sermons under threat of law. First Liberty Institute is representing him against this violation of his First Amendment rights.
Walsh, who serves his a Seventh Day Adventist church as a lay minister on weekends, was hired by the State of Georgia as a District Health Director. Soon after he was hired, the State obtained copies of sermons Walsh had delivered at his church, reviewed their content, and then fired him without explanation.
Walsh then sued the State for religious discrimination. Last month, Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens then demanded that Walsh provide any and all sermon notes and/or sermon transcripts he possessed for review and analysis. Olens issued a “Request for Production of Documents” which has the force of a subpoena that compels Walsh to comply.
“The State of Georgia’s brazen discrimination against an individual on the basis of his religious beliefs violates everything we believe in as a nation. It is wrong, and it is illegal. But in attempting to defend an indefensible decision, the State is now requiring a Christian minister to surrender his sermon notes for inspection under the threat of law. It is difficult to imagine a more blatant violation of America’s founding principles,” Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, said.
Robbins also resides in Georgia.
“American Principles Project urges the State to withdraw its attempt to intimidate Dr. Walsh and other potential plaintiffs by demanding access to his sermons and sermon notes, and to make him whole for any losses he has incurred because of the State’s illegal conduct. Anything else will suggest that people of faith need not apply for government jobs in Georgia,” Robbins added.
The time to speak up is now. The state’s actions in this case do not happen in a vacuum; they are, unfortunately, part of a troubling pattern that is very dangerous,” Tanya Ditty, CWA of Georgia State Director, said in a released statement.
Georgia is better than this. Here is an issue that is beyond political affiliation. We all know that no one should be fired from their job over their religious beliefs or over something they said in their church.
“Can anyone seriously defend the state’s intrusion into sermon writing? Ditty added. “The state’s actions in this case are reminiscent of the sort of ‘monitoring’ the great German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced in his time. CWA of Georgia demands an immediate end to this type of anti-religious bigotry on the part of state authorities.”