Our First Amendment freedoms will always be important in any election. That’s why Christians and people of other religions should elect politicians who take our constitutional rights seriously. Elections matter.
For example, Peter Vlaming was a high school French teacher in Virginia. The West Point School Board’s superintendent insisted that teachers refer to students by preferred pronouns and names based on their “gender identity.”
Vlaming refused call a female student “he,” but compromised by calling the girl by her preferred name and avoided using pronouns. But this wasn’t good enough for leftist school administrators, who ordered him to stop avoiding pronouns.
It’s not enough that people who object to the homosexual agenda be tolerant or accommodating. Leftists want your full acceptance…or you’re canceled.
The school board fired Vlaming, and he filed a lawsuit. A lower court dismissed his case, and he appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. His legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), argued his case before the state’s highest court last week.
“Peter wasn’t fired for something he said; he was fired for something he couldn’t say,” ADF Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel said. “As a teacher, Peter was passionate about the subject he taught, he was well-liked by his students, and he did his best to accommodate their needs and requests. But Peter could not in good conscience speak messages that he doesn’t believe to be true. We hope the Virginia Supreme Court will agree that by firing him for those beliefs, the school board violated Peter’s rights under the Virginia Constitution and state law.”
Virginia’s attorney general, Jason Miyares, submitted a brief (PDF – 60 pages) in support of Vlaming on behalf of the Commonwealth. He wrote that the West Point School District “terminated Peter Vlaming’s employment as a public-school teacher because he declined to express personal agreement with a message contrary to his deeply held religious beliefs.”
By punishing Vlaming, the brief continues, “the School Board penalized Vlaming in his civil capacity as a teacher because of his religious beliefs.” The attorney general asked the court to consider the case in light of the state constitution. More from the brief:
Virginia’s broad protections of its citizens’ religious liberty—more extensive than the protections provided by the federal Constitution—are a product of Virginia’s pluralistic origins and tradition of equal opportunity for its citizens regardless of their beliefs. Thus, Virginia’s Constitution acknowledges the fundamental truth that ‘all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience’ and provides that no one ‘shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief.'”
Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a bill into law earlier this year to protect religious freedom, including “any outward expression of religious faith in contexts where discrimination on the basis of religion is prohibited” in public accommodations, employment, and housing.
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