Fired for His Faith, an Austin Fire Department Chaplain Fights Back

Chip Roy represents the 21st Congressional District of Texas. Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared in National Review on September 1, 2022.

All people of goodwill should pray for and stand with Andrew Fox in defense of our way of life and freedoms.
Andrew Fox is a man of God, a gifted preacher, and for eight years he served as the lead chaplain of the Austin, Texas, Fire Department. In 2013, he helped establish the department’s chaplain program. As the lead chaplain for more than 1,000 firefighters, he was on call 24/7 to work alongside them as they battled the stress and trauma of the world’s most dangerous profession. That was, until he was fired for his faith last December.

Over his eight years of service, Fox was praised, receiving numerous awards and not one complaint from a firefighter about his counseling, demeanor, or conduct; the chaplain program experienced tremendous growth under his stewardship. Even as recently as January 2021, the fire department had been trying to put him on the full-time payroll.

Nevertheless, exemplary conduct and years of service were not enough to stop the woke mob from targeting him.

Like many pastors today, Fox maintains a blog. In summer 2021, he began writing about contemporary issues such as wokeness, males in female sports divisions, and social justice from a biblical perspective.

That’s when the trouble began.

Within weeks of writing on these topics, he was called into a meeting with the Austin Fire Department leadership. The leaders informed him that his blog had offended some LGBT members of the department. He tried to learn what specifically had offended the anonymous whistle-blowers, but he was instead told to meet with the department’s LGBT liaison.

Out of respect, he then unpublished his blog.

He proceeded to meet several times with the LGBT liaison in good faith and engaged in respectful conversation each time. He thought that the situation had been extinguished and once again made his personal blog public. However, within weeks of publicizing the blog, he was again summoned regarding his writings. This time, he was handed pages upon pages filled with handwritten comments from nameless employees accusing him of “male chauvinism,” “racism,” “transphobia,” “sexism,” and other contrived “isms.”

But it gets worse than caustic cowardice.

Allegedly, the leadership of the Austin Fire Department demanded that Fox write a public letter officially apologizing for his blog posts. He obliged and sent in a draft of an apology. The fire Department rejected it because he didn’t explicitly recant his beliefs, or the supposed “harm” caused by expressing them.

He sent back the letter with additional edits but refused to renounce his deeply held biblical beliefs. He expressed that he did not intend to cause offense and apologized for any he may have caused.

Just days after sending back his edited letter, Fox was fired from his volunteer position as lead chaplain of the Austin Fire Department.

The fire department’s de facto religious test is offensive to any Bible-believing Christian or person with common sense. No one should have his conscience held hostage or private opinions silenced simply to volunteer and serve those in need.

This situation is alarming but unsurprising. For years, radical secularists — guided by a disdain of Christianity — have become increasingly militant, and they now demand absolute allegiance to their woke ideology. Today, Christians are told they must not only tolerate but celebrate the abuse of children through dangerous medical gender experiments and the insanity of boys competing against girls in sports, and that failing to abide by these ever-changing tenets of woke orthodoxy, they will be punished by rigid ostracization and demonization.

This case should stir righteous indignation among Christians and all Americans who value freedom of speech and religion — the very foundations of America.

Fox is fighting back, and we believe the Constitution is on his side. With the help of our good friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, he filed suit on August 18, arguing that the Austin Fire Department retaliated against him for exercising his fundamental freedom. May God bless him in his fight.

We call on all people of goodwill to pray for and stand with Andrew Fox in defense of our way of life and freedoms. That the government demanded that an American citizen recant his religious beliefs to maintain his volunteer position should chill every American to the core. May he take solace in the words of Jesus Christ:

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”