February 09, 2017
Squashing a person's religious freedom will cost you -- $225,000 in fact! That's how much the state of Georgia was forced to pay Dr. Eric Walsh for taking his family on a two-year roller coaster of Christian persecution. As some of you might remember, the Californian was hired by Georgia officials to run the state's Department of Public Health. But shortly after accepting the job and preparing to move his family to the Peach State, his new office called and asked for copies of sermons he'd delivered on the weekends at his church as a lay pastor. The next day, to everyone's astonishment, Walsh was fired. Why? Because he dared to preach what the Bible says on issues from sexuality to evolution.
"This has been very painful for me," he told Fox News's Todd Starnes at the time. "I really am a strong believer in the Constitution, but now I feel like maybe all these ideals and values that I was raised to believe -- the ideals the country was founded upon -- no longer exist." Of course, Georgia's DPH insisted it had nothing to do with his biblical beliefs, but as our friends at First Liberty Institute know, that was nothing but a vain attempt to cover their tracks for what should be an open-and-shut case of religious discrimination.
Since 2015, the case has taken some interesting twists and turns, including a Houston-esque subpoena for Walsh's sermons, sermon notes, and even his Bible! Like far too many people, the government not only scrutinized Dr. Walsh for his Christian beliefs -- but used those beliefs against him! That's not only unconstitutional -- it's un-American! Fortunately, the state finally realized as much and decided to settle before its intolerance was made even more visible and painful as this case wound its way through the courts.
Now, months into his legal battle, Dr. Walsh can finally celebrate. "It's been a long, difficult journey," he said today, "but it's worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty." First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys is hopeful that this case will help send the message that religious discrimination won't be tolerated. And 40,387 of you helped make it possible! Tens of thousands of you signed our petition and supported us when we played a part in Dr. Walsh's press conference in Atlanta. As First Liberty says, that was all crucial in making Georgia officials feel the pressure. Hopefully, other states will think twice before trying to use Americans' religious beliefs against them!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.