Today’s news brings this item:
A Muslim flight attendant said the Atlanta-based airline ExpressJet suspended her for refusing to serve alcohol, a practice that is against her religious beliefs.
Charee Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week, saying she wants to do her job without serving alcohol, as she was doing before her suspension, her lawyer said.
Lena Masri, an attorney with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said no one “should have to choose between their career and religion.” Employers, she told CNN, must “provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely.”
Stanley, 40, began working for ExpressJet nearly three years ago. She later converted to Islam and only learned earlier this year that her faith prohibits her both from serving alcohol and consuming it. She approached a supervisor on June 1, Masri said, and was told to work out an arrangement with other flight attendants.
“We know that this arrangement has worked beautifully and without incident and that it hasn’t caused any undue burden on the airline,” Masri said.
But she said a co-worker filed a complaint on August 2, saying Stanley was not fulfilling her duties. The complaint, which Masri characterized as “Islamophobic,” also said Stanley had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a head scarf.
On August 25, the airline told Stanley it was revoking its religious accommodation and placing her on administrative leave.
So I wonder if Rick Phillips’ reasons for supporting Kim Davis would apply to Charee Stanley.
Kim Davis is not violating but rather upholding Romans 13:1, which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”
Hard to say that of Stanley since she is not pretending to follow the apostle Paul.
Kim Davis is fulfilling her God-given duty as the lesser magistrate.
Again, some disconnect here since flight attendants work in the private sector, not like county clerks. But since Stanley is an American and in a democracy all citizens are magistrates, Phillips’ reason applies.
Kim Davis is being persecuted for her Christian faith by hypocritical and tyrannical powers.
Chances are that Stanley is the object of more discrimination than Davis, numbers being what they are and Christians forming the demographic majority in the United States (where Islam is still an acquired taste). But Stanley’s case could remind Christians that they don’t need to be paranoid. Everyone experiences some kind of discrimination. The authorities don’t single out Christians.
Kim Davis is demonstrating the power of the grace of God in salvation.
Stanley clearly fails on this one unless you want to find some kind of common plan of salvation among the Abrahamic faiths. On the other hand, can Rick Phillips be so sure about what Davis means? That doesn’t mean that we know what her non-Christian or discomforting meaning is. But why, with all the baggage surrounding her, would you be so confidant?
Consider how Rod Dreher saw Davis’ release from jail:
She comes out of jail with that cheesy 1980s song “Eye of the Tiger” playing, and mounts the stage, holding hands with Huck, and giving God the glory. Now, religious liberty — our most precious freedom — is associated in the mind of the public with ersatz culture-war pageantry orchestrated by a cynical Republican presidential candidate.
I thought Ted Cruz’s turning up at the Middle Eastern bishops meeting and bashing them was the most cynical move I had ever seen by a Christian Right politician, but Huckabee may have bested that. The Family Research Council and other Christian, Inc. lobbyists are already writing the fundraising appeals, you can bet. And you can also bet that they’re bending the ear of clueless House Republicans to get them to propose provocative religious liberty legislation that stands no chance of passing, but every chance of discrediting the cause in the public’s eye. (In fact, I was told last night by someone deeply involved in this issue at the Congressional level that this is exactly what is happening.)
So I’m angry about this. Huckabee and Cruz, but especially Huckabee, are doing wonders to inject juice into their own presidential campaigns, but the political cost to the long-term good of orthodox Christians will be severe. But hey, we’ve Made A Statement, and demonstrating our emotions (and, while we’re at it, raising some money for GOP candidates and Christian advocacy groups) is the most important thing.
For conservative Christians who don’t understand why we should care about the political effect of the Kim Davis debacle, and the optics of yesterday’s release rally, I want you to consider how it would appear to you if Hillary Clinton staged a rally against police brutality around the release from jail of a West Baltimore thug who had been roughed up by the cops as they were arresting him for shooting up a neighborhood. The gangster takes the stage to the sound of gangsta rap, wearing pants hanging off his butt, with cornrowed hair and covered in tattoos.
It could well be that Hillary’s principles were in order, and an important principle was at stake. But think of how the imagery of celebrating this guy like that would make you feel. How sympathetic would you be to the worthy cause of fighting police brutality after that display? If fighting police brutality means having to stand with a victim like that, would most people be more inclined to join the cause?
Look, I’m not comparing Kim Davis to a gangbanger. What I’m telling you is how this situation, especially yesterday’s celebration, looks to a whole lot of people outside our bubble. And it matters. It matters to all of us. Our side has no leadership, only opportunists leading the mob.
If only Christians could lower the stakes. Turn this into a simple case of religious freedom, then you don’t need to baptize Kim Davis as the most devout follower of Jesus Christ. You simply point out the problems of the recent Supreme Court decision for all people who might object to same sex marriage. And if it’s only about religious freedom, maybe you also defend Charee Stanley and gain some street cred with non-Christians.
But when the forces of Christianity, the Constitution, and the GOP line up in one seamless whole of goodness and truth, more than Houston has a problem.