Rapt attention

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Starr crossed

Does your religious liberty give you the freedom to call up and harass fellow workers who may not share your theology or opinions on abortion and call them despicable?

Apparently so. 

And if you don't like it, we will send you to a Christian re-education camp and straighten your ass out. Thanks, Brantley Starr.

Trump judge orders Southwest lawyers to a re-education camp

Federal judge Brantley Starr isn’t backing down from his order that lawyers for Southwest Airlines undergo “religious liberty” training from a conservative group dedicated to opposing abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. The airline’s complaint that the court-ordered training violates its First Amendment rights, Starr wrote, “appears to be more of a gripe than a legal objection.”

Starr’s latest ruling came in a case involving Charlene Carter, a Southwest flight attendant who sent graphic antiabortion messages to a fellow flight attendant and called her “despicable.” Southwest fired Carter, saying her conduct “crossed the boundaries of acceptable behavior.” Carter sued, claiming that Southwest discriminated against her based on her religious beliefs. A jury agreed; Southwest is appealing.

In early August, however, Starr, a Donald Trump appointee who sits in Dallas, found that Southwest hadn’t accurately informed its flight attendants about his ruling in the case or the fact that their religious freedom is protected under Title VII, the federal employment discrimination law. So he ordered three Southwest lawyers to undergo “a minimum” of eight hours of religious liberty training — to be conducted, he specified, by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Starr’s order referred to “esteemed nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to preserving free speech and religious freedom,” but ADF is no neutral, academic entity. It is a full-throated, highly effective combatant in the culture wars, with particular — and to many people, particularly offensive — views about abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. It argued in favor of criminalizing homosexual conduct and against gays in the military. It litigated cases defending the rights of Christian bakers and website designers to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings; it’s in court right now arguing that the abortion drug Mifepristone should be taken off the market.

Hard to recognize my country anymore. 

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