A former Georgia state public health official who was fired because of his Christian beliefs has won a major victory in his religious discrimination lawsuit.
The State of Georgia has reached a settlement with Dr. Eric Walsh in which he will be paid a total of $225,000.
Dr. Walsh was hired in May of 2014 by the Georgia Department of Health to serve as director of the northwest region. He immediately came under fire from a homosexual rights group in Atlanta.
The group claimed that Dr. Walsh was guilty of "anti-gay...religious rhetoric." That "rhetoric" involved sermons Walsh had preached on human sexuality as a lay minister at a Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Georgia public health administrators demanded that Walsh provide them copies of his sermons and sermon notes. They also assigned employees to review and critique videos of his sermons posted on YouTube.
Within a week, Dr. Walsh was dismissed from his job based on the fact that he had failed to disclose "outside employment." He then filed suit against the state for violating his freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom from religious discrimination.
"It's been a long, difficult journey," Dr. Walsh said of the settlement. "But it's worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty."
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says that no pastor should be targeted by the government because of Biblical preaching in his own sanctuary.
"This is a just conclusion in a case that I would have expected to see in a totalitarian, Soviet-era Communist country, not America. The government not only scrutinized Dr. Walsh for his Christian beliefs, but used those beliefs against him in terminating his employment."
"This settlement is a victory for religious freedom and the common sense principle that the pulpit is to be governed only by the Word of God," Perkins added. "Government scrutiny of speech in the pulpit is unconstitutional and unconscionable."
When Dr. Walsh was first hired by the State of Georgia, he came with an impressive resume. He was serving at the time as the director of the public health department in Pasadena, California.
While there, Dr. Walsh established the state's first municipal dental clinic for low-income families with HIV/AIDS. He had also served on President Obama's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Walsh was represented in the lawsuit by First Liberty Institute. Senior counsel Jeremy Dys commented that "religious liberty means we should be able to find sanctuary in our own sanctuary."
"If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, then they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything," Dys said.
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Pro-Life Message is
Winning in America
Sunday, January 22nd, marked the 44th anniversary of the ruthless and reckless Roe v. Wade decision, which has left in its wake the cruel and callous destruction of nearly 60 million unborn children. That casualty figure is greater than the combined population of the states of California and New York.
The annual March for Life was held on Friday of that week, with hundreds of thousands of pro-life citizens rallying on behalf of the sanctity of human life in our nation's capital. As has been their persistent practice, the ultraliberal print and broadcast media virtually ignored their presence.
However, for the first time in the history of the March for Life, a sitting Vice-president (or President) addressed the pro-life masses in person. Vice-President Mike Pence proclaimed that "a society can be judged by how we care for its most vulnerable--the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn...We have come to an historic moment in the cause for life. Life is winning in America."
"Life is winning in America through the steady advance of science that illuminates when life begins...Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers at crisis pregnancy centers who minister to women in towns across this country...The truth is being told. Compassion is overcoming convenience. And hope is defeating despair," the Vice-President said.
"To heal our land and restore a culture of life we must continue to be a movement that embraces all, cares for all, and shows respect for the dignity of every person...Rest assured that we, along with you, will not grow weary until we fully restore a culture of life in American for ourselves and our posterity," Pence concluded.
The Vice-President is right. Despite four and a half decades of the merciless murder of preborn children at the bloody hands of abortionists, the pro-life message is indeed winning. The number of abortions performed in the United States on an annual basis has dropped by 42% since 1990. 926,000 abortions were done in 2014, the most recent full year on record. 1,608,000 abortions were performed in 1990, the highest annual figure since the legalization of abortion on demand.
The statistics in Missouri reveal an even more precipitous decline. The number of abortions performed in our state has dropped by 75% since 1984. 20,204 abortions were performed in Missouri that year. Only 5,060 were conducted in 2014.
The Missouri numbers are somewhat skewed because so many Missouri women now obtain their abortions out of state. In 2014, an estimated 48% of the abortions performed on Missouri women were done at out of state abortion clinics. Despite that fact, the number of abortions conducted on Missouri women has dropped by 55% since 1980. There were 21,671 resident abortions in that year, and an estimated 9,760 in 2014.
|Some would attribute the reduction in abortions to the major decrease in the number of abortion mills. Operation Rescue reports that there were 2,176 surgical abortion facilities in the United States in 1991. Today, there are 517. Missouri currently has only one active surgical abortion clinic--the Reproductive Health Services clinic operated by Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.
"When there are no abortion clinics in a community actively marketing abortions to women, abortions decrease," says Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. At the same time, there are an estimated 5,250 pregnancy resource centers in the United States offering assistance to women with unintended pregnancies. That means there are 10 crisis pregnancy centers for every abortion clinic in America. At many of those clinics, pro-life sidewalk counselors maintain an active witness.
Others would say that decades of pro-life educational efforts have been markedly more effective due to the routinely available technology of the day. Ultrasounds and sonograms have demonstrated convincingly that the "termination of a pregnancy" involves more than removing "the contents of the uterus" and "the products of conception." Ultrasounds have provided an indisputable window into the womb, and an unmistakable picture of a child in waiting for the first hug from his or her mother and father.
Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life, attributes the progress to "the enactment of many common-sense, pro-life state laws providing for women's informed consent, parental notification, and abortion clinic regulations." Missouri has been a leader in adopting such laws.
However, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director and now a leading pro-life advocate, believes that "we are witnessing a culture change in our society." Indeed, the latest Marist survey finds that three-quarters of Americans believe that abortion should be limited to the first trimester. Only 16% believe that abortion should be available to a woman at any time during her pregnancy.
Carl Anderson, the CEO of the Knights of Columbus, the group that commissions the annual survey, says the results are encouraging. "This poll shows that large percentages of Americans, on both sides of the aisle, are united in their opposition to the status quo as it relates to abortion on demand. This is heartening and can help start a new national conversation on abortion."