Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Special Consideration" For Hiring Non-Christians

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The Ferndale Education Association provides "special consideration" for hiring "non-Christians."

Is this legal?

Is it discriminating against those who "are" of the Christian faith?

It seems rather hypocritical for a school district to give such a directive in hiring instructions that also include the standard "no discrimination clause" that states no employee can be discriminated against based on their religion.

Rana Elmir with the ACLU says there's "nothing wrong with encouraging people of diverse faiths to apply" for positions in public education.

But Richard Thompson with the Thomas More Law Center says, "Why would they be discriminating against people for their religious beliefs? It's outrageous."

What's going on?

The Ferndale Education Association is a division of the Michigan Education Association.

This contract ran from 2011 to 2012. It was then extended to 2017.

The Michigan State Constitution says a state employer "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to any individual or groups on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."

Yet a directive to administrators in the Ferndale schools says, "Special consideration shall be given to women and/or minorities defined as Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith."

That's pretty clear. "Give preferential treatment to the following..."

Why would they do this?

Rana Elmir with the ACLU says, "There is nothing wrong with encouraging people from diverse faiths to apply for a position."

But this is not an "encouragement" to people of non Christian faith to apply for a position. It is directive to give "special consideration" to anyone who is "not" a Christian.

Does this suggest that Christians must hide their faith if they want to get the job?

Elmir says no, "In fact doing so recognizes that our classrooms and communities are diverse."

She is advocating that diversity trumps legality. And what about fairness?

It's understandable that Superintendent Gary Meier, Board President Jim O'Donnell and MEA UniServe director Troy Scott are not returning multiple calls to their offices.

Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor said, "Why would they be discriminating against Christians? They are not supposed to be discriminating against people for their religious beliefs. It's outrageous. And I believe it's unconstitutional."

The Detroit News is reporting that since this story broke, the school district has removed the discriminating language.

The school is saying the language was included a number of years ago and they were not aware of it.

But everyone is not buying the explanation. Detroit lawyer Bruce Miller says he was shocked when he read about this. He says, "Most of these kinds of contracts are created from carefully crafted and legally screened boiler plate language."

He says, "What's surprising is how it got there."

It is surprising. And its difficult to believe that it was "just there" and the school used it over and over and over without any legal review.

One thing is sure. Someone, at some point, put that language in the contract. And even if it arguably does not represent the position of the school district, it clearly represents the position of someone who has considerable influence and access to public education.

Is the public school district that out of touch with what they are directing administration to do in hiring?

The school district has sent out multiple email and press notices over the past few days affirming that they "do," underscore "do" comply with non discrimination laws.

Superintendent Gary Meier has announced that he is retiring and will vacate his office by June 30.

State Representative Tim Kelly (R) has called on the Michigan State Board of Education to investigate the school district and the Michigan Education Association.

Was this mere oversight?


But someone, at some point, put those words in that directive. Words do not grow in files.

This is why we always advocate vigilance. And work to keep people of faith informed and involved.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Pro-Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.


  1. It is wonderful that someone found this and then made it public. Too many times it gets shrugged off as no big deal.

  2. "Does this suggest that Christians must hide their faith if they want to get the job?"

    Do you mean like atheists have had to do forever? And it's not just the interview, try hiding your belief system your entire career because devout christians up the food chain have been taught that atheists have no moral base and can't be trusted. No sympathy for christians here!

    But this really just points out why religion has no place in job interviews or in the workplace at all.

    1. So... that means atheism has no place in job interviews or the workplace at all?

      Craig in Lacey

    2. I believe every atheist should have every equal opportunity to express the meaning of such words as honesty, integrity, goodness, righteousness, truth, justice, mercy, faithfulness, etc, and how he has decided to live by such virtues, and what his guide or rule, or books that he learns such things from, are.

      I believe he should have an equal chance to make his case about such things just as much as any Christian, in order to see if he can correctly speak of such things.

    3. Craig,

      Yes, the workplace should be free of judgments based on beliefs regarding religion. These environments should be free of any beliefs regarding religion. At the end of an interview, the interviewer should not know if an interviewee is christian, muslim, catholic, protestant, baptist, mormon, agnostic, atheist, gay, straight, married, divorced, etc.

      Personally, if I were the interviewer, I would tend to judge religious people as kinda crazy, believing in magical stories and all. So it would be better that it didn't come out in an interview. And religious people would judge me as immoral. Again, it has no place in the interview.

    4. 3:11pm,

      That's exactly the point I was making. You are why people who disagree with you on religion would never want you making decisions on their careers if you knew of their beliefs. Thank you for illustrating my point.

    5. 3:11

      I have no quarrel with you expressing your beliefs. What I do have is a problem with is you telling me I can't. The point Gary was making was 'special consideration', which is unconstitutional.


      If you think I'm kinda crazy, don't hire me, no prob. If I thought you were immoral, I wouldn't hire you either, regardless of your beliefs. No prob.


      My career stands or falls on my competence. If someone wants to use a different measure, thats their issue. I'm gonna succeed anyway, with or without them.

      Craig in Lacey

    6. Craig,

      I get it, you don't think it's a big deal if people are discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. I guess this is where you part company with Gary.

    7. As a Christian I expect to be persecuted for my beliefs. As Paul explained in 2 Tim 3:12-13, "indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived."

      Do I seek to be matyred? No. But I will stand on the revealed word of Gd and if that is my end, so be it. I don't fear death because Christ has promised me eternal life. The world holds no such promises.

      As far as a career goes, I'll stand or fall according to God's will for my life, regardless of the schemes of man.

      I'm sure Gary knows this, so no, we haven't parted company at all.

      Craig in Lacey

    8. That's great that as a christian you welcome persecution, but personally, as a human, I think it's wrong. And if Gary agreed with you, I don't think he would be constantly complaining about persecution of christians. It seems to be his new meme since the gay marriage ship sailed past the point of return.

    9. That ship hasn't sailed past God's judgement. He is long suffering, desiring repentance from sin and a relationship with him thru Jesus Christ.

      Don't be deceived, we reap what we sow. If to the spirit , eternal life. If to the flesh, eternal torment.

      I think you might be misunderstanding. Its not that I welcome persecution. I accept it as the price sometimes of following Jesus Christ. I don't disagree with your statement that persecution is wrong, so no I agree with Gary and it seems, so do you..

      Craig in Lacey

  3. Hopefully all of those who support the school's (or anyone else's) right to treat non-Christians preferentially will just as strongly support someone's right to state preferential treatment will be given to Christians, whites, males, or any other group. The only way it is acceptable is if anyone can do it.

  4. So now "diversity" means "discrimination", as if both words mean the same thing. Amazing!

    Why can't they just let freedom be!

    Why must they think they need to manipulate freedom in order for freedom to be what it simply is?

    It's as if they really do not know what freedom is.

    Diversity should naturally take place within a social group if they would just learn to let freedom be and learn to not discriminate.

    But let's remember that learning to not discriminate does not mean "anything goes." We've got to be discerning as to what's good and what's evil, whether that means using a Bible simply because it's the best standard we have to know good from evil, or even a dictionary if that's all they have, or can believe in.

    What's getting scary is how the meanings of words are being twisted and confused. It must be driving the people crazy who work so hard to write

    Have people simply lost all good sense?

  5. So what's it going to take for people to return to sanity? I think I know the answer. Isn't it going to be a return to the teachings of the Bible and a return to the cross of Christ?

  6. As someone who hired and fired educational employees, I NEVER used religion as a criteria even though I am a Christian. What Christians have discovered; however, is that the reverse is often not true.

    1. It goes in both directions. That's why it's just inappropriate in the workplace.

  7. A late comment- due to Mozilla Firefox CEO's resignation because he made a 'Christian' donation: I often pay a 10 percent tithing, and donate to various other causes- generally based on an issue or the organization, not on its politics; although I'm getting more and more defensive, paranoid, or critical of any political posturing. By such though, I will no longer support BSA, but worry about Pro-life, F & F coalition, Liberty Action, CREDO, and other donations of a religious nature that may be construed as from the religious right and cause personal threats, intimidation, or the loss of a job. Being descrimatory and biased, I expect any political activism may impact my being hired by state or federal governments, or contracting with them, despite my qualifications. (Once told I was the best qualified of 500 applicants (for 4 jobs), I was rejected because I was alcoholic.) But now I'm also being disqualified because I may be a Christian? NC WA


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