To Whom It May Concern,
I am a seasoned professional currently seeking a new opportunity. I have extensive experience in the public and private sectors, having served for decades as a firefighter, but also as a florist, cake artist, and promotional printer, among other things. In recent years, I’ve even taken up farming (more on that below). I am open to exploring a variety of new opportunities, ranging from education to healthcare, corporate America to nonprofit services, or even entertainment. Unfortunately, as you’ll soon read, there is a catch.
My employment history includes:
- More than 30 years experience as a firefighter and more than a decade as a fire chief in Louisiana and Georgia;
- More than 30 years experience as a floral artist at my Washington floral business;
- More than 20 years experience creating custom cakes at my Colorado bakery;
- More than 18 years experience as a promotional printer and company owner in Kentucky;
- Various other positions, including stints as a wedding photographer, a farmer, a nurse, a college professor, and a technology entrepreneur.
While I am equally passionate about these diverse career pursuits, and am proud of my record of achievement, recent events have forced me to consider other options that are more stable, particularly in light of my religious beliefs. (Also known as “the catch.”)
While I hope to have the opportunity to discuss this with you in person, so that I can better explain the events that transpired, suffice it to say that in each of these positions, I was told that my faith—and the resultant beliefs and values—was unwelcome.
This leads me to my current predicament. A career in government service no longer appears to be an option, because I was suspended without pay and then fired from my position as a metropolitan city’s fire chief. The reason: I wrote a book in my personal time that advocated for the biblical view of human sexuality. At the time, an openly homosexual council member said that because I was a city employee, I needed to leave my “thoughts, beliefs and opinions . . . at the door” if they were different from the city’s. It struck me as ironic that, in an effort to further diversity and tolerance, the city’s position is essentially that we all need to think, believe, and express the same things.
A small business offering expressive services likewise appears to be off the table. I’ve been told that whether creating floral designs, designing custom cakes, printing promotional products, or taking photos, I am required to express messages I disagree with, even if they go against my sincerely held beliefs. For example, even though I believe that marriage is the union of one man and woman, I have been ordered to participate in, celebrate, and/or commemorate same-sex wedding ceremonies.
As to the business sector, it appears my corporate ambitions won’t get off the ground. I thought I had potential in the technology space; in fact, I developed a programming language and co-founded a technology corporation and popular web browser. Unfortunately, some activists learned that I donated to a ballot proposition designed to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman (it passed by popular vote), and they initiated an “online shaming campaign” that eventually led to my resignation. Once again, it seemed a powerful force was determined to eliminate our country’s history of spirited debate and “more speech” and to replace it with “enforced silence” or, in some cases, mandated and uniform expression.
"I was told that my faith—and the resultant beliefs and values—was unwelcome."
I briefly considered healthcare, but those dreams were essentially DOA. During my stint as a nurse, I was pressured to abandon my convictions regarding the sanctity of life and to participate in abortion procedures. To refuse, I was told, would cost me my job. I resisted and, thankfully, my right to do so was upheld, but the experience left me physical, emotionally, and spiritually drained. I wonder what the future holds if society doesn’t awaken to the progressive encroachment on our religious freedoms. The Affordable Care Act is being used as a sword to try and force Christian businesses, private universities—and even a group of nuns—to provide healthcare coverage for abortions. If my experience taught me anything, it is that my beliefs aren’t welcome in this arena.
Education seemed to be a promising field, until I was bullied, denied a promotion to full professor, and faced a petition calling for my termination. This is becoming far too common; even in California, Dr. Robert Lopez, faced calls for his professional head after he gave his students an optional assignment to attend a conference called “Bonds That Matter,” which addressed family relationships and the rights of children. At this rate, it’s just a matter of time before my religious beliefs get me expelled from the “marketplace of ideas” at university campuses.
I even considered a career path I’ve always shied away from—reality television. But my 15 seconds of fame ended with a whimper. My sibling and I were lined up to do a show for HGTV, but after the media got wind of our views on abortion and marriage, the show was flipped to the curb.
With all this in mind, I embraced an entirely different lifestyle—I bought a farm in upstate New York. I decided to cultivate the land, to be one with nature. But, because I’m a people person, my spouse and I decided to open our home and private property to the public for events like a corn maze, or pumpkin picking. After some friends commented on what a beautiful setting our property would make for a wedding, we started renting it out on occasion for that purpose. But even this blew up in my face when we politely declined to host a same-sex wedding ceremony on our property, in our home. As a result, we were fined $13,000, simply because we wanted to stay true to our religious convictions.
I write the open application from my own personal “safe space”—a small closet in the basement of my home. So far, my Internet Service Provider (which will remain nameless, lest I spark some sort of Twitter-storm outrage against it) has allowed me to share these experiences over the World Wide Web, but I certainly am not taking that privilege for granted. In the meantime, if you have any positions for a person like me, please respond. I’m really not picky. I’d like consistent hours, fair pay, modest benefits, and the opportunity to remain true to my beliefs.
Is that really too much to ask?
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It’s true, I don’t have more than 98 years experience in fields ranging from cake design to firefighting. I’ve never been employed as a college professor, and HGTV has shown no interest in my renovation skills. But the scenarios described above are all too real, and these brave men and women have been fired, punished, silenced, fined, or otherwise attacked because they sought to live authentic lives consistent with their religious beliefs. Read more about their stories.
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