You Don’t Get To Wear Your “Under God” Button at Work October 26, 2009

You Don’t Get To Wear Your “Under God” Button at Work

Here’s another example of a Christian trying to break the rules at work and saying he’s allowed to do so because he and God are on the same side.

It’s the same excuse used by evangelical teachers in public schools who feel the need to preach in the classroom.

Neither person deserves to keep their job.

Trevor Keezer is whining because he wore a button reading “One nation under God, indivisible” on his Home Depot work uniform. For a year, barely anyone noticed. (Which, for the record, doesn’t mean it was ok.)

Then, last month, when he started bringing his Bible to work, Keezer says his manager confronted him about the button.

“That’s when I was told it had to come off, or I would be sent home. So they sent me home for six straight days without pay. And then today they terminated me,” he said.

Craig Fishel, a spokesman for The Home Depot, said he could not comment on specific personnel issues, but added, “The company’s dress code policy states that we do not allow noncompany buttons, regardless of their message or content.”

There’s nothing controversial here. There’s a dress code. It’s not anti-Christian. Keezer didn’t follow it. They asked him to remove his piece of flair. He didn’t. He lost his job and he deserved to lose it.

I’m not sure if he brought the Bible to read during his break time (completely fine) or to keep at his register (not fine), but that doesn’t seem to be relevant here. The issue is his refusal to remove his button.

Keezer said he preferred to wear his button because “you can’t have country without God. Every pin they showed me had no ‘God’ on it or anything.”

… Keezer says, “It never crossed my mind to take off the button because I’m standing for something that’s bigger than I am. They kept telling me the severity of what you’re doing and I just let God be in control and went with His plan.”

“I want to be a voice for the rest of the Christians and for the citizens of this country to stand up for the country. You know, quit being told to sit down. Say what you want to say and don’t be afraid of the consequences,” he said.

Management told him he would be fired. He didn’t care. If he wants to make a martyr of himself, so be it. I’m sure there are private, Christian-owned businesses in which he’d be a great fit.

But Home Depot did the right thing by getting rid of him.

If you disagree, imagine if another worker wore a button reading, simply, “Atheist.”

Or, even more provocative, “One nation, under no god.”

Businesses have dress codes for a reason. These commenters don’t seem to understand that.

(Thanks to @VeritasKnight for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Christophe Thill

    Maybe God wanted him fired.

  • I work for the Elections department in my county and this year we have an all mail-in ballot. When the ballots are returned we have found an impressive number of ballots with “In God We Trust” stamped on the outside. Is that something people do and I’ve just never heard of it?

  • Heidi

    Can I wear a pin that says Yahweh is a Baby-Murdering Monster? That is my religious belief.

  • Baconsbud

    I agree that wearing it for a year doesn’t make it right, I am wondering why nothing was said sooner. Was it that the manger changed or was there a complaint? If he was allowed to wear it for almost a year doesn’t that mean his manager was ignoring company policy doing that time? Shouldn’t the manager for that time also be fired?

  • The real issue here was that he didn’t have 31 pieces of flair.

    (yay, I love it when Hemant blogs about my links!)

  • Whataburger would be glad to have him. They have a sign that goes in the window that says the same thing.

  • Being a pompous ass is characteristic of what the bible teaches.

  • Valdyr

    “I want to be a voice for the rest of the Christians and for the citizens of this country to stand up for the country. You know, quit being told to sit down. Say what you want to say and don’t be afraid of the consequences,” he said.

    We’re not gonna take it
    No, we ain’t gonna take it
    We’re not gonna take it… anymoooooore

    Poor, persecuted Christians. It’s just like Pat Robertson says–what Christians have to face in the US right now is worse than anything endured by any minority in history! Right now it may just be Home Depot refusing to make exceptions to its employee dress code for followers of the One True Faith(TM), and not allowing some businesses to fire employees because they are a homo or an abortionist, but what next? Genocide? It seems likely!

  • When I was working at Walmart, I considered adding my “Recovering Catholic” and “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted” pins on my vest, but I decided not to bother. I really hated wearing so many stupid pins. But at least they didn’t have a “pieces of flair” minimum to follow. heh.

  • Oh, and I also still have my “Doing my part to piss off the religious right” pin but I no longer recall where I bought it.

  • I highly encourage anybody reading this to write a message of support to Home Depot. You can send them a message through this form:

    Too often, the vocal minority of the extremist christians in this country make people or companies apologize for their actions, even when they were in the right. If all a company hears is the negative, then they may think they made a mistake, when they did not.

    So, we really need to also step up and tell companies when they do something right, as well, to balance out this sort of reaction.

  • Reading the comments there hurt my brain. Surely that ‘lastofthemohicans’ dude is a troll. Please tell me people aren’t really that stupid.

  • Parse

    I am certain that Mr. Keezer thinks he is following in the footsteps of Gandhi and King, but what he fails to realize is the magnitude of his issue (or more specifically, the lack thereof). Getting yourself fired over your refusal to remove a button says more about you and your personality than it does about the issue.

    It would be understandable for him to take this position if the company had changed its dress code while he worked there to explicitly ban such pins. After all, if the situation were reversed and the company I worked for started to make me wear a pin such as this, I would refuse to comply as well. They’re both private companies, and have the right to do it if they so wanted. However, he is taking the same self-martyring position as pharmacists who refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions: they know the rules before starting, but still refuse to play along.

    I look forward to when the same people coming to Mr. Keezer’s defense will also rush to the side of an open atheist working at a Christian bookstore. (That, and pigs flying, two-headed calves being born, and seas turning to blood. I think they’ll all happen at roughly the same time).

  • I find it so ironic that the people that break codes to display their mental disorders are in reality working against their own interest. If they would really like to get the dress code changed, I would love to be able to wear me “Religion Sickens Me” button and my Jesus-buster hat. Hell, I am sure the satanists would also love to display their clever sayings. Do Christians and other mainstream religions really want to have to deal in public with all of us that don’t agree?

  • muggle

    I’ve got to drop Home Depot a note and commend them for this. Of course, they’re right to have such a dress code.

    They are a place of business specializing in selling products for home improvement, not a forum for debate and promoting personal political agendas.

    I know, as a customer, if I was confronted with that button, I’d be offended enough to complain.

    Why is it that employees these days who work for the public seem to have no conception that they represent their employer while on the job, not themselves. I have had numerous times when making a complaint and referring to the company as you (as in the general plural you) an employee has pulled themself up straight and said I didn’t do that! I’ve had several instances that I’ve actually had to explain you as in the company. From this experience, I have determined to try and remember to change my terminology next time and repeat the company name in full instead of saying you sold me this piece of crap, for instance, when dealing with a customer service rep.

    And this fellow, sorry, dude, when you put on your Home Depot coat to earn a pay check, you left your individuality at the door and that does mean your politics and prostelyzing.

  • Carlie

    Wouldn’t “not being afraid to take the consequences” mean that he’d go along with being fired? I’m sick and tired of Christians claiming that they’re being so “brave” and “strong” and “taking consequences of their actions” when what they’re really doing is trying to strongarm everyone else into going along with them. Don’t want to sell Plan B? Don’t be a pharmacist. Don’t want to take off your God button? Go work at Zondervan. What ISN’T being brave and strong and taking consequences is suing to keep the job under your own special snowflake conditions.

  • Mary

    It’s just a stupid button! What I want to know is: if the company policy is that you can’t wear buttons on your uniforms, why did it take them a year to address the issue with the employee? Kind of seems like they were setting a precedent for allowing the practice since the employee was able to wear it for so long without them taking any action against him.

  • “special snowflake conditions”

    You miss the point here. Yes Home Depot has the right to mandate acceptable uniforms and prohibit things such as the One Nation Under God Pin. And yes the guy should have just taken the pin off instead of creating this hoopla. These types of people must pick their battles wisely, and this isnt one of them.

    But, the point you guys miss is that it shouldnt be offensive or hurtful or hateful to anyone in the first place. You dont understand that wearing that specific pin is in no way similar to wearing a “religion sickens me” pin. Maybe if this country wasnt founded on these principles, and maybe if today over 3/4 of Americans didnt ascribe to these beliefs would it be okay to liken his pin to a muslim, atheist or religion hating pin.
    Sadly for you guys it is not(at least not yet), that is just a twisted manifestation of your egalitarian tendencies. Im not for shoving religion down anyones throats but im smart enough to know the religious relativism charge does not stand up to objective Americans.

  • TheLoneIguana

    The bright side is the Home Depot is now a nicer place to shop, what with all those people boycotting.

  • Angie

    I realize that this incident was about noncompany buttons rather than religious expression, but the Christian response baffles me. Whenever an organization has a policy against religious expression in the workplace, fundamentalist Christians throw a tantrum about how they’re being “oppressed” and “silenced”. Don’t they realize that such policies apply to people of ALL religions, not just Christians? When did the secular workplace turn into a pity-party for fundamentalists?

  • Kat

    ok–seriously? If this WERE a muslim, or any other “persecuted” group in the US, no one would DARE say a word to him/her. This is NOT a “tantrum”. While this specific person’s actions were not appropriate, and I certainly do not condone his actions, this is an epic problem throughout America. The atheistic haters of the Judial-Christian values on which our country was founded have waged war on anything that “offends” their sensibilities. Whether it’s a Nativity scene, or the Pledge of Allegience.

  • Jacquie

    Just a quick comment… I am an atheist and I refuse to capitalize the words christian or god. I feel that they do not deserve a cap anymore than any other religion. I just noticed that you had the caps going on. It never occurred to me either until last year.

    I am so glad this kid was fired. I bet there is way more to the story than we will ever hear. The media just loves to sensationalize companies working against christians in Florida. They totally ignore the fact that this kid ignored company rules.

  • Fundamentalist are always reactionary types. This guy was looking for an issue and if it hadn’t been this it would be another. He is looking to be a martyr, lets just be glad he is satisfied to whine about repression and not strap on a bomb belt.

  • Sakura

    I agree with Tinna G. Gígja

    Some of those comments really started to hurt trying to read them. I had to stop after a bit otherwise I think I might have gone into a coma.

    As far as Home Depot’s decision, I do agree that they should have done it sooner (and being in a managerial position at one time, I would have said the rule on Day 1), but at least it was finally said. As far as not taking off the button cause he didn’t realize what was going on after being told the severity of the issue…is he 18 or 8? He’s probably one of those poor deluded christians who thinks that all the bad stuff that happens (rape, murder, etc.) as well as dino bones are part of “god’s will” and won’t ever take responsibility for his actions.

    -_- stupid christians that enable this (and no, I’m not saying all do, just that some do)

  • Michael

    “… I just let God be in control and went with His plan”

    I guess god’s plan for him was to be unemployed.

  • Valdyr

    Well, Jesus was a bum, wasn’t he? I don’t remember reading anything in the New Testament about him getting a job. He just spent all his time preaching weird ideas while living off his federal unemployment shekels.

  • Carlie

    Maybe if this country wasnt founded on these principles,

    Funny, but it wasn’t.

    Art. 11: As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…

  • Siamang

    Shorter MacGregor:

    We don’t have to play fair, we’re the majority.

  • maybe if today over 3/4 of Americans didnt ascribe to these beliefs would it be okay to liken his pin to a muslim, atheist or religion hating pin.

    So it’s based on popularity? The most popular religion gets to do whatever it wants?

    Most Americans believe in hell. Imagine that there’s an employee who wants to wear a button that says “Hell is real.” Should that be allowed?

  • Some years ago my husband worked with a man who refused to update his skills, meet minimum standards for the job and actually DO the work he was hired for because “god gave me this job to spread the word of salvation”.

    After 18 months of trying to convince him he was actually hired to handle bills of lading for container ships…to no avail…he was finally fired. Which, of course he protested loudly, was due to his religion not his using that religion to draw a paycheck for proselytizing.

    I guess not winning his suit against the company was an affront to his god. Six months after the dismissal, his god dropped a car on him.

  • Polly

    I’m just glad, and kind of shocked, that this didn’t lead to a lawsuit.

    I don’t care that he got fired or that he chose a button over employment in the worst recession since ’29. That’s his business. Even his whining and martyr-complex are his business. I’m just glad he didn’t make it our business by constipating the courts’ already bloated dockets with his crap.

  • Judith, your story has nothing to do with this idiot from Home Depot.

    Carlie, of course the founders went to great lengths to avoid some type of theocracy every coming into a play, but to deny our judeo-christian values as precepts to our civilization is deny our country’s history.

    Anna, of course its not based on popularity, its based on our values, which happen to be christian at the root. My point was that yes we are a bastion of freedom and religious tolerance(thank God), but at our core amongst the religious, is a drawing of values and attitudes from our christian founding, not unlike the islamic republic of pakistan, we just have the ability to realize that a theocracy NEVER works. But likening a pin in favor of the devil would be like going to Pakistan and trying to explain why the Christian God is as valid as theirs.
    Also, a pin saying hell is real shares no similar undertones to the founding of our country, as does One Nation, Under God.
    Just to let you all know, i think the guy was being stupid, i just take issue with hateful generalizations.

  • Buffy

    Already the cries of “persecution” are rising up. Yeah, he violated company dress code and refused to comply when asked to. How persecuted he is. I’ve had it up to here with people who think their religion gives them a “get out of rules/laws free” card.

  • Siamang

    Also, a pin saying hell is real shares no similar undertones to the founding of our country, as does One Nation, Under God.

    Oh please. Our country was founded on tobacco, slavery and rum. Wear that on your button.

  • Indigo

    @Macgregor: The fact remains, however, that this guy is throwing a wobbly (pun slightly intended) over being expected to follow the rules. He wasn’t fired for being a Christian or even expressing his beliefs – he was terminated for wearing a button when his employers said “no buttons”. He could as easily have been canned for wearing jeans when the dress code calls for dress pants, or having a nose ring and visible tattoos. Whether America is a “Christian nation” or not is utterly irrelevant to the case at hand – as long as it’s a nation that allows employers to set their own standards as to who it pays, this young man’s “persecution” is non-existent.

  • DSimon

    Anna, of course its not based on popularity, its based on our values, which happen to be christian at the root.

    I’m an American, but I’m not a Judeo-Christian in any way, nor are my values or the values of my family. Are you saying this is a contradiction?

    “The Founding Fathers were Christian” isn’t going to cut it as evidence. Even if we assume that to be the case, keep in mind that the culture of the nation now is not the same as the culture when it was founded. Among the many positive changes in our culture since the time of the Founding Fathers:

    * Slavery is illegal and widely considered reprehensible
    * Women can vote, an ability which is widely considered to be their right
    * Lolcats
    * Religious freedom has been extended in practice to mean more than just freedom among Christian denominations

    Also, “The laws of the land are based on the 10 commandments” isn’t going to work either, unless you think it is or should be illegal:
    * Work over the weekend
    * Have the hots for your neighbor’s wife
    * Made statues of a religious nature

  • What kind of idiot gets fired over a badge? He got a warning. No, he got SIX warnings. I count that as exceedingly generous. He deserved to be fired.

    If it was a badge for a political party or rock band then he would have been treated exactly the same because this is about dress policy. He chose to make it about religion and lost his job as a result. Total moron.

  • JSug

    MacGregor: You’re trying to turn the discussion into an argument about whether or not people should be offended when someone displays their beliefs. That is not what offends us. What offends us is that he thinks he should be able to get away with ignoring the rules because he’s doing so in the name of his god. He can believe whatever he wants, freely, but it doesn’t give him any extra rights.

    Likewise, you can believe all you want that this country was founded on Christian principles. It wasn’t, but that’s another discussion, and it’s immaterial to this situation. You’re just arguing against a straw-man.

  • Polly

    Someone explain in detail just what exclusively Christian principles the Constitution was based on?

    The ideal government as portrayed in the OT and NT is an eternal, benevolent dictatorship – so much for term-limits.

    Compare the Bible’s treatment of Sabbath-breakers and blasphemers to the 1st amendment. Xians do believe that JC is the son of Yaweh so I don’t accept relegating the OT to some dusty corner whenever convenient.

    That the majority of the population happened to be Xians is a non-sequitor. Where in the Bible are free market capitalism, democracy, and term-limits for heads of state outlined? Where is the bicameral legislature located? Chapter and verse.

    Was there ever a democracy or even a non-theocracy mentioned in the Bible except for Rome?

    I hear this claim often, but I am at a loss. I’ve read the Bible several times and I just don’t see the connection to our modern democratic Republic with individual liberties.

  • Also, a pin saying hell is real shares no similar undertones to the founding of our country, as does One Nation, Under God.

    One Nation Under God = One Nation Under Yahweh/Jehovah

    That is just as much of a religious statement as “Hell is real.” They are both Christian beliefs held by the majority of Americans.

    You don’t think it’s controversial because you are a Christian. You are part of the majority. But it is not a neutral statement. And Home Depot has every right to ban non-company pins, including specifically religious and political sentiments.

  • jamssx

    I’ve never really seen the point of the phrase “under god”. If you believe in a god then it is automatically implied and doesn’t need to be stated. It’s not like it’s “praise my imaginary friend” it’s only a grammatically superfluous statement.

  • @Macgregor:

    Of course the stories are related…2 people who decided that their religion was more important than actually doing the job they were hired for and following the rules that they agreed to when they accepted the employment.

    People who actually WORK for a living get a bit tired of picking up the slack for those who proclaim that their god is providing for them and their only duty is to believe.

    Ignoring, of course, that little thing about giving unto caesar what belongs to caesar. I know that refers to taxes in the bible but I think it also applies as a corollary to ‘a workman is worthy of his hire’.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, read the history of the pledge. It was written by a Baptist minister WITHOUT the under god message. That was added in 1954.

  • Suz

    I worked at Home Depot several years ago. There has to be more to this story than we know. HD fires people at the drop of a hat. There’s no way the guy got 6 warnings unless they were worried about him suing for religious descrimination.

  • cypressgreen

    A late chime in…Geez, it’s all about the dress code and insubordination! *rolls eyeballs*
    I work for a large company and we have quite the dress code. For one thing, certain of our employees must wear a particular blouse and darks outfit, and the gentlemen, approved ties.
    But my department lets it slide as long as people are presentable and dressed close to the official uniform. Recently, the women in the group were told not to wear a certain style of shirt anymore. Some women had been wearing it on and off for a few years.

    Guess what, Trevor? Your employer has the right to force you to follow the code. No matter what exceptions were made in the past.

    My ears are double pierced. I have often worn two pairs of earings to work. But they could say at any time that I must remove one pair. And cover the 1/3 of the new tattoo on my foot that’s visible over my shoe.
    But they’re not gonna do that unless some idiot comes in with half a dozen holes in each ear, forcing them to spread around the discipline.
    As for the tattoo, as long as I don’t tattoo my face, neck or hands, no one will say anything.

  • Sackbut

    This story hit the Yahoo front page carousel today.

    “I’ve worn it for well over a year and I support my country and God,” Trevor Keezor said Tuesday. “I was just doing what I think every American should do, just love my country.”

    “It feels kind of like a punishment, like I was punished for just loving my country,” Keezer said.

    He says, repeatedly, that he wore the button for patriotic reasons, and yet he plans to sue for religious discrimination. Absolutely pathetic.

    It really really bothers me the extent to which people conflate patriotism and religion, and the lengths to which people go to try to prove that the US is a theocracy (despite the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses).

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