His Christian Views Didn’t Work Against Him December 15, 2010

His Christian Views Didn’t Work Against Him

In Arizona, Christopher Gleason was nominated to serve on the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (a powerful body that draws “lines for congressional and legislative districts”). He had the support of Republican House Speaker Kirk Adams. But it turns out he won’t be serving…

Before I explain why, you need to know a couple important pieces of background information:

The commission is composed of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent. The partisan members are selected by elected party officials; the four commissioners then choose the fifth.

That seems pretty fair…

Also, take a look at the pool of candidates for the position:

Last week the screening panel met to pare down the list of applicants to 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and five independents.

Again, seems fair.

But Gleason didn’t make the cut and now he’s pissed off.

This happened, he says, because he’s a Christian involved in an evangelical organization and he said so on his application. See? They’re anti-Christian!

His evidence?

One question asked by one panelist:

That panelist… questioned whether Gleason could separate issues of church and state.

That’s it. That’s his basis for claiming religious discrimination.

Gleason was asked whether he could be relied on to follow the law — I don’t even know what his answer was, but it’s a completely reasonable question. All he has to do is answer, “Yes, I know how to separate church and state,” and everyone’s happy. But that didn’t happen.

This has nothing to do with discrimination. Even one of the Republican panelists admitted that:

Dewey Schade, a Scottsdale Republican who sits on the screening panel, said the decision not to nominate Gleason had nothing to do with religion. He said the panel simply had to pare the list of 15 Republicans they chose to interview down to 10.

“Given that pool, he was not in the top 10 candidates, no more and no less than that,” Schade said. “It’s no reflection of the person’s religion or beliefs.”

So there you go. An Arizona Republican just made some sense. Amazing, no?

On a side note, this highlights a major difference between Christians and atheists.

Gleason had his affiliation with a Christian organization on his résumé. He wasn’t afraid of doing that, and he had no reason to be.

When I was applying for jobs after college, I purged my résumé of anything atheism-related because I didn’t want my volunteer and non-profit work to hurt me. You expect there to be discrimination when you’re an atheist — part of an unpopular minority.

When you’re in a super-majority like Gleason is and you’re still whining about discrimination, you’re just a crybaby. He wasn’t the right person for the job and his reaction to not making the cut is just further evidence that there were more qualified people than him in the running.

(Thanks to @beardownblitz for the link!)

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  • Bob

    The only fallout I could see from this would be a court eventually ruling in Gleason’s favor – establishing ‘separation of church and state’ as discrimination, rather than a point of law.

    I say this only because there are other land mines strewn all over the legal landscape, like Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) Resolution Acknowledging the Importance of Christmas and Christianity from a couple years back.

  • Claudia

    Yes, clearly Gleason is just another victim of discrimination. It’s outrageous how hard we make it as a nation for people like Gleason. We really should take stock and work to make this world a fair place for rich, white, Christian men.

  • I have mixed feelings about this. I was asked in an interview with the Secret Service uniformed division(back in the 1980’s) if I would be willing or able to guard the Israeli embassy, even though I’m half Lebanese and my family is Shia.
    I lost it and walked out of the interview.
    I’m having a hard time differentiating what happened to me and what happened to this guy. It seems as if they are asking, “You are a Christian, therefore it is necessary to ask you if you can be trusted to do the right thing.”
    Trade the word “Lebanese” or “Muslim” for “Christian” and you’ll see why I feel torn on this particular incident. I wasn’t given a chance, and this guy wasn’t either. If I’m way off base here, I’d really like to hear other points of view.

  • Bob

    @Godless Monster:

    I was empaneled on a jury on an assault case, and some of the testimony would be from the arresting officer. I’d indicated on my juror information sheet that I had several family members who were in law enforcement; the judge asked if that would prevent me from weighing the evidence and delivering a fair verdict.

    I said no. (Admittedly, none of my relatives work for the city/county in which this trial was being held.)

    I didn’t feel the question was necessarily discriminatory or implied a bias on my part.

    However, I completely understand your ire at having your integrity questioned.

  • @Bob,
    Point well taken, but jury duty is very different in nature than a political assignment or job. For starters, it’s temporary (or short lived) to a degree that the others are usually not.
    I actually have been removed from jury pools because of my law enforcement background and it didn’t faze me a bit.

  • i don’t think i’d remove charity work with atheist groups from my resume. i understand why you felt you had to, Hemant, but i don’t think i’d want to work for any org that saw such as a negative.

  • Bob

    @Godless Monster:

    I also got pulled from one jury because I work in the media (so it was assumed I would have formed an opinion based on information not presented as evidence).

  • JoeBuddha

    @Godless Monster:
    Wasn’t the point of the interview to find out about your character? It seems to me that that kind of question could be designed to find out if you could be cool and professional even when provoked. Sounds like a good trait for an SS person.

  • @Bob,
    Yes, I love the criteria that are so often used for jury selection. It’s no wonder that so many juries are comprised of idiots.

  • @JoeBuddha,
    Give me a break. That’s akin to asking a black police applicant if he can maintain control during vehicle patrol in a sector without stopping at every KFC or Popeye’s for a bucket of fried chicken.
    There are any number of ways in which to test an applicant’s temper or ability to keep their cool. Race baiting is not an acceptable way to accomplish this. Can’t believe you’d even offer an excuse for such conduct. FYI, I was a decorated combat veteran at the time and had already faithfully served my country.

  • Lesilu

    @The Godless Monster:
    I can see why some might feel insulted by such questions, but I think to make your situation similar to his, the majority of the population, the interviewers, the candidates, everyone, would have to be half-Lebanese and Muslim/with Muslim family. In that situation, the question has a different meaning. Would you have still walked out in that scenario?
    For him to think they were anti-Christian is ridiculous. As mentioned several times before, Christians are the majority, and for politicians their percentage is even higher.

  • @Lesilu,
    You make some excellent points. I see now how the scenarios are very, very different. Thanks for correcting me and…doing it logically.

  • “People of faith have just as much right to the public arena as people without faith, or without a specific faith,”

    Absolutely. If they can seperate church and state. It was a fair question given his:

    “involvement in 4-Tucson, part of Vision 360 for Tucson. He said the goal of the organization is “to serve as a catalyst to engage the Christian Community in the needs and dreams of Tucson to bring about spiritual renewal and prosperity to the glory of God” to make Tucson one of the most livable cities in the world.

    Likewise, it would also be a fair question if someone were involved in an organization that wanted to end religion.

    Wish they were saying what his answer was. I don’t imagine it was, yeah, sure. Of course I can. Probably something more along the lines of this is a Christian nation given his organization’s goal of glorifying god as the means to making Tucson livable. Not for those of us who don’t believe in god, you asshole. And I doubt very much for those who believe either in some other god or have some other vision of the same god.

    I lost it and walked out of the interview.

    There are any number of ways in which to test an applicant’s temper or ability to keep their cool. Race baiting is not an acceptable way to accomplish this.

    No, but then you demonstrated perfectly by not staying calm how easily you can be baited and getting into the Secret Service is no easy chore for anyone. Necessarily so given their function. You have to be above par in everything, including cointrolling your temper, which you did not do. Also, you’re pretending like there weren’t any pollitical issues in Israel at that time that would make such a question perfectly legitimate. I briefly knew a dude who got selected for the Secret Service. They have to jump through extreme hurdles to make the cut. He was six months just waiting for the background checks. If you want to make the cut for something that exclusive, you have to be impervious to bullshit like that. The only way to beat them at their own game would have been to answer calmly that certainly you could.

  • allison

    I actually kind of question his purpose in including the heavily Christian volunteer work on the application. I tend to only include volunteer work on my applications if it’s relevant to the type of job. Does he think his evangelical Christian charity work is relevant to redistricting somehow? If so, then it sounds like he’s upset they took a different social cue from it than he expected. There are different ways to ask the question of why he decided to include it, but I don’t think asking a question about something you volunteered to the panel is necessarily out of line.

  • Pickle

    I don’t see why Gleason is so upset. He offered up the information on his application, he should have expected to be questioned about it. Like Hemant, I leave atheist related things off of my resume, except not because I think that it will hurt me. I just don’t see how religion (or lack of) is relevant or makes me more or less qualified for the jobs I apply for. But if I proudly displayed my atheism on my resume and applied for a position at a church, I would expect a few questions such as “Can you do this job despite your beliefs?”

    I’m glad they asked him what they did. I could see being upset if he was asked about something he had no control over, such as his ethnicity or sexuality. But he wasn’t. He was asked if his self proclaimed beliefs would interfere with the job he was applying for.

  • Jagyr

    @Godless Monster:

    One more point – Gleason specifically put it on his resume that he was an evangelical Christian working with evangelical organizations. If he felt it was important enough to put it on his application, that says something, and it’s perfectly fair to ask questions about items on an applicant’s resume.

  • @muggle,
    You know nothing.
    The facts:
    The position was for the uniformed division of the Secret Service. It wasn’t and still isn’t some sort of elite force. As an aside, I was commended at the beginning of the interview for scoring the highest out of all the other examinees on the written exam. I’m no slouch and I was overqualified for the position. In the end, it was a good thing I didn’t stick around.
    Years later, I was hired sight unseen by a major government contractor to work as force protection for U.S. Army Special Forces units training foreign soldiers in the middle east. In other words, I was entrusted to protect our troops in a hostile environment. Prior to that (stateside)I was hired by another government contractor to perform investigations for the Department of Homeland Security and before that I operated as an independent contractor for a firm that developed the Naval Combat Fighting course and taught hand-to hand combat to the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Group and U.S. Army Special Forces. I’ve had nuclear weapons security clearances and have been background checked and fingerprinted by them all and have even worked in local law enforcement. I was offered a position as a “driver” (a contractor position requiring a secret clearance) in the Gaza strip in 2003 by Dyncorp. I declined because of their shit reputation. BTW, I didn’t find them, they found me.
    Anyone that I’ve ever rubbed elbows with in the communities I’ve operated in just shake their heads when they hear how that interview went. It was wrong and it was unprofessional and it should never have gone down the way it did.
    Stick to those topics of which you have at least a basic knowledge.

  • I don’t doubt the guy wasn’t bumped because of his beliefs, but why was a question about his ability to separate church and state relevant to Gleason’s ability to participate in a redistricting commission? Were they afraid he’d try to draw districts that looked like the Dear Lord Baby Jesus? I mean, Christians are spread all over the place, so I’m not sure he could have advocated for more “godly” districts. Under civil rights laws, that question actually does walk close to the line of being impermissible.

  • daakujc

    I don’t think there was discrimination.

    But I’m confused about the point you made about he belonging to a majority.

    Doesn’t the fact that he was involved in an evangelical organisation make him part of a minority?

    Do all christians approve evangelism?

  • @daakujc,
    Many atheists that comment here have never actually belonged to a religious organization and frequently lump all Christians together without regard to major theological/denominational differences.
    It’s frustrating in the extreme.

  • Sean

    The claim being made is that Gleason was turned down because he’s a Christian (and a “person of faith” as opposed to a person of “no particular faith”). The specter of discrimination against Christians as such (and the “Christian community”) is repeatedly raised. In that context, it’s fair to point out that being Christian puts him in the majority (and that some of the people doing the “discrimination” were likely Christian as well).

    If the claim was that he’d been turned down for being an evangelical, or for adhering to some unpopular doctrine within Christianity, it would be appropriate to discuss that group being a minority, but that wasn’t brought up in the story at all.

  • Laws against religious discrimination protect people adhering to the majority religion as well. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against persons based on their religion in hiring, promotion, or in the terms and conditions of employment. While there doesn’t appear to be strong evidence that Gleason was discriminated against because of his religion in this case, rejecting a person for employment because they are a Christian would, in fact, be illegal. So I have to disagree with Hemant’s sweeping statement:

    When you’re in a super-majority like Gleason is and you’re still whining about discrimination, you’re just a crybaby.

    It’s a case-by-case determination. There could be perfectly legitimate claims of religious discrimination by those in the supermajority. The fact that so many of them cry wolf doesn’t change that.

  • daakujc

    The one who is more pissed off than Gleason seems to be Republican House Speaker Kirk Adams. Adams said,

    That panelist, Louis Araneta, an attorney and former judge, questioned whether Gleason could separate issues of church and state.
    Adams said those comments were wrong.

    “…We should not be sending a message to people of faith that we don’t want you in the public arena because you simply can’t handle the separation of church and state.”

    Adams seems to be suggesting that the panelist shouldn’t even have asked that question.

    I think a House speaker advocating that no questions be asked about separation of church and state is more serious than a denied applicant crying discrimination.

  • Everyday Atheist said:

    I don’t doubt the guy wasn’t bumped because of his beliefs, but why was a question about his ability to separate church and state relevant to Gleason’s ability to participate in a redistricting commission?

    Move this district border two blocks that way, that district border three blocks this way, and yet another district border four blocks that-away and you end up with an additional four Evangelical churches, or their allies, within the district.

    From the article:

    In his application, Gleason said his civic activities include involvement in 4-Tucson, part of Vision 360 for Tucson. He said the goal of the organization is “to serve as a catalyst to engage the Christian Community in the needs and dreams of Tucson to bring about spiritual renewal and prosperity to the glory of God” to make Tucson one of the most livable cities in the world.

    Depending on the size of the congregations in the adjusted district areas he would be helping to shape there is the potential that some viewpoints would be overrepresented, all the while maintaining the target populations rules, and make it difficult for certain candidates to be elected regardless of their ability to complete the job.

    Considering the power he is voluntarily asking to wield, and the stated goals of the organization he volunteers for, it is perfectly valid to ask him if he’s going to uphold church / state separation and not spend his entire time trying to adjust the district boundaries in such as a way as to create religious voting blocks that will make it virtually impossible to elect someone who won’t forward the goals of “Vision 360 for Tucson”.

  • gsw

    Looking at the statistics religious minorities/atheists, I cannot understand why atheists in America don’t start suing – like the islamists do ALL the time.

    If an islamist doesn’t get given a job (unqualified, incapable, wants too many concessions) that is discrimination.

    maybe the atheists should start an equivalent to CAIR for atheists.

    Important Question: why is a Council on American-Islamic Relations necessary, if muslims are Americans?

    A Council on American-Islamic Relations acts as an intermediary between the citizens of the USA and the UMMA.

    So, unless you are willing to accept that the UMMA are an own, separate, RACE – give CAIR no recognition.

  • Claudia

    @gsw the reasoning behind your comment is…well frankly its not there at all.

    First of all I would like to see some actual data on “Islamists claiming discrimination” for being passed over for jobs. How often does this happen?

    If you have a beef with CAIR (and I can appreciate why you might, mind you) you should make a coherent case against them. Trying to coyly say that there is something unamerican about being Muslim, or they are invalid as an organization because of they way they are named is ridiculous and frankly makes you look bigoted against Muslims. From what I’ve heard, it’s perfectly possible to make a case against CAIR without smearing millions of Americans. Try that.

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