By now, you’re all familiar with the Mike Pence Rule (a.k.a. the Billy Graham Rule) which essentially says a Christian man can’t be alone with a woman who’s not his wife. That supposedly prevents shenanigans or outside insinuations of shenanigans, though many women would argue that the rule prevents them from being seen as a work colleague or just doing their jobs.
Just last month, a GOP candidate for governor of Mississippi said he wouldn’t allow a female reporter to trail him on the campaign unless her news outlet provided a male chaperone. It was a restriction her male colleagues didn’t have to deal with.
Now a former sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina says he was fired for applying that rule in his own life. Citing his Christian faith, 51-year-old Lee County Deputy Manuel Torres refused to train a new female officer. He was out of a job two months later.
In his lawsuit, which you can read for yourself, Torres says he “serves as a deacon at East Sanford Baptist Church” and that his faith “prohibits him, as a married man, from being alone for extended periods with a female who is not his wife.”
In 2017, he was asked to train the new female officer, which would have required them to be together in a patrol car for “significant periods of time.” Torres asked his boss to accommodate his faith by not assigning him to work with her, but he was eventually fired. Torres adds that the department has sent “false and negative referrals” to two other law enforcement agencies he tried applying to. He filed this lawsuit as a case of religious discrimination.
While the retaliation theory will have to be proven, it’s reprehensible that a law enforcement official would think it’s okay to avoid training a female officer but not a male one. His faith was effectively prohibiting her from working; his Christianity was hurting her.
This is a perfect example of how the Billy Graham Rule isn’t about a Christian man defending his honor, but a way for Christian men to block women from advancing in their own careers. There’s absolutely no reason to think being in a patrol car with a professional colleague would turn into an office romance. That’s just Torres and his religious delusion that a random woman will be totally into him — or that his colleagues might suggest an intimate relationship.
He deserved to be fired for letting his faith get in the way of his job. It’s one thing to say you need a day off for a religious holiday — that’s a reasonable request. Saying you’re not going to train a woman, even though you’d train a man, because God might disapprove means you’re incapable of doing your job. It’s not a reasonable request. It’s a fireable offense.
It’s like a Christian pharmacist who won’t fill a birth control prescription because his God believes it’s tantamount to abortion. That’s not a professional disagreement; that’s just religion getting in the way of someone doing his job. Which is why he shouldn’t be in that job.
Torres wants the Court to say his civil rights were violated. He wants his old job back. He also wants to be made “whole” with $300,000 to cover his lost wages and “emotional distress, anxiety, loss of reputation, and humiliation” and another $15,000 in punitive damages and other legal costs.
He doesn’t seem to care about what the female officer went through because he refused to work with her.
(Image via Shutterstock. Portions of the article were posted earlier)