A public health official, who says he was fired by Georgia’s health agency for the content of his sermons, filed a lawsuit today against the state claiming religious discrimination.
Dr. Eric Walsh accepted a position as the Georgia Department of Public Health’s director for the northwest part of the state in May 2014. A week later, state officials requested copies of sermons he had preached as a lay minister for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, according to First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that defends the religious freedom of Americans.
“Dr. Walsh was terminated because of something he said in a sermon,” Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, told The Daily Signal. “No one should be fired for something they say in their sermon.”
First Liberty Institute and the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. They sued the Georgia Department of Public Health on behalf of Walsh.
“Bureaucrats cannot deny qualified people of faith government jobs simply because they express their beliefs, especially in a house of worship,” Roger Severino, director of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, told The Daily Signal. “If the First Amendment means anything, it’s that government bureaucrats have no business acting as sermon review boards. That would be religious discrimination, pure and simple.”