The below story comes from The Examiner... my thoughts are in the title of this blog post:
The Des Moines, Iowa, bus driver who refused to drive a bus with the above ad on it has been suspended from her job. According to a report, Angela Shiel refused to drive the bus because the ad of the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers goes against her Christian faith. The 8-year employee faces termination.
According to the report, the general manager of Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Brad Miller, said that "DART policy states that drivers cannot choose which buses they drive." He said, "'Drivers are not permitted to reject a working bus. It's a very fundamental policy for DART. ... It's an essential rule that we will maintain.'"
Of course, this brings up a whole new issue. Do government employees have the right to refuse to do their job if it is against their religion? Now I cannot imagine that it is written anywhere in Christian documentation that "thou shalt not steer a bus bearing ads of the fool who hath said in his heart or out-loud or in print that there is no God." So, it is difficult to see how this would be against her religion. It may sting her religious "sensibilities" a tad, but how can doing her job, in this instance, be against her religion?
According to the report, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Ben Stone, said, "'As a government agency operating a public forum, DART and all of its employees, including its drivers, are required to follow the First Amendment. Since DART managers cannot claim a religious reason to censor bus ads, neither can drivers.'" He went on to say, "'When you work for the government, part of your job is to respect the rights of your fellow citizens, and you cannot use your religious beliefs to evade that responsibility.'"
Shiel's husband reportedly said that his wife should have the right to refuse to drive a bus with the atheist ad on the side. He said that making her drive one of those buses is like telling her to be "'two-faced for the fact that she wants an income.'"
A Des Moines civil rights lawyer, Roxanne Conlin, has gotten in on the controversy saying that Shiel has the right to refuse to drive the bus and that making her drive it may violate her rights. She said that DART should accommodate Shiel in respect of her religious beliefs if they can reasonably do so. "For example", the report said, "DART might have been able to transfer her to a different bus or let her do desk work."
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. It seems, though, no matter what, when it comes to running these ads, DART is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't... at least for now.