Did the American Red Cross in San Diego fire a Christian employee for honoring his religious beliefs by refusing to “celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month”?
Or was Michael Hartman fired just for loudly speaking out against his employer?
“I’m passionate about what the Red Cross stands for,” said the ex-employee. “I’m 52 now, and I’ve been a blood donor for 30 years. But it breaks my heart to see that such a good organization has this cancer in it [the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle].
“I’m not trying to get my job back, and I’m not after money. All I want to do is expose this to the public.”
Hartman was fired in July after sending an email to his superiors and coworkers criticizing the Red Cross’s announced plans to “celebrate” June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” The directive to “celebrate” came from Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Red Cross spokesmen deny that Hartman’s faith had anything to do with his firing.
“We don’t fire people for their beliefs — only for improper conduct at the workplace,” said Peri Lynn Turnbull of the ARC’s San Diego office.
“We can’t comment on the specifics of this case, in the event of pending litigation,” said Devorah Goldberg at national headquarters. “But it was not his beliefs that led to his dismissal. It had to be something different.”
Hartman dismissed that. “My termination notice said I was being fired because I violated Red Cross email policies,” he said. “That’s baloney. All the employees use email at work to send and receive personal messages.
“The Red Cross’s diversity committee must have been monitoring my emails for some time. Ten minutes after I sent the email protesting Gay Pride Month, my computer was shut down and a supervisor marched me out of my office.
“Commitment to Diversity”
At the heart of the controversy is the American Red Cross 's “commitment to diversity.” The details were posted on the ARC website's “diversity page” (http://www.redcross.org/services/diversity/), until the ARC removed this page from their website. However, on this “diversity page,” the Red Cross stated its determination “to embrace and promote diversity and inclusion.”
The language of the page features such infelicities as “Everyone must ‘walk the talk’ of total diversity [sic]” and “We will leverage our differences to create inclusion.”
That “diversity” is big business at the Red Cross is indicated by a staggering list of programs, projects, and awards to be given to employees and donors who “create inclusion” and promote diversity.
“The sole function of the diversity committee is to promote homosexuality,” Hartman said. “When you donate to the Red Cross, this is what a lot of your money is going for.
“They ‘celebrate’ a different group every month, from Pacific Islanders to African-Americans. But when it was time for Gay Pride Month, there were posters and flyers for it all over the employees’ work areas, but nothing out front where the public could see it.”
Why is the Red Cross — whose expressed mission is to provide relief to the victims of disasters, wars, etc. — so preoccupied with “diversity”?
“The American Red Cross has some 850 chapters nationwide,” Ms. Goldberg said. “We understand we have a very diverse country which we serve, and our policies serve to remind our chapters that we live in a very diverse community.
“We never ‘endorsed’ gay pride. We do not endorse that lifestyle at all. We do not intend for anyone to take these ‘celebrations’ literally.”
“The Red Cross strives for impartiality,” Ms. Turnbull said. “We are trying to create a completely welcoming culture.”
How Free Is Free Speech?
Weighing his legal options, Hartman has been consulting with lawyers at the Pacific Justice Institute. One of those attorneys, Matthew McReynolds, discussed the case with Chalcedon.
“The Red Cross is a private organization,” he said, “so they can pretty much set what policies they want — as long as they don’t violate Title VII, the federal law that restricts religious discrimination. Title VII, by the way, does not protect sexual orientation.
“I think Mr. Hartman may have been fired because he took a very public jab at the organization. He kept up his protests after his superiors reprimanded him.
“You have a right to free speech; but you don’t have a legal right, as the employee of a private organization, to speak against that organization’s deeply held values. Free speech sometimes does have consequences.”
Whatever legal strategy Hartman decides to pursue, McReynolds said, he has already done the public a service by speaking out against the Red Cross’s “gay-friendly” diversity program.
“Red Cross donors should be extremely perturbed by Mr. Hartman’s revelations,” he said.
Conclusion: No Middle Ground
Today many government agencies, private corporations, and nonprofit organizations have “diversity policies,” which may entail “sensitivity training” for employees — usually to impress on them that homosexual activity is above any kind of criticism — or donation of funds for “gay pride” parades and similar enterprises. Although the law does not permit employers to extract any kind of “loyalty oath to diversity” from their employees, it always seems possible for banks, universities, insurance companies, or charities to find “other reasons” to fire Christian, Jewish, or Muslim employees who cannot embrace the employer’s vision of diversity.
The homosexual website “Good as You,” commenting on the Hartman case, drew a line in the sand:
“[I]n the world where anti-gay is ‘pro-family’ and marriage is involved in some sort of crazy scary war, ‘not celebrating homosexuality’ means unapologetically demonizing and stigmatizing those who embrace a society where equality and acceptance are the name of the game.”
In other words, there is no middle ground. Either you celebrate the homosexual lifestyle, or you’re nothing but a hate-filled bigot. It doesn’t seem as if the Red Cross’s aspiration to “impartiality” has any grounding in the real world. But Chalcedon has never admitted that “neutrality” in matters of religion can ever be achieved.
“I’m going the distance on this,” Michael Hartman said. “I’m not going to let the Red Cross attack my reputation. My parents were both U.S. Marines in World War II. They put their lives on the line — and they certainly didn’t do it to promote homosexuality.”
For more details of this case, see http://www.cwfa.org/articles/8652/CFI/family/index.htm, Concerned Women for America.
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.