Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Warning signs

I'm sure you've already seen this story, but I wanted to talk about it:
A manager at a Massachusetts retail store claims he was unjustly fired after he told a colleague he thought her impending marriage to another woman was wrong.

Peter Vadala, 24, told FoxNews.com he was terminated in August from his position as second deputy manager at a Brookstone store at Boston's Logan Airport after a conversation he had with a manager from another Brookstone store who was visiting the location.

Vadala claims the woman, whom he declined to identify, mentioned four times that she had married her partner. He said he then left the store briefly to visit the airport's chapel before returning.

"I found it offensive that she repeatedly brought it up," Vadala said. "By the fourth time she mentioned it, I felt God wanted me to express how I felt about the matter, so I did. But my tone was downright apologetic. I said, 'Regarding your homosexuality, I think that's bad stuff.'"

The woman, according to Vadala, then said, "Human resources, buddy — keep your opinions to yourself," before exiting the store.

Two days later, Vadala, who had been employed for just a matter of weeks, received a termination letter citing the company's zero-tolerance policy regarding "harassment" and "inappropriate and unprofessional" comments.

"In the state of Massachusetts, same-sex marriage is legal and there will be people with whom you work with who have fiancées or spouses who are the same gender," the Aug. 12 letter read. "... While you are entitled to your own beliefs, imposing them upon others in the workplace is not acceptable and in this case, by telling a colleague that she is deviant and immoral, constitutes discrimination and harassment."

Vadala disputes using the words "deviant" and "immoral" during conversations with human resources employees on the matter.
We have been told over and over by gay-rights activists that legalizing same-sex marriage will not hurt heterosexuals or those whose deeply-held religious beliefs teach that homosexual acts are gravely morally evil at all. Do not believe it; it is a lie. The end-game is to force societal approval of same-sex marriage. If a homosexual male co-worker "marries" another man, or if a homosexual female co-worker "marries" another woman, all of his or her fellow employees will be expected to offer the same level of congratulations they would be expected to offer if a man in the office marries a woman. Refusing to comment at all, even choosing to remain silent, will not be tolerated; it will be called "harassment," and the offender will be punished.

If it is the custom in the office for co-workers to throw a wedding shower for an engaged couple, and a Catholic man or Muslim woman refuses to attend such a shower for a same-sex couple, the religious person will be the one who suffers for that decision. Even if the religious person doesn't make an issue of his or her non-attendance, but simply skips the event, there will likely be repercussions. No disapproval, not even silent disapproval, will be tolerated.

Some might say, "What's the difference between congratulating a same-sex couple on their engagement, or buying them a gift for an engagement party, and doing the same for an opposite sex couple one or both of whom has been divorced? Neither one is a real marriage, in the Church's eyes, so why should a Catholic be able to condone one and not the other?" The difference, of course, is that a Catholic may offer some muted congratulations to a divorced person who is "remarrying" because the Catholic person has no way to know whether the first marriage was valid or not. It is possible that the marriage this man and woman are about to enter will be valid. It is even possible that, should the couple become Catholic, the Church will agree--or will discuss with the couple what is needed for a valid marriage, should that be possible. It is not up to the individual lay Catholic to hold a personal marriage tribunal over marriages which may presumptively be valid, and provided his offer of congratulations or appearance at a company celebration will not give scandal he may, I think, prudently consider one or both of these actions.

The situation is quite different in the case of a same-sex couple who is getting "married." There is no possible way, now or ever, that such a marriage will be valid in the eyes of the Church, or be something of which God approves. The Church will never allow such "marriages" for her spiritual children, and any Catholic who in any way seems to approve of, condone, participate in celebrating, or otherwise acquiesce in such "marriages" does so at the risk of giving scandal. No question of presumptive validity is possible here--same-sex "marriages" are not marriages at all, but a social engineering sham designed to force public acceptance and approval of homosexual acts, which are gravely morally evil.

In our secular society, though, a Catholic's refusal to celebrate the wedding plans of a same-sex colleague will be called "harassment," and will be considered punishable. There will be no tolerance from the same-sex activist side; there will be no religious freedom, there will not even be freedom of speech or association. Enforced approval and celebration of homosexual activity will be more important than any of these, and anyone who doesn't show acceptable levels of these will be marginalized and excluded from society.

The warning signs are clear. Should same-sex marriage become the law of the land, no person who is a member of a religious faith which agrees with the Church that homosexual acts are gravely morally evil will be free to express that deeply-held belief without serious consequences.


Anonymous said...

Gut response: the woman 'baited' someone to respond is 'harassment' and the case should be taken up by the ACLU. He was nailed for using his freedom of speech, as well. If he was fired from the job, he should sue the company AND the woman individually for personal 'attack' on his freedom. Think about it. If it had been about any other topic, such as the outcome of a football game that she brought the subject up and he voiced his opinion, she has no right to bring suit. She was harassing him by bringing up the topic so many times, then complaining to the manager. Sounds like a perverted outcome to bipolar manic attack.

j. christian said...

Their CEO says:

Brookstone is an equal opportunity employer, meaning that we maintain a healthy, safe and productive work environment free from discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation...

Looks like someone needs to go over his own policy manual.

I die the HR department's good and loyal servant, but God's first.

freddy said...

Great post!
I only question one point. Do you really think that a Muslim woman (especially if she dresses in traditional garb) will be punished for not celebrating a co-worker's same-sex attempt at pretending to live like married folk? I think it would be more of a case of "all religions/opinions are equally superior to Christianity" and she'd get a pass.

PersonalFailure said...

Under what circumstance is it acceptable to refer to coworkers as "deviant" and to state that you "hate" them?

Oh, that's right, none.

Basic rules of etiquette should teach you that.

c matt said...

I don't recall him stating he hated her. As for circumstances when it is acceptable to refer to a co-worker as deviant - that circumstance would be when the co-worker is deviant.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Well said, Erin!

Baron Korf said...

That's one of the things I like about working in the oil field. I get to work with drunkards and lechers. They give me flak for being a 'prude' (or a gentleman as I prefer to call it), but they aren't going to get me fired for disapproving of their admitted vices and deviances.

Anonymous said...

And if the man's boss had been Jewish and he had claimed his faith required him to tell her that Jews are the spawn of Satan, or if she had been black and he claimed God directed him to tell her the Negro needs to know its place, the company should be legally barred from firing him for saying this, because it is religious persecution? What utter nonsense. Where does this end? Look, if she really baited him, then let him prove he was fired because of his religion. But unless it was a clear cut case of baiting (and the news reports don't prove that), then he was basically fired for insulting his boss. That is a perfectly legal grounds for termination. He can't argue that Catholic teaching affirmatively requires insulting people. He could have kept his mouth shut. As far as I can tell he was fired for having no sense.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Anonymous at 8:20 (may I call you Blank? I hate "anonymous."), the gay-rights people can try all they want to to link disapproval of homosexual acts to racism or religious bias. It's not the same.

I don't hate *people* who are afflicted by same-sex attraction. I do hate the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts, which leave many people in terrible danger of losing forever their immortal souls.

Having to, essentially, lie about that belief and say to someone, "Hey, it's great that you and your same-sex partner have gotten society's stamp of approval on your gravely sinful acts, not to mention all the tax breaks and goodies you think your sin deserves!" is repugnant to any person who adheres to the thousands of years' old belief that homosexual acts are gravely morally wrong.

And for the co-worker (not boss) in this story to repeatedly bring up her "marriage" to her same-sex partner in front of this employee was religious harassment. But that's what same-sex activists want--they want to make it illegal for religious believers to say, "You know, I can't congratulate you on your same-sex partnership. It's against my religion to do so."

And that's the end-game here. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it until it's illegal for me to say it. Same-sex marriage advocates want to silence the opposition, and they don't care if they have to redefine Christianity (especially Catholicism), Islam, and other faiths as bigotry to do it.

Wait until it's illegal to wear a crucifix to work, because such an obviously Catholic symbol creates a "hostile" environment for same-sex attracted employees. We'll get there. Probably sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

Red Cardigan - you're trying to turn this into banning crucifixes and forcing people to accept gay marriage - neither of which are involved here. He could have kept his mouth shut. What you are asking for is a special right for religious people to be protected from adverse action by a private employer if they are rude - protection no one else has - supposedly because your religion requires it. That's nonsense, I'm Catholic too and never heard of such a rule, and unacceptable. Of course, if she actually baited him, or asked his opinion (neither of which are appropriate workplace actions), in which case a truthful answer would be perfectly fine, and he may have a case. This isn't a simple question.

Red Cardigan said...

Blank/Anonymous, I've removed your second comment, because neither of the things you say were ever "Church positions." Either you're amazingly ignorant about Church history, or you're not really Catholic, or both.

As for your other comment--so in your view everyone has the right to freedom of speech, except for Christians (this man wasn't Catholic, as far as I know--the story doesn't say he is), who can be fired for being rude. Based on the word of one person. Who has a vested interest in getting him fired.

Thanks for illustrating to all my readers what pro-gay marriage "tolerance" looks like.

Baron Korf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baron Korf said...

Haha, that's scraping the bottom of the barrel even for a troll.

As a Catholic, if you are one, you should know that we are required to be salt and light to the whole world. This means to illuminate the darkness and preserve from corruption. Ergo it is our duty when confronted with the perversions of our sacraments to speak up.

The simple fact remains Same Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church cannot possible coexist. One will have to go, and I know where I'm putting my lot. So crawl back under your bridge troll, your arguments are useless here.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know the Catholic church does not require every sin and every deviation from Catholic doctrine to be affirmatively drawn to the attention of one's workplace with every sinning and non-believing co-worker. That's my point. If you're asked (and the question itself is almost always improper), you can tell the truth. This is not a free speech or tolerance issue. No one who works for a non-unionized private company has the right to say unprompted absolutely whatever they please in the workplace and be legally protected from firing. It's a private workplace, not the public square. Yet for some reason it's the gays that engender this special hatred. It's sad. Reminds me of the bully in the schoolyard more than the Jesus of the Bible. Y'all enjoy your blog.

j. christian said...


There's a big difference between offering your opinions freely and being forced to state them by your supervisor. It seems like the facts of the case in question suggest the latter. How can that not be a violation of religious freedom?

I once had a coworker who used to discuss his side business on the phone all the time -- he produced pornographic movies, and he wasn't ashamed to talk about it in the workplace. Now if he'd been my boss, and he came to me several times telling me about the exciting new porno he was making, and I didn't jump up and down for joy about it, should I be fired? Should I be fired if I speak up and say I think he's doing something wrong? Is that *really* hatred? I think you know the answer.

Anonymous said...

Should you be fired in that circumstance? That's a different question. I wouldn't fire you. Would you have a right to sue if you were fired - that's the analogous question. That depends - if you could prove you were fired for religious discrimination or some other prohibited reason, or if it violated your employment agreement or union contract, then you have a claim. But you can't use religion as a cloak for whatever behavior you pick - most employers don't allow proselytizing on the job for example.

j. christian said...

It's clearly harassment. How 'bout I fire you because you're a woman and you don't like my dirty jokes?

Is it really that hard for you to understand?

Baron Korf said...

Reading comprehension FAIL.

"By the fourth time she mentioned it"

That's hardly digging up someone's private life to trash them. Christ said if you deny Him before others He will deny you before His Father. I think this qualifies.

On top of that the HR rep said "Brookstone is an equal opportunity employer, meaning that we maintain a healthy, safe and productive work environment free from discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability, or other factors that are unrelated to the Company’s legitimate business interests."

That means that this is the company's OWN RULE. Not the governement interfering, not some over sensitive religious nuts protesting, but a company violating it's own agreement with it's employees. He just as easily could say that he was being harassed for his beliefs. Tolerence is a lie, and not a Christian virtue.

Next strawman.

j. christian said...

Baron Korf,

Exactly. This doesn't sound like a case of an employee badgering his fellow employees with his faith. It wasn't about him proselytizing or harassing coworkers, which would of course be inappropriate workplace behavior. This was a manager creating a hostile work environment by forcing a Christian to disavow his moral beliefs. That's wrong.

Todd said...

Mr Vadala showed tragically little sense in this. A visiting manager wouldn't ordinarily have enough knowledge about the guy's view to bait him or any such thing.

That said, it should be sufficient for him to learn the difference between "I" language and "you" language should he ever get married.

"When I hear colleagues talk about their personal life in the workplace, it makes me uncomfortable. May we talk about business instead?"

Nobody gets insulted for "bad stuff." The Christian expresses himself and the topic is sidelined. It does involve an admission of vulnerability, but that's part of being a Christian.

j. christian said...

Don't hurt yourself bending over backwards like that, Todd.

Rebecca said...

This world is just getting crazy. Prescinding from the issue of homosexuality altogether, when in the world have workplaces been so jumpy that they would *fire* someone for *one comment* without even looking into the situation? The only time I could see that happening would be if the one comment were really inappropriate, such as name calling or lewdness, and had at least one witness. If he did call the woman names, still it would be just basic civility to ask him what happened rather than taking her word for it automatically and giving him notice. If he did just express his opinion that what she was doing was wrong, the NORMAL thing, if you don't want that to be discussed in the workplace, would be for the superiors just to say, "let's all not discuss personal issues in this workplace, okay? You don't talk about your impending marriage, and you don't talk about what you think about her impending marriage. Now let's get back to work." It's obvious that the reason people are wigging out instead of acting normal is that this is about homosexuality.

Scott said...

The initial reports were misleading, and people have taken some of that misleading information and drawn incorrect conclusions.

1. Massachusetts included sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination laws 20 years ago. This incident would have had the same result whether same-sex marriage was legal or not.

2. The policy of the company in question has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to this kind of behavior. It has provisions that include people who are NOT in "protected classes".

3. The woman never mentioned her wedding or marriage. Peter Vadala, the guy who was fired, simply "heard" her "mention" her fiancee 4 times throughout the day. The first time: the manager said simply that her fiancee was coming to pick her up. That's not a wedding discussion. Additionally, it doesn't appear that she was addressing Vadala the subsequent times, but rather that Vadala overheard her talking to someone else.

It is quite a stretch to imply that not attending a wedding shower or not congratulating someone would be in any way, at any time, construed to indicate harassment. That's a slope more slippery than ever I've encountered with regard to this story or this issue. If ya ask me, such festivities should be banned from the workplace, as should asking people to chip in for birthday gifts, and people soliciting coworkers to buy candy from their kids for some project. It makes a LOT of people uncomfortable, and people feel forced to participate.

Your arguments involving the Catholic church are just that -- they involve the Catholic church. Marriage is and always has been a CIVIL institution. It existed LONG before Abrahamic religions took control over it, and it exists today. That's why you need a marriage license in order to have a legally recognized marriage.

j. christian said...


Marriage is more of a cultural institution than a civil one, having existed before and outside the kind of juridical framework we normally call "civil society." On that point you're way off.

Placing marriage properly in the context of culture, it is easier to see how marriage is a foundational unit of society, whatever the political authority might say about it. And as a foundational unit of society, it must both be informed by and transmit the culture surrounding it. If the surrounding culture doesn't grant heterosexual marriage preferential treatment, it is not at all clear that the culture will survive. Survival depends not only on having children (something a heterosexual marriage is obviously ordered to doing), but also on raising the children, socializing adult males, promoting healthy male-female relationships, etc. None of these things is a "given" of culture; culture changes all the time, and not always for the best (unless you're some kind of Panglossian progressive with incredibly thick, rosy glasses). Marriage "equality" is most likely a ticket to diluting many of the important functions of culture and the benefits it contributes to the common good.