A former newspaper editor has filed a federal complaint against his former employer, claiming his religious beliefs were violated when he was fired for writing a blog post that referred to gay people as the "Gaystapo" and "the enemy."
Back in April, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported, editor Bob Eschliman (image) was fired from his job at the Newton Daily News, a small local Iowa newspaper, after writing a personal blog post ranting against the LGBT community. In that post, as first reported by iconic news media blogger Jim Romenesko, Eschliman referred to gay people as "the enemy," "the deceivers," the "Gaystapo," and "the LGBTQXYZ crowd."
Eschliman has now reportedly filed a federal complaint against his former bosses with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming he was fired for his religious beliefs. The Liberty Institute is representing him.
"I'd like to talk a little bit about deceivers among us, most notably the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo effort to reword the Bible to make their sinful nature 'right with God,'" Eschliman wrote, in a post titled, "The deceivers are hard at work."
A few weeks ago, I came across the website for the Queen James Bible (because King James was a flaming homo, don't you know). The editors are very keen to let folks know they didn't remove passages from the Bible, but instead reworded them to "make it more relevant."
Eschliman went on to write, "If you ask me, it sounds like the Gaystapo is well on its way. We must fight back against the enemy."
Shaw Media, which owns the Newton Daily News, on its website says it is "the third oldest, continuously owned and operated family newspaper in the nation," having been in business since 1851. Its Code of Conduct requires employees to, among other behaviors, "Respect Others," "Ask Why," "Be Fair," and "Be Kind."
Noting that the "First Amendment does not eliminate responsibility and accountability for one's words and actions," Eschliman's former bosses wrote an apology to readers, stating that while Eschliman "is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it."
In the past week, we have lost some of that public trust that is so vital to our existence. Today, we hope to begin earning it back.
There will be some who will criticize our action, and mistakenly cite Mr. Eschliman's First Amendment rights as a reason he should continue on as editor of the Newton Daily News.
As previously stated, he has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.
Of course, Todd Starnes, Fox News' religion reporter who has been described as "a terrible reporter," writes, "based on my conversations with Liberty Institute attorneys - they're going to go after the newspaper like a pit bull going after a pork chop."
"So are Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News anti-Christian?," Starnes asks. "Do they employ executives who are religious bigots? Should journalists who endorse traditional marriage simply not apply for jobs?"
Jim Romenesko reported at the time that he "asked Eschliman in an email if his paper can cover gay issues fairly and objectively when he's declared gays the enemy. I also asked if he'd let one of his reporters write a similar blog post."
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