Court: Police officers can't refuse a job because of their religious beliefs
Ben Endres, a lay leader at Community Baptist Church in South Bend, Indiana, believes gambling is sinful. But in March 2000, after about nine years as a police officer, his superiors assigned him to work full-time guarding a local casino.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, a Christian does whatever his employer says," Endres said earlier. "But it's my conviction to not be involved in any form of gambling."
When he refused to work at the casino, he was fired. So he sued.
Yesterday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with lower court rulings in rejecting Endes's discrimination claims.
"Many officers have religious scruples about particular activities," Judge Frank H. Easterbrook wrote in the court's ruling. "Does [the law] require the state police to assign Unitarians to guard the abortion clinic, Catholics to prevent thefts from liquor stores and Baptists to investigate claims that supermarkets mis-weigh bacon and shellfish? Must prostitutes be left exposed to slavery or murder at the hands of pimps because protecting them from crime would encourage them to ply their trade and thus offend almost every religious faith?"
The court ruled that the law does not require such accommodation, which would put an unreasonable burden on the police department. "Law-enforcement agencies need the cooperation of all members," the court said. "Beyond all of this is the need to hold police officers to their promise to enforce the law without favoritism. … Firefighters must extinguish all fires, even those in places of worship that the firefighter regards as heretical. Just so with police."
Endres is now a patrolman with the St. Joseph County Police Department, reports ...1