Is it okay for a newspaper editor to be a raving bigot? Apparently, Bob Eschliman thinks so, as long as you’re a Christian. Eschliman was canned from his job at the Newton (Iowa) Daily News after he went on a tear about gay rights on his personal blog. Now Eschliman has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, claiming he’s a victim of religious discrimination.
On his blog, Eschliman complained that “the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo” were trying “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God.’”
Not content to leave it there, Eschliman went on:
[Jesus] said there would be deceivers. He said those deceivers would cause Christians who remain true to His teachings to become reviled. He said false prophets would follow to deceive even more, and that lawlessness will abound.
If you ask me, it sounds like the Gaystapo is well on its way. We must fight back against the enemy.
Not surprisingly, Eschliman’s employer, Shaw Media, didn’t take too kindly to the rant about the “Queen James Bible.” At first they suspended him without pay and then they fired him. The paper then followed up with an editorial taking Eschliman to task.
“Last week, he expressed an opinion in his personal blog that in no way reflects the opinion of the Newton Daily News or Shaw Media,” Shaw Media President John Rung wrote. “While he is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.”
Eschliman is now complaining that he’s the victim of religious discrimination. He’s getting legal help from the Liberty Institute, a Christian-right legal group. Liberty Institute is best known for representing Phillip Monk, an Air Force Master Sergeant who complained that he was demoted for disagreeing with his superior office about marriage equality. (The Air Force said he was reassigned, not demoted, because he wouldn’t keep his views to himself, as ordered, instead of sharing them with new trainees.)
If Eschliman’s complaint isn’t settled to this satisfaction, he can sue Shaw Media. He may have a case because he was expressing his views in a private setting, not through the newspaper. Still, it’s not like he was using a simple “love the sinner, hate the sinner message,” instead going for over-the-top offensiveness.
“Certainly, his bosses at Shaw Media did what they felt they needed to do. I find his words disconcerting,” said Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT organization. “I am not a lawyer, but if he were working for me, I would fire him.”
Photo credit: Liberty Institute