Although we may still be a few days from Halloween, the Georgia state government is certainly doing its best to frighten religious believers. The target in this instance is Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh Day Adventist lay minister who was hired by the Georgia government in 2014 as a state health official. Walsh was by any measure eminently qualified for the job. Shortly after accepting the position, however, a spooky series of events took place: First Liberty said Walsh was hired as a district health director on May 7, 2014. A few days later, DPH officers and other government workers
Can a state government demand to see the sermons preached by a public health professional who is also a part-time pastor? And can it, after seeing those sermons, rescind an agreed-upon job offer made to that highly-credentialed professional? It would seem not, because the facts are just too suggestive of a causal relationship between the sermon investigation and the job-yanking. We would seem to have here a violation of the Free Exercise Clause, and also of the Religious Test Clause, which originally applied only to federal officials but was extended to state officials by the Supreme Court in Torcaso v.
The case of Eric Walsh, a distinguished physician and Seventh-day Adventist, should be extraordinary. Government health care workers attended his church to evaluate the part-time pastor’s sermons and decided to revoke his job. The thing is, it’s not extraordinary: Eric Walsh is actually the second highly accomplished black man to be fired by a Georgia government for expressing Christian views of sex and marriage. The first was Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who raised the ire of the LGBT community by writing one paragraph in a self-published Bible study on sins of impurity, including homosexuality. John Kasich may cry peace,