Fired while being #Atheist

Source: James Jordan (Flickr).

Source: James Jordan (Flickr).

One night I dreamed I was walking on a beach with the Lord. In the sky I saw scenes from my life. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints side by side. Other times the footprints were single file, like Sand People who travel that way to conceal their numbers. This bothered me because the single file footprints seemed to precede all of tumultuous times in my life.

So I said to the Lord, “You promised you would always walk with me. But the footprints say that each time the shit was about to hit the fan you were no longer by my side.”

The Lord replied, “The times you see single file footprints are the times you stabbed me in the back.”

At times religion can be a beautiful thing. At other times it can be more like a barrel of monkeys. Believer or not, I think most people can agree at least that much is true.

In the news recently was a story about a high school teacher claiming he was fired for being an atheist. Let’s take a look shall we?

I did some research. Everyone seems to agree that it’s “illegal” to ask certain questions during a job interview. That means it never happens, right? Ha ha ha ha ha! Good one!

Inappropriate job interview questions include the various and sundry topics we all know by rote now: Gender, Marital or Family Status, Citizenship, Nationality, or Language, Age and, last but not least, Religion.

I can speak from experience about inappropriate questions about religion during a job interview. It happened to me. Luckily, as an atheist, I cleverly deflected without being forced to lie, and I still got the job. Even more lucky for me, they didn’t try to find out my gender.

In August 2013, Kevin Pack, 29, was hired by Middlebury Community Schools, Indiana, to teach six units of German at Northridge High School.

Pack identifies himself as an atheist. Pack claims that Northridge High School Principal Gerald Rasler was “proactive in putting his religion into business communications” during his time on the job and also during a pre-employment phone interview.

On Dec. 12, 2013, Pack expressed concerns about Rasler’s religious communications to Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jane Allen. Pack followed this up by filing a formal complaint.

The complaint prompted an “internal anti-harassment investigation” which concluded on Feb. 24, 2014, when Pack received a letter from Allen with her determination that Pack’s complaint of unlawful harassment was “unsubstantiated.”

Pack says he was “removed” from his classroom later that same day by Rasler, an assistant principal, an armed Elkhart County Police school resource officer and an armed Middlebury Police officer. He was suspended with pay until April 2, 2014, when the school board voted unanimously to void his contract. The reason Pack was given for his termination was “poor performance.”

It was reported on June 15, 2014, that Pack “has filed a complaint against the school corporation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging religious discrimination by Northridge High School Principal Gerald Rasler.”

The EEOC has not commented but will investigate the complaint subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For his part, Rasler has stated that he does not recall discussing religion or politics with Pack.

However, Pack is able to produce emails from Rasler to staff, which apparently are not in dispute. In one, Rasler writes, “May God grant you save (sic) travel.” In another, Rasler writes, “Please get on your knees and pray for four good weather days during finals.”

On Dec. 11, 2013, Pack wrote an email of his own, which is excerpted here:

“Since I’m an atheist and a mystical sky daddy has nothing to do with weather, I won’t be kneeling. I will be relying on science and the oftentimes (sic) in exact (sic) science of metereology (sic). The only relability (sic) we seem to get from weather reports is how often they’re reliably wrong.”

Anyone else noting an alarmingly high [sic] rate amongst the personnel hired to educate our young? Just sayin’.

I’m willing to stipulate right now, for the record, that the phrase “mystical sky daddy” was ill-advised. Hilariously ill-advised. That is the stuff of legend. I wish I’d thought of it. But we all know that usually such insolence to a boss will not go unpunished, right? No big surprise there.

After sending that email, according to Pack, things got a little dicey. Pack claims that he had an encounter with Rasler who “acted aggressively and hostile” towards him and “spoke with malice” and “chastised” him for the email reply.

Pack claims he then informed Rasler he was an atheist and that Rasler responded by threatening to fire him, a comment which was confirmed by a third party. Rasler later conceded that comment but claimed it was about performance, not religion.

Here’s the thing. If you are a slightly larger-than-normal fish in a small pond, and you want to go for it, I say do it with flair. You’re a boss! You have a little power to wield over some of your fellow human beings. C’mon, man! You don’t have to cower behind obfuscation and lies. Just put it out there.

You believe in God. Your atheist subordinate does not. What to do? You want to fire him for taking umbrage at your attempts to rub his face in your religion. We can’t have that!

So you fire him for having different beliefs than you. We can actually grok that. It’s sick, sadistic and wrong, but at least we can grok it. At least on some level.

What I can’t understand, however, is why you don’t own it. You want to fire people on behalf of your God. Then you claim it was for another reason. And I have to wonder…

How does that make God feel?

Does he view that as courageous? Like you are standing up for him? Persecution is part and parcel of the job of being a Christian soldier, right? You can’t be a soldier without taking some occasional casualties, right? You wouldn’t put your job, worldly possessions or reputation in the community before your Lord, would you? And after all that stick-it-in-your-face hyperbole?

You had the chance to truly stand up for your God and what did you do? Scurried away and hid in a foxhole.

Something tells me it is wrong to be a chicken hawk when it comes to God’s enemies. You only got half the job done.

Now I know that Mr. Rasler is about to retire after his illustrious 43-year career and is a pillar of the community and will be feted for his accomplishments with the Book of Golden Deeds award and such. But I find myself rooting for a victory on Pack’s EEOC complaint. Perhaps that will make God feel better about that knife in his back.

Source: – Fired German teacher files EEOC complaint against Middlebury Community Schools

10 responses

  1. There are so many awesome sentences in this post. Loved the idea, loved the execution of that idea.

    A person’s religious persuasion is their own business. Full stop. No need to talk about it.
    And that goes both ways.

    Props for this post. You done good.


    1. I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback since I normally try to avoid sentences in my writing. Thanks for noticing!

      This piece is already too long. Sometimes I’m a little Energizer bunny. I was going to also talk about the likelihood of an atheist boss pulling some similar shits. It’s pretty hard to imagine that.


  2. Oh, how I admire your piece. The Flying Spaghetti Monster would as well.


    1. Yes! I am a Pastafarian. I have been touched by his noodly appendage. Ramen.


  3. “mystical sky daddy” – I hope Pack starts writing a blog with his newly found free time – I’m there.


    1. I think the dude has a future in writing. I just hope it isn’t in German.


  4. NotAPunkRocker | Reply

    So much I want to say, but can’t on here…ugh! Let’s just say, I completely agree with you on this. That’s simple enough, right? 🙂


    1. Simple enough for me to understand anyway. So thanks! 🙂

      I appreciate all of the thoughtful replies. I actually worried about posting this. Like always I worry about going too far. Maybe I should have stuck with the original version. 🙂


  5. If you hadn’t commented on the high [sic] rate (and thank you for using the correct brackets instead of the less than optimal parentheses) then I was going to. They are educators and email has spell check for pete’s sake!

    And, yeah, Pack probably should have refrained from outright mockery, but he was right to say something. I hope he wins, too.

    And your whole point about Rasler not standing up to his convictions is spot on. I often think that the hardest thing about being a Christian is NOT being a hypocrite.


    1. It’s enough to make you [sic], right?

      Thanks for getting my oh-so subtle point. That’s the bit that pushed me over the edge and made this something to write about.


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