A Nashville, Tenn., music venue and Christian youth outreach facility founded by award-winning Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith has been accused of firing a man for wearing a pro-gay marriage T-shirt to work, stating that he "contradicted" the mission of the group.
Wes Breedwell has worked for seven years at Rocketown, the Christian facility, but on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 21, he wore a T-shirt to work from punk band Hostage Calm that stated "I Support Same-Sex Marriage."
When he was sent a message citing a "lack of judgment" on his part for his subsequent dismissal, Breedwell posted his story and apparent dismissal note on Instagram.
"Here is a picture to show my support for equality and free speech including social media. Cheers to my friends for having my back through all of this," Breedwell wrote.
Members of the Connecticut-based band Hostage Calm, who found out about the incident, expressed their support for the fired worker.
"It's important to note that they didn't fire him for wearing A SHIRT," the band wrote on its Facebook page. "They fired him because of what that shirt stands for. For what that shirt threatens. This shirt represents an idea that all people have the right to live their lives without being told who to love and whose love is more valuable. It represents equality under the law. It represents the freedom to choose."
The band has said that it will never play at Rocketown again, and promised to do everything in their power "to raise awareness and challenge this injustice in Nashville."
Rocketown, which was founded in 1994 by Smith, describes its mission as one meant to "offer hope to the next generation through Christ's love."
In the hand-written dismissal note, the organization notes that it is important that employees do not share beliefs at work that "contradict the mission." It remains unclear, however, if the note was just a warning and if there were other incidents that led up to Breedwell's firing.
On Monday night, Jacquelyn Marushka, publicist for both Smith and Rocketown, issued the following statement about the incident:
"Rocketown does not comment on personnel issues, but, generally speaking, an employee would not be fired for expressing opinions on marriage.
"At Rocketown we are welcoming and accepting of all youth. We reach out to all kids, are inclusive and very much care about acceptance of youth from different ethnicities, sexual orientations, financial backgrounds and religions. Our mission is to provide a safe and drug-free environment where kids are welcomed, accepted and loved."