A former Iowa newspaper editor filed a federal complaint against his former employer Wednesday, accusing the newspaper's owners of religious discrimination and retaliation after he was terminated for expressing his views on a pro-gay Bible made popular by LGBT activists on his personal blog.
Bob Eschliman, who worked for the Newton Daily News owned by Shaw Media, described his religious beliefs regarding the definition of marriage in his post and argues that he was fired and discriminated against for being an evangelical Christian.
"Bob believes, as we do, that no one should be fired from their job because of their religious beliefs," Jeremiah G. Dys, Eschliman's attorney, told The Christian Post. "We hope the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will send a strong signal to other companies that this type of intolerance has no place in today's welcoming workforce."
Eschliman penned his blog post in April criticizing the "Queen James Bible," a website that sells rewritten, gay-friendly copies of the Christian Bible because they claim that homosexuality as a sin was not added in the Scriptures until 1946.
Eschliman wrote that the idea behind the website is that the "LGBTQXYZ crowd" was trying "to make their sinful nature right with God." Eschliman reportedly also accused LGBT individuals of attempting to sabotage Christians' beliefs.
"It's pretty easy to brush off a nonsensical contrived version of the Bible, but that's not the deceivers' end goal," wrote Eschliman, according to the Des Moines Register. "No, they want all Christendom to abandon their faith. They do that by 'proselytizing' to church leaders to change their view on homosexuality."
His blog has been taken down since then but in his complaint with the EEOC, Eschliman noted that the Newton Daily News was aware of his personal blog and never asked him to stop writing on it. However, his blog caught the attention of his former employer when national media critic Jim Romenesko reported on Eschliman's post.
Eschliman was fired on May 5 following an investigation regarding his comments and soon after, an editorial written by the owner of the Newton Daily News appeared in the newspaper explaining their termination decision.
" … He expressed an opinion on his personal blog that in no way reflects the opinion of the Newton Daily News or Shaw Media. While he is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it," wrote John Rung.
Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization, agreed with Rung, saying that Eschliman had overstepped his boundaries as a journalist.
"Certainly, his bosses at Shaw Media did what they felt they needed to do. I find his words disconcerting," Wing said, reports the Des Moines Register. "I am not a lawyer, but if he were working for me, I would fire him."
Dys says Eschliman has faced continuous hardship since getting fired. However, he noted that Eschliman hopes to get off the "journalism blacklist."
"Bob is an award-winning journalist and father of two young children, but - because of the intolerant, illegal action of Shaw Media - is unemployed and having great difficulty in finding work in his field and supporting his family," said Dys.
If the dispute is resolved in Eschliman's favor, the U.S. EEOC could possibly order the company to compensate him with back pay, future pay and exemplary damages.