Well, it’s happened again.
John Gibson, the CEO of gamemaker Tripwire Interactive, had the audacity to tweet his support for Texas’ new abortion law and, because in doing so he publicly outed himself as pro-life, was immediately bullied by the leftist mob out of his job.
Never mind that half to (now) over half of American people are pro-life. Never mind that good science backs the truth claim that life begins at conception. Never mind that he and all of us have the right to free speech. As has happened so many times in the past, the preach-tolerance-but-always-be-intolerant left came for Mr. Gibson’s livelihood because they disagreed with his belief.
His experience reminds me of Brendan Eich who founded software maker Mozilla, but was forced out of his job as CEO because he dared to make a single contribution to Proposition 8, which was a California amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Regarding Mr. Gibson, the PR arm of Tripwire Interactive issued the predictable press release stating Gibson’s “comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners and much of our broader community. Our leadership team at Tripwire are deeply sorry and are unified in our commitment to take swift action and to foster a more positive environment.”
So, is one of Tripwire Interactive’s corporate values abortion? Can you not be pro-life and work at Tripwire? Evidently not; the company views pro-life as negative versus “positive.” Like one of Babylon Bee’s latest headlines read: “Democrats Warn Millions Of Lives Could Be Saved If Texas Abortion Ban Goes Into Effect.”
My favorite part of these press releases is when the company says (as Tripwire did), they are “promoting open dialogue.” That is, unless you open your mouth and say something they disagree with.
These situations always stir strong debates over free speech, corporate responsibility, and outright fear over how an individual’s personal beliefs can result in the loss of their job. For example, if a person posts a Facebook picture of their participation in a right to life march, are they at risk of losing their position because someone at the company sees their post and charges them with “creating a hostile workplace environment” because they “oppose women’s reproductive rights”?
This type of situation is far from hypothetical as I found out some time back. A number of years ago, the CEO of a company I was working for called me with some alarming news. One of my executive peers had come to him and was demanding that I be terminated from the company.
The person found some articles I’d previously written for The Christian Post offensive and wanted me gone. Fortunately, the company backed my right of free expression and the matter was resolved.
I was one of the lucky ones. Others like Mr. Gibson and Mr. Eich experience injustice and much worse outcomes.
Let me be clear on the fact that I am neither a lawyer nor a human resources expert on this subject. However, I have been a professional in the secular workforce for a few decades, working both in individual contributor and executive positions so I do have some experience in this area.
In my opinion, if a person’s personal belief (1) does not directly conflict with the foundational mission of the company; (2) has not been practiced within the organization to such an extent that laws governing the workplace have been broken; (3) has not been continually and abusively promoting their belief to workers within the organization and simply practice it outside of the professional workplace setting, then the person in question should be free from any retaliation if their beliefs conflict with others in the organization.
Our biblical response
Let me suggest two things for Christians to consider when it comes to protecting ourselves in the workplace.
First, it goes without saying that we should do everything possible to reflect the character of Christ in our place of employment. This equates to over-delivering in our jobs, obeying our superiors, respecting everyone, and living out the golden rule.
In addition to being the right way for us to live, it also serves as a protectant when wrongful accusations come our way — something that Peter mentions in his first epistle: “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Pet. 3:13-16, emphasis mine).
Second, rather than just laying back and “trusting in the Lord,” we need to understand that a justifiable course of action is respectfully defending ourselves when falsely accused and not allowing ourselves to suffer the loss our opponents intend.
For example, when Paul was about to be beaten by Romans officials because of a riot started by his enemies at Jerusalem, he disarmed the situation by appealing to the prevailing Roman laws: “But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25).
Paul appealed to his own government laws, which in his case were being violated at the time, to stop his unfair treatment. It is absolutely proper for us to do the same when we are being attacked.
On an episode of the old sitcom "Gilligan’s Island," something is causing the men on the island to go bald. Gilligan is first, but he’s consoled by the Skipper who tells him things aren’t so bad. Then the Skipper goes bald. When Gilligan tries the same logic on him, the Skipper tells him, “But things have become much worse!” When asked why by Gilligan, he says “Because now it’s happened to ME!”
Whatever your worldview, I doubt seriously that you want to live in a culture where holding a private belief that does not violate the primary mission of your company or practiced in a way that is illegal can cost you your source of income. It takes wisdom, discernment, integrity and a willingness to push aside personal bias sometimes to uphold and defend this right, but defend it we must.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.