NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Christian employees can raise religious freedom complaints against mandated diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings if those DEI trainings force an ideology on them or make them less able to live out their faith, a prominent religious liberty lawyer tells “The Daily Signal Podcast.”

“There’s a lot of push for diversity initiatives and things like that, where you’ve got to go through these trainings,” Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at the religious freedom law firm First Liberty, says in an interview at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. “Well, a lot of people have genuine religious beliefs that oppose being indoctrinated under those topics.”

While previous Supreme Court precedents from the mid-20th century under then-Chief Justice Earl Warren severely curtailed religious freedom, more recent rulings have restored the right to better match what the Founders intended, Dys explains. He cited Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), which established a restrictive test to determine whether a public official had violated the Constitution by endorsing religion, and Trans World Airlines v. Hardison (1977), which held that an employer may fire an employee over observing Sunday as a Sabbath day.

The Supreme Court reversed those restrictions in recent decisions, such as Groff v. DeJoy (2023).

“Now, we have more freedom than we’ve had in our entire lifetime,” Dys says. “I was born in the late ’70s. Those cases governed my entire existence here on this earth, and now we have those freedoms.”

First Liberty represented Americans suing to restore these rights, including in Groff v. DeJoy.

Postal worker Gerald Groff sought the ability to take Sundays off to observe the Sabbath day. The U.S. Postal Service denied him that exemption, in part due to TWA v. Hardison. The Supreme Court ruled in Groff’s favor, strengthening religious freedom—not just for Groff, but for all Americans.

“Now, it requires everybody from the boardroom to the mailroom to work together to accommodate the faith of the employees in question,” Dys explains. “So, no longer is it like, ‘Well, look, the job is more important than your religious beliefs. Do the job or get out.’ Now it is, ‘Now, we recognize that your religious beliefs are at least as important as your job; I think, actually, more important. Let’s sit down to figure out how we can accommodate your religious beliefs so that you’re a good employee here, as well.’”

“Those two should never have been in conflict,” he notes. “They were for 46 years. They’re no longer in conflict, and we can move forward with everybody working together like an employee in any employment context should to do what’s best for the company, as well as for the individual employees, too.”

“We’ve undone these terrible decisions, but now it falls to everyday Americans to actually go out there and take advantage of those freedoms,” Dys says. “Unfortunately, we’ve kind of fallen sort of under a spell of not-religious freedom.”

The lawyer aims to break Americans from that spell, and he presents new ways Christians can challenge the DEI regime at their places of employment.

“So, now you can talk to your employer about, ‘Hey, look, can we talk about a different level of diversity or an inclusive program that talks about my faith as well?’” he suggests.

“For the first time in 46 years, we have the right now to seek that accommodation, and the employer has to actually meaningfully engage with you in those conversations,” Dys says.

“If your employees don’t share what the boardroom believes, in an ideological sense—and it’s not just that they don’t share that belief; if that would hinder someone’s relationship with God himself or cause them to stand outside of what God requires—well, that’s going to put the employer now in hot water,” he explains.

“So, employers now have to respect the religious rights of their employees,” Dys says. “They can’t simply dismiss them because they don’t share the reigning gender ideology of the day.”

He also addresses how the Supreme Court explicitly overturned the Lemon test in Kennedy v. Bremerton (2022). Joe Kennedy, a Washington state high school football coach, lost his job for silently kneeling in prayer after each game. The Supreme Court ruled that his silent prayer did not violate the Constitution by establishing a religion.

Dys says the idea that Kennedy would establish a religion by praying silently at games “would be loony bins for the Founding Fathers.”

“Now that Lemon case is gone, and so those restrictions are off the books,” he explains. “If you’ve got a monument that has the Star of David or a cross on it that you want to have erected in memory of someone who fought a battle or whatever it might be, Ten Commandments monuments, those can go back up. They’ve been taken down. Those can go back up now.”

“So, the days of hiding our religious faith, putting the crucifix in the glove box before we go into school, putting the [yarmulke] inside of your pocket so that you’re not identified as religious as a public employee, those days are gone,” Dys notes.

He also mentions important cases First Liberty is currently pursuing, such as Wallbuilders v. WMATA, in which the Washington, D.C., Metro subway system refused to accept ads showing George Washington in prayer, and an Alaska Airlines flight attendant who got fired for expressing her opposition to gender ideology in a private employee group discussion board.

Listen to the full interview below.

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