Obama EEOC Fights for Religious Liberty -- for Muslim Truckers

Well, at least they were not told to bake a cake for a gay wedding. In President Obama’s fundamentally transformed America, Christian bakers are forced by the blunt instrument of government mandate to cater a gay wedding regardless of their religious beliefs, but Muslim truckers can now refuse to transport alcohol because their Muslim beliefs and Sharia law prohibits it.

As an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission press release cheerfully chirps about its victory over Star Transport, a trucking company based in Morton, Illinois:

A federal jury in Peoria, Ill., has awarded $240,000 to two Somalian-American Muslims who were fired from their jobs as truck drivers at Star Transport, an over-the-road trucking company, when they refused to transport alcohol because it violated their religious beliefs, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which brought the case. The trial started on Oct. 19, and the jury returned its verdict the next day after 45 minutes of deliberation.

Judge James E. Shadid, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, found in favor of EEOC after Star Transport admitted liability in March 2015. The resulting trial was to determine compensatory and punitive damages and back pay. The jury awarded Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale $20,000 each in compensatory damages and $100,000 each in punitive damages. Judge Shadid awarded each approximately $1,500 in back pay….

"EEOC is proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "This is fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance."

Judge Shadid, is an Obama appointee, who, as Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin noted, was the first Arab-American to serve as a state judge in Illinois. He has made his mark in a pretzel-twisting interpretation of the Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty.

The two truckers knew when they applied for the trucking jobs they might be asked to transport the prohibited alcohol. One suspects that might have been the intention -- to force a test case in federal court as part of the Islamization of America, a case they knew the administration of Barack Hussein Obama would support.

The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa tried to act on their faith but were ordered to pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple based on an order from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. As the Washington Times reported:

The order affirms an initial ruling in January that found Aaron and Melissa Klein had violated Oregon civil-rights law by refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony in 2013 and ordered them to pay damages to Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman.

Crystal O’Connor, member of the family that owns Memories Pizza, got into trouble when she told local ABC news affiliate that she agreed with Indiana’s version of the federal RFRA signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no, “she told local station ABC57. Her beliefs and rights and the beliefs and rights of the owners of Sweet Cakes should be respected, just as the beliefs of Muslim truckers are.

The double standard of the Obama administration knows no bounds. They did not rush to defend the religious liberty rights of the owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. But they have gone to court to force the Lirrle Sisters of the Poor to force the group of elderly nuns who aid the impoverished and ill elderly to provide contraception coverage for their staff. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:

The Little Sisters contend ObamaCare not only violates the First Amendment's religious guarantees, but also the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That requires the government to implement its policies in ways that do not impose an unnecessary burden on the free exercise of religion….

If the Little Sisters lose their case, they'll either have to violate their religious conscience or face fines of around $2.5 million a year, or about 40% of what they beg for annually to care for the dying poor. Their ministry would be severely crippled, as would the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty.

The EEOC argued that Star Transport could have made accommodations for the two drivers, such as assigning them to deliveries not involving alcohol. But no such accommodations are offered to Christian bakers or Catholic nuns serving the poor. Not only is religious freedom being infringed here but so is equal treatment under the law.

No meaningful accommodations are offered to counter ObamaCare’s infringement of religious liberty. Catholic institutions such as universities and charities are under assault for trying to act on their faith in their daily activities and not just for one hour on Sunday.

The Muslim truckers could have accommodated themselves by taking another job. Maybe they could open a bakery and be forced to cater gay weddings.

Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

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