‘Startling example of double standard when Christian civil rights are involved’
A public-interest law firm is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of a Christian police captain in Oklahoma who refused to attend, or order officers under his command to attend, services at an Islamic mosque with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As WND reported in May, a panel of federal judges in Denver, in an opinion written by Judge Harris Hartz, found that it is perfectly appropriate for a police chief to order subordinates to attend an Islamic mosque where Muslims “discussed Islamic beliefs, Muhammad, Mecca, and why and how Muslims pray” in addition to encouraging officers “to buy” Islamic books and pamphlets that were for sale.
The lower-court ruling came May 21 from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case brought by Capt. Paul Fields, who had been ordered by Tulsa police officials to either go to a special event at the local mosque himself, or order others to do that.
Fields, a 16-year police veteran, refused based on religious freedom objections and was punished for doing so.
“This case is another startling example of applying a double standard when Christian civil rights are involved,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, or TMLC, which has filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision. “If this were a Catholic or Protestant prayer event, I am positive no Muslim police officer would have been ordered to attend. Further, no federal court would have approved the punishment of a Muslim officer had he refused to attend.”
The police department executives had promised they would send officers to the mosque for Muslims to talk to them about the Quran, Muhammad and their other beliefs, but were unable to find volunteers. So they issued an order making attendance mandatory.
“The event at issue, dubbed ‘Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,’ had nothing to do with any official police function,” said a statement from TMLC. “Rather, it included a mosque tour, meetings with local Muslims and Muslim leadership, observing a weekly prayer service, familiarizing the officers with Islamic religious books, and lectures on Islamic beliefs, Muhammad, Mecca, and how Muslims pray. The event was scheduled for Friday, March 4, 2011 – Friday being the Islamic ‘holy day.’”
Fields objected, telling officials, “Please consider this email my official notification to the Tulsa Police Department and the City of Tulsa that I intend not to follow this directive, nor require any of my subordinates to do so if they share similar religious convictions.”
After the event, a photo of the officers attending the function was posted on the mosque’s website with the caption, “Discover Islam Classes for Non-Muslims.”
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