Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) reached a favorable settlement with the state and federal government two months after filing a lawsuit on behalf of Wyoming Rescue Mission. The mission argued officials with the two government entities were threatening to punish the Christian nonprofit for hiring employees who share the ministry's beliefs.
Attorney Ryan Tucker is director of ADF's Center for Christian Ministries. "The state and the federal governments recognize what we have been advocating for – and that is … that religious organizations are free to hire those who share their beliefs without being threatened by the government," he summarizes.
Brad Hopkins is executive director for Wyoming Rescue Mission. He says the ministry was incredibly grateful to get this news, and during the week of Thanksgiving no less.
"It's so much God really honoring our faith in Him, trust in His Son Jesus Christ," Hopkins tells AFN. "We're just so thankful for state and federal authorities recognizing us as a faith-based religious institution with the freedom to hire based on our common faith in Jesus Christ.
"We have been through the ringer," he continues. "To be fully honest, it has been a stressful time but we're just so grateful for our Wyoming workforce and the federal EEOC recognizing what is pretty plain in our Constitution."
Meanwhile, ADF's Tucker says people outside Wyoming should pay attention and care about this issue because, as he explains, "there is always the threat that some governmental body may act contrary to not just state and federal law, but also the Constitution."
The attorney contends the country saw "plenty of that" in the last couple of years with COVID restrictions and the like. "But if [someone] has a situation where their First Amendment freedoms are being trampled upon – whether it is in the context of hiring, freely hiring at their religious, faith-based institution or maybe in something else – we would love to hear from them at the Alliance Defending Freedom," he states.
The case (Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) revolved around the mission's decision in 2020 not to hire a self-proclaimed non-Christian for an associate position at one of its thrift stores. The applicant filed a discrimination charge – and after a 16-month investigation, government officials determined the ministry likely violated the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965 and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.