Another win for religious speech expected

Another win for religious speech expected

Another win for religious speech expected

A former fire chaplain is taking the city of Austin, Texas to court.

As AFN reported in 2022, Dr. Andrew Fox (pictured above) was the volunteer lead chaplain for the Austin Fire Department for eight years.

His attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) say he served honorably and did various things for firefighters during that time, including helping them when they were responding to emergencies, helping them process what was happening to them, and ministering to them in their times of need.

Meanwhile, he maintained a personal blog on his personal website where he discussed theological and social issues.

Frampton, Hal (ADF) Frampton

"When he published a blog post around the time of the Olympics a couple of years ago about his view that males should not compete in women's sports for a variety of theological reasons and scientific reasons, that apparently offended some people at the fire department, and they ultimately dismissed him from his volunteer position," says ADF attorney Hal Frampton.

But as Frampton points out, people who work for government entities retain First Amendment rights to free speech.

"That's particularly true when they're speaking on important matters to public concern, and particularly when they're doing that outside of the workplace, as Dr. Fox was doing here," the attorney notes.

ADF filed a federal lawsuit against the city asking that Dr. Fox be reinstated to his volunteer position and "that this wrong be righted."

"We have gone through the discovery process, and we filed a motion for summary judgment, essentially asking the court to look at the papers, look at the testimony, and go ahead and award Dr. Fox relief," Frampton reports.

AFN reached out to the Austin Fire Department and was told, "The city of Austin does not comment on cases that are still pending."

This is not ADF's first time representing someone involved in a First Amendment situation. In 2018, the Christian law firm won a settlement for Kelvin Cochran, the former fire chief in the city of Atlanta who was fired under similar circumstances for religious speech that he published outside of work.

ADF attorneys also represented Dr. Nicholas Meriweather, a professor at Shawnee State University who was disciplined after he declined to use someone's self-selected pronouns in the classroom.

"Free speech is for everyone, and it should be," says Frampton. "It is absolutely critical when governments intrude on our free speech rights, or we are not going to have any."