News Headlines: Adventist Employee Sues Wal-Mart Alleging Religious Discrimination (And More!)

Adventist Employee Sues Wal-Mart Alleging Religious Discrimination. Gordon Fields, a Seventh-day Adventist, filed suit against Wal-Mart, claiming he was demoted for his observance of the Sabbath. Gordon, a Wal-Mart store manager, was originally allowed to take off on the Sabbath at his job in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, according to his complaint. However, a new human resources manager told him that the company could no longer allow that for a manager and that he would either have to work on the Sabbath or be demoted in order to maintain his religious accommodation. According to the complaint, Fields received a poor performance report a week after he complained to management about the lack of religious accommodation. Wal-Mart has not responded to a request for comment from The Legal Intelligencer. From The Legal Intelligencer, "Wal-Mart Manager Sues Employer Alleging Religious Bias" (subscription required).

Weet-Bix Voted Most Trusted Breakfast Food Brand in Australia. Weet-Bix, made by Adventist-owned Sanitarium foods, has been voted the most trusted breakfast cereal in Australia by the Reader’s Digest’s annual survey of more than 3,000 shoppers there. Weet-Bix also is listed in the "Top 10" most trusted brands of the 297 brands surveyed within Australia. Sanitarium was acknowledged as "highly commended" at second place in the breakfast-cereal category. Michelle Reid, accredited practicing dietitian, said it is an honor for Sanitarium Weet-Bix to receive these awards. “Made from wholegrain wheat with a delicious malty flavor, [Weet-Bix] provides the natural lasting goodness and real energy you need to help start your day,” she said. Reid added that Sanitarium is committed to providing healthy and nutritious foods of the highest quality Australians can rely on. Sanitarium's "About Us."

Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church Holds Meeting to Address U.S. Racial Tensions. In the wake of shootings in Texas, Louisiana, and Minnesota, Michael B. Kelly II, pastor of the Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church in Riverside, California, held an open-forum-style meeting titled, “State of Emergency.” About 200 people attended, including a branch president of the NAACP and a local member of Black Lives Matter, Kelly said. Gerald Winslow, LLU professor of religion, approved the meeting. “I think this is the church at its best, when it tries to be a source of peacemaking . . . in the community,” Winslow said. Kelly has scheduled a follow-up meeting to develop a plan of action. From Press Enterprise, "How churches are tackling unrest in wake of shootings."

Former Sequim, Washington, Adventist Principal Guilty of Child Rape/Molestation. Former principal and teacher at Mountain View Christian (Seventh-day Adventist) School in Sequim, Washington, Douglas John Allison, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of first-degree rape of a child against two students. Allison admitted to sexual contact and intercourse with the female victims, then 10 and 11 years old, starting in September 2015 during classes while other students studied. He could be sentenced to 24 years in prison after accepting a plea offer. He was placed on leave and eventually fired by the Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which is heavily involved in decisions at the school along with the school board and supporting church, Sequim Seventh-day Adventist Church. From Sequim Gazette, "Allison Pleads Guilty to Sex Charges, Faces 24 Years in Prison."

Nyamira Conference Pastors Disallow Politicians to Speak at Funeral. In Kenya, pastors George Ondieki and Enock Ooga, pastors in the Nyamira Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, barred several politicians from addressing mourners at the funeral of Joyce Nyakego, wife of Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Richard Nyakego. The politicians were allowed only to greet mourners, quote a biblical verse, or sing a hymn. One politician sang a chorus from a hymn before returning to his seat. Another left immediately after giving his donation when he realized he would not address the mourners. Adventist leaders from several East African unions attended the event. From Hivisasa.com, "Nyamira Governor among politicians barred from addressing mourners."

Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Redlands, California.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7593

The story about the funeral in Kenya seems to be needing some context. Why were the politicians wanting to speak at a funeral for the wife of a pastor? Is this typical? Was this an especially significant pastor/pastor’s wife as far as politicians in the region are concerned? It would seem strange for politicians to be wanting/expecting to speak at any funeral other than that of another politician of notable public figure, so what is the context here? Why were the other pastors anticipating that these politicians would expect to be given opportunities to speak at this funeral? The linked story also fails to provide relevant clues. Although the comments on the linked article indicate that the general public is weary of its politicians.

Update: The linked article explains that it is common practice for politicians to use funerals as opportunities to speak about political topics…

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I wonder what is happening. This isnt the first time we have seen church employees being brought up on charges.
I wonder how much this is going to cost the church’s Insurance funds. These kids are going to need a lot of psychotherapy. It doesnt say if the kids were SDAs or if from non-SDA family. A lot of life-long trauma there for the kids and their parents…Then there is the trauma of his family – if married, wife, kids, and also his and wife’s parents.
From Peninsula Daily News, July 23. He is 55. 8 counts of 1st degree child molestation. 4 counts of 1st degree rape. There are 2 different pictures of him on Google. Was arrested March 29.
I wonder if he has had some type of history at another place. With Pastors, they just get shuffled from one place to another a lot of times without the next “church victim” being told.
25 years will make him 80. I wonder when he might be eligible for parole? The general population do not like child molesters. Some prison facilities in Calif have sections of prison available for persons like him, away from the general population. I wonder if Wash. has similar.


Sanitarium foods are quite good. Too bad they dont have a baking branch here in the US.


I wonder if Spectrum will give us more info about what was said and done during the addressing of Racial Tensions. Having someone from NAACP and Black Lives Matter in the audience could have meant that they were there just out of curiosity as what might be said and done, like the other 200 who attended.

Episcopalians REQUIRE a person working with children and youth to take a course in Safeguarding Children every 3 years. One’s record of attendance is held at the “conference” office. Mine in Atlanta. If it lapses then one cannot perform until the course is taken and documented.
Even the church facilities are inspected for being “safe”.
The SDA church in North America is VERY LAX in this area. I have reported on this laxness a number of times here on Spectrum. It is even Lax [by Episcopalian standards] in my own local SDA congregation.

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The activities of this principal, and others recently must push the insurance liabilities upward. Who pays for these liabilities if not members’ tithes and offerings? Where else could the money come from?

How effective are investigations for denominational employees who work almost exclusively with vulnerable children. The young age of the victims is especially sad. Ask Elmer or George how difficult and long with be their possible recovery.
@Elmer Cupino @ ]George Tichy

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Steve,

I agree on a follow up about the church racial meeting. Is there any action following …talk?

The principal story is another hit to support my input that the denomination needs to increase accountability & decrease fanaticism. When most SDA lip service is on praying for the filling of the Spirit to proclaim the 3 angels message and to chew out members by constantly telling them that they are lukewarm Laodiceans…what does one expect but behavior that is consistent with the secular and perverted entertainment media?

The SDA leadership is very lacking in the area of quality control. Until there are sizable surveys /reviews of local church/denomination operations, they will have no to low clue as to what the spiritual level is anywhere.
Having meetings where religious lingo/clichés/platitudes are weekly tossed around does not significantly impact one’s moral maturity or transformation. Jesus addressed this 2000 years ago.

As for tithes paying for insurance/risk management…it is like congress who easily spend with someone else’s money coming in.

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I agree. There is genuine emergency for SDA Churches, President of the General Conference and all level of SDA Institutions from schools to hospitals etc,etc and likewise the President of North America Division take proactively in keeping sync with the U.S. Justice Public Safety to Rights and Protection to the safety of children and youth. Believe me, the GC and NAD have not reach there yet. I stop paying my yearly church club membership fees to the GC. The GC has destroyed duty-first, safety-first in place of prosperity-at-any-cost sectarian rites. SO VERY WICKED. Again I agree with Steve…101% in all aspects of his common sense perception and perspective and his many many Red Flags.

RE : Adventist Employee Sues Walmart

If I could have sued, and won, every case of religious discrimination I’ve experienced in my pursuit of employment over the years, I wouldn’t need to look for employment.

I’ve wished many times to be able to work as a mail carrier in my rural area . . . Nope ! Saturday mail delivery has been maintained by the USPS even while enduring its financial troubles. Why does a U.S. Gov’t entity ‘protect’ Sunday ? Because ‘business’ is the only avenue left through which to attack the religion of God. Saturday is the world’s traditional ‘go-to-market’ day. Businesses are open on Saturdays which might close on Sundays for lack of customers.

Once I was phoned out of the blue to take a job as a maintenance electrician at the cherry processing plant that provides the cherries for Ben and Jerry’s ‘Cherry Garcia’ ice cream. After being given a tour of the plant by the man who had phoned me, I told him that due to my religious beliefs, I could not work on Sabbaths even during cherry harvests. He looked straight at me, in disgust, and said, “I didn’t think there were any people like you left in the world !”

And, now the trend for employers in the construction industry is to hire fewer workers and work them longer hours to save on Worker’s Comp insurance, etc. And, of course, Saturdays are only ‘time and a half’, while Sundays are ‘double time’. So, of course, Saturdays are the first overtime day worked.

Yet, the SDA ‘PARL’ department has not enough funds to use to ‘legally’ protect this one ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ – me – from such ever-present religious discrimination in the United States of America, home of ‘religious freedom’. Clearly the solution for me is not going to come from this world’s courts where money decides, but in heaven’s court. And, clearly I’ll not find sympathy from the majority of more ‘educated’ and ‘vocal’ SDAs that ‘matter’ in the SDA church ‘Jerusalem centers’ because the SDA Hospitals, churches, schools, colleges, missions, and conferences . . . they work for present no such obstacles to their religious freedom.

Only Heaven helps me !

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“On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.” (Ex 20 NIV)

“On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property.” (Complete Jewish Bible)

We need to address the setting of the 4th Commandment—it is agrarian. First agriculture is the sustaining foundation and second where relatives stay together on the family farm.

The 4th commandment forced religious observance on “slaves” and visitors (foreigner’s), regardless of their religious convictions. The Sabbath offered no religious liberty; all were compelled to observe Jewish religious laws regardless of personal religious convictions. Religious toleration is not inherent within the 4th commandment.

Lastly the owning of a human being is seen, in the commandment, as natural and ordinary, not displeasing to God.

Hello TonyR: Thanks for the different point of view. Yet consider that Muslims want the right to publicly announce on a muezzin their call to prayer, a central tenant of Islamic faith to non-believers. I have heard that this can be offensive to Christians, yet they see it as a witness of their faithfulness to Allah. Perhaps Pagans in the time of Israel were also offended with Sabbath prayers and worship to Jehovah, whom they may have disliked. Yet the 4th Commandment did not take their feelings or objections to account. Religious freedom is a Jeffersonian ideal (not a OT viewpoint), which no one in the Old World understood.

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Most of the world no longer lives in an agrarian or herding society. But even in those, the animals had to be cared for, fed and milked. This was taken for granted that all activity could not cease for 24 hours. They were also told to rest and stay in their tents.

Today, our world operates 24/7. Power, police, utility, hospitals and health care cannot stop for 24 hours. Someone must constantly operate the wheels of society, and unlike the Israelites in the desert, they could not turn to the heathen neighbor to hire him for Sabbath work.

Translating such outdated rules is not workable today, and most of the rules about Sabbath and all the other 600 + are not considered to be observed today.

Asking someone to work for us so we can “rest” was not something the Israelites did, so why should we? For those who do not wish to do work of any kind. Practicing our religion should not impose a burden on others. (I lost a job years ago because of my request to leave a half hour early before sundown Friday. My boss could not understand, it made no sense to him)

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Any employment suit has a very low cap on anything that you may get out of it. First, the vast majority of SDA’s that “sue” an employer aren’t in it for the money. Most want to pursue such so that companies can’t treat others behind them (SDA or non SDA) the way they have been treated. The money that is usually found in a settlement is lost wages and maybe some punitive by the EEOC. The cap for this case, since Walmart is so big, is $300,000 and if you even win a very rare suit for that amount the appeals will most likely greatly reduce that.

What this gentleman got caught up in is Walmart’s now relatively new computer scheduling scheme and reduction in management personnel. Frankly, not sure they will prevail on this. Our church attorney’s have been concerned about Walmart’s new scheduling method for several years now. Most SDAs in management have not fought, but rather went back to associate positions which afford better opportunities for accommodation.

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        Be

interesting to know how the church’s Religious Liberty Departments will assist
in Gordon
Fields’ lawsuit!

        Observing

the Sabbath seems to be ignored when it comes to church conclaves. General
Conference sessions, Spring and Autumn Councils for example convene over
Saturdays. Couldn’t the affairs of the world church be accomplished in 3 to 4
week days thereby not necessitating having the session to occur over Sabbaths. (saving a lot on per diem) For it is on
these Sabbath sessions, even though no church business is conducted, that many
strangers within the gates are at work. Food service, even if it is vegetarian,
requires plenty of workers. Strangers within the gates provide transportation
and housing. There is the lighting and sound system that needs to provided. Why
do we give the corporate structure a pass on Sabbath observance, then at the
same time bring a bevy of lawyers to litigate against one employer that
requires Saturday work of an Adventist member even if he/she is doing essential
work? There are
camp meetings, youth camps, women’s retreats, and the list could go on all held
over Sabbath! Granted these are times of spiritual refreshing on a Sabbath, but
at the expense of the strangers and even some known strangers within our gates!

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