It all stems from a July 2015 Obama administration "anti-harassment" policy restricting workplace speech that could be construed as offensive. Issued just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled homosexual "marriage" constitutional, its wording expressed "zero tolerance" for any "harassment" on the basis of "sexual orientation" or "marital status" or "gender identity" by employers or employees.
(Washington, DC)—[Lifesitenews.com] The Trump administration's Department of Agriculture dealt a blow to the previous Obama administration's silencing of pro-marriage views in the workplace. (Photo: Creative Commons/via Pixabay)
Last week, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a strong policy emphasizing latitude for Believers to express their views at work.
"Opinions about same-sex marriage, gender identity, and sexual morality are all matters of public importance," the policy states. "USDA respects the First Amendment rights of USDA personnel, as well as non-USDA personnel working at facilities inspected by USDA, to share their varying viewpoints on these topics, whether through oral discussion, the display or distribution of literature, or other means."
The document makes official a wide definition of sincerely held beliefs. "Under federal regulations, religious beliefs include theistic beliefs (such as those that include a belief in God) as well as non-theistic 'moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.'"
"We are pleased that the USDA is as committed to respecting the First Amendment as it is to food quality," Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, wrote in a press release. "We thank President Trump who signed the executive order on religious freedom making clear that Americans, like the Vander Boons, don't lose their religious freedoms upon entering the public square."
"We are also grateful for Attorney General Jeff Sessions ... putting federal government agencies on notice: You will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe, but live according to those beliefs," Weber added.
The free speech guidelines were made necessary because of the Obama government's threat to run a Christian meat packer out of business over a pro-marriage pamphlet on a break-room table.
"I never would have imagined that the federal government would threaten to put me and my employees out of work because of religious literature on a breakroom table," West Michigan Beef Company owner Donald Vander Boon said. He and his wife Ellen employ 45 people at their facility.
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