The Donaldson’s claim that on March 26th “Dr. Dawson somehow found the site and blog and immediately began threatening her over her job” because of Brant Donaldson religious opinions posted on ‘The Cancer Chronicles’ blog. Brant goes on to say in his blog that Dr. Dawson “…threatened to fire her if I did not remove the religious part of the entries…”. For fear of consequences towards his wife, Mr. Donaldson removed his personal religious opinions from previously posted entries.
Brant also stated that Dr. Dawson “…would still pressure his religious viewpoint on her and threaten to fire her if she continued to be an atheist.” And that his wife “…has been told that she is being punished for her lack of faith.”
Can you imagine the outcry from Christian organizations if the doctor were an atheist who fired a Christian and told her that she is "being punished for her faith"? Can you imagine how such an incident would be used by Christian organizations to "prove" that there is anti-Christian conspiracy and that Christians must suffer oppression in America?
Yet here we have what appears to be a clear, unambiguous example of anti-atheist bigotry and anti-atheist discrimination. What's more, it's an incident that creates a significant amount of harm because not only did Amanda Donaldson lose a job in a bad economy, but she lost her health insurance as well — insurance which she needs more than the average person given her cancer. How likely do you think she is to get a decent job given how much time she has to keep taking off right now for treatment, and how likely do you think it is that a new insurance policy will do anything for her given all the exemptions for "pre-existing conditions" which they impose?
I don't think it would be to unreasonable to ask whether a case of discrimination like what this appears to be is ultimately also a case of trying to hasten a person's death simply because they don't share your religion.
In an interview with Kacey Cornell, Amanda Donaldson has further explained what happened:
What exactly happened the day you were terminated?
5/4/09- The day I was fired I was busy trying to straighten up the stuff he had just let pile up while I was recovering from my mastectomy. This included the front office/desk work, patient care and back office work as well as cleaning the office up (which I was not supposed to do due to the limitations in effect after the surgery. I needed to vacuum because he said, "Well you know I am not going to do it.") He had hardly spoken a word to me and I was all into getting things back in order for the afternoon. When he did start the casual how are you feeling conversation I told him I was hurting a little but I had some medicine in my purse I could take if it got too bad. He asked me about Brant, my husband, and I told him the good news about him finding a good job, 8-5, M-F with benefits.
He walked away and came back a short while later, approached me and said, “I cannot have negativity toward God associated with this place (indicating his office), it’s all I have.”
He pressured me once again to attend his church, which I had previously done as a requirement for my job (I did get paid for it) and I said thanks for the invite but I think I am ok. I then told him I was never negative nor did I have an outspoken attitude about my beliefs within his office to which he replied, "There is no place for your thoughts, opinions and beliefs on God in my office, please give me your key and leave.”
I then told him that no one but him even knew how I believed; I didn’t talk to the patients about it and never brought it up when the patients asked if they could pray for me. I told him that I had been very tolerant of his beliefs and those of the patients and asked why this was a problem. To this he replied, “You're never here anyway!” (referring to my being gone for surgery.)
He then proceeded to scream and yell at me, while I was trying to get the key to his office off my keychain and gather my belongings, demanding that if I would accept Jesus I would be ok and telling me there was no point in my being there anyway, since I was never there. I then proceeded to walk the four miles to my house due to the fact that we are a single-car family and my husband had the car.
Kacey also tried to talk to Dr. Dawson to get his side of the story:
He said that Amanda and her husband are just “bitter and angry” and stated that he thinks none of this would be happening if it weren’t for her husband’s influence. He claimed that he always knew Amanda to be a “woman of God” and that the idea she is an atheist was “new” to him. He said, “They were damaged before they met me,” because they had “hatred for the world.”
...Eventually Dr. Dawson mentioned not being happy with what Amanda’s husband was writing. When I asked him what he was referring to he said, “I found a blog 6-8 weeks ago. I wasn’t happy about the negativity in it and was afraid patients would be deterred. Amanda said she was keeping it ‘out of here’ but I didn’t want negative stuff associated with the office.”
He went on to make two other statements that are very important to Amanda’s story. He said, “It’s a Christ-oriented office, they (meaning employees) need to be on the same page I am.”
I asked if the orientation of the office meant he only treated certain people and he said, “No, I treat anyone, but I’m a person of faith, connected to God, and I’ll hire anyone who is qualified.” However, he then immediately added, “but I do not want to hire anyone with a different world view.” [emphasis added]
The emphasized passages really make it tough to believe Dr. Dawson's story — an employer who insists that they need a "Christ-centered" office, that they don't want "negative stuff" even "associated" with the office, and that they only want to hire people who have the same "world view" is an employer who is basically admitting that their policies are bigoted, discriminatory, and oppressive. This is exacerbated by the fact that Dawson seems to be just blaming atheism and the husband's atheism for all the problems — apparently, he's innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
By now I'll bet you're thinking that Amanda Donaldson has a great legal case for illegal religious discrimination and will win a lawsuit — but you'd be wrong. Amanda has already gone to the EEOC and spoken with her state representatives and apparently Dr. Dawson could just state outright "yeah, I fired her because she's an atheist and I'd do it again" without having to fear any legal repercussions. Why? Because labor laws in the state of Texas don't entirely protect employees in companies that have 15 or fewer people working there. According to Amanda, any sort of discrimination — religious, racial, gender, disability etc. — is legal for small firms. She's trying to get the law changed, but even if she's successful that can't help her now.
Is it merely a coincidence that the people who perpetuate myths about Christians being oppressed and who perpetuate bigotry against atheists also tend to be the same ones who support the current system of health care and labor laws which are exacerbating the problems here? I don't think so because any effective system of oppression has to be able to exert pressure and create fear at multiple points in a person's life. You won't be as likely to submit to an employer's unseasonable demands, including immoral or illegal religious demands, if you aren't afraid of losing retirement and health care benefits if you are fired for standing up for your rights. Oppression doesn't work if it's easy for people to escape that oppression.