GM’s Hit-and-Run on Christian Employees Cannot Be Ignored

A 9 to 5 Editorial 

Want to start a group for Hispanic employees at General Motors? No problemo, amigo. Just follow these few steps and you’ll be recognized as an official “affinity group,” a sanctioned network of GM employees. As such, you’ll be able to use the company’s facilities for meetings and social events, you’ll be able to use official communication channels like our newsletters, and you’ll be able to collectively advance your agenda within the company, whatever it may be.

Well, how ‘bout a group for Asians? Or for women? Or for African-Americans? Or for people with disabilities? Same answer. Really? Even gays and lesbians? Yup. Just sign here. The beneficent gatekeepers in human resources will gladly assist you as part of their world-class diversity initiative

But for this initiative, the beneficence does not extend to religious employee groups. In fact, when John Moranski, a GM employee in Indianapolis, sought to establish the “GM Christian Employee Network” in December 2002, the HR department abruptly slammed the gate in his face. The April 2003 response from GM’s omnipotent diversity czar – one that you probably haven’t heard reported in the mainstream media – was that the company will not sanction groups that have a religious or political agenda. Their PR guy elaborated on the rationale for those criteria: GM “does not recognize religious or political organizations as company-sponsored affinity groups because of the divisiveness inherent in trying to accommodate their widely disparate views” (Brian Akre, GM’s Director of News Relations, as quoted by Cybercast News Service, Notwithstanding, the company recognizes GM PLUS, a gay affinity group whose stated mission is to “advocate benefit programs that recognize domestic partners and non-traditional families.” No political agenda there, I guess.

Backed by the Christian Law Association in Florida, John persisted, exhausting internal channels to persuade GM that it is unfair to recognize some groups and not others based on the values held by those groups. To no avail, though. Now he’s trying to convince them through more formal means that it’s not only unfair, it’s also illegal. On June 20, 2003, John filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that GM is discriminating against him and all Christians in the company. The case seems like a slam dunk, since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act mandates that companies can’t deny rights and privileges of employment based on religious beliefs. Then again, one never knows what the left-leaning EEOC will do with such cases. After all, this is the agency that has spent taxpayer dollars to try to remove Bibles from office desks and pro-life pins from employee clothing.

John Moranski’s case matters. And it matters a lot. Christian affinity groups, networks, and clubs have sprung up in a growing number of companies, including American Express, Intel, Coca-Cola, and Texas Instruments. They are an indispensable vehicle for Christian employees to gather, to pray, to encourage one another, and when necessary, to use their collective voice to effect change in the organization. If GM succeeds in putting the brakes on this Christian employee group, it gives license to other companies to do the same, which will, over time, deprive countless Christians of both workplace fellowship and a concerted voice in employment matters.

There are other reasons that this case matters, though. Broader, more urgent reasons. What we are witnessing here at GM is nothing less than the opening of another front in the cultural war against sincerely held religious belief. With public schools, the government, most universities, Hollywood, and the media becoming increasingly inhospitable to orthodoxy, we simply cannot afford to lose the workplace as well. We Christians meet more spiritually-needy people in the secular workplace than we do anywhere else, so if GM triumphs here, we could eventually lose our best secular venue to openly share the truth of the gospel. Additionally, and even more disconcertingly, a GM victory takes the United States another step down that dubious road toward the criminalization of evangelism. If you think that’s an overstatement, just look at the French experience. Their 2001 “anti-sect law” is being interpreted to mean that evangelicals are cultists, and some evangelical churches are now on the official government list of suspicious sects. We in the U.S. must either fight our local battles, like GM, or risk losing our right to practice our faith authentically, just as Christians in France are losing it. The choice is that simple and it’s that consequential.

We at Christianity 9 to 5 are grateful that John Moranski has made the stalwart choice to press on here. We all should join together in prayer for him, for the Christian Law Association, and for the decision-makers at GM and the EEOC that this issue be resolved fairly, privately, and expediently. And absent that resolution, we should wholly support John’s quest for legal recourse.