Christian Music Venue Fires Employee For Pro-Gay Rights Shirt

Wes Breedwell, a seven-year employee of a Nashville music venue and Christian youth facility called Rocketown, was fired from his job this week for wearing a pro-gay t-shirt.

This shirt got Wes Breedwell fired

The shirt is from the band Hostage Calm and reads “I Support Same-Sex Marriage” on the back, according to a picture Breedwell posted on Instagram. He wrote:

“Got fired from Rocketown today. Social media is what did it. So here is a picture to show my support for equality and free speech including social media. Cheers to my friends for having my back through all of this. #sevenyears”

According to the document listing his offenses, posted by the blog PropertyOfZack, Rocketown cited “lack of judgment” as the reason for Breedwell’s termination. They told him it was imperative not to share beliefs at work that “contradict the mission.”

Breedwell's letter of termination.

The band Hostage Calm also reached out to Breedwell. Upon speaking with them, Breedwell revealed that he had previously been passed up for promotions and salary raises because he didn’t identify as Christian. The band has pledged never to play at Rocketown again. Writes Hostage Calm’s Cmar as a response to the incident:

It’s important to note that they didn’t fire him for wearing A SHIRT. They fired him because of what that shirt stands for. For what that shirt threatens.

This shirt represents an idea that all people have the right to live their lives without being told who to love and whose love is more valuable. It represents equality under the law. It represents the freedom to choose.

And by the way: this all happened on MLK Day. Not that there’s a better day to fire someone over their support of civil rights… but the symbolism is clear. We still have a long way to go.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • J_M_Green

    So let me see if I understand this example of Christian hypocrisy correctly: Rocketown has no problem with the band Hostage Calm playing at their venue but then they fire one of their employees for wearing a Hostage Calm t-shirt which happens to contain a pro- gay marriage message on the back?

    • Gus Snarp

      Well, you know, they can make money off the band performing, but there’s no money in letting your employees wear t-shirts.

      • http://tch3.com C High

        Especially when you have to pay money to employ them!

    • Gus Snarp

      I’m not at all sure as to whether this band has actually played this venue before. It’s not really clear. The band uses the word “again”, but that doesn’t mean they’ve played there before and I went to their website and perused their lyrics and it seems unlikely that a Christian venue would host them. But who knows.

      • JBH

        The letter on the front page of their website states that they have played there multiple times.

        • Gus Snarp

          I confess to skimming. There’s still the out that the venue isn’t being properly described. Could be used by a Christian group, but also available to others, or could have changed hands since they played there. But parsimony leads to this just being awful hypocrisy on the part of the venue, to fire an employee for wearing a shirt from a band they hosted is just absurd.

        • Gus Snarp

          And now their website is down. The good news from all this: a band that supports gay marriage just got a lot of publicity for free.

          • Edmond

            The BETTER news is that another Christian organization has had their harsh, anti-gay policies publicized.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Christian anti-LGBT game plan: In the “marketplace of ideas”, if we have inferior ideas then our main strategy is to limit expression of the competing ideas.

    It comes right out of their rule book.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      Do you think a Christian music venue and youth facility is a free marketplace of ideas?

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

        Excellent point! Clearly by their actions the answer is certainly not!

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I think I’m okay with this.

  • jdm8

    Employers often have dress codes, even the ones that try to pretend otherwise.

    I don’t like that the facility thinks it’s a threat, but if it’s a Christian facility, it’s hard to say they’re wrong to limit what messages their employees advertise while at work.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Go back and actually read the article. They didn’t fire him because of the shirt. They fired him because he didn’t agree with the “company morals.”

  • Pluto Animus

    Email Rocketown at:

    info@rocketown.org

  • Gus Snarp

    This would be wrong no matter what, but I find it especially galling since it appears that he was wearing a shirt form a band that had played the venue. Basically everyone working local venues wears swag shirts from the bands that play the venues. It’s your entire wardrobe in that business. It’s not like he was going out of his way to make a political point, he just pulled a shirt out of the stack, in all likelihood.

  • Gus Snarp

    I wonder if I worked there and wore my Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt with the woman in the American flag bikini plastered on the front of it if that would violate their standards or not?

  • cathouseumbrella

    Ironically, “rocketown” sounds more like it should be the name of a gay porn site than a Christian music venue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    Presumably, he’s checked in with a civil rights lawyer as to whether or not he has a case for religious discrimination under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? While “religious organizations” and the “Ministerial exception” might make Rocketown’s actions allowable, they give a somewhat narrow gate — especially since the website’s “About” page includes “religion” as one of their non-discrimination equal opportunity employment categories.

    • Miko

      Clearly he doesn’t, since this isn’t a religious issue but a political one.

      At the meta-level: I can see situations in which I think it would be appropriate for a company to fire an employee for wearing a shirt opposing same sex marriage and as such am logically committed to supporting the right of a company to fire an employee for wearing a shirt supporting same sex marriage as well, so I’d say that trying to approach this as an issue of laws is the wrong strategy. The band has the proper strategy. If they say that they don’t want to associate with people who support same sex marriage, then people who support same sex marriage should echo back that they don’t want to associate with them either.

      • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

        However, the write up refers to this as contradicting “the mission”. However, the mission is not explicitly anti-gay; rather, it’s pro-Jesus. This makes for a can of worms. While the company may have the right to fire him over an inappropriate message, they may still have an obligation to show that it’s not due to religious discrimination. (That the shirt was swag from a band that played the venue looks to add an additional headache.)

        Still, I’m not a lawyer. I just suspect it’s worth his time to find one for the free initial consultation, to see if he does have an actionable case.

  • Guest

    Interestingly, earlier this week Peter Hitchens, less smart brother of the late Christopher, called me “stupid” on his blog because i said that a registrar refusing to conduct a marriage because the participants were gay was no different from refusing because the couple was interracial. he then went on to explain way racism was evil. No word yet on why he thinks gay couples are lesser than interracial couples…

  • Kimpatsu

    Interestingly, earlier this week Peter Hitchens, less smart brother of the late Christopher, called me “stupid” on his blog because i said that a registrar refusing to conduct a marriage because the participants were gay was no different from refusing because the couple was interracial. he then went on to explain way racism was evil. No word yet on why he thinks gay couples are lesser than interracial couples…

  • roberthughmclean

    A christian music venue? Isn’t that like a gay sex club for nuns or a religious car service business that services cars using biblical principals? Can this stuff be called christian “music “? It’s another lie.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Ugh. Seven years working for people like that. I worked for assholes far too long myself, staying just because of inertia and insecurity. I’m not saying that’s why you stayed there, Wes, but screw them. I hope you find a better job soon.

  • http://twitter.com/KristiLuvsJesus Kristi_Kille (ASCAP)

    Homosexuality is a temptation!! Homosexual activity is a grave sin and maybe even mortal!!

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Hi Kristi,
      Take your finger off the exclamation point key and take a deep, slow breath. Breathe in, pause just a second, and let it out slowly. Try one more. In slowly and deeply, a little pause, then out slowly. Ahhhh. Doesn’t that feel great? It’s both relaxing and invigorating at the same time.

      Now try thinking an original thought. Anything at all. Any thought that isn’t something that you’ve been indoctrinated with since you were a little girl, but something you came up with all by yourself. Original thoughts can do for your mind what deep, slow breaths can do for your body. They’re both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. Try another. Let a thought flow through your mind, slowly and deeply, something of your own creation, not something repeated to you over and over by people who wanted you to conform, conform, conform, and wanted you to want everyone else to conform, conform, conform too. Yes, that’s it, another original thought. Doesn’t that feel great?

      It’s really okay to think your own thoughts, and to consider the thoughts of people who think differently than your conform, conform, conform training. Nothing bad will happen; you’ll still be a good person, and you’ll be able to see that people who don’t conform, conform, conform to your old parroted thoughts are good people too.

      When you breathe deeply and slowly, and when you think original thoughts deeply and slowly too, you’ll find that you’re in a world with many, many more good, wonderful, interesting people around you than you ever realized, instead of just the few who conform, conform, conform.

      Ahhhh.

    • Anon

      Homosexuality is great fun!! Homosexual activity practiced between two or more consenting adults is perfectly legal!!

  • Bible Geek

    If christians actually read the bible, they would realize it never actually forbids female-female sex, it does mention it at one point (and says it is “against nature”), but doesn’t call it a sin.

  • Kit

    I’m not saying this is anything but awful, but it’s not exactly hard to get fired from fast food or grocery jobs for wearing shirts with anything resembling a political message. Got threatened several times at my old deli, myself. It IS a lack of judgment to expect anything other than firing for wearing this shirt to that job (even though that job doesn’t deserve someone this awesome!).


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