A dental technician working for the U.S. Air Force was fired after her devout Christian colleagues accused her of practicing witchcraft, bringing demons into the office, and engaging in the “satanic” practice of yoga.
The Air Force Times reports Deborah Schoenfeld was fired after her co-workers at the Epes Dental Clinic at Fort Meade, Maryland, harassed her over her Hindu faith, claiming she was satanic for wanting to practice yoga and meditating, and referring to her as a “Hindu witch.”
The Air Force Times also reports two of Schoenfeld’s former co-workers have confirmed her account of the workplace harassment she was subjected to by her devout Christian colleagues.
The following is an excerpt from a fiery letter sent to the commander in charge of the dental clinic and signed by Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF):
It has been brought to the attention of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), that an incredibly volatile, hostile and toxic evangelical Christian work environment under your direct command has resulted in the pernicious harassment, disenfranchisement, and firing of a once valued member of your team, Ms. Deborah Schoenfeld. We are writing you today in order to inform you that we will be immediately providing aggressive advocacy services for Ms. Schoenfeld as a MRFF client pursuant to her resolute quest to obtain a just resolution to her shocking complaints which have now been officially filed through the appropriate military Equal Employment Opportunity (EO) channels.
Weinstein goes on to offer a summary of Schoenfeld’s complaints:
• In her time at Epes Dental Clinic she was actually and specifically accused of “witchcraft” and “bringing demons into the office.” She has been officially advised that she is not allowed to know who her accusers are.
• She has been openly disparaged for not having the same religious views as her superiors (evangelical Christian) and being “uninterested in taking part” in Christian rituals or the rampant and rapacious, workplace-based, evangelical Christian proselytizing which is outrageously and comprehensively supported by her former command.
• She has been admonished that practicing yoga is “satanic”, and will “cost (her) her soul”.
• She was advised by her chain of command to pray against the recent Supreme Court ruling against same sex marriage, as it is “an abomination to their religion”. (an employee in the office wanted all the civilians to pray against the legalization of same sex marriage at a clinic meeting)
• She was chastised for playing Indian music in the workplace as it was “not Christian”, while Christian music was commonly played throughout the entirety of this armed forces dental clinic.
• After filing an EO complaint, as anyone in her perilous situation of abject persecution should and would have done, she was swiftly fired from her job for false and scurrilous accusations from unknown persons asserting that she allegedly used profanity in the workplace.
• She was advised that she was accused of wrongdoing, and that she did not have the right to know her accuser(s).
• Her career has been unjustly and abruptly derailed and terminated by a literal “witch hunt” within your command.
Calling the treatment of Schoenfeld “ludicrous, scandalous and outrageous” Weinstein informs the commander that the “astonishingly egregious behavior” is a direct violation of Schoenfeld’s constitutional rights.
Weinstein also goes on to note that the behavior “violates a vast sea of DoD and USAF Directives, Instructions and Regulations” before pointing out that
Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1, Section 2.12 makes it crystal clear that leaders at all levels in the Air Force “must ensure that their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief or absence of belief.”
The Air Force Times reports the Air Force has received Weinstein’s letter and is looking into the allegations raised.
(H/T Chris Rodda)