Darrell Patterson is a Seventh Day Adventist and observes Saturday as his day of worship. When Walgreens fired him for refusing to work on Saturdays, Darrell took the drug store chain to court. Citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Darrell thought Walgreens should make a reasonable accommodation for him to attend church on Saturdays. The Supreme Court of the United States felt differently and ruled that such an accommodation created an undue hardship on the pharmaceutical giant.
At issue is what responsibility does a business owe to an employee regarding their personal religious practice; where is the line of demarcation between reasonable accommodation and undue hardship? That would be a legal distinction, but as believers there is another consideration. The issue is not merely if we have a legal right, but is it right?
Paul admonishes us “respect what is right in the sight of all men,” Romans 12:17. This sense of what is right is to be tempered by the teaching of Scripture, but what is commonly accepted as right should be considered when believers contemplate a course of action such as a lawsuit.
My accepted day of worship is Sunday, not Saturday as Mr. Patterson believes. I believe my day of worship should be a day of rest from work so as not to be distracted from the purpose of worship which is to focus on the God I worship.
Work of mercy as in a hospital or of necessity as in law enforcement are exceptions. Illnesses, accidents and criminals do not take time off to worship and do not rest from preying on those who do.
I have been employed in both the private and public sectors. In each case I freely accepted employment without expecting accommodation of my religious preferences when none were promised. I would not have thought it right, whatever the law does or does not say my rights are, to try and force my employer to accommodate my beliefs when I freely accepted employment.
Paul goes on to say in the very next verse to “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” I believe Paul enjoins us to avoid needless conflict and I think that applies to legal conflicts as well.
Whenever I have been employed, I have always attempted to build favor and seniority as a dependable worker until I was able to better dictate the conditions of my employment. I think a similar course of action would seem “right in the sight of all men,” not taking my employer to court.
We live in a time and a culture when a Christian’s biblical convictions will be challenged, and when it comes to the freedom to practice what we believe that freedom should be defended even if it means taking legal action. But in this case, I do not think the Court was unjust in its decision.
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