A newspaper editor has filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against his former employer, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated for penning a personal blog post about homosexuality and the Bible.
Bob Eschliman, 41, the former editor-in-chief of the Newton Daily News in Newton, Iowa, is arguing that he was illegally fired May 5 from his position at the newspaper, which is owned by Shaw Media, for publicly sharing his religious beliefs.
Problems started when Eschliman, who is being represented by the Liberty Institute, a conservative law firm, lambasted the “Queen James Bible,” a version of the holy book that is favorable toward homosexuality, and cited his support for traditional marriage, according to a press release.
The Liberty Institute’s Jeremy Dys told TheBlaze that the firing came after someone in the community complained about his controversial blog post.
“[Eschliman] was just writing this as his own personal impressions,” Dys said, explaining his client’s motivations. “And he saw this story about the ‘Queen James Bible’ and it really got under his skin about how they’re twisting scripture — and he felt compelled to defend his vision of scripture.”
Dys said that Eschliman didn’t have any second guesses about publishing the post, as his employers reportedly knew that he had a personal blog outside of work.
“They decided to completely squelch his speech because he expressed a religious belief,” Dys charged. “Nobody should be fired for their faith or for the exercise of his faith.”
Eschliman was initially suspended over the blog post in May, which he removed in an effort to appease his employer and stem controversy. That act did little to save his job, though.
A recap of the scrubbed post was published at the time by journalist and media blogger Jim Romenesko. According to that account, Eschliman accused “the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo” of attempting to amend the Bible “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God.’”
“[Jesus] said there would be deceivers. He said those deceivers would cause Christians who remain true to His teachings to become reviled,” Eschliman reportedly wrote. “He said false prophets would follow to deceive even more, and that lawlessness will abound.”
He continued, “If you ask me, it sounds like the Gaystapo is well on its way. We must fight back against the enemy.”
What followed the initial controversy was an op-ed from Shaw Media president John Rung that was published in the Newton Daily News, condemning Eschliman’s comments and announcing his departure; the editor-in-chief had been at the paper for just under two years.
“Last week, [Eschliman] expressed an opinion in his personal blog that in no way reflects the opinion of the Newton Daily News or Shaw Media,” Rung wrote, according to the Des Moines Register. “While he is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.”
Eschliman believes the paper discriminated against him and he’s taking his complaint to the EEOC, a government body that upholds employment discrimination laws.
After the case is investigated — which can take a few days to more than a year — the commission will determine whether Eschliman he has made solid claims against Shaw Media and is entitled to back pay.
“Bob is less interested about cash or returning to his position,” Dys said. “What he’s most interested in is clearing his name. He’s been dragged through the mud for expressing his faith.”
The attorney said that his client is on unemployment and that he has been “blacklisted” and has not been able to find a job since his termination.
Matthew Whitaker, a former United States attorney, has volunteered to work with the Liberty Institute on this case.
Shaw Media told TheBlaze Wednesday that the company currently has no comment on the matter.