LGBTQ Equality

A federal judge is requiring attorneys at Southwest Airlines to attend ‘religious liberty’ training run by an anti-LGBTQ+ group

  Rob Boston

A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump has issued a controversial order requiring Southwest Airlines to send employees to religious liberty training run by a notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Christian Nationalist legal group.

The order came in a case concerning a flight attendant who said the airline disciplined her for expressing her opposition to abortion. The flight attendant won the case, and in the process, U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr said Southwest was in contempt of one of his orders.

Starr, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2019, ordered Southwest to send three of its attorneys to religious liberty training sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian Nationalist legal group that opposes LGBTQ+ rights and works to obliterate reproductive freedom.

Airline says it will appeal

Southwest has indicated it will appeal Starr’s order – and rightly so. Several legal experts have noted that Starr’s order is unusual because it requires that the ADF do the training. If training like this is necessary, there are more neutral parties that could offer it.

Douglas Laycock, a retired law professor at the University of Virginia and a highly regarded expert on religious freedom issues, told the Associated Press (AP) that Southwest could argue “that ADF has extreme views on these issues and will give distorted training, and there is something to that,” or that requiring employees to take training from a religious organization violates the attorneys’ rights.

Added Laycock, “ADF presents itself as a religious liberty organization, but it is really a Christian organization. It isn’t much interested in anyone else’s religious liberty.”

ADF: Part of the shadow network

The AP reached out to Americans United about this issue last week. While a quote from AU President and CEO Rachel Laser wasn’t included in the story, here’s what she said: “Ordering attorneys to attend religious liberty training run by Alliance Defending Freedom is like requiring someone to learn about loyalty from Benedict Arnold.”

Bingo. ADF, a prominent member of the billion-dollar shadow network of extremist organizations seeking to advance Christian Nationalism, undermine church-state separation and redefine religious freedom as a license to discriminate, is in no position to offer this training in an objective manner.

Southwest should fight this order to the hilt.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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