September 2023 Church & State Magazine - September 2023

Federal judge orders airline to send employees to training run by Christian Nationalist legal group


A federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump has issued a controversial order requiring Southwest Airlines to send employees to religious liberty training run by a 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.

Southwest has appealed Starr’s order, which Starr placed on hold as the matter proceeds.

Experts say Starr’s order is unusual, especially in light of ADF’s controversial views on social issues.

Douglas Laycock, a retired law professor at the University of Virginia, told the Associated Press 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 their 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.”

Americans United is monitoring the situation.

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.

Act Now