October 2018 Church & State - October 2018

Oregon Man Fired Over Refusal To Attend Bible Study

  Rob Boston

An Oregon construction worker is in court challenging his dismissal from a job – a move, he says, that came after he refused to attend a company-sponsored Bible study.

Ryan Coleman, 34, is suing Dahled Up Construction, a firm based in Albany, Oregon. Coleman asserts that Joel Dahl, the owner of the company, told him that all employees were expected to take part in a weekly Bible study led by a Christian pastor during the work day, reported the Portland Oregonian.

Coleman, who is part Native American and has indigenous religious beliefs, attended the Bible study for about six months because he wanted to keep the job, but he eventually told Dahl he no longer wanted to take part.

“I said ‘I’ve kept an open mind, and it’s just not my thing.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m going to have to replace you,’” Coleman told the Oregonian.

Dahl acknowledged that he requires his employees to attend weekly Bible study, but he insisted it’s all right because he pays them to be there.

Coleman’s attorney, Corinne Schram, disputes that.

“This is so illegal,” Schram said. “Unless you are a religious organization like a church, you cannot force your employees to participate in religious activities.”

Federal law prohibits secular companies from firing or hiring based on an employee’s religious beliefs.

Coleman is seeking $800,000 in lost wages and damages. The lawsuit, Coleman v. Dahled Up Construction, is pending in a state court in Linn County.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

Join the Fight and Donate Today