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Firefighters Face Religious Discrimination Too


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Atheist Republic (News)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): n.d.

According to Friendly Atheist, there can even be discrimination around religion against particular members of the community who are beloved: firefighters.

The reportage states, “In 2016, atheist Jeffrey Queen filed an unbelievable lawsuit against the city of Bowling Green (Kentucky) based on what he witnessed while working for the fire department. The lawsuit only came after his complaints were ignored, some by Deputy Chief Dustin Rockrohr (also named in the lawsuit), and he was formally discharged.”

The claims are extensive within the lawsuit. Some of them including the referring to non-Christians as pagans. The asking of the person in question on the job if they would like to join the church. Another stating that he should “get right with Jesus.”

Others included that atheists should burn or that a colleague would be damned if they would atheists and feels glad that “none of those fuckers work here.” The man, Queen, was forced into participation in a Bible study at the fire station. Then after coming out as an atheist, the Captain, Eric Smith, and one other firefighter stated that they would, therefore, burn down his house.

He was called a faggot almost every day, or queer. He is straight and married, for the record. His colleagues would not touch gay people because of their potential for having AIDS – “probably had…” Then there was a statement that if a homosexual works there then they would make sure he dies in a fire; also, they stated that they would chop his feet off.

One man did not get help with chest pain after hearing he was gay. Some firefighters refused to help out. Then African-Americans were referred as “hoodrats” and “thugs” and even the n-word. As reported, “He witnessed members of the Fire Department refer to Muslims as ‘towelheads,’ ‘jihadis,’ ‘ali-babas,’ and ‘sand n—–.’ He heard those same people say of Muslims, ‘we need to ship them all back where they came from’ and ‘let the bombs torch them, they are going to hell anyway.’”

Queen took an absence from work due to the harassment. He resigned due to the hostility in the work environment. No one would have known about these instances without the whistleblowing of Queen. He went public and suffered as a result of it, professionally and personally.

“Since that lawsuit was filed, though, the city and Rockrohr have tried to get the courts to throw it out. They don’t dispute what Queen witnessed,” the article explained, “Instead, they claim ‘that jokes, pranks, and teasing are all part of the fraternal environment at the Fire Department that Queen enjoyed and participated in.’”

However, Queen did not enjoy it. He hated it. The fire department is claiming the harassment on the basis of atheism was not a possibility because they did not know, at the time, that he was a closeted atheist in the fire department.

However, Queen states that the statement about the burning down of his house due to his atheism as a result of the colleagues in the fire department finding out about his atheism.

The article continues, “On Friday, however, a judge ruled that there was more than enough reason for this case to move forward. There’s plenty of information regarding religious discrimination and retaliation that a jury would have to sort out, the judge said, and the reasons for dismissing the case are absurd.”

It resulted in a 14-page ruling on Friday issues by the U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley that the allegation of a hostile work environment based on religion and claims of retaliation could proceed reasonably to a proper trial.

In a 14-page ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley allowed the allegation of hostile work environment based on religion and claims of retaliation to proceed to trial.

McKindley stated, “A reasonable jury could find that the harassment and threats were in retaliation for his complaints regarding the workplace… According to Queen, his work environment got so bad that he had to take a medical leave of absence and eventually forced him to resign.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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