Promoting Diversity — Except When It Comes to Religion
General Motors' corporate policy of allowing employees to create "affinity groups" is the target of a discrimination complaint after one employee says his request to organize fellow workers for Christian-related activities was rejected.
John Moranski, who has worked at the G.M. factory in Indianapolis, Ind., for three years, filed the discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in June.
General Motors began sanctioning employee-initiated affinity groups in 1999 in order to promote workplace diversity and improve employer-employee communications. The company's recognition of an affinity group allows that group access to corporate facilities and communications, as well as other benefits for sponsoring activities.
Moranski complained that he was first denied the opportunity to publish, in the factory's daily newsletter, an invitation for other employees to join him in a lunchtime prayer session on May 2, 2002, the National Day of Prayer.
Moranski said he then applied for formal recognition of a Christian Employee Network as a G.M. Affinity Group in December of 2002. His request was denied, both Moranski and G.M. agree, because the group's affinity was religion-based.
Brian Akre, G.M.'s director of news relations in Detroit, Mich., indicated that the company "does not recognize religious or political organizations as company-sponsored affinity groups because of the potentially infinite number of such groups and because of the divisiveness inherent in trying to accommodate their widely disparate views."
G.M.'s affinity groups, Akre said, generally are limited to those whose focus is based on primary dimensions of diversity, which are factors that cannot be changed or chosen, such as ethnic background, gender, or physical disabilities."
However, Drew Gardner, attorney with the Seminole, Fla., based Gibbs law firm, said, "G.M.'s treatment of religious beliefs as different from a 'common social identity' such as race, disabilities, gender, or sexual orientation is disparate treatment of religion." The law firm serves as general counsel to the Christian Law Association and is representing Moranski in the filing of his complaint.
Gardner added that G.M.'s rationale for refusing to recognize Moranski's group, "we would say is illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act."
CNSNews.com, July 18, 2003
An Emerging Opposition to Homosexuality?
Just one month after an historic Supreme Court ruling on sodomy, Americans' acceptance of homosexuality plummeted, a recent poll shows.
The USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll released July 28 shows that a plurality of Americans — 49 percent — do not consider homosexuality "an acceptable alternative lifestyle" and that 57 percent are opposed to homosexual civil unions.
The poll of 1,006 adults reverses poll numbers released in May as well as trends from recent years. It also goes against cultural trends showing an ever-increasing promotion of homosexuality in the media and in education circles.
Peter LaBarbera, senior policy analyst with the Culture and Family Institute in Washington said the poll may indicate that "people are getting sick and tired of the media and Hollywood shoving homosexuality in their face at every turn."
Thorkild Grosboll, a popular Lutheran pastor in Tarbaek, Denmark, has boldly declared: "I do not believe in a physical God, in the afterlife, in the resurrection, in the Virgin Mary."
According to a July 8 New York Times article, Grosboll has been suspended by the nation's state-run church after making similar remarks to a newspaper. The Times quoted him as also saying, "And I believe that Jesus was a nice guy, who figured out what man wanted. He embodied what he believed was needed to upgrade the human being."
According to the article, Grosboll's remarks and suspension have set off a "tsunami of theological discourse in workplaces, university halls, and cafes across Denmark, where religion seldom penetrates the collective consciousness."
The Times reported that Mr. Grosboll's own six-member parish council voted unanimously to keep him and wrote a letter of support to the Danish government's Ministry for Ecclesiastical Affairs. Then, it held a town rally that drew hundreds of people "on a football night," said Larse Heilesen, the council chairman.
According to the article, Heilesen reported, "The people are furious."
The Times reported that Grosboll claimed to believe in "something divine," but that he "does not believe in a physical God who 'created man and ant,' an afterlife, a Virgin Mary, or anything that smacks of the metaphysical."
According to the article, Grosboll observed, "I want the focus to be on the here and now, as a cultural factor. God is not an argument. God is only a question. He is supposed to be a constant stone in the shoe."
Grosboll is reportedly a "hero" in Tarbaek. The Times article reported that the local postman announced, "If he goes out as a priest, I leave the church."
Books: The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics
C.S. Lewis has been hailed as one of the greatest Christian thinkers, apologists, and writers of the twentieth century. His writings have impacted the minds and lives of countless children and adults, and they continue today.
HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollins Publishers has done the Christian community a great service by compiling seven of his most popular works into one volume. The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics presents the classic works Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed, and Lewis's prophetic examination of universal values, The Abolition of Man.
Lewis reached a vast audience during his lifetime, and books such as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters continue to be regarded by some as among the best spiritual writing of all time. With his uncanny grasp of human nature, Lewis offers a refreshing antidote to the modern world's consumerism and moral relativism. This new edition of his most celebrated books highlights Lewis's compassion for humanity and his relevance for the twenty-first century.
Encouraging Developments on Alternate Stem Cell Sources
While the harvesting of stem cells from aborted human embryos has sparked heated debate in recent years, alternative stem cell sources are now getting a big boost at the state and national levels.
Pro-life advocates have long hailed umbilical cords and placentas as an effective, noncontroversial source of stem cells for research and possible treatment of ailments such as leukemia and Alzheimer's disease.
Louisiana has a state-funded storage program for stem cells derived from umbilical cords and placentas. The Louisiana Stem Cell Repository, which started last year, allows children whose umbilical cord and placenta are donated to have free, lifelong access to the stem-cell bank, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.
Also, federal lawmakers have introduced legislation that would create a national cord blood stem cell bank to study new cellular therapies. An amendment to the annual funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services provides $10 million for the program.
You can take action by contacting your senators and ask them to support the full $10 million funding for a national cord blood stem cell bank, which is included in the Senate's Labor/HHS Appropriations bill, S. 1356.
CITIZENLINK, July 17, 2003