The ACLJ reports that they have sued the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) on behalf of Brandon Jenkins. Jenkins was denied admission to CCBC’s radiation therapy program.
As one faculty member explained to Brandon, on behalf of CCBC, the “field [of radiation therapy] is not the place for religion.”
Brandon first applied for admission to the Radiation Therapy Program in April 2013. He met the standards of a competitive candidate and scored the maximum points allowed during his observation. During the interview process, college officials asked Brandon, “What is the most important thing to you.” Brandon answered simply, “My God.”
The ACLJ report notes that Jenkins received the following response from Adrienne Dougherty, the program director, about the denial of admission to the program:
I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters, however, this field is not the place for religion. We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing at all. If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.
Dougherty also apparently works at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) on the Radiation Oncology Team.
According to the ACLJ report, Jenkins attempted to address those issues and was rebuffed. Additionally:
In response to a letter from the ACLJ outlining CCBC’s retaliation, CCBC defended Director Dougherty’s comments to Mr. Jenkins suggesting that such comments were merely intended to advise Brandon that “he not wear them [his religious beliefs] on his sleeve,” and “[s]tated bluntly, that is not bad advice.”
More on the details:
Nonetheless, despite persistent denial by CCBC of unfair treatment, CCBC acknowledges that Brandon lost points during the interview process because Brandon allegedly stated that he was pursuing a career in radiation therapy at the behest of God. This, CCBC asserts, was not “the best answer.” CCBC further stated, “[c]andidates who describe thoughtful considerations about what the candidate will contribute as an individual to patients and the advancement of care make far better therapists than those who are told by others [God] to pursue the field. . . the fact is that in any secular job or program interview it is better to have a concrete reason for wanting to undertake the training at hand than to say only that God directed one to do it.”
The ACLJ filed the suit in federal court and they are seeking an injunction to require CCBC to admit Jenkins to the program. The suit, which names multiple CCBC officials as defendants, “requests the court to declare that the actions taken by CCBC officials violated Brandon’s First Amendment rights and that defendants be prohibited from further retaliating and/or discriminating against Brandon based on his religious views and/or his expressions thereof.”
It might be good advice to not advertise your religious beliefs so overtly in a situation like this where you might face discrimination. However, it’s also dumb for the school officials to so openly point out that they appeared to be discriminating against him because he expressed those beliefs.