Fired Policeman Sues Department over Religious Policy: He Passed out Literature on the Job

By Price, Joyce | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 28, 1996 | Go to article overview

Fired Policeman Sues Department over Religious Policy: He Passed out Literature on the Job


Price, Joyce, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A former North Carolina policeman is suing his ex-employer after being fired from the force because of a policy that prohibits officers from "talking to citizens about religion while on duty and in uniform" under any circumstances.

John Bradley Hicks accuses the Newton Police Department of religious discrimination and violations of his free-speech rights in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Statesville, N.C. He's seeking reinstatement to the police force, back pay and an end to the policy that led to his firing.

"When a police officer takes an oath to serve and protect the public, he shouldn't also take an oath requiring a vow of silence on God," said Craig L. Parshall, Mr. Hicks' attorney.

Mr. Hicks was a three-year veteran of the department. According to his suit, he feels compelled to "share his religious faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others."

He was suspended April 4 after the department learned he had given religious literature to a motorist to whom he had issued a driving warning. He said he asked the motorist if she would like to receive "some religious literature relating to Jesus Christ," and she agreed.

Later that day, the motorist complained. Mr. Hicks said it was the first complaint about his "religious expression," which he said was well known on the force.

He said he was summoned to the office of Police Chief James Masters on April 8 and was told he was being put on six months' probation and would no longer be allowed to pass out religious literature on the job.

Mr. Hicks "agreed to these provisions," Mr. Parshall said. But he said the chief then insisted that Mr. …

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Fired Policeman Sues Department over Religious Policy: He Passed out Literature on the Job
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