Billy Graham’s Heart

The Billy Graham Organization just won a Minnesota Appeals court decision which allows it to fire a 30-year employee who was spied kissing a woman in the parking lot.

Sara Thorson started working for the Billy Graham Associates in 1971. She was the bulk-mail services coordinator.

In February 2002, two employees spotted her kissing another woman in the parking lot. Her supervisors were alerted. She was confronted and admitted that she was gay. They suspended her immediately and asked her to renounce her sinful lifestyle, repent, and come back to work.

They were prepared to forgive her for the sins she had committed, but she had to demonstrate a sincere desire to repent. I guess that’s a way to put it.

Sara Thorson decided that since her work had nothing to do with the direct ministry of the organization– only with the technical task of sending out bulk mail– she should be allowed to keep her job and her lover. A Minnesota appeals court denied her request.

It was reasonably clear, I think, from comments made by the original sponsors of Minnesota’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, that their intent was to give religious organizations an exemption.

We presume that no other employee of this particular office was engaged in any apparent sinful activity at the time, or she or he would also have been fired, of course. But there’s no sin like sexual sin, so it’s conceivable that eagle-eyed employees were not on the lookout for hard-heartedness, for example, or materialism. Imagine, for example, if they had reported spying an employee climbing into a Hummer, or wearing a Rolex, or buying a gun, or eating too much too often.

Suppose Thorson’s supervisors had decided to be compassionate. They were not– no mistake about it. You have to be fairly brutal, in my opinion, to fire someone who has worked for you for more than 30 years because she kissed someone in a parking lot. You have to possess a remarkable mindset to be able to point at someone else and say, “you are the sinner.” You must be purged from our midst. You are not worthy of our company. You are going to hell and we’re not.

I’ll bet the two employees that spotted her were happy. I’ll bet it was the happiest day of their lives. Well, maybe not. Maybe they were a little sad. Maybe they even said, “we’re really sad about this. It’s heart-breaking to have to fire someone who has worked faithfully and diligently for you for 30 years.”

Okay, so let’s say they were sad. But I’ll bet they at least felt important.