Kansas Secretary of State Fires State Employee For Not Attending Church

Americans were fortunate among people of the Earth to have lived in a nation that, for 236 years, avoided being taken over and controlled by religious extremists. It is a sad commentary, but now that the Republican Party has been taken over by evangelical fundamentalists as a result of Republican demigod Ronald Reagan giving the religious right the keys to government, that 236 year secular run is apparently nearly ended. Most Americans likely never believed that government officials would have the authority, or audacity, to terminate a state employee for not complying with the “official state religion,” but they also probably never imagined the Supreme Court would legalize an employer’s control over women’s reproductive health choices.

A former Kansas state employee has filed a federal wrongful termination lawsuit targeting Kansas’ Secretary of State and assistant secretary of state, Eric Rucker. The lawsuit alleges that the employee’s dismissal was founded  on her refusal to attend bible and prayer services in Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office. It is important to note that the evangelical church services in Secretary of State Kobach’s office were officiated by, a voluntary minister with Capitol Commission, David DePue, whose ministry focuses solely on evangelizing Kansas’ government leaders.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court,  Kobach’s lieutenant Rucker “repeatedly and emphatically indicated a basis for her, Courtney Canfield’s, termination as the fact that, ‘She just doesn’t go to church.'” Canfield’s experience working for a Kansas theocrat began shortly after being hired when Kobach’s assistants “invited” Ms. Canfield to attend Christian religious services being regularly conducted in the taxpayer-funded secretary of state’s office. Canfield declined to worship, study, or pray with her new evangelical colleagues in Kobach’s Topeka government office and was duly fired for expressing her Constitutional religious freedom to not worship or regularly attend church. Apparently, not attending church regularly and declining to worship according to an employer’s religion is something Americans are learning more every day is un-American and an attack on evangelicals’ religious liberty.

Obviously, as the lawsuit contends, Rucker’s evangelical decision to terminate  Canfield’s employment violated her constitutional right of religious expression; a right evangelicals believe applies to them exclusively. The lawsuit also indicates that Rucker had full knowledge of Canfield’s view’s on religious expression including that she is a Methodist, not a raving evangelical, and that she did not regularly attend church services. Evidently, not regularly attending church and rejecting the “Christian invitation” to do bible study and prayer services in the Secretary of State’s office was justification for termination according to Kansas’ evangelical theocrats. So they did what any religious extremist running a government does and fired the “non-compliant” sinner. Likely, evangelicals yearn for Sharia-like authority that allows them to execute Americans for religious non-compliance; it is doubtless they are working on changing that prohibition with religious fervor.

Ms. Canfield said that “Participation in these religious services was by invitation only. These invitations were distributed during normal government business work hours and included a ‘prayer guide’ to be utilized at that week’s service” in the Secretary of State’s office. Conducting church services in taxpayer-funded government offices is bad enough, but it gets worse.

Court documents say that assistant secretary of state Rucker appealed to the plaintiff’s grandmother to terminate the employee on religious grounds. Rucker left a telephone message for Margie Canfield, the “wayward” employee’s grandmother, who is a longtime administrator and former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party to set up a meeting. After leaving a message on Margie Canfield’s telephone, Rucker arrived at her Topeka home and “proceeded to tell Margie that she needed to terminate her granddaughter’s employment with the state despite the fact that she had no direct authority over her employment.” Rucker apparently grew tired of waiting three days for the grandmother to fire her granddaughter from Kobach’s staff and finally notified Courtney Canfield himself that her employment in the secretary of state’s office had ended and to seek unemployment benefits.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Topeka and names as defendants both the office of the Secretary of State and Kobach’s number one religious enforcer Eric Rucker. Apparently, Secretary of State Kobach declined to comment on the unconstitutional use of government offices for religion or the illegal termination for “lack of church attendance.” However, a spokeswoman for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Secretary of State Kobach’s office requested legal representation in the case that prompted the attorney general to retain private counsel to handle the unconstitutional establishment of religion matter.

This kind of blatant retribution for not complying with an “invitation” to toe the evangelical line and acquiesce to worship according to fundamentalist dogma is not unique to Kansas. Last month in Georgia, a local Baptist church aired a video showing over 24 youth football players being coerced into being baptized on school grounds using school equipment prior to the Villa Rica Wildcat’s football practice with the caption, “Take a look and see how God is still in our schools!” After complaints from several groups including the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), school administrators are being forced to investigate the blatant violation of separation of church and state.

Local evangelicals who believe the church is the state watched the glaring constitutional violation and said the school baptisms were a message of “hope, care, and compassion from the community.” The senior pastor of the First Baptist Church said Christians had no need to even ask the school for permission to use its property and equipment for the mass baptisms. He said “I was so proud for these young men and their example of their new relationship with Christ and what it means in that school. The school really didn’t have any say in it. It was us, the church and men in community setting it up. There are a lot of people who don’t want god in anything;” Baptists believe otherwise.

Recognizing the pressure to comply with the coaches’ demands or not play sports that is rampant in schools,  the co-president of the FFRF, Annie Laurie Gaylor, stated the obvious according to the U.S. Constitution; religion and public schools do not mix. She said, “Our students should not be forced to pray to play, and this is coercive and proselytizing. Football players are at mercy of their coach and want to please their coach, and when they are being corralled to attend a religious worship service to be dunked and baptized, that’s coercive.”

It is also as unconstitutional as terminating an employee for “not attending church” or “declining to worship” in Kansas’ Secretary of State’s office. But Republicans, particularly religious Republicans, do not acknowledge the Constitution, separation of church and state, or any Americans’ religious freedom except for their own bastardized interpretation that entails forcing Christianity on Americans. This glaring effort to force religion on Americans, although occurring nationally, is rampant in Republican-controlled states; particularly in the schools whether it is teaching the bible as science or transferring public school money to corporate-run charter schools and private institutions teaching religion.

Americans are generally unaware that evangelicals are forcing their religion down the throats of Americans at every turn and they would have little to no success without legislative assistance from Republicans and the Vatican-5 on the Supreme Court. It is astonishing, really, that in a nation founded on a document that prohibits “establishment of religion,” government employees are terminated for “not attending church” and young students are “coerced” into being baptized on school grounds and with school equipment in order to participate in school sports. However, that is the price complacent Americans pay for not voting and being too cowardly to rise up and protest that their nation is being transformed into a Taliban-like theocracy with an evangelical Sharia law incrementally replacing the U.S. Constitution.

55 Replies to “Kansas Secretary of State Fires State Employee For Not Attending Church”

  1. “Christian” Sharia Law. This must be the Sharia Law they were fearmongering a few months ago. These extremists need to go since they dont understand the oath they were supposed to take when elected/hired.

  2. Untamed Lizards slither only so far from the rot
    before being snared and thrown back.

    November, 2016, tells this tale.

  3. Rmuse! You are awesome passing on this information! So glad you got both those emails with insight on what’s happening passed on to you! Love your articles over all the years!
    #CherokeeStrong WADO

  4. Can you call it going to church when you’re holding it in your government office? I dont think so. Church means church. Shes paid for going to work. Not the same thing.

  5. We have NEVER been a christian nation and never will be. Christianity is but one of the MANY religions that exist in the US.
    Why do the repugs love to keep trying shove christianity down our throats???

    The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.?
    Founding Father James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, Essays In Addition to America?s Real Religion

    And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.?
    James Madison — letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822


  6. http://www.adn.com/article/yale-law-school-joe-miller-discovers-federalist-society

    Kris Kobach was the classmate of Joe Miller that ALMOST GOT ST. OF AK. to become theocrat State; if it wasn’t for 1st peoples of Alaska voting Write-In for Lisa Murkowski, she would not have been the first GOP Senator To Back Voting Rights Act Restoration.

    The above article clearly states Federalism is Tea Party Theocrats!!!


  7. The interpretation of the bible is open to interpretation, the U.S. Constitution is not.

    These misguided thugs are just that thugs and bullies and need to be held accountable for their terrorist actions.

    “All men were born with a nose and five fingers but NO ONE is born with the knowledge of God.”

  8. Next they’ll be accusing people who don’t know how to swim of being a witch and calling for them to be burned at the stake.

  9. I’m starting to think that Evangelicals are wanting to foment a religious civil war in this country. That the words “take our country back” are being revealed for what they are: a call to turn this SECULAR nation into a Christian Theocracy. These Dominionists will stop at nothing to impose their viewpoint on the rest of us.

    If America were ever to become a theocracy, our great experiment will be over once and for all. I truly hope there are enough people who would fight back.

  10. More of that Republicans’ “It’s different when we do it and it’s also different when it happens to us” BS.

  11. WELL IT HAD TO COME TO THIS SOONER OR LATER. Where is the Justice Department and ACLU when you need them.

  12. Kris Koch….er Kobach is adamantly denying that “not going to Bible study” was NOT the cause for her termination…SO…based on Kobach’s adamant denial we can be fully assured that “not going to Bible study” MOST CERTAINLY WAS the reason for her dismissal. If Kobach SINCERELY wants to identify fraud in Kansas he needs to look no further than the nearest mirror.

  13. When issues like this occur, we rush to blame an entire group, ie: Republicans or Christians. Instead it is usually a fringe group who misinterpret the Constitution and or the Bible. These individuals taint the truth and become so zealous in their beliefs, they refuse to listen to reason. We have become a nation of people who believe everything they read and are too lazy to research and see for themselves what is true. Given that, I hope the individual mentioned in the above article wins her lawsuit.

  14. So are these church services still going on? Has anybody stepped in and said you can’t be doing this in government offices funded by taxpayers? The article doesn’t say.

  15. I cannot believe that anyone actually thinks this is true. I realize that it takes a little “crazy” to work in Topeka, but honestly. Even elected officials have brains enough not to say they fired someone because “she just doesn’t go to church”. (It’s on the Internet, so it must be true!?) If there is anything factual in this article, I’m guessing that it’s simply that someone got fired. That’s it. My guess is that this person is angry, and looking for revenge, or is trying to cover her embarrassment for being fired. “Blame it on someone else.” Christianity is a hot button issue. It’s a “go-to” excuse for a lawsuit. I suggest this case be filed under “E” for “entitlement”.

  16. Cyber,
    American Voter’s are waking-up to see The GOP Can No Longer Govern. They can hardly find a Decent Presidential Candidate!

    We would divide this Nation before we would let that happen.

  17. from another web site ..but sums it nicely……The State admits Secretary of State Kris Kobach hosted Bible studies. They claim the sessions were voluntary, as if that makes a difference.
    The State also denies that Rucker said Canfield’s refusal to attend church services was the reason she was fired. Instead, they blame her termination on “poor work performance and her inability to work productively with others.”
    One local church/state separation advocate points out the first admission is a big deal:
    … Vickie [Stangl], president of the Great Plains Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the hosting of Bible study sessions in the workplace by the Kansas secretary of state’s office “crosses the line.” She said employees feel peer pressure to participate even if they are not required to attend.
    Stangle said having the sessions creates the perception that government is promoting and endorsing a religion.
    “I look at these places as places …

  18. Nancy, are you an attorney? The fact is that the Kansas state government sponsored bible study sessions for state employees, which is in violation of the employees’ Constitutional rights-as in the Kansas state government does not have the right to influence or coerce their employees’ religious affiliation. No, obviously the Kansas state government will not be mentioning their unconstitutional bible study nonsense. Since you are on the internet, why don’t you learn how to use it-as in do some further research on this case. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is already working on it, as it is such a blatant violation of the employee’s constitutional rights. You also might try actually reading the article, as apparently you missed the part about the football players being baptized-which is also illegal, but that is not stopping religious extremists. Wake Up.

  19. It doesn’t surprise me. Kansas, the state where its board of education attempted to shove creationism down the throats of public school students during the past 15 years.

    Even Kim Davis didn’t go this far!

  20. This is not one bit surprising. You’re dealing with folks who read stories about how the God of the Bible punishes non believers or/and so so believers and then they perform the far less genocidial/homicidal equivalent, believing that they are doing God’s will. They cry “religious freedom”, but then force their beliefs upon others.

  21. I do wish they would just stop and think. If they had not been born to parents (or a mother) who went to a Christian Church, they would probably never have become Christians at all. If they had been born Jewish or Muslim, how would they feel working in an office that required attendance at Christian prayer meetings on work time? We are the product of dumb luck in our birth. We all could have been Libyans, or Irish, or Chinese. Instead of embracing the freedoms we should have here, this group of dominionists has decided that only they know the answers, and that they will make everyone else believe what they believe. How come there is no 60 Minutes report on Dominionism? Cruz’ campaign would be over. These evangelicals would be shown for the hateful people they are.

  22. Kansas is a mess all over. After Brownback’s great “experiment,” its economy is in the toilet, and its education system is, too. I shake my head every time I read something about it. Great book: “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” It explains a lot.

  23. Seems to me requiring anyone to go against his or her freedom of conscience is totally against that person’s natural rights.

    Does the KS employee not have a right to avoid KS Officials forcing their conscientious beliefs on her? Does the 1st Amendment protect the KS employee from being forced to participate in an act which is contrary to her conscience?

    If you believe the KS employee is innocent, how can you not also agree that Kim Davis is innocent? What logic can justify one and not the other?

  24. This person in Kansas, Secretary of State should be fined, impeached and sued. The person fired was fired unlawfully. This is one time I believe a lawsuit is in order. Sue them royally. They cannot have any religious anything in their public office period. When will these idiots learn. I’d like to know what I can do about it because I am sick of it all. It affects everyone’s rights when they step on the Constitution from a position like this.

  25. Don’t blame the Republicans, blame the Kansas voters who keep putting them in office.

    Kansas roads haven’t been repaired in 3 years; Kansas schools had to close early because they ran out of money, and … here’s the best part … Kansas Republicans passed a law that will shut down the judiciary. Completely. No criminal prosecutions, no civil cases. Nothing. That law was designed to force a District Court to rule Republicans’ way on a case involving judicial appointments. That court didn’t do so and now the excrement is hitting the fan.


  26. Au Contaire’ – Church Services are where two or more gather. – among Christians, Church is wherever they gather to worship & pray. Thus, when a Government Official welcomes a Pastor to hold services in his office or board room for that time period that area is Church.

    The Official is violating the separation of Church & State Clause but, for Evangelicals this is par for the course. If he prayed privately in his office or met one on one with his Pastor in his office that is one thing. Insisting that all employees attend prayer meetings with him is totally a different story.

  27. Wow. Can you not see that Kim Davis is in no way similar to this employee? She’s on the “you must live by my religion” side of things, same as Kris Kobach. They are both violating the 1st Amendment rights of others, not the ones being violated against, because they both use the power of their government positions to force others to practice their religion. In both cases, Kris and Kim are absolutely in the wrong here.

  28. Ed, Kim was not put in Jail for practicing her faith or beliefs – she was jailed for not doing her job even after reasonable accommodation was made for Kim, (The Governor said she did not have to issue licenses to Gays if it violated her faith – but needed to allow other Clerks to do so in her stead). It was her insistence that all clerks in her office follow her belief whether they agreed or not. She issued the edict – That NO licenses would be issued from the County Clerk’s Office by any staff member.

    Sorry, forcing your religious beliefs on others is violation of the separation of Church & State.

  29. I’ve had several people (Bible Thumpers) tell me that there are NO states who deny Atheists rights to hold public office or even vote or some times even own property. And when they were shown proof they flatly denied the FACTS and claimed that the proof was a “Liberal Concoction” I say it’s time we give the Christians the “WAR” they claim we have been waging…and WE SANE people will WIN!!

  30. …IMHO the ENTIRE state regime o’ Brownnose…err Brownback and Kochbach needs to be arrested, and tried for treason…they have violated the Constitution of the United States in a BIG, BIG way…it’d be the BIGGEST, bestus trial o’ all time!!! Why it’d keep the Reich Wing Media screaming bloody murder for MONTHS…and keep the Reich Wing Candidates so busy they’d have NO time to campaign!!!


  31. Even allowing roving preachers official positions within the government building has a chilling effect on employees, who cannot be certain their expertise is not being trumped by religion.

    Anytime a predatory religion like euro-Christianity gains a foothold, their appetite for dominion grows like a cancer.
    White people’s ancestors fled Europe to avoid slaughter in religious wars. The Irish came in droves rather than ‘take the soup and convert.’

    Tried to warn you….

  32. I too hope this individual wins her case, I also hope she digs into their pockets very deep. The loss of money (lots of it) will in the end help to kill these people who believe they, are gods. The loss of money and property almost killed off the KKK for good.

  33. Whew! Yvonne! I will have dodged a bullet on that one! I can’t swim to save my behind, I am incapable of floating I sink like a rock…now watch the bible idiots come up with a “magical” excuse for that as well because I’m an Atheist.

  34. If I actually believed in it, I’d say this Country was going to hell.

    Religious insanity is apparently highly contagious, consumes the minds of it’s followers, renders them both obnoxious and demented, and is spread by intimidation.

  35. I find this outrageous and shows how stupid and backwards some states have become; HOWEVER, as a former member of Quill and Scroll, I found this “News article” highly biased and poorly written. News articles are NOT supposed to take sides..yet this one did with many statements. The one “Vatican 5” was a very bad choice of words as it alienates Catholics…a lot of them NOT Republicans…(myself included). The story itself told with the FACTS only and not including the author’s highly biased personal leanings would have made the story much more likely to be published by national agencies…but if you continue such ways, this kind of journalism gives the Far Right cannon fodder..I suggest you go back to school and learn how to do news copy RIGHT…


  36. Joseph, you’re a warlock and a heathen?

    We’re both gonna be burned at the stake, cause I sink like a rock too!

    (Laughing hard out loud.)

  37. Looks as if there are going to be a number of us burned at the stake. Probably close to 200,000 or 300,00 at last count. Gee, I hope they don’t tie my cat to me for burning as well. I would bleed to death that way, and they won’t be happy with me at all.

  38. …I got buoyancy out the wazoo, I wish I didn’t…for a SCUBA diver too much buoyancy ain’t a good thing…lol

  39. Chris, I haven’t seen any real journalism in a long time. Most articles are biased, and there is little to no research on any subject. If it is written in a tabloid, it has to be true, just as it has to be true if written on the ‘net. They are the same thing. Journalists, such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite etc, can no longer be found.

    I learned more about journalism in high school in the early ’70’s than most “journalists” of today have ever been taught. You know, as well as I, that most articles are biased, and it is getting worse as time goes on. Most of this is because the media is owned by Corporations, who tell their reporters what to talk about and say. Sometimes one that is to totally biased slips through, and sometimes you can find real reporting. We just have to learn how to pick the facts out of an article, using critical thinking.


  40. This has been going on since Kennedy. I grew up in a baptist church and can say that these people have been attacking all other Christian sects along with other religions ever since the fifties. It is an ongoing war against any kind of human progress and it is funded by the corporatists. It is the ‘Christian’ version of right wing Muslims. They are all alike in their hatred of human dignity.

  41. Criminal charges should be filed against the Secretary of State for misuse of tax dollars, personal business on the clock, misuse of position, coercion, intimidation, wrongful discharge, to name a few.

    The SofS needs to a) lose job and b) lose everything he owns to pay his fines/court costs/attorney fees. :)

  42. Yes Yvonne, Warlock Lothario AND heathen! The witch trial scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail springs to mind from our comments.

  43. These evangelical satanists + our own Supreme Court stole our Catholic heritage and bible through plagerizm & are now destroying the Christian faith with their interpretation, just like the Taliban hijacked Islam. Since they are thieves, they should be punished accordingly. Deport them to Australia.

  44. i am so sick of the party of gawd, buybull thumpers. as someone posted, time to give them the war they deserve. time to start a go fund me page to rent a couple mil lions to eat their sorry arses. proud atheist here

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