BALTIMORE, Md. — A prominent Christian legal organization has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Maryland man who states that he was denied admission at a local community college because of his outspoken Christian beliefs.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed the suit on Monday, alleging that officials with the Community College of Baltimore County rejected the application of Brandon Jenkins because of certain answers provided during the interview process.
Jenkins had applied for the college’s Radiation Therapy program in April of last year, scoring the maximum points during the initial observation. However, when Jenkins entered the interview phase, he was met with resistance.
According to the ACLJ, when officials asked, “What is the most important thing to you?” Jenkins responded, “My God.” He was later denied entry into the Radiation Therapy 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,” wrote Program Director, Adrienne Dougherty, in response to Jenkins’ inquiry surrounding the rejection.
“We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing at all,” she said. “If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.”
Jenkins then contacted the ACLJ, which sent a letter to the school to express concern. However, officials upheld Dougherty’s statements, remarking that she had only advised the student to “not wear [his religious beliefs] on his sleeve.” It provided further reasoning surrounding the rejection, including that he had lost points during the interview process when he explained that he felt God wanted him to pursue radiation therapy for a career.
“Candidates 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 college remarked. “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 lawsuit seeks a declaration that the actions of university officials were in violation of the First Amendment and an injunction to allow Jenkins admission to the program.
College spokesperson Hope Davis told the Baltimore Sun that while she could not comment on the lawsuit, she doubted that the college would reject an applicant based on their beliefs.
“We have so many people from so many different backgrounds and so many different cultures,” she said. “Just to think that we would discriminate based on religion … it’s just not something that we do.”
Photo: Kevin Smith