CONWAY, Ark. — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against The Kroger Company for violating federal civil rights law in that an Arkansas location allegedly fired two employees who sought religious accommodations not to wear an apron with a rainbow heart on the bib, symbolizing homosexual and bisexual pride.
“Although [Lawson and Rickerd] personally hold no animosity toward the individuals who comprise the LGBTQ community, the practices of that community violate [their] sincerely held religious belief,” the lawsuit states, according to the Miami Herald. “[Lawson and Rickerd] believed wearing the logo showed [their] advocacy of the community, which [they] could not do.”
According to reports, Brenda Lawson, then age 72, asked if she could wear her name tag over the heart instead. Co-worker Trudy Rickerd, then 57, submitted a letter requesting the allowance to wear a different apron and advised that she was willing to pay for it herself.
Both were fired from the Conway grocery store in June 2019 for violations of the store dress code.
Kroger, which is reportedly the most financially successful grocery chain, has a page on its website outlining that the company “proudly support[s] our LGBTQ+ friends and family.”
“We’re one of just a few retailers willing to openly advocate for and make real change toward LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion, and we’re proud to offer same-sex partner benefits and transgender-inclusive health care, an Associate Resource Group that provides an uplifting community for LGBTQ+ associates and allies, [and] strong alliances with LGBTQ+ suppliers through our partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce,” it reads.
The company also provides a video of its participation in the Cincinnati Pride parade, where it had a unicorn float and offered unicorn ice cream.
The EEOC contends that Kroger’s actions against Lawson and Rickerd violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It says that it sought a pre-litigation settlement through a conciliation process before resorting to filing a federal lawsuit.
“[Kroger] refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of Lawson and Rickerd, and disciplined and terminated them because of their religious beliefs and in retaliation for requesting a religious accommodation,” the lawsuit states, according to the Miami Herald.
The government is seeking an injunction against future incidents, as well as back pay and compensatory damages for the two women.
“Companies have an obligation under Title VII to consider requests for religious accommodations, and it is illegal to terminate employees for requesting an accommodation for their religious beliefs,” Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis office, said in a statement. “The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people.”
While a common argument among those who struggle with feelings toward the same sex is that they were “born this way,” the Bible teaches that all are born with the Adamic sin nature (Romans 5:19), having various inherent feelings and inclinations that are contrary to the law of God and being utterly incapable of changing by themselves (Job 14:4).
All men, therefore, face the same predicament, being natural lawbreakers and guilty in the sight of God (Romans 3:19), evoking His wrath.
“[W]e all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” Ephesians 2:3 outlines.
“All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way,” Isaiah 53:6 reads, “and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
It is why Jesus came: to do what men could not do for themselves, to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Scripture outlines that Jesus came to be the propitiation for men’s sins (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10), a doctrine in Christianity known as substitutionary atonement, and to save men from the wrath of God for their violations against His law (Romans 4:25, Romans 5:9, Romans 5:16), a doctrine known as justification.
Acts 2:38-40 exhorts, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
The Bible also teaches about regeneration, as in addition to sparing guilty men from eternal punishment, Christ sent his Holy Spirit to make those who would repent and believe new creatures in the here and now, with new desires and an ability to do what is pleasing in the sight of God by His indwelling and empowerment (Ezekiel 11:19, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Titus 3:5).
Jesus said that men must be born again — a work of the Spirit transforming their very nature from being in Adam to being in Christ, or they cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8).
“Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus saith unto him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.’”
Ezekiel speaks of God transplanting the regenerated with a new heart and spirit, stating, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”