Wednesday, February 22, 2017

USDA Is Targeting a Family Business. A Religious Liberty Organization Is Calling on Trump to Protect It.

A religious liberty organization is asking President Donald Trump to sign a proposed executive order that would protect the religious freedom of a family-owned business and others like it from the punitive actions of an executive agency.“The Vander Boons are at risk of having their plant shut down and their employees left jobless because of the [Department of Agriculture’s] unfair targeting of the Vander Boons for their religious beliefs,” wrote Michael Farris, the new president of legal defense organization Alliance Defending Freedom, in a letter sent to Trump Wednesday. The Vander Boons are facing closure due to the United States Department of Agriculture threatening to pull inspectors from reviewing their business. The department had made a decision that “prohibits [the] family-owned Michigan meatpacking facility from including religious literature concerning marriage on a break room table,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom...In 2015, Dr. Ryan Lundquist, the USDA site inspector for West Michigan Beef Company, found a religious tract about marriage that Donald Vander Boon placed on the break room table of the family-owned business, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom. Lundquist took the article and reported it to Robert Becker, the USDA frontline supervisor, and Lundquist and Becker held a meeting with Vander Boon, “at which Becker threatened three times to remove USDA inspectors if Vander Boon didn’t agree to refrain from placing the article in the break room,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom. Karnail S. Mudahar, USDA deputy district manager, said Vander Boon violated a new “anti-harassment” policy that forbids written or spoken communications that USDA executives determine to be “disrespectful” or “insult[ing]” in regards to sexual orientation...more

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