According to the Miami New Times, around 2 years ago, employees at the City of Miami’s Capital Improvements Program came to work and found cross-shaped oil smears all over their desks, “walls, doorways, and cubicles” – prompting authorities to shut down the department and investigate.
Eventually, it was discovered that employee Eric Cheeley was the culprit. Cheeley, an enthusiastic Pentecostal Christian, was “anointing the office with oil” as a blessing.
Cheeley was already out in the field when his co-workers arrived at the office. They were a bit freaked out. One employee thought the crosses represented Santería; others worried it was some sort of workplace threat. Before long, police were called to investigate, and the office shut down for the better part of the morning. Back at work around lunchtime, Cheeley tried to explain what had happened.
“[I] was sitting in my cubicle crying; I thought I heard what, in my opinion, God telling me: ‘Look, just bless the department… and go on about your business,'” he told police accordin to the Times.
The next day he was fired.
This month, after a long court battle where Cheeley claimed religious discrimination, the judge ruled that there was no discrimination, only vandalism on the part of Cheeley.
“Cheeley’s application of the oily substance caused actual damage to his employer’s property and disrupted its business,” U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. wrote in his decision. “These facts are undisputed.”
It’s definitely an interesting case. One has to wonder what strategy Cheeley’s lawer brought into the courtroom. Cheeley essentially forced his co-workers to participate in his religious ritual without their consent.
The religiously persecuted have never been so privileged.
Featured image: Preparedness Advice