On December 11, Robert J. Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center, will present oral argument at a hearing in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on behalf of Captain Paul Fields, a Tulsa Police officer who was summarily punished for refusing to attend a mandated Islamic proselytizing event held at a local mosque.
The hearing will be held before Chief Judge Gregory K. Frizzell in Room 411 at the federal courthouse located at 333 West Fourth Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The media and public are welcome to attend.
Muise will be arguing in support of AFLC’s motion for summary judgment, which asserts that the undisputed facts demonstrate that the City of Tulsa and its senior police officials retaliated against Captain Fields – a practicing Christian – for exercising his constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
Muise commented, “The City of Tulsa and its senior police officials clearly violated Captain Fields’ constitutional rights by ordering him to engage in conduct that was contrary to his Christian beliefs and then punishing him for disobeying the unlawful order. In light of the undisputed facts and controlling law, Captain Fields is entitled to a judgment in his favor.”
In February 2011, a senior Tulsa police officer ordered Department officers to attend a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” which was hosted by the Islamic Society of Tulsa at a local mosque. The event included “Mosque tours,” which involved religious proselytizing, meeting “Local Muslims & Leadership,” watching the “weekly congregational prayer service,” and receiving presentations on Islamic “beliefs.” The event was held on a Friday – the “holy day” for Islam.
Throughout Captain Fields’ career, the Department has never ordered officers to attend an “appreciation” day hosted by a religious organization or held at a place of worship. Captain Fields correctly believed that the order was unlawful because it violated the United States Constitution, which he swore to uphold as a uniformed officer. As a result, Captain Fields objected to the order on religious grounds. For raising his religious objection, Captain Fields was immediately stripped of his command and transferred to another division. Following an internal affairs investigation, Captain Fields was suspended for two weeks without pay, and his punitive transfer was made permanent. A portion of his punishment was recently overturned through an arbitration proceeding. However, the constitutional violations have not been remedied.