Police Captain and Devout Christian Sues Department after being Punished for Refusing to go to a Mosque for a Mandatory Cultural Event
by MIKE JACCARINO
August 16, 2012
A Tulsa police officer and devout Christian is suing his department after being punished for refusing to go to a mosque for a mandatory cultural event.
Police Capt. Paul Campbell Fields, a 17-year veteran, was docked two weeks' pay, transferred, reduced to the graveyard shift and made ineligible for promotions for at least a year, after he told his chief his faith made it impossible for him to attend a "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day" at the Islamic Cultural Society of Tulsa, according to the lawsuit.
Fields, 43, is a non-denominational Christian, who quoted Scripture in legal explanation of his insubordination.
"This event is compelling me to go to a venue where a group of individuals is prepared to discuss their (Islamic) faith," Fields said during a May 2012 deposition, the transcript of which was obtained by FoxNews.com. "And in my faith, I have a duty to proselytize my faith to people (who) don't subscribe to my faith. I can't do that in uniform. And so therein lies the conflict or moral dilemma I face."
Fields' attorney, Robert Muise of The American Freedom Law Center, elaborated, "He was going to be in a place where people were going to refer to Jesus Christ as merely a prophet and not his Lord and Savior.
"And he wouldn't be able to respond to them in any way," Muise added. "That was very troubling to him."
Fields is seeking his docked pay, attorney's fees, as well as compensatory damages for the "humiliation" -- and damage to his reputation -- he suffered as a result of the affair.
The donnybrook has its origins in a Jan. 25, 2011, Tulsa Police Department staff meeting, in which Deputy Police Chief Alvin Webster informed fellow officers of the March 4 event at the Islamic center.
At that point, attendance was voluntary, according to the lawsuit.
The Islamic Cultural Center of Tulsa did not return calls or emails from FoxNews.com, but a promotional flier for the event cited in the suit states the event would include meetings with Muslim community leaders, a tour of the center's mosque, talks on Islam, as well as a 45-minute prayer service.