Alvin Marrero-Mendez, a 14-year veteran police officer, filed a lawsuit against his superiors on Friday claiming that he was reassigned from police work to washing cars when he refused to take part in a compulsory Christian prayer in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
According to RawStory.com, Officer Mendez claims that he was asked to give a prayer for a group of police officers. When he refused, former police commander Guillermo Calixto-Rodríguez mocked him for rejecting Christianity.
“When department supervisors engage in these unconstitutional activities, they subject the officers under their command to unwelcome indoctrination and religious messages, creating a tense and hostile work environment and harming the community as a whole by sending a divisive message of religious favoritism for those who adhere to the supervisors’ preferred faith,” the Puerto Rico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that Officer Mendez is “an open atheist, and as such, does not subscribe to the Christian faith or any other religious doctrine. He values his right to adopt no religious beliefs as much as others surely value their right to follow a particular faith."
“Government agencies cannot require employees to take part in prayer in their workplace,” William Ramirez, executive director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico, said in a statement. “To do so runs afoul of one of the great pillars of both the U.S. Constitution and the Puerto Rico Constitution, which mandate separation of church and state.”