Bible study is an integral part of the lives of Christians around the world. By preaching positive messages of love and helping the less fortunate, millions of Christians get great satisfaction from learning more from the Holy Bible, which they cherish.
A hard-working painter and building contractor had a heart full of love, even though he had a criminal history. As a Native-American, he was a spiritual person in his own way. So, it’s not unreasonable that he didn’t want to attend Christian Bible classes for personal reasons, especially while working.
When Ryan Coleman got a job at Dahled Up Construction in Oregon, he was looking forward to a new beginning working for a reputable and successful building firm. The company had some great reviews online, and it was a local gig. Coleman enjoyed the prospect of being a painter and couldn’t wait to get started on the job.
Dahled Up Construction
Dahled Up Construction, based in Albany, employs general building contractors who carry out a variety of different jobs depending on a client’s needs. From building extensions to roofing repairs and beyond, Coleman thought he had landed the perfect job, for the most part.
Coleman knew that his new boss was the religious type, being a strong believer in the teachings of Christ. He wasn’t clear about the small print in his contract which mentioned Bible study classes and was more looking forward to his first day on the job. However, unforeseen issues lay ahead that Coleman wasn’t expecting.
Freedom of Faith
In America, citizens are entitled to hold whatever religious beliefs they want and to express them reasonably. As long as those beliefs aren’t too hateful or lead to violence, everyone is entitled to believe what religion they want and to practice it accordingly. Coleman defines his religious beliefs as “indigenous” and is proud of that fact.
Coleman, being half Caucasian and half Native-American is very proud of his Cherokee and Blackfoot heritage. While he may not practice his faith in the same way as Christians, he defines himself as a spiritual person and a moral one, too. But that small print in the contract about obligatory Bible study was something he had overlooked.
Obligatory Bible Study
Coleman wasn’t totally clear about the details, but when he was told he was obligated to attend Bible study classes at work, he was more than a little perturbed. For the first six months of his employment at the small company, he attended the Bible classes which were given daily by a Christian pastor but felt he couldn’t continue due to his faith.
On the Clock
One of the factors that bothered Coleman a lot was the fact that he was obligated to attend the Bible classes during working hours. That meant that he was “on the clock” and that the Bible lessons were part and parcel of his job. While many people may have enjoyed the break from work, Coleman simply wanted to do the job he was being paid for.
After enduring six months of Bible classes, Coleman decided enough was enough. When he approached his boss Joel Dahl to complain, telling him that being required to attend Bible study classes was illegal, the boss ignored him and informed him he needed to continue attending. Coleman knew he had to take action immediately.
Keeping His Job
While he wasn’t happy about the Bible study, Coleman needed to keep his job. The pay was good enough and the general conditions acceptable so he just “put up and shut up” when it came to the religious study. He had a sneaky feeling that his boss would fire him if he spoke up, so he just suffered in silence month after month. But everyone has their breaking point, and Coleman’s was nigh.
When Coleman finally plucked up the courage to approach Dahl with his gripes he told him, “I’ve kept an open mind, and it’s just not my thing,” regarding the Bible study. With that, Dahl responded, “Well, I’m going to have to replace you.” That left Coleman shocked and worried about his future.
The employee didn’t want to fight with anyone let alone his boss. But when Dahl told him, “You’re not going to tell me how to run my own company,” Coleman replied accordingly: “I said I’m not trying to tell you how to run your own company, but you’re not going to tell me what god to pray to.” The whole issue is highly questionable, legally speaking.
Coleman decided to bring a lawsuit to the tune of $800,000 against his employer. His attorney, Corinne Schram from Portland said: “This is so illegal. … Unless you are a religious organization like a church, you cannot force your employees to participate in religious activities.” However, Dahl’s lawyer disagreed.
Paid to Pray
According to Dahl’s attorney, Kent Hickam, his client does require all staff members to attend the Bible study. But this attorney says it is 100 percent legal as Dahl pays his staff to attend. For his part, Dahl feels he is being financially exploited by Coleman who was seemingly happy to attend the Bible study for the best part of six months.
According to Hickam, “Mr. Dahl feels that it’s unfortunate that [Coleman] is now trying to exploit Mr. Dahl’s honorable intentions for unjustified financial gain.” And it seems that Dahl does have honorable intentions having struggled for years with drug and alcohol abuse. But is it right for him to push his views onto other people, including his employees?
The Second Chance Act of 2007 aims to encourage convicted criminals to enter into jobs within the community once they are set free from jail. As such, due to his own checkered past, Joel Dahl is proud to define himself as a “second-chance employer” as he can relate. Dahl feels that God is an integral part of his life and wants others to share that view.
Dahl had served time in prison for attempted second-degree assault. He told reporters that he’s been clean for seven years now and has never looked back. He noted that one of the main reasons he opened his building company back in 2016 was to employ other convicted criminals or people who have struggled with addiction.
It may seem strange to some people, but God is such a big part of Dahl’s life that he even thanks him when contracting jobs are completed. In a recent Facebook post, for example, Dahl wrote: “Fixing up this old house at times I was discouraged ’cause there was so much to fix. But Me and God did this together and we got er done.”
Instead of being thankful to Dahl for employing him and giving him a second chance, Coleman has been accused by some people of being an extortionist. Having served prison time himself, some believe that Coleman was out of order bringing such a hefty lawsuit against his former employer.
Having been completely sober for four years, Coleman won back custody of his two children recently. They were taken from him by child protection services as he was neglecting them due to his drug and alcohol addictions. Coleman claims he has started a new life and wants the means to support his children for the future.
While some people believe that Coleman is justified in his claims against his former employer, many disagree. On the one hand, being forced to attend bible study is wrong, although it was explained clearly to Coleman before he took the job. On the other hand, having attended Bible classes regularly for six months and then stopping suddenly raises other questions in this interesting case.