In STEM Careers, Christians and Conservatives Have Little Freedom. I Know Firsthand
I can't write under my own name, have a ministry under my own name, or give money to causes I care about — all for fear of getting fired from my tech job.
As you’ve heard, tech giant Google just fired a brilliant software engineer named James Damore. His crime? He wrote a fact-based critique of Google’s politically correct diversity policies.
The left wing media has misrepresented the contents of the memo. Of course. The Atlantic, to its credit, posted an article explaining that “many headlines labeled the document ‘anti-diversity,’ misleading readers about its actual contents.”
So what does the memo actually say? Damore wrote:
Google has created several discriminatory practices:
- Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race
- A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
- Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
“Diversity” Means No Diversity
Now, these claims are either true or false. If true, then Google’s practices are unfair. If false, then the claims should be answered with facts. But, instead of giving a reasoned response, Google fired Damore.
Even the overall tone of the memo was not what the media reported. Investors Business Daily explains:
Be clear on this: Damore was only asking for tolerance of different points of view, including those of conservatives. He described himself as a “classical liberal,” which means he believes in reason, tolerance, freedom of conscience and the right of individuals to their own beliefs.
He didn’t demand acquiescence to his own views. He merely asked for an “honest discussion” of the fact that we are not all mere emblems of different victim groups, but rather individuals, and deserve to be treated as such.
Here’s what’s amazing: Damore thought that he could publish his memo inside Google and keep his job.
Google has strong ties to the Democrat party, so of course Damore would struggle to find friends among Google execs. Danielle Brown, the Vice President of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance at Google, worked on the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton. According to the left-leaning 538 blog (Nate Silver), Google employees were mostly (97%) against proposition 8 (natural marriage) based on their donations. And Google and its employees were the second highest donor to the Democratic National Committee in the 2012 election cycle. This is a company that was bound to use the banner of “diversity” as a bludgeon to prevent diversity when it comes to ideas.
My Experience in IT
I spent many years as a senior software engineer at a Fortune 100 company. My employer was a Platinum Partner of the Human Rights Campaign. That’s the largest LGBT organization in the US. During my time in this company, the goals of the Human Rights Campaign were pushed on us through e-mails, mandatory training, propaganda posters, etc. When the gay night club was attacked in Orlando, the company gave out rainbow-colored ribbons. My manager even approached me with a rainbow ribbon, asking me why I wasn’t wearing one like she was.
I always have to think about what I can and cannot say to people at work. I even use an alias when I write online. I’m certain that employers would find out and fire me, or refuse to hire me.
Every year, the company urged us to donate money from our paychecks to the United Way. That organization donates $3 million dollars to Planned Parenthood each year. Support for the United Way came from the leaders in the company. I was asked by HR and my manager to donate.
If, in contrast, I’d sent out a group e-mail asking my co-workers to donate to Alliance Defending Freedom or Life Training Institute, I would have been fired on the spot for breaking the company’s anti-solicitation policy.
What did I do? I kept my beliefs quiet at work, even when asked. My colleagues on the left had complete freedom to loudly discuss their views. They enjoyed needling me with what they had seen on the Comedy Channel or MSNBC the night before. They knew that I could not respond in kind. I once got into trouble for answering a direct question about my views on marriage from a gay co-worker. This happened during an off-site team lunch.
I Don’t Have the Same Freedom
Like all working Americans, I have bills to pay. So I always have to think about what I can and cannot say to people at work. I even use an alias when I write online. I’m certain that employers would find out and fire me, or refuse to hire me. Most of the Christians and conservatives in my office now refuse to talk about their convictions. Especially when they have wives and children to care for.
It’s not just friendly chatting and online writing that could get me into trouble. I can’t have a ministry under my own name. Look at what happened to (Stream Contributor) Frank Turek when Cisco found out about his beliefs on marriage. I can’t give money to causes I care about. I know what happened to Brendan Eich when Mozilla Foundation learned about his pro-marriage donation. And look at what has happened to Christian businesses who refused to celebrate leftist views — they’re being sued for everything they own.
I still recommend STEM careers to young Christians and conservatives. If you can keep your beliefs under the radar while you study and work, you can have a prosperous career and create value for others. But it’s getting harder and harder to go that route and also have an influence in the world. More and more, that’s the reality. If you go this path, don’t expect to enjoy the same freedoms as your colleagues on the left.