Michigan Trooper Sues State for Trying to Force Him to Become Prison Chaplain

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A retired Michigan State Police trooper has filed a federal lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he's being punished for refusing to work as a prison chaplain despite being neither ordained nor called to the ministry.

Bruce Paris, 44, is a member of the Pentecostal church who holds a master's degree in biblical studies.

The Belleville resident injured his back, shoulder and hand in 2000 when a semi-trailer rear-ended his patrol cruiser while stopped on the shoulder of a Detroit-area freeway. The state granted him disability retirement in 2002 that allows him to draw 60 percent of his income from pension funds and the remaining 40 percent from worker compensation benefits.

But the state last year terminated his worker compensation benefits after he refused to work as a Department of Corrections chaplain, according to his lawsuit.

"You can't just walk in and become a member of the clergy without being called," Paris told The Detroit News for a Wednesday story. "Without the call of God, my conscience wouldn't let me."

Click here to read The Detroit News story

Bishop John H. Sheard of Church of God in Christ Inc. wrote to the company that handles worker compensation for the state, saying it would violate church doctrine for Paris to accept the job.

State police spokeswoman Shanon Akans declined to comment because the matter was before the court.