A former sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina is suing for $300,000 in damages, claiming he was fired for trying to adhere to the so-called “Billy Graham Rule.”
Manuel Torres, 51, says he was let go from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office because he refused to be alone with a female trainee, because doing so would violate his Evangelical Christian beliefs.
“Torres holds the strong and sincere religious belief that the Holy Bible prohibits him, as a married man, from being alone for extended periods with a female who is not his wife,” the federal lawsuit states, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The training would have required Torres to be alone with the woman for “significant periods of time” in a patrol car, the lawsuit says.
According to the Observer, Torres asked in July 2017 to be exempted from the training assignment but his request was denied. Two months later, a superior officer “expressed his anger” about Torres’ repeated requests to be excused from the assignment.
Torres claims he was fired soon after, with no explanation from the sheriff’s office. Afterward, he claims in the lawsuit, other law enforcement agencies declined to hire him after learning about his Lee County dispute.
The former deputy, a Southern Baptist who sometimes serves as a deacon at his local church, is believed to be the first plaintiff to invoke the Billy Graham Rule in making a discrimination claim, BuzzFeed News reported.
Torres has named as defendants Lee County Sheriff Tracy Lynn Carter and the towns of Siler City and Apex, where he had sought new employment.
The Rev. Billy Graham, the famed preacher who died at age 99 in February 2018, was a proponent of not being alone with a woman who was not his wife, BuzzFeed News reported.