An American man who flew people to other states as a volunteer for medical care has been fired as a teacher at a priest’s school because he suggested in a Facebook post that he could help women get abortions.
Greg Williams was a Greek and Latin teacher at St. Joseph Seminary College, a school near New Orleans, Louisiana that trains students to become priests of the Catholic Church. He also volunteers with Pilots for Patients, a non-profit organization that offers free flights to people who need to travel for medical care. Williams says against The Guardian that they are mainly cancer patients, but that he will not know the reason for the flight until the passengers decide to share it with him.
The man has now been fired from the school because of a message he posted on Facebook. Three weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled that states can allow or prohibit abortion themselves, Williams posted a message in a private Facebook group: “I can help women who have to make an unexpected trip from the south to Illinois, New Mexico or Virginia – for reasons none of my business – providing a safe, private flight that gets you there and back on the same day.”
Because of his job, he deliberately did not talk about abortion, although he does admit that he mentioned a region where abortion is mainly banned and three states where abortion is still legal.
Fired after complaint
The first reactions were therefore positive. One man wrote, “Sir, you are a hero,” while another woman said he had “a heart of gold.” But soon someone complained to St Joseph Seminary College. A week later, Williams was fired.
The school’s guidelines state that staff may not publicly express opinions that are against the school’s teaching. And the school is vehemently against abortion. “Your Facebook post publicly and knowingly advocated a position that is against the official teachings of the Catholic Church,” the pilot’s letter of resignation reads. “We will terminate your employment contract with immediate effect.”
Williams cannot challenge this decision because an employer in Louisiana is allowed to fire people as long as it doesn’t go against the constitution. Attorneys Megan Kiefer and Chris Williams argue against The Guardian that the pilot could claim freedom of speech, but that the school could top it with freedom of belief.
The pilot has now found a new job at a church and continues to work as a pilot. Since his discharge, he has flown fifteen people over.