The Southern California city of Pasadena has suspended its public health director, Dr. Eric Walsh, while it investigates statements the Seventh-day Adventist lay preacher allegedly made in several sermons.
Walsh is one of the latest in a string of incidents where people speaking out on politically sensitive topics face threats to their employment.
According to a statement from Pasadena city manager Michael Beck, Walsh was suspended with pay in order "to provide the City of Pasadena the opportunity to complete an inquiry into statements made by him, in his private capacity, and to assess the impact those statements may have on his ability to effectively lead the City’s Public Health Department."
Walsh's sermons came to the city's attention after an invitation for Walsh to deliver a commencement speech Friday at Pasadena City College caused a revolt among some students and faculty. Critics posted or linked to video clips of controversial sermons Walsh delivered as a lay associate pastor at the Altadena Seventh-day Adventist Church. Los Angeles Times writer Robin Abcarian broke the Walsh story in her column.
"Topics discussed by Walsh at the pulpit include: homosexuality as a sin; Oprah, JAY Z, Beyonce ... as examples of the spirit of anti-Christ; Darwin’s theory of evolution as a satanic belief; and describing the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, as a Satanist," the Pasadena Star-News reported.
Walsh, a graduate of Seventh-day Adventist-owned Oakwood University who also holds master's and doctorate degrees in public health, has directed Pasadena's Public Health Department since 2010, earning $193,600 in wages and $56,900 in benefits in 2012, state records obtained by the Los Angeles Times revealed. The newspaper quoted Pasadena spokesman William Boyer as saying Walsh oversaw creation of a dental clinic that served low-income patients, as well as those with HIV/AIDS.
The city's Human Relations Commission didn't wait for the results of the inquiry before announcing it will hold a community forum to discuss the actions of Pasadena City College, disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the now-suspended Walsh, according to a recent Star-News report. Read more
Source: Deseret News