Dr. Andrew Fox, an ordained minister, founded the Austin Fire Department chaplaincy program eight years ago following service as a police chaplain in Washington State. His goal: to offer much needed emotional and spiritual support for those who rush into dangerous emergency situations, putting themselves in harm’s way while helping community members get to safety.
Dr. Fox served more than 1,400 firefighters when they needed him most — including during the devastating ice storms Texas faced in the winter of 2021 as first responders found families and vulnerable citizens frozen to death on the streets and in their homes.
His services were an invaluable asset to the community. He met firefighters on the job, at homes, following funerals, and anywhere he was needed regardless of their beliefs, lifestyles, or politics.
Yet, in December of 2021, Dr. Fox was canceled — fired from his volunteer position for daring to express his personal views on his personal blog.
In the posts, titled Willy Woke and the Chocolate Factory, Dr. Fox detailed his concerns with the advancement of woke culture and social justice, specifically that men and women are biologically different, the biblical support for those beliefs, and his opposition to men unfairly competing in women’s sports.
He did not receive any direct feedback or complaints regarding his position in the posts, despite having a comment box and all members of the fire department having his personal contact information.
However, the Austin Fire Department claimed they received numerous anonymous complaints from LGBTQ members offended by the posts and demanded that Dr. Fox apologize for the posts and recant his statements. He apologized for offending anyone, made the posts private to just his blog subscribers, and met with a LGBTQ liaison on behalf of the fire department to make amends. But, he rightfully refused to renounce his personal beliefs.
Months later, after making the posts public again, the fire department once again presented him with new anonymous complaints and he was asked to write an apology letter to the LGBTQ members of the department. Dr. Fox complied, but his letter was rejected for being “too long” and because he once again did not specifically recant his personal views.
Dr. Fox continued to refuse to recant those beliefs and his service was terminated.
Dr. Fox’s termination is blatant hypocrisy. Dr. Fox has the right to express his stance on issues and personal beliefs, it’s a right under the First Amendment, and he should not be punished for doing so. Other members of the Austin Fire Department have repeatedly expressed their personal beliefs, via pride flags, pride parades, and even public safety messages utilizing Drag Queens, publicly and while on the job.
Why are some views tolerated and protected by the Austin Fire Department while others result in cancelation?
In August of 2022, assisted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Dr. Fox asked exactly that. He filed a lawsuit against the city of Austin for wrongfully terminating him for expressing his personal beliefs on a personal blog.Among other requests in the lawsuit, Dr. Fox is asking the City to reverse their unfair treatment and reinstate him as Lead Chaplain, which they should do immediately.