Voodoo Priest Sues Bible School, Claiming Discrimination
Saipan, CNMI—Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is representing a Bible school in the South Pacific against bizarre claims by a practitioner of witchcraft.
Zaji Zajradhara applied for a job in the business office of Eucon International University, a Christian Bible school located in the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which is a U.S. territory. After he did not get the job, Zajradhara initiated a labor complaint and the school felt coerced into agreeing to hire him. Zajradhara did not show up for his first day of work, and when he did appear later in the week, he refused to agree with the school’s faith statement that all other employees sign. He informed them that he is a priest of Houngan, a Haitian form of voodoo. When it became clear that Zajradhara’s beliefs and practices were diametrically opposed to theirs, the school sent him a termination letter detailing the incompatibility of witchcraft with the Christian faith. Eucon is a ministry of a Baptist church led by Dr. Christian Wei. The church also operates a K-12 Christian school at the same location.
Zajradhara, through an attorney, initially demanded the equivalent of several years’ wages from Eucon after he had spent less than a week on the job. The school declined to pay the exorbitant demand.
Zajradhara then obtained a right-to-sue notice from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands. The Complaint was served in late July, and the school filed its Answer this week.
In Saipan, Zajradhara is so well known for filing discrimination suits, some of which have been quickly thrown out of court and others he has been able to settle for thousands of dollars, that the CNMI legislature recently introduced a resolution calling him a “persona non grata.” The resolution states that he has filed dozens of discrimination claims against local businesses.
Brad Dacus, president of PJI, commented, “This case illustrates how well-intended and important workplace discrimination laws can be horribly misused and abused. We intend to vigorously defend this Bible school as long as it takes to achieve justice.”
PJI’s lead attorney on the case, Matt McReynolds, noted, “No Christian school should ever be forced to hire or pay off a voodoo priest. At a bare minimum, the First Amendment means a religious institution must be allowed to choose those who will affirm and advance their mission and beliefs.”
PJI is being assisted locally in Saipan by attorney Joseph E. Horey of the firm O’Connor Berman Horey & Banes, LLC.