The Spokane Valley Fire Department on Monday fired a captain who continued to send religious emails from his department email account despite numerous orders to stop. Capt. Jon Sprague, who runs the Spokane County Christian Firefighter Fellowship, has been disciplined several times for sending the emails. This year, he received a letter of counseling, a letter of reprimand and a second letter of reprimand with a suspension of two 24-hour shifts without pay before the Spokane Valley Board of Fire Commissioners voted unanimously to fire him.

Sprague sends out emails using the department’s email system to a group of firefighters who have agreed to receive them. He has emphasized that he is not proselytizing and said he believes sending the emails is his First Amendment right.

Department attorney Mike McMahon emphasized the department’s position that sending the email is an unlawful use of department resources. “This is a private purpose,” he said. “While this is about religion, it really isn’t about religion. It’s about following orders.”

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