GODBOLD, Circuit Judge:
From 1967 until 1973 appellant was employed as an administrator by the Harris County Community Action Association, d/b/a Gulf Coast Services Administration. The Association's objective is to eliminate poverty in the community. It is funded by the federal, county and city governments, with some of its federal funding reviewed by the state. In order to eliminate any conflicts of interests the Association's Personnel Practices Manual prohibits Association employees from belonging to any organization that holds a seat on the Association's board of directors.
Appellant is a member of the Race Relations Committee of St. James Presbyterian Church. Because the minister of that church is on the Association's board of directors, appellant was suspended from his job. He continued to participate in the Race Relations Committee and was then terminated from his position. Appellant brought this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the Association and its executive director, alleging that the suspension and termination infringed his constitutional rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Public employees may not be dismissed or denied rehiring for exercising their constitutional rights. Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563, 88 S.Ct. 1731, 20 L.Ed.2d 811 (1968); Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 81 S.Ct. 1680, 6 L.Ed.2d 982 (1961); Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183, 73 S.Ct. 215, 97 L.Ed. 216 (1952); Kingsville Independent School District v. Cooper, 611 F.2d 1109 (5th Cir. 1980); Carmichael v. Chambers County Board of Education, 581 F.2d 95 (5th Cir. 1978); Hastings v. Bonner, 578 F.2d 136 (5th Cir. 1978); Megill v. Board of Regents, 541 F.2d 1073 (5th Cir. 1976); Ferguson v. Thomas, 430 F.2d 852 (5th Cir. 1970). Nor may the government "require an individual to relinquish rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as a condition of public employment." Robinson v. Reed, 566 F.2d 911, 913 (5th Cir. 1978); see also Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209, 233-34, 235, 97 S.Ct. 1782, 1798-99, 52 L.Ed.2d 261, 283, 284 (1977); National Education Association v. Lee County Board of Public Instruction, 467 F.2d 447, 450 (5th Cir. 1972).
None of "the great liberties insured by the First [Amendment] can be given higher place than the others." Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 164, 64 S.Ct. 438, 441, 88 L.Ed. 645, 651 (1944). Thus the prohibition against discharge for constitutionally impermissible reasons embraces a public employee's exercise of his right of free speech, Pickering v. Board of Education, supra; Kingsville Independent School District v. Cooper, supra, of association, Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, 81 S.Ct. 247, 5 L.Ed.2d 231 (1960); Robinson v. Reed, supra, and of religious belief or worship, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, supra; Torcaso v. Watkins, supra; see also Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 217-18, 83 S.Ct. 1560, 1569, 10 L.Ed.2d 844, 855 (1963) ("Freedom of conscience and freedom to adhere to such religious organization or form of worship as the individual may choose cannot be restricted by law"). The government is thus precluded from achieving by indirection what it may not do directly. National Education Association v. Lee County Board of Public Instruction, supra, 467 F.2d at 450.
The fact that the conflict of interest provision is neutral on its face does not serve to validate appellant's dismissal. Even a facially neutral regulation may "offend the constitutional requirement for governmental neutrality if it unduly burdens the free exercise of religion." Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 220, 92 S.Ct. 1526, 1536, 32 L.Ed.2d 15, 28 (1972); see also Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 83 S.Ct. 1790, 10 L.Ed.2d 965 (1963). Appellant need only show that the regulation has a "coercive effect" on the practice of his religion.
REVERSED and REMANDED.