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POV: Why Catholic Schools Have the Right to Fire Married Gay Staff

Courts, and integrity, say schools entitled to enforce beliefs

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The New York Times recently ran a front-page story about a Catholic school outside Seattle that fired an administrator who married another man. Just a week later, the front page of the Boston Globe featured a story about a Massachusetts Catholic school that canceled its job offer to a prospective food services director when it learned that he was in a same-sex marriage. Predictably, the tone of both accounts, and the great majority of those quoted, were sympathetic toward the victims of these decisions.

While I understand this instinctive reaction, I’d like to point out the implications of limiting the freedom of non–public schools to choose whom to employ. First, a word about my own background. After serving more than 20 years as the Massachusetts official responsible for enforcing the law against discrimination in schools, I became a professor at Boston University and was the University’s representative on the Governor’s Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. Currently, I serve on the state advisory committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. I am not Catholic.

I am also vice president of the Geneva-based NGO OIDEL, which promotes educational freedom around the world. Experience with many countries has convinced me that we should be very careful about limiting the autonomy of non–public schools—and, indeed, of public schools, but that is another discussion—to preserve and express distinctive visions of the nature of a flourishing human life and how to promote it in children.

Educational freedom, both the freedom to provide education and the freedom to choose a school for one’s children, is protected as a basic human right by several international covenants, as well as by decisions of the US Supreme Court. These freedoms are interdependent: that of parents to choose is meaningless unless there are accessible schools with different approaches to education, and that of schools (and of educators) to create such distinctive approaches is frustrated if they must serve families whose children are assigned involuntarily, and thus must provide a lowest-common-denominator education that no one will object to.

If schools are not allowed to differ on the basis of different understandings of the Good Life, as faith-based schools and also many independent secular schools do, they will differ only on test scores, and parents with more resources will always find a way to get their children into schools with higher scores, either through moving to affluent areas or by paying tuition. A nationwide study found that because they offer a distinctive education, private schools in every region of the country were more racially integrated than residence-based public schools.

But schools, whether private or choice-based public schools like the charter schools that have been so successful in Boston, cannot maintain a clear focus on their distinctive educational mission unless free to select teachers who are wholeheartedly committed to that mission, be it Montessori, Catholic, Jewish, or a focus on the arts. Without a team of staff who agree on their shared mission and can work together on the basis of mutual trust, such schools of choice might as well pack it in.

The issue of the right of Catholic schools, specifically, to employ only teachers who in their teaching and lives (to the extent these are visible to students) do not undermine Catholic principles has been litigated in many countries. The principle on which that right has been upheld is often called “the duty of loyalty”: the freedom of the individual teacher to dissent must be considered in the context of the rights of other teachers who have chosen to work in a particular kind of school, and of parents who want such a school for their children.

In American cases, the courts have generally held that teachers in faith-based schools are similar to clergy in other religious institutions, and that there is thus a “ministerial exception” to the application of antidiscrimination laws. This applies to the suburban Seattle school: the vice-principal who was fired was in a leadership position and had willingly signed a contract promising to abide by Church teachings in order to be an example for students.

This does not apply in the same way, it seems to me, in the Massachusetts case, since a food service job (except in an Orthodox Jewish or Islamic school) could not reasonably be considered to involve upholding religious teachings.

Bottom line: Catholic and other faith-based schools should be applauded rather than condemned for ensuring that they and all of their staff present a message consistent with their beliefs. That is what integrity requires.

Charles Glenn (GRS’87) is a School of Education professor of educational leadership and policy. Among his numerous books is The American Model of State and School: An Historical Inquiry (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012) and The Ambiguous Embrace: Government and Faith-Based Schools and Social Agencies (New Forum Books, 2000). He can be reached at glennsed@bu.edu.

“POV” is an opinion page that provides timely commentaries from students, faculty, and staff on a variety of issues: on-campus, local, state, national, or international. Anyone interested in submitting a piece, which should be about 700 words long, should contact Rich Barlow at barlowr@bu.edu.

78 Comments

78 Comments on POV: Why Catholic Schools Have the Right to Fire Married Gay Staff

  • John K. on 02.05.2014 at 1:17 am

    The title and most of the body of your article are nothing but a straw man. Of course they have the right as private religious institutions. The question is whether it is morally and socially acceptable to exercise that right and whether kind, understanding, right-minded people should associate with such a church or such schools. I argue people should ridicule and abhor such treatment by this church and these schools that treat innocent people this way, but it has nothing to do with their right to do so or not. They certainly don’t have a right to have people agree that their obnoxious actions are morally ok or to have people send their kids to their schools.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:21 pm

      It is not morally acceptable for individuals to have sexual relations outside of marriage, according to Catholic teaching. An individual assuming a position of teacher, are held to a higher standard. This teaching is Scriptural and moral. Whether you ridicule or abhor such treatment does nothing to make the treatment less moral. It may surprise you, but there are people who actually expect a Catholic school to follow Catholic moral teaching.

      • Gunnar on 02.06.2014 at 5:11 am

        Sex outside of marriage aside, our following of some “moral teachings”, in relation to an understanding of Scripture, HAVE changed over the centuries. Do you own slaves? Scripture tells slaves to be obedient to their masters. Do you believe that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun stands still? Scriptural passages appear to support the a geocentric cosmology, and Galileo was imprisoned for daring to say otherwise. Do you take your disobedient son to the village elders to have him stoned to death? Good luck with that. If married, are you married to someone of your own race, social status, and religion, with the marriage having been arranged by your parents, and with the man lording over the woman? When moral views change in the Church, this change often begins at the “bottom”, with those at the top initially crying “Heresy!”, “Unfaithfulness!” “Perdition!” and the like.

        As for the unchanging nature of Scriptural teachings, during the Reformation, the Catholic Church cited Scripture to support notions of the papacy, clerical celibacy, the Real Presence, and the veneration of saints. Protestants on the other hand cited Scripture to support just the opposite and the same thing happened during the Great Schism, with popes and bishops hurling anathemas at one another. Martin Luther once said that reason and intellect were enemies of faith, which must be crushed and destroyed, and that sentiment is found in the writings of many of the early Church Fathers so it was – at one time – a Christian “thing” in general too.

        No one, not even you DivineWordRadio, embraces all that Scripture commands, allows, or forbids. You pick and choose what is “important” to you, or allow your bishops and “traditions” to do so for you. Yet all of Scripture, Old testament and New, whether touching on the immorality of murder or the immorality of eating FIGS, is the “Word of God”, right? And obeying the Word of God has, what? A MORAL imperative! Either ALL of Scripture is “true”, to be taken literally, or the interpretation of Scripture can change via intellect and understanding, which ALSO come from God. Plenty of lay people know this, as do many priests, brothers, nuns, and even a few bishops. Change is coming.

        • Mal on 02.10.2014 at 8:01 am

          The fundamental teachings have not changed; they are the same yesterday, today and will be the same forever.
          Slaves or bonded employees in the time of Jesus helped the worker and the boss. The boss was told to respect the worker/slave who was freed from the contract by the age of thirty generally worked on in the business as a free man. You also have the story of Galileo absolutely wrong. Please do some research before posting.

        • amandarules on 05.12.2014 at 12:41 pm

          You have the slaves in the bible completely wrong. You are associating slavery in the bible to slavery in more modern times.

          Totally different types of slavery, they only share the word but none of the details.

          It’s sad that you don’t understand the differences or haven’t done any research to back up your argument and now it’s just a shell argument, no substance.

  • David S on 02.05.2014 at 5:19 am

    While I profoundly disagree with the Catholic teaching on homosexuality, I very much appreciate the good charitable work the church does – including making private education so widely available in urban settings.

    But I fail to understand what Christian ethic allows the church to withhold a paycheck as an act of moral disapproval – not only in Catholic institutions. Acting contrary to the catechism barring unjust discrimination, USCCB is fighting tooth and nail against all discrimination protection for people who are gay. They may have the right to fire these teachers, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. In fact, these dismissals betray animus toward the queer community. In short, they’re being vindictive.

  • Aaron Lemmon on 02.05.2014 at 7:51 am

    As a gay man who was raised Catholic (and holds a degree in Theology), I have a serious issue with the argument that limitation of rights equals protection under the law. For example, Catholic adoption agencies were shut down by the church in Massachusetts after courts ruled that any couple had the right to seek adoption from any provider, and loving couples who would have made excellent parents were being turned away. This attitude is codified simply as ‘if we can’t have it our way we would rather burn it down.’ Not to mention the utter hypocrisy of contraception being reversed under Pope Benedict, tucked into an obscure press release rather than announced for all to see. These people should get medals for being willing to work at such hide-bound and institutionally narrow-minded places. That kind of thinking is what brought me to BU in the first place, and for the record I could put on a cassock and perform a Mass myself and no one could tell the difference. Don’t go telling me or anyone else that we’re ‘not Catholic enough.’ I know enough real Catholic theology, learned from Jesuits, to defend the virtue of respect for equals. I don’t think anyone with that attitude will find much favor with Pope Francis, and I can’t wait to see how his current round of cleaning house unfolds. In the meantime, the government will continue to assume those traditional social responsibilities that the church has lacked the moral ethos, financial standing, and credibility to continue providing.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:43 pm

      Aaron, your statement about Benedict is false. It is also false that you could put on a cassock and no one tell the difference. God could tell. When someone says I “learned from the Jesuits”, I find that they slept through the fundamental teachings that underpin Jesuit thought.

      The government lacks the ability to assume traditional social responsibilities, because they lack the moral underpinning to do so. You can call good evil, and evil good all you wish, but it will not change Truth.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:43 pm

      Oh, and thank you for providing the sense of bias that you hold on this issue.

      • Amy on 02.06.2014 at 7:35 am

        Nice, smarmy comment. Just love how a contrary opinion = “bias” in your book. Jesus contradicted Old Testament teachings a number of times: “You have heard it said….but I SAY…”. Guess He was biased too.

      • matt on 02.06.2014 at 9:37 am

        Yes gay people do tend to be biased, given that humans of any orientation like to be treated equally and not as second class citizens as religious conservatives demand.

  • Dan Cusher on 02.05.2014 at 9:39 am

    “Without a team of staff who agree on their shared mission and can work together on the basis of mutual trust, such schools of choice might as well pack it in.”

    What if there were a private school founded by white supremacists who didn’t want any black teachers? Should such discrimination be protected as “educational freedom”? How extreme should “schools of choice” be allowed to get before we step in and force them to either change or “pack it in”?

    Homophobia is the new racism. I bet that, 100 years from now, the catholic church will be performing gay marriages and trying their darnedest to cover up the fact that they were ever a driving force against gay rights. In 100 years, ideas like the one expressed in this article will be considered in the same category as the concept of “white man’s burden.”

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:40 pm

      It appears that you predictions will be fallacious. What do you base them on? The idea that the Church changes with societal whims? Yeah, that’s why people love to criticize them for being in the Middle Ages.

      • Kevin Shoe on 02.06.2014 at 3:15 pm

        The church has been becoming more liberal as society has been becoming more liberal. Also I find your rebuttal to this statement hilarious: “that’s why people love to criticize them for being in the Middle Ages.” You rebutted Dan’s statement by recalling some arbitrary people and their apparent opinion on the church. There is no rhetorical power in that.

        • Just Curious on 02.06.2014 at 5:16 pm

          Really? How has the Church become more liberal? Is the Church no longer pro-life? Does she now allow Priestesses? Does she deny the Resurrection of Christ? Does she affirm adultery? Has she redefined marriage and family? Does she now believe children do not have a right to their father and mother?

          Has she changed one single dogma?

          It is funny because the church is above political labels. The far left has always accused her of being too conservative. The far right has always accused her of being too liberal.

          No she will continue to feed and advocate for the poor (is that liberal?), care for AIDS victims (liberal?) and defend the most vulnerable, including the unborn (conservative?).

  • Ryan on 02.05.2014 at 9:54 am

    This is an interestingly, tightly written article. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share in response.

    It strikes me that the author argues as follows:

    The freedom of educational institutions to provide a distinctive education, and the freedom of parents to choose where their children are educated, are inseparable. (So one can’t object that religious educational institutions should not be allowed without forfeiting one’s belief in educational freedom–a big price.)

    Moreover, there is reason to believe that without this diversity of approaches to education–views on the Good Life, as the author puts it–there will be less demographic integration in our schools.

    Finally, these various educational institutions–Catholic schools being one example–cannot maintain their distinctiveness unless they’re allowed hiring practices that accord with their specific beliefs.

    I think the main assumption underlying each of these arguments is that the various conceptions of the Good Life that each educational institution endorses are equally acceptable, or at least, ought to be given equal consideration.

    But that’s not obviously true. Imagine a school that endorsed beliefs about the inherent inferiority of a specific race of people. This school teaches–using texts the origins of which are spurious, some of the claims of which have been resoundingly refuted by natural science, and the moral messages of which are at times unclear or contradictory–that these people are ‘intrinsically disordered,’ that they ought not be granted the same rights that others who are not members of that race are granted, and perhaps that we should nonetheless have compassion for them (in that distinctively condescending fashion so well-known to many of us).

    This school then proceeds to hire and fire on the basis of these racial discriminations.

    The question is this: does the author’s arguments entail that this school–just like a Catholic school–be allowed to exist?

    If the answer is ‘yes,’ then there’s something wrong with his arguments.

    • Gunnar on 02.06.2014 at 7:58 am

      The Catholic Church most certainly HAS changed at times, in connection to societal issues that you dismiss as being “societal whims”. Equality for women, an end to slavery, an end to child labor, racial equality, government by the people, etc., came into being because average people perceived injustices and sought to change things, things that had often been traditionally sanctioned by Scripture and Church hierarchy. “God instituted the system of monarchy!” “Slaves are to be obedient to their masters!” “Women are to be submissive to their husbands!” These changes did NOT come about initially or primarily because pope and bishops spearheaded change. The Church EVENTUALLY modified its views on these topics because LAY PEOPLE and some clergy made a ruckus. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Church IS “the people” and it takes cues from “society” even as it does from tradition and Scripture, though it wouldn’t necessarily admit to it. Had the PEOPLE and some religious and members of the clergy not made an issue of clergy-related sex scandals and pedophilia, the Vatican would not have made changes necessary to safeguard children and weed out priestly offenders. Things would have continued as they had.

      • DivineWordRadio on 02.06.2014 at 1:14 pm

        The Church is unchanged on matters of faith and morals. Period. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the morality of the Church isn’t decided by majority vote.

        • Kevin Shoe on 02.06.2014 at 3:17 pm

          Again no evidence or sound rhetoric to back you up. Just sarcastic and condescending one-liners.

          • Just Curious on 02.06.2014 at 5:21 pm

            Go read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Then you and Gunnar can come tell us what teachings of the Church have actually changed based on societal pressure.

            The church has changed some practices over the last 2,000 years (it is a living, breathing institution after all) but she has not changed any fundamental teaching on faith and morals. And no evidence has been presented that she has. Our liturgy has changed, clerical celibacy rules have changed, many things that are not doctrine or dogma have changed. So what?

  • Dr. Bunbury on 02.05.2014 at 10:10 am

    The flaw in his argument is that gay and lesbian teachers are often the most committed to the mission of the Church. The sensus populi in much of America and Europe is that the people, as the ecclesial body, now largely accept same-sex couples and marriage, even if official Church doctrine and teaching do not. For those of us who have worked in Catholic schools and churches, we take for granted the large proportion of men and women, lay and religious, and ordained, who are homosexual, and who have made incalculable contributions to Church and society, but have remained closeted, or at least, under the radar. Children and youth today increasingly have little prejudice toward gays and accept them as teachers, coaches, parents, and friends as long as they are loved, nurtured, and respected.

    Just as the availability of marriage in the priesthood, and priesthood and deaconate, for women will someday be part of the Church’s mission, it is important to teach tolerance today, and not discriminate against openly gay teachers and staff in religious schools. Eventually, this form of social justice will be accepted by the Church under the rubric of “God is love, let us love one another as God has loved us.”

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:37 pm

      The senses populi accept lying and cheating, but these are not going to be changed morally either. The Church accepts that there are those with same sex attraction, just as there are those who are attracted to the opposite sex. And just as happened in Montana this past month, where a teacher was fired for being pregnant outside of wedlock, it is the actions of the employee that merit the response. And no, women will not be priests someday. You are dreaming.

  • Charles Rzepka on 02.05.2014 at 10:19 am

    I’m a bit confused by the headline and the conclusion, both of which state, or strongly imply (“should be applauded”) that Catholic Schools, in the words of the headline, “have the right to fire gay staff.” And yet, in the penultimate paragraph, Professor Glenn says that the criterion exonerating the Church in its actions in Seattle does not apply to the case in Massachusetts. So the “right” being talked about is not general and absolute, but in fact subject to limitations based on leadership position. For that matter, if we interpret the word “staff” in its accepted sense (I’d never refer to a VP of anything as “staff”), we’d have to conclude that the headline has it backward: it’s precisely the cafeteria staff worker, says Glenn, who should be exempt from arbitrary dismissal based on sexual orientation, not the VP.

    However, in addition to the difference in employment status that Professor Glenn cites, the fact that the vice-principle of the school in Seattle was required to sign a contract stipulating adherence to Church teachings must count as the most crucial factor blurring a straightforward comparison between the two cases. It also calls into question the self-evident legitimacy of applying the “ministerial extension” beyond the orbit of the ordained clergy. If church schools feel it necessary to insure such adherence among its lay leaders by means of a binding contract, that must imply that their faith in the relevance of the “ministerial exception” to the case of vice-principles, and by extension, of course, to cafeteria staff, is on shaky ground to begin with.

  • Melissa on 02.05.2014 at 10:33 am

    Very brave of the author to state an unpopular opinion knowing he’d be rebuked by most. If the Catholic Church should reach a day where its hiring practices become so unpopular, then they’ll need to reform through pressure or go extinct. Until that day comes, there is still enough of a demand to keep these schools with its practices up and running.

    • nathan on 02.06.2014 at 9:51 am

      “A free society is a place where it’s safe to be unpopular.” -Adlai Stevenson

      I totally disagree with the Catholic Church on Gay Marriage. I wouldn’t expect a nuanced understanding of marriage from an organization run by unmarried old guys. But it comes down to democratic principles.

      Under the argument that a church school is an extension of a church, I agree that religious bias can be applied to spiritual education.

      Catholic church, I disagree with you, but I defend your right to live with integrity WITHIN your private religious universe. I also defend the government’s right to enforce the laws within the public sphere.

      I agree with Melissa. If the behavior of the Catholic Church becomes unpopular, with or without the condemnation of Pope Francis, these school policies will either reform or the schools will close.

  • Cleo O'Reilly on 02.05.2014 at 11:05 am

    What if the KKK became a church, opened a school, and made sure all teachers were white anglo saxons with blue eyes? Would that be OK?

    I just wish the pedophiles in the Church employ were dealt with in as strong a manner (or even stronger) as the teacher and food service worker. Fire the pedophiles! Not dealing with that in an emphatic manner makes the Catholic position totally hypocritical. It seems it has been okay with the Church for a Catholic priest to stay employed and just be moved to a new parish. That is far more serious than a teacher or food service worker being in a gay marriage.

    • Aliana on 02.05.2014 at 2:16 pm

      Yes, the KKK would have that right if they opened a school. Just like parents would have the right to not send their kids to such a school. You know what the KKK believes, so why would you go to a KKK school if you didn’t agree. Similarly, you know what the Catholic church teaches, so why would you send your kid to such a school if you don’t agree? There are plenty of non catholic private schools out there.

    • Doug on 02.05.2014 at 6:14 pm

      1. re: “the Church of the KKK”: Why do you speak as if theoretical? Such “churches” already exist and are plentiful. Witness Rev. Jer. Wright’s “Church of Later Day Hatred”. On a broader scale, witness The Episcopal Church (US arm of the Anglican Church),. which has devolved into an arm of the gay gestapo.

      Neither you nor i have the right, privilege or authority to dictate what “IS” or “IS NOT” a church, regardless of how obvious the assessment may be in our own eyes. Remember: only the fool is wise in his own eyes.

      2. re: pedophiles in the church”: Although I agree with your belief about how pedophiles of any ilk should be dealt with, I think you do not grasp these sub-humans were almost 100% GAY PEDOPHILES —- who invaded the Priesthood for access to little boys. Moreover, the problem of pedophilia is far worse in America’s public schools than it ever was in the CC, no matter what metric you use (e.g., per teacher vs. Priest, per capita, etc.) And the public schools, until the CC mess blew up on it, dealt with pedophiles the same way: deny unless impossible, then,m if no other recourse, send the pedophile to another school out of the District.

      If you look at how the gay activist community deals with the out-of-control pedophilia problem they have (on a per capita basis – obviously there are more straight pedophiles given gays are only 2.7% of the general population) you see the origin of this horrid response. This week in S.F., for example, perhaps the highest profile gay activist in the city was sentenced for possession of some really horrible child porn – stuff involving infants and very young children. Since this sub-human was arrested the gay community has reacted NOT as one would hope, but with one goal: defend the reputation of the gay community. Not much has changed since the gay Priest scandal emerged, and not much has changed in the way certain groups respond to pedophiles in their midst.

      3. re: gay marriage: I’d suggest you read your Bible a bit. We are not to be conformed to this world’s sense of right or wrong, but, rather, to be TRANSFORMED by the Holy Spirit and walk in HIS ways. HE has been clear – homosexuality is an abomination, despite the wishes of gays everywhere to normalize it. What arrogance on our part that we think we are so smart as to correct “His mistake” in this issue!

      • Cleo O'Reilly on 02.08.2014 at 10:52 am

        I repeat: root out the pedophiles in the Church and fire every one of them. Then (and only then) I will not think there is hypocrisy in the firing of the teacher. Which is more injurious to the children in the school, a teacher in a gay marriage or a teacher who is a pedophile? It is obvious to any thinking person that the pedophile is a much bigger problem. Here is what the Catechism teaches about this subject:

        [From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition]

        2389 Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing.

        and:

        2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”86 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    • Mark on 03.04.2014 at 7:40 am

      Legislation has been proposed to “normalize” paedophelia. In a few short years they will become the victimized minority fighting for their “rights”

      And why is the paedophelia in the public schools ever addressed?

      Stay tuned.

  • Diane on 02.05.2014 at 11:22 am

    I am not sure which I find more appalling…the actual arguments made by the professor defending this discriminatory practice, the fact that he sits on the committees that he does with his bias, or that fact that he is teaching our next generation of educators! Using his arguments, if someone from the “Aryan Nation” wanted to start a school for “pure whites” only and indoctrinate said students by “ensuring that they and all of their staff present a message consistent with their beliefs” this professor would be OK with such a school. And don’t even get me started on his logic behind the premise, “if they must serve families whose children are assigned involuntarily, and thus must provide a lowest-common-denominator education that no one will object to”! Since when do we “applaud” discrimination?

    • mr.burns on 02.05.2014 at 6:09 pm

      no doubt you object to the existence of howard and moorehouse universities,

      • Diane on 02.05.2014 at 9:04 pm

        What in my remarks would make you think I would object to either of these institutions? While both are historically black universities, they are open to all people, regardless of race, creed, sex or sexual orientation.

      • JustSayin on 02.06.2014 at 12:20 am

        Howard admits white students, and women are welcome to apply to Moorehouse’s graduate programs. Please have a seat

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:33 pm

      Do you find it appalling that we have freedom of religion in this country? Do you find it appalling that people don’t agree with you? The students that attend these schools do so voluntarily. You attempt to define discrimination as a vice. It isn’t. What you discriminate against determines its virtue or vice. To discriminate against hiring bank robbers in a bank is discrimination, and discriminating.

      • Diane on 02.05.2014 at 9:18 pm

        I do believe in freedom of religion, but I do NOT support using religion to harm others. And the Catholic church’s stand on gays DOES hurt others. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me…as long as they can engage in an intelligent debate. And your argument on discrimination based on a bank robber working in a bank does NOT fall in that category!

        • DivineWordRadio on 02.06.2014 at 1:12 pm

          So, you will define whether a religion harms others? No, the Catholic Church’s stand on homosexuality does not hurt others, unless you use the term “hurt” as in, “My feelings are hurt.” And yes, my analogy is correct. Teachers are expected to promote the values of the school. If they willfully choose not to, then they cannot expect to receive employment in that context.

      • matt on 02.06.2014 at 9:34 am

        “The students that attend these schools do so voluntarily.”

        Are you kidding me? In 99.99% of the cases its the parents paying for the school, you really think the kids got to pick out where they wanted to go?

        • DivineWordRadio on 02.06.2014 at 1:10 pm

          I think that where children go to school is none of your business, unless, of course, they are your own children. Your claim about percentages is laughable, and of course, pulled out of thin air.

          And, even if you were right, we are left with the question, why is this appalling, or even newsworthy?

  • George Born on 02.05.2014 at 1:39 pm

    First, our legal system should not protect systems for perpetuating prejudice and bigotry. Young people — and especially gay youth — should not be abandoned to psychologically damaging homophobia. It is more important to nurture a well-developed sense of sexual maturity in individuals — whether gay or straight — than to cater to backward hierarchies.

    Second, it is deeply ironic for religious institutions to employ unmarried gay people but to fire them when they get married. It makes no sense for organizations which putatively support stable and faithful relationships to punish employees who take an important step in that direction.

    Third, religions really need to think seriously about what they think their message is really about. Who wants to go to a church to school where something as basic as one’s sexual identity is fair game for such hateful reprisals? If we must acknowledge the legal right of private organizations to be as prejudiced as they want, I sure hope that people will go elsewhere to find how powerful real love, peace, grace, truth, and reconciliation can be.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:30 pm

      The Church does not see so-called “gay marriage” as a positive step, but an immoral one. The fact that one has a same-sex attraction is not immoral in and of itself. Acting upon that attraction, however, can be. You aren’t your sexual identity.

  • Jeremy Bernier on 02.05.2014 at 2:00 pm

    Yes, schools do need to be focused around a philosophy and mission – but is it really okay for that philosophy to involve bigotry and hatred?

    Moreover, religious schools are schools first and religious institutions second. I do not think it is okay that they can discriminate against employees who are not heterosexuals. If the KKK wanted to start a school and not hire black employees but cited religious reasons, would that be considered “OK”? I would certainly hope not.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:28 pm

      It isn’t bigotry or hatred. I’d encourage you to read the Catholic Church’s teachings on the subject before judging them, http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm .

      • matt on 02.06.2014 at 9:33 am

        Most people find a lifetime of celibacy to be a very unpleasant way of life, so yes if you try to force that on gay people that is hatred or bigotry. Some people might choose that life but they will always be a small minority, sex is an important part of life and it cannot just be handwaved away.

        • DivineWordRadio on 02.06.2014 at 1:07 pm

          And there are rapists who find refraining from such activity unpleasant as well. Are you contending that if you try to force that on rapists that is hatred or bigotry?

  • Aliana on 02.05.2014 at 2:13 pm

    Catholic schools 100% have that right. Being in a homosexual sexual relationship goes against church teaching. However, I would say that there are plenty of teachers at these schools who violate church teaching in other ways and they don’t get fired. I’m sure there are a number of teachers on birth control who don’t get fired. My only issue is that I don’t like the way that the sin of homosexuality is singled out for punishment. We all sin.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:26 pm

      It isn’t singled out. There is a story this week in Montana about a Catholic school teacher who was fired for being pregnant outside of marriage.

  • a hateful closeminded bigot on 02.05.2014 at 3:07 pm

    thank you for the bravery and honesty of this article. It is rare that you see a public secular defense of the civil rights of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately many of the comments posted reflect the anti- catholicism in our society that make such articles rare.

    When Mayor Menino declared that Chick fil a was not welcome in boston due to the beliefs of its CEOs, I knew we had rounded a dangerous corner. If you can exclude a business that sells chicken sandwiches because its owners state that they do not support gay marriage, how far away are we from excluding a church that actively teaches this same position?

    The author is right to think about the implications of such limitations. Suppose a business who supported gay marriage was told it was not welcome in another city. What outrage would there be?

    It is the illiberalism of liberalism to defend everything except that which is conservative.

    The Church does not change its moral teachings nor can it contradict them. Catholic adoption agencies closed in massachusetts because to allow gay couples to adopt is contrary to church teaching. The little sisters of the poor will not be able to minister to the elderly if they are forced to pay for birth control. If you are confused by what the church says, media interpretation or the conflicting opinions of many who call themselves Catholic, please refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That is the reason it exists.

    To pronounce our beliefs as hatred, homophobia, – as on par with the kkk- is to conflate violence with disagreement. Is to leave out the possibility of legitimate difference of opinion from the public discourse about sexuality.

    It is hurtful as a faithful and compassionate Catholic to constantly be put in the same sentence as those who killed Mathew Shepard. Indeed I am often fearful of being “found out” as someone who has come to understand sexuality in a more traditional way.

  • Diane on 02.05.2014 at 4:14 pm

    If you believe the attitudes of the Catholic Church towards gays had nothing to do with the murder of Mathew Shepard you are sadly mistaken. Goes for the Boy Scouts of America as well and any other groups that try to make their “followers” believe that gay people are less than the rest of us. Just because they “believe” it does not make it so. There is plenty of evidence that gays are born that way, just as I was born a white, heterosexual female. I can’t change the color of my skin any more than I can change my sexual orientation. Why should we “applaud”, as this professor suggests, a group that makes another group to be less and not worthy? If there is disdain for the Catholic Church trying to take the “moral” high ground on ANY topic, one only need look as far as the sexual abuse by priests and the church’s cover-up to understand that disdain. I say again that I find the attitude of this professor appalling and the fact that he is teaching the next generation of teachers disturbing. Hopefully this is one lesson they will NOT absorb.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:24 pm

      It would appear that you are mistaken as to Matthew Shepard. http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/author-says-shepard-died-due-his-involvement-drugs . It was a drug crime.

      • Diane on 02.05.2014 at 9:09 pm

        Law enforcement did not substantiate this author’s claim. There is no substantive proof that this was anything other than a hate crime visited on a gay man. But from reading all your other comments on this thread, I have little doubt there is no point in persuading you away from your hardline, homophobic beliefs.

        • DivineWordRadio on 02.06.2014 at 1:06 pm

          There is no substantive proof that this was a hate crime. You use the term homophobic, as many ignorant people do, not understanding what it means. I’m not afraid of same-sex attraction at all.

        • Mark on 03.04.2014 at 12:46 pm

          Disagreement = name calling and insult

  • RAM on 02.05.2014 at 5:16 pm

    This hardly seems like a statement of malice or phobia: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered.” – Official Vatican Instruction from 1986 – http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.05.2014 at 6:45 pm

      Thank you.

  • Catholic libertarian on 02.05.2014 at 6:14 pm

    Will we see the same fanatical hatred leveled at the institutions behind Islamic private schools if they take a similar stance? Religious freedom should concern more than just Catholics.

    • nathan on 02.06.2014 at 10:01 am

      Religious Freedom OBVIOUSLY extends beyond the Catholic Church.

      The Seventh Day Adventists college near Worchester, for example, requires a statement of personal religious standards and affiliation for all job applications. This is an apples-to-apples comparison as it is also a private religious education organization.

      And by the way, why did you use an imaginary example of Islamic private schools? Can you find no real examples, or are the Islamic religions on your personal “hate list?”

      • Catholic libertarian on 02.06.2014 at 3:09 pm

        How did I imply a hatred for Islam? It’s just a whole lot more trendy to criticize the liberties of Catholic Church than it is to criticize less visible religions with similar views toward gay marriage. Whatever laws the secularists successfully impose on Catholics will be extended to everyone, so every person of faith should be concerned when religious liberties are threatened.

        • nathan on 02.06.2014 at 3:49 pm

          You implied hatred for Islam by selecting the religious group that has, in the last 20 years, undergone the most religious hate mongering in the USA. It would have been fine if you gave a real world example. Selecting “religious enemy number one” is a favorite tactic of hate groups.

          The religious exemption laws are imposed substantially equally on other faiths in a state like Massachusetts. In a state like Alabama, there seems to be a strong bias in favor of evangelical Christian organizations. Removing racial and religious bias is a real problem in the south.

          • Just Curious on 02.06.2014 at 4:50 pm

            You missed CL’s point. The point was that cowards attack the Catholic Church because they know Catholicism is safe for them to attack. A religion that actually practices the death penalty for homosexuals gets a free pass. Why? Cowardice and hypocrisy.

  • Anonymous on 02.06.2014 at 12:24 am

    If it was up to me religious schools wouldn’t exist anyways. Adolescents shouldn’t be indoctrinated.

    • DivineWordRadio on 02.06.2014 at 1:04 pm

      Sorry, but by suggesting that religious schools, which existed before public ones, shouldn’t exist, and be replaced by public schools, is precisely indoctrination.

  • Mark on 02.06.2014 at 7:48 am

    There is a similar dynamic taking place in Milwaukee WI. Catholic and private schools are attempting to buy unused empty public school buildings from the city and are being rejected due to the efforts of the public teacher unions. A tragic loss for the children who would benefit most from educational options.

  • matt on 02.06.2014 at 9:30 am

    The vast majority of teachers at Catholic schools have used artificial contraception at some point, where are the people losing jobs over that? Many young single teachers at these institutions are probably sexually active, I don’t see them losing their jobs over that. Being gay is singled out by religious groups as the worst sin, one worthy of severe punishment. This is why so many people think all Christians are bigots and why organized religion is becoming less and less popular among young people.

    • nathan on 02.06.2014 at 10:06 am

      Very true Matt. I see the increasing perception of Christians as bigots and the rising disgust with organized religion as a positive societal trend.

      That said … within the reality of today, I think the author has given a fair and democratic analysis of the situation as it exists today.

      The leaders of these catholic schools may be (xxx) but I respect their right to be bigots within the specific boundaries of their private school.

      “A free society is a place where it’s safe to be unpopular.” -Adlai Stevenson

      and I would add, it is also a place where you can be criticized and censured for your unpopular beliefs.

    • Just Curious on 02.06.2014 at 4:46 pm

      Really? Have you spoken with the vast majority of teachers in Catholic schools?

      Also how would an employer know if someone is using contraceptives? How do they know who is sexually active? Come one, Matt. Think things through to a logical conclusion.

      The real question is why would a gay person want to work at a Catholic school. They would have to lie to get the job which suggests perhaps they have an agenda.

      Don’t like Catholic beliefs? Don’t work for the Catholic Church. Pretty simple.

  • Rayna on 02.06.2014 at 1:11 pm

    So basically we should applaud them for discriminating against Mr. Barrett based on his orientation. It would be like saying a school should be applauded for not accepting a student based on race. In the end, discrimination is discrimination. Hatred is hatred, racism is racism etc. So because FBA is holding up the archaic beliefs of the Archdiocese we should applaud them? Well imagine where this country would be if the segregationsits, the supporters of Jim Crow laws, the restaurants and more were applauded for their actions towards the black (I was searching for another word but couldn’t) people and what if we applauded the slave owners for their actions? This country would be no further in Equal Rights if the offending parties were applauded.

    • Diane on 02.06.2014 at 1:46 pm

      Precisely! The real issue with this article, for me, is the professor suggesting we should APPLAUD the discriminatory practices of the Catholic church. Regardless of their having the LEGAL right to do this, it is NOT moral. The professor suggesting we applaud this action is reprehensible. He owes an apology to the gay community, at the very least. And seriously, Divinewordradio…please keep your biased self in Pensacola. I was born and raised there and you fit right in with the old south thinking of that area.

      • Just Curious on 02.06.2014 at 4:37 pm

        And by what standard do you judge what is moral? Seems like you are judging the beliefs of the Catholic Church by your own beliefs? What makes you right? How many Mother Teresa’s has your belief system produced.

        You seem pretty intolerant. I am sure you would not have any problem with a devout Catholic being fired from a job with GLAAD. Also why would a devout Catholic want to work for GLAAD… oh wait…

        • Diane on 02.06.2014 at 5:06 pm

          Actually, quite a few, as I am a member of a mainstream Protestant church. And I would venture to guess that Mother Teresa was far more tolerant than many on this feed, including the professor who wrote the original article. I am VERY tolerant of all who are tolerant. What I don’t tolerate is those who judge people based on their color, sexual orientation, and all the other wonderful characteristics that make us interesting humans.

          • Just Curious on 02.07.2014 at 10:31 am

            Yet you judge people who have different religious beliefs than you. So you are not tolerant at all. What you are really saying is you only tolerate those who agree with you.

            And Mother Teresa held these beliefs that you so despise. The same Mother Teresa who started the very first AIDS hospice in New York City.

        • Diane on 02.06.2014 at 5:18 pm

          And a person should not be fired from a job for their personal beliefs OR their sexual orientation OR their skin color OR their sex. Get it??

          • Just Curious on 02.07.2014 at 10:36 am

            Agreed. No one was fired for any of those things. However, people can and should be fired from a job whose behavior violates the code of conduct and beliefs of the institution they work for.

            Practicing a lifestyle contrary to the values of an institution and being fired for it has nothing to do with bigotry. Unless you want to say an elementary school teacher being fired for prostitution is bigotry.

            You are not getting this at all. You are confusing issues with an emotional response to your feelings about this, not the facts.

    • Mark on 03.04.2014 at 12:51 pm

      Please stop the pairing of racial discrimination and perceived discrimination based on sex behavior. It’s genetics and chromosomes versus behavior.

      Paedophiles are now pushing for their rights as well.

  • Kevin Shoe on 02.06.2014 at 3:34 pm

    This article doesn’t actually have much to say. Quick summary: The church has the right to fire someone who has failed to comply with his contract. There is not much discussion to be had on this topic.

    The important discussion is whether it is legal for religious schools to have messages that discriminate same-sex married couples as well as, of course, whether it is morally right to discriminate same-sex married couples.

    We should certainly not take the situation in abstract and “applaud” the school just for having a message. That is being purposely ignorant. Obviously, a school should not be celebrated for having a firm message if the message is outrageous.

  • Diane on 02.07.2014 at 5:15 pm

    I totally get it, Just Curious. You would relegate gay people to a second class citizenship status based on your narrow minded religious beliefs. My main issue with this article is the professor saying we should applaud discrimination of a class of people. I am not confusing that issue at all…discrimination should never be applauded. Fact. Period.

    • Just Curious on 02.10.2014 at 12:24 pm

      It would be great if you actually engaged something I wrote, or something the professor wrote rather than hand-waving dismissals of people you do not know and proclamations about their intentions that you could not possibly know nor derived from anything written.

      Intelligent discussions requires some basic understanding of critical thinking and engaging the arguments of others.

      • Diane on 02.10.2014 at 4:32 pm

        The professor himself writes the “applause” statement. Maybe you should read the full article. The issue for you obviously is that you are “tolerant” of gays…as long as they stay in the closet and deny themselves the basic rights and enjoyments of life the rest of us take for granted. Does not take a lot of “critical thinking” to ferret that from your statements. I am done engaging those with a closed mind. Time will take care of this issue…just hope for the sake of ALL peoples the time is shorter than it has been for other social issues.

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