Is it wrong for a Catholic school to be Catholic?

The report above is about a gym teacher in Ohio who lost her teaching position after it became known that she was a lesbian. She had been teaching at a Catholic high school for 19 years, but when the administration found out that she was in violation of the morality provision in her contract, they let her go.

I guess what caught my attention about this story is that it even made the news. A Roman Catholic school is requiring its teachers to adhere to a morality provision that each teacher voluntarily agreed to keep when signing their contract. The morality provision reflects the teaching of the Roman Catholic church. No one is happy about a long-time employee losing her job, but why is it particularly controversial?

Could it be that NBC’s coverage is designed to show how unjust and wrong the Catholic school is for being consistent with Roman Catholic teaching? I notice that nothing much is made of the fact that the gym teacher apparently flouted the morality provision of her contract for 19 years. And yet the school seems to be portrayed as having done something wrong in this report.

It also caught my attention that Stephanie Gosk did the reporting on this particular story. It seems that she has slanted the story against the school and in favor of the gym teacher. Given her own recent coming-out on The Today Show, one can’t help but wonder whether Gosk’s personal stake in the issue might make her less than objective in her report.

I see a report like this one, and I can’t help but think that it smacks of agenda-journalism. This would not have been a story if the teacher in question had been released for adultery (which is also in violation of Catholic teaching). The only reason that this story registers is because it involves homosexuality. Despite appearances, this is not a straight news report. I think it’s something else altogether.

19 Responses to Is it wrong for a Catholic school to be Catholic?

  1. paul abella April 29, 2013 at 2:54 am #

    I hope you take credit for the excellent pun in the second to last sentence…

    • Denny Burk April 29, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Alas, I cannot. It was unintentional.

      • Bob Allen April 30, 2013 at 12:33 am #

        I just read the article and thought exactly the same thing. Unintended puns are the best!

  2. Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) April 29, 2013 at 3:08 am #

    This has made the news because gay activists started a petition on change.org in order to publicize their cause and the media have played along. The woman is now filing a lawsuit citing Columbus’s civil rights law, which includes sexual orientation and does not exempt religious organizations.

    One complicating factor is that the teacher is not a Catholic. Newspapers report her saying she is a Methodist. Did the Catholic school officials know that? If so, it seems to me they will have a difficult time defending their claim that they are concerned about doctrinal purity.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/diocese-affirms-need-for-catholic-fidelity-after-teacher-fired/

    • Paul Reed April 29, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      How does the Catholic school feel about teachers who divorce and remarry? Sodomites have a point in that you can’t selectively enforce morality without being a hypocrite.

      • Lauren Bertrand April 29, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

        Excellent point. We could continue to split hairs and inquire as to whether or not the Catholic school investigated the preferred sexual positions of its heterosexual teachers, since, of course, they too could be sodomites and would therefore be subject to termination for moral infractions.

      • Bruce H. April 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

        Morality cannot be enforced. That would be legalism, not hypocrisy. It was a simple enforcement of the rules of the Catholic School. She had a copy of the Employee Handbook from the beginning and chose to violate it and Scripture, too. People always pull up some other sin to compare and try to make a “compromise” of sorts. Let’s deal with this as it stands and deal with divorce when it surfaces. This comparison will not be tolerated when we stand before God on judgement day.

  3. Bruce Harp April 29, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    The only thing that tags normal people now days is if they are homophobic or racist, and that seems to be newsworthy. These people keep trying to redefine society’s norm and the media will always give space to fight us. I do not see the Catholic church changing any time soon on this issue.

  4. Ian Shaw April 29, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    She knew the rules/guidelines she had to abide by when she was hired. It was no different when I went to a Christian University. We were all shown the handbook/code of conduct and we all knew that if we were caught/reported with a violation, there were consequences including suspension and expulsion. It’s the same with teachers at private schools (Catholic in this case). Why this is news…..Denny, I think you’re on to something. They didn’t focus on the teacher breaking rules in her contract that she agreed to, they focus on her termination because she is a homosexual. They are spinning it to be discrimination, when it was the faculty member that couldn’t abide by the rules.

    ~The Dude abides~

  5. Sandra Bowmam April 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    (Clever play on words.) I am so tired of being told by our culture that if I am a Christ-follower, I should just keep my mouth shut about it and that no one but gays can express their views about homosexuality. Any opposing opinions by straights are considered hate speech, if they are expressed openly. This Catholic school should not have to answer for following procedures fully understood and signed in full agreement by both parties. The media seems at times to have a ” magnificent obsession” with the gay agenda.

  6. James Bradshaw April 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    irst of all, can you guys possibly refer to us with something less derisive and contemptuous than “sodomites”?

    Secondly, the petition was signed not only by “gay activists” but students and parents who knew and genuinely liked the teacher in question. The petition (which I also signed) was submitted in the hopes that the school would reconsider.

    One legal issue here is what constitutes a “private” institution. For example, some gyms have been able to keep women-only membership. On the flip side, you can’t have a corporate entity that admits only men.

    Another issue is tax exempt status and how it relates to discrimination against “protected classes”.

    Case in point: Bob Jones University – a private religious and very fundamentalist institution – had a charming rule about not allowing blacks in until about 1971. Once they finally broke down and conceded to permitting into their facilities the “sons of Ham”, they still denied interracial dating and marriage. Over this little guideline, they lost their tax exempt status in Bob Jones University vs the United States. In this ruling, the court held “that the religion clauses of the First Amendment do not prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from revoking the tax exempt status of a religious university whose practices are contrary to a compelling government public policy”.

    Understand that these laws work to protect people for their religious affiliation as well, though. The Alliance Defense Fund would have little recourse in their legal battles to reinstate Christians unjustly fired for their faith without these laws.

    Now, if you wish to remove these laws that protect religious affiliation, then certainly, Bishop Watterson would be able to discriminate against Methodists, Mormons and Jews and admit only Catholics. Is that what you want?

    If not, why should laws that protect someone for their chosen religious affiliation not apply to gays and lesbians? Given the popularity, respect and high ratings by students and parents this teacher had, I’m curious as to what standard you would use to determine that.

    I’m honestly curious as to how you would all balance the rights of private institutions with the rights of citizens for equal opportunity when it comes to employment.

    • Bruce Harp April 30, 2013 at 6:47 am #

      James,

      I truly grieve in replying to your debased reasoning here. I wish not to give you audience or attention among the body of Christ that you do not share. If you did, you would understand that homosexuality is to be removed from what is holy like any other sin, no ifs, ands or buts. (Repentance is a different issue) You are trying to mix worldliness (the law) with Christianity. You use examples that don’t fit. Your agenda, knowingly or unknowingly, is to make common that which is uncommon. You use the legal process to mix church and state rather than separate church and state. Your reasoning is upside down, or as the Bible states it, reprobate. Every job states their rules. The gym teacher was removed because she broke the rules for many years. As a gym teacher, she organized games and games have rules. You have to play by the rules for the good of everyone. I do not wish anyone to lose their job, but this cannot contaminate the holiness of any church that represents Christ. The state needs to stay out of the church just like the state wants the church to stay out of it.

      I guarantee you that if I joined your homosexual group and talked about Jesus and what He represents, you would eventually kick me out. Why? Because I would have to tell you that your lifestyle was a sin. That would go for any group of people, KKK, NAACP, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, etc. Not everyone wants to mix it up. It seems that the homosexual community wants to do that and use the political system to accomplish their mission. Some of us are not going to change even if the furnace is heated 7 times hotter.

    • Tom Parker April 30, 2013 at 7:00 am #

      James:

      I also noted the use of the word sodomites in the conversation here. it sure seems like it is mean spirited when people throw this word into their comments.

    • Bruce H. April 30, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      James,

      FYI, the only comments that used “sodomites” was Paul Reed and Lauren Bertrand above. Neither of their comments were pointed at you and didn’t support this post. They seem to have similar thoughts as you have. Don’t blame us!

  7. Ian Shaw April 30, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Regardless of whether something is culturally acceptable or trending positive in popular opinion, that does not change the rules the teacher was called to abide by from her employer. She was fired for breaking school code of conduct, not for being gay. Plain and simple. Would this have even made the news if she was heterosexual and committed adultery and was fired on that basis (from employee handbook)? No. The media has their flavor of the month topics and they run them beyond when the cows come home.

  8. Grover Jones April 30, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    What do you mean by “agenda-journalism”? Isn’t all journalism driven by an agenda of some sort?

  9. James Bradshaw April 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Bruce,
    My questions were pointed and simple, but instead of responding to them, you just called the questions themselves “depraved”. That’s an odd way of avoiding them.

    I’ll ask again:

    Do people deserve legal protections for their *choice* of religious affiliation, whether it be Christian, Mormon, Catholic, Pentecostal, Hindu or Jew? Should any private or public enterprise have the right to terminate the employment of a person for that religious affiliation, even if that expression in no way infringes on their job performance?

    If not, for what reason should these protections not apply to gays and lesbians when it seems clear that orientation is far more innate and less of a choice than religious expression?

    • Michael Lynch May 1, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      A religious organization ought to have a right to hire or fire a person based on religious affiliation. I went to a church that had to hire a pianist outside of its congregation. It turned out that this person was a homosexual. They fired them. It went to the highest court in the state. The church won (this was quite a while back–I wonder if they would win today). If it turned out that the person was a Mormon, Catholic, Hindu, etc. they should NOT be protected. The church should have the right to terminate in cases like this.

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