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Author Topic: Catholic high school in Wash. dismisses vice-principal over same-sex marriage.  (Read 1121 times)

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Offline kylieTopic starter

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        Mark Zmuda, a vice-principal at the Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish (eastern edge of the broader Seattle suburb communities) says he was fired [Guardian article] after he refused to replace his same-sex marriage with a civil union.  He is suing on the basis that the school claimed to be an equal opportunity employer (including, at the time, specifically with regard to sexual orientation) and Washington state does accept same-sex marriages.  He says he moved to Washington and took the job relying on all of this.  The school admin claims they found gay marriage, specifically as contrary to Catholic teaching and therefore couldn't keep him.  (Zmuda says he, as a Catholic, needs marriage just as much as anybody else could.)  There are conflicting claims about whether that doctrinal interpretation was solely that of the school, or of the area archdiocese.  If I understand this correctly, the last part matters to the legal case because Zmuda has also asserted that the archdiocese encouraged the school to dismiss him.

         Been hearing about this case on and off for some time, but now that it's a lawsuit I wonder about something.  Why do organization claims of following religious doctrine get boiled down to a "freedom of speech" question and not a freedom of religion question?  I'm just guessing, it may be related to the school's claim that they, and not the higher leadership, made this decision about how to interpret Catholic doctrine in this case.  At any rate, they seem to define the interpretation of doctrine or scripture (not sure if it's technically both) as a matter of free speech.  (I wonder if they might need another Citizen's United-style ruling to establish that specific hiring organizations get to do that, exactly?  But we can totally set that aside for now.) 

         This just reminds me a lot of the New Mexico case where Elane Photography tried to claim that it was using artistic techniques to present weddings and therefore, documenting same-sex marriages would somehow deny its freedom of speech about the appropriateness of gay marriage.  In both cases, I end up thinking:  But it's particularly a religious position that they are claiming to speak about in both cases, so why not freedom of religion? 

          The Catholic school gets any exemptions it has from taxes -- I assume they have some? -- for being a religious institution.  Unless people are going to argue that any organization should be allowed to deny anyone for any reason, why not take the more precise defense that has perhaps some basis in established practice.  Practices such as granting religious institutions certain tax and/or regulatory breaks already, whatever the rest of us may think of that...  (Or are they actually afraid if they mention it, those will be challenged too?  Hmmm, I actually wonder now about that.)  Why not say it's a question of freedom of religion?  Is there some hard-nosed legal maneuver here?  Or is there some broader PR move turning the rhetoric of 'Legalization of same-sex marriage devalues different-sex marriages' somehow into one of 'If we have to notice same-sex marriages exist now, then we will be irreparably silenced and ruined in the process.' ?? 

          Has it already been established they cannot win by invoking freedom of religion as a defense?  Elane reportedly tried that early on in New Mexico and then sort of stopped arguing the point on freedom of religion, before it even reached the State Supreme Court.  And I know the New Mexico Supreme Court appeared to hint one might not win if they only said religion.  But then, that was just NM.  And it really seems to me this odd sort of phrasing keeps popping up.  I rather suspect it shows they don't have much basis for a defense.


         ...  And can you just hear the righteous jab from Zmuda's attorney in this quote?  (My bold added.)
Quote

Zmuda’s attorney Richard Friedman said their motion misrepresents the complaint. “No one is saying they can’t discriminate against gay people. If they had said, ‘we are going to adhere to church doctrine, and not hire gay people, people on birth control, or people who get divorced,’ they can do that,” Friedman said. “What they can’t do is tell people they don’t discriminate, and have people rely on that representation, and then change it on them. You have to treat employees fairly.”

« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 04:54:18 AM by kylie »

Offline kylieTopic starter

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         This report is also quite curious, if perhaps somewhat convoluted to sort out...  Perhaps it should be said that SeaTimes articles tend to run a little short and abrupt imo...  But the positions they suggest, at least so far, are still pretty striking.  If you are part of an institution that doesn't recognize divorce at all, then how can you recommend someone get a divorce from gay marriages (which the institution also doesn't recognize in the first place?) as a way to remove the problem of someone having one?  Really quite regardless of whethe or not it was to be understood as some kind of official offer, it seems kind of bizarre as a twist of philosophy...   

          I mean, how can you even suggest something that the institution has already said it would not recognize?  I can understand it might have been mentioned as a sort of compromise someone would suggest in an non-official capacity, that he might attempt to offer them, but why would anyone expect it would actually matter?   (My added bolding in the quote.) 

          And once they have made an issue of a marriage they claim not to recognize at all in the first place and threatened someone's job directly with demands, there isn't a lot of room for people who have authority to speak "unofficially" on such things to him without being taken as a serious part of the organization in question.  I would think at least, they would have to go out of their way to change the setting away from use of any institutional resources at all, to even try to be clear at that point if something was not intended to be taken as reflecting some views of the office.  Because everyone knows that person will play some direct role in the administrative process and possibly the decision-making.

Quote
Mark Zmuda, 38, a well-liked swim coach and vice principal of Eastside’s middle and high schools, said the school’s president told him he could keep his job if he divorced his husband of five months and had a commitment ceremony with his partner.

The story of Zmuda’s termination was reported globally, triggered sit-ins by students at Eastside high school and other area Catholic schools and remains the subject of ongoing protests and rallies by students hoping to change the church’s position on same-sex marriage.

The Catholic church also does not recognize divorce.

“Apparently the fact that I have a same-sex partner and (am) having a same-sex marriage . . . they are against that,” Zmuda said during the 16-minute interview conducted by Catrina Crittenden, one of his former students.

“But I also thought another teaching they were against was divorce. I’m a little shocked that was even on the table to have me keep my job. They also offered for me to have a commitment ceremony if I were willing to get a divorce.”

On the video, Zmuda also said he did not resign but was terminated, contradicting a persistent claim by the school and specifically by its attorney.

Contacted on Sunday, Eastside’s President Sister Mary Tracy referred all calls to that attorney, Mike Patterson, who called Zmuda’s statement about the divorce offer untrue.

Patterson said Tracy raised the idea of divorce with Zmuda only as a hypothetical question — along the lines of “would you consider a divorce . . . I don’t even know if that would work.”
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 10:54:43 AM by kylie »

Offline errantwandering

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They likely don't see it as a legitimate divorce....it's a legal divorce.  By Catholic Doctrine if you don't have your wedding in a Catholic Church, or receive special dispensation from the church to have it elsewhere, you aren't really married.  As for why they're so upset about his marriage if it isn't a real one in the eyes of God....I have no idea.  I don't know that they really thought it through that much.

Offline kylieTopic starter

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They likely don't see it as a legitimate divorce....it's a legal divorce.  By Catholic Doctrine if you don't have your wedding in a Catholic Church, or receive special dispensation from the church to have it elsewhere, you aren't really married.  As for why they're so upset about his marriage if it isn't a real one in the eyes of God....I have no idea.  I don't know that they really thought it through that much.

          But if they don't see it as a marriage they can even recognize happened in the first place, can anyone really undo it?  Is this saying when the law does something they don't like, they'll ignore it...  But then they'll try to make individual people "undo" what they were allowed to do under that exact same law?  You can't have a divorce if you aren't actually married, whether you think it's "legitimate" or not...  Which seems a lot to many of us, like recognizing that the ceremony was real and meaningful despite whatever they said about why they wouldn't recognize it as having happened at all.

Quote
By Catholic Doctrine if you don't have your wedding in a Catholic Church, or receive special dispensation from the church to have it elsewhere, you aren't really married.
          Wait, lemme catch my breath here...  Are you really saying all the other Christian marriages even, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, don't exist?  Do they avoid using Mrs./Mr. on all their mail outside of Catholic circles, then?  What do they do if they hire male-female spouses from other Christian sects and other religions?  Do they not recognize them and refuse to provide them with benefits?  Or do they just not hire them wherever possible, perhaps partly to avoid all this?? 

           I'm a little befuddled if you actually meant that as it looks.  Though it would be fascinating to look into how they managed it!  I'm not all about marriage myself per se, so I'd be quite curious to see how (and just effectively or not) such a large organization gets by not recognizing the vast majority of them in any way.

Quote
As for why they're so upset about his marriage if it isn't a real one in the eyes of God....I have no idea.  I don't know that they really thought it through that much.
           I think people sometimes twist themselves in logical knots just for the sake of "thinking" their way back to wherever they started.  But that's just my rough and ready hunch about it.  But it does sound like they might have a bit of Taliban-esque 'Where possible, only impose or follow the laws we think are Godly ones' thing going on.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 09:31:25 AM by kylie »

Offline errantwandering

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Wait, lemme catch my breath here...  Are you really saying all the other Christian marriages even, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, don't exist?  Do they avoid using Mrs./Mr. on all their mail outside of Catholic circles, then?  What do they do if they hire male-female spouses from other Christian sects and other religions?  Do they not recognize them and refuse to provide them with benefits?  Or do they just not hire them wherever possible, perhaps partly to avoid all this??

It's not doctrine that's often talked about, and mostly ignored unless you're diehard, but it is part of the doctrine.  I was raised Catholic, and when I got engaged awhile back my parents threw a royal fit because I wasn't making my former fiancé to be convert to Catholicism, which meant we couldn't get married in a Catholic ceremony, which meant we couldn't really be married.  I talked to my pastor, who confirmed that no one really followed it, and that he personally disagreed with it and thought that God would understand, but that it was a doctrinal rule.  It's one of those things that even most Catholics don't know about or practice, like how you aren't supposed to receive communion if you haven't been to confession recently.  That said, if someone was really struggling to come up with a doctrinal justification, that'd be it.

Quote
I think people sometimes twist themselves in logical knots just for the sake of "thinking" their way back to wherever they started.

I'd definitely agree with that.  It's a shame...the Catholic church, for all it's clinging to archaic and wrongheaded Tradition, does a lot of good for the poor through Catholic charities.  They then turn around and throw other resources at keeping civil rights back in line with the medieval times those traditions came from.  It'd be super nice if US Catholics actually listened to the Pope's admonition to stop fixating so much on culture wars, let God handle sin, and instead focus their energy on helping people.

Offline Kythia

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It's not doctrine that's often talked about, and mostly ignored unless you're diehard, but it is part of the doctrine.  I was raised Catholic, and when I got engaged awhile back my parents threw a royal fit because I wasn't making my former fiancé to be convert to Catholicism, which meant we couldn't get married in a Catholic ceremony, which meant we couldn't really be married.  I talked to my pastor, who confirmed that no one really followed it, and that he personally disagreed with it and thought that God would understand, but that it was a doctrinal rule.  It's one of those things that even most Catholics don't know about or practice, like how you aren't supposed to receive communion if you haven't been to confession recently.  That said, if someone was really struggling to come up with a doctrinal justification, that'd be it.

Always forget that the US Catholic Church uses "pastor".  Confuses me every time I see it - what the hell is a pastor doing preaching in a Catholic church, etc.

Anyway, the rule is that you can get married anywhere (though you need permission from the Ordinary to have it anywhere other than the Parish church of one of the two parties) but it needs to be officiated over by a Catholic priest (or deacon).

Canon 1108:
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Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who, in the presence of two witnesses, assists, in accordance however with the rules set out in the following canons, and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112 §1, 1116 and 1127 §§2 - 3.


As to the other thing - in Catholic parlance a marriage can be "valid" or "invalid".  Some legally recognised marriages can be invalid to Catholicism and some valid Catholic marriages can be not recognised legally.  In a valid marriage then consummation creates an "indissoluble matrimonial bond" (hence the divorce thing.  It's not that divorce is not allowed per se, its that the very concept of divorce is meaningless in the Catholic view).  This gay marriage is, obviously, invalid under Catholicism (by definition from Canon 1055) so a divorce is doctrinally acceptable.

Why they're insisting on it, though, I really couldn't say.  Sounds more like PR/perceived image than a religious necessity to me.

Incidentally, errantwandering, your parents were mistaken.  You can get married to someone not baptised a Catholic in a Catholic church with the permission of your local Ordinary -

Canon 1118
Quote
A marriage between catholics, or between a catholic party and a baptised non-catholic, is to be celebrated in the parish church. By permission of the local Ordinary or of the parish priest, it may be celebrated in another church or oratory.


Edit: Clarification.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 05:45:35 AM by Kythia »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Fun note: For a long long long time in some areas of the world Kylie, it was indeed 'catholic marriage' or none at all. I know a friend of the family who retired to Spain @40 and had to get married in Gibraltar as he was (and his bride) were NOT catholic and the local laws gave the Catholic Church as sole choice.

That has changed now. 

Offline Oniya

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My brother was technically excommunicated because he married a Baptist.  I think they both converted to something else, though.  Presbyterian or Episcopalian sticks in my mind.

Offline Kythia

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On what grounds?  Was it because it was a Baptist minister who performed the ceremony?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 11:17:16 AM by Kythia »

Offline Oniya

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Not entirely sure.  I just remember my mother saying something about it.  (Mind you, my niece is going for her Masters now - it's been a while.)

Offline Kythia

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Fair enough.  If he had a non-Catholic wedding then yeah, he'd have got himself an automatic excommunication until such time as he asks forgiveness (which it pretty much sounds like he has no intention of doing).

Offline gaggedLouise

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I'm fairly sure the Roman Catholic church recognizes marriages performed by ministers* of a church it is in communion with, such as the Anglican communion or the Church of Sweden (both of which share the apostolic succession of bishops with the RCC) and provided that both man and wife were baptized before the time of their wedding - if one or both in a marriage would later convert to catholicism, there would be no need for a new marriage ceremony. Fairly certain of that - notes to self to ask my father who used to be a priest (yup, that's the title) in the Church of Sweden, married a fellow priest of the same church (female, naturally) and then after a number of years, he converted, resigning from the priesthood, but she didn't do neither. To boot, he was a divorcee to begin with. They continue to live together and I've never heard that their marriage would not be seen as legit by the RCC, or that they undertook some kind of new wedding ceremony!


Another instance: last year Madeleine, one of the princesses of the royal house of Sweden married a New York financier, Chris O'Neill, who is from an RC family. The wedding was celebrated in Stockholm with great pomp, and there was no private "second wedding" at any Roman Catholic church in the US. There had been a previous broken engagement with the princess' long-term boyfriend who had been close to her up to about 2010. When it comes to this kind of thing, royals and so on, I'm sure no one takes any chances with the marriage actually being legal with both of the churches involved.

*At least if the catholic side would count the priest/pastor and the bishop who ordained them as legitimate. A marriage presided over by a female priest might be considered problematic.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 12:16:17 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Kythia

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Church of England is only in partial communion with Rome and they don't recognise our apostolic succession (the bastards) from Edward VI onwards.    Bull in question is Apostolicae Curae

No idea about the Church of Sweden though.

Offline gaggedLouise

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They do recognize the apostolic succession inherent over here. Positive on that one - but it's fairly unusual among protestant churches. *looks down on Westminster Abbey*  ;)

Even though we drove the last Roman Catholic bishops (before conversion became legal in the late 19th century) into exile.

Offline Kythia

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I'm almost certain you're mistaken here.  CoS is Lutheran isn't it?  To the internet!  *points dramatically*

Offline Kythia

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Well, I stand corrected.

You're quite right

Offline gaggedLouise

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*nods* There are some serious dogmatic differences but sure enough, in principle Rome recognizes our succession back to the apostles. Sorry about you guys, I really thought the Anglicans had always been on the same shelf.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 01:03:07 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline kylieTopic starter

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As for why they're so upset about his marriage if it isn't a real one in the eyes of God....I have no idea.

         To me it all comes back to this and the rest is kind of esoteric...  Unless they have some fixation with the idea of 'gay marriage as blasphemy' and then a legal renunciation as some sort of penance.  It does sound more like outright culture war PR than consistent philosophical logic to me.  Or not logic that's going to make for much of a legal defense, imo.

         I suppose anyone can make an endless list of things that might be considered "things people only do in life because they're meaning to offend the Church."  Actually Christianity has a long and bloody history of that, especially in Renaissance Europe and on into colonial New England.  But I'll be surprised if a court on the outside is willing to support arguments that doctrinal interpretations somehow override equal employment clauses.  It would be a little like if New Mexico had said that a photographer is somehow making a personal presentation every time they photograph any ceremony whatsoever.  The school hired the guy to coach swimming and manage whatever other specific procedures it gave him to oversee, not to give marriage counseling in any official capacity.  Or perhaps churches need to re-brand themselves specifically as primarily in the business of counseling and get everyone on their faculty certified.  Maybe require every one of them to complete the full regime of seminary before taking up another specialty, while they're at it.

          The rest is kind of immaterial to the case that arises now.  I mean, just maybe some of it is internally consistent for the admin who said that...  Or Zmuda and the admins have a simple disagreement about however to implement doctrine.  But they still have this mess where they fired the guy and appear to suggest that they might have been willing to have him if he divorced.  (At whatever internal contemplative levels, but certainly as thoughtful and then, acting administrators who would talk to others in the organization somehow.)

            Although there is always this retroactive doublespeak.  First the people in power claim they 'might consider something,' if only the people they are excluding would take certain steps to make themselves more appropriate...  Then when it arises that the employee etc. pokes at what exactly doing more would require, be that positive or negative interest, what have you...  If the leadership doesn't like what acting on such a suggestion would appear to do for their position, or even what discussing what it would mean brings up...  Then the same people insist they only said they might "consider" or maybe, might be willing to accept someone if only they turned over heaven and earth first in supplication...  As if one shouldn't have taken their suggestion of a solution by their own supposedly "gracious" rules, seriously anyway. 

            They're betting in the first instance no one would really think through what comes next, but when someone does then they have to claim they didn't say anything meaningful at all.  While in fact, they were hassling someone to change their lifestyle the whole time and didn't really care to think about what it would mean for employment or law.  I'm dubious if they even thought through everything it would mean philosophically....  Not sure where the boundaries are usually laid on what is referred to as "doctrine," or I might use that word too!
« Last Edit: March 17, 2014, 05:59:04 AM by kylie »

Offline Kythia

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To me it all comes back to this and the rest is kind of esoteric...  Unless they have some fixation with the idea of 'gay marriage as blasphemy' and then a legal renunciation as some sort of penance.  It does sound more like outright culture war PR than consistent philosophical logic to me.  Or not logic that's going to make for much of a legal defense, imo.

I recognise this is getting off topic but I'd just like to quickly answer that charge of being "esoteric".

I fully agree with you that Catholic Canon Law doesn't and shouldn't form any sort of a defence in a civil court.  I'm not sure you'd find many on E that would argue it should.  Ditto for Sharia, for Jewish law, etc.  But it is, and I would say should be, the driving force (one of the driving forces) behind decisions that are made by Catholic institutions.

The organisation I work for has policies and procedures.  Code of dress, and suchlike.  I imagine yours does too.  It's never come up in my working life that the policies of my employer conflict with the law, but it does come up regularly for a large number of people.  And that causes a decision to be made about whether you follow institutional law or the law of the land.  You can say its a no-brainer but there are a load of people who choose the former, examples may be redundant.

And one of the factors deciding a) which decision you make and b) whether the world forgives you for that has to be the justification for the institutional law against the justification for the civil law.  Now, in this case I don't see any justification in Canon Law for the decision the school made - as I say, I imagine its more of a PR issue.  But Canon Law is one of the pieces of underlying bedrock in the Catholic Church and I don't think its reasonable to look at an issue of - say - what a Catholic institution does with respect to a marriage without looking over what the Catholic Church says should be done in with respect to a marriage. 

Sure, after looking you can say "that's stupid" and ignore Canon Law, but it does (should, at least) form part of the decision making process of such an institution and just as intent is taken into account when you kill someone, the intent and reasons for an ostensibly illegal decision need looking at.

Offline kylieTopic starter

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The organisation I work for has policies and procedures.  Code of dress, and suchlike.  I imagine yours does too.  It's never come up in my working life that the policies of my employer conflict with the law, but it does come up regularly for a large number of people.  And that causes a decision to be made about whether you follow institutional law or the law of the land.  You can say its a no-brainer but there are a load of people who choose the former, examples may be redundant.
        Maybe I'm just sleepy today...  But I'm having some trouble coming up with something that seems really analagous to me.  I don't know offhand that many people have challenged stuff like having to wear dress pants to keep a job on "freedom of speech" grounds.  Whether they don't challenge it because they don't have resources to bother, or they think it's just normal is another question entirely so "choose" to follow is not exactly proven in all so many cases.  Maybe gendered uniforms for some jobs??  But actually, we are even starting to see cases challenging how far those should really go.  (I wonder if that may become a more visible fight when things like umm, gay marriage are more established.)     

        Also...  Once again, the defense here is saying it's about free speech and not freedom of religion per se.  That just muddies the waters for me if you say it's about some Canon Law.  Maybe there's wiggle room for emphasizing a 'local interpretation' of such...  But I'm not very convinced off the bat.  I'fd still like some deeper explanation why people are falling back to speech on a topic where it does usually seem like they're concerned with umm, positions surrounding religion.  And a particular religious group with what's usually considered a pretty hierarchical and clearly demarcated order for discussing such things inside it, at that?
 
Quote
...  Canon Law is one of the pieces of underlying bedrock in the Catholic Church and I don't think its reasonable to look at an issue of - say - what a Catholic institution does with respect to a marriage without looking over what the Catholic Church says should be done in with respect to a marriage.
          I would actually imagine with existing perks for churches in the tax code and so on, there must be some precedents for that, more or less.  But in this case, there seems to be an open conflict between the church in question having said it will not discriminate on the basis of orientation, in a state that has specific protective laws on that very topic of orientation, and then doing otherwise later to someone hired under that advertising. 


Offline Oniya

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in this case, there seems to be an open conflict between the church in question having said it will not discriminate on the basis of orientation, in a state that has specific protective laws on that very topic of orientation, and then doing otherwise later to someone hired under that advertising.

This.  If they had simply not included the EEO claim, when they knew that it might cause conflict, then Mr. Zmuda would have likely looked elsewhere for employment in the first place.

Offline Kythia

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Also...  Once again, the defense here is saying it's about free speech and not freedom of religion per se.  That just muddies the waters for me if you say it's about some Canon Law.  Maybe there's wiggle room for emphasizing a 'local interpretation' of such...  But I'm not very convinced off the bat.  I'fd still like some deeper explanation why people are falling back to speech on a topic where it does usually seem like they're concerned with umm, positions surrounding religion.  And a particular religious group with what's usually considered a pretty hierarchical and clearly demarcated order for discussing such things inside it, at that?

Mmmm.  I'm not saying it is about Canon Law -

Now, in this case I don't see any justification in Canon Law for the decision the school made - as I say, I imagine its more of a PR issue. 

what I am saying is that as Catholic decisions should be at least partially influenced by Canon Law, it's not fair to judge decisions they made without reference to it.  Sure, in this case it wasn't relevant.  In others you - a general you - might not think it should be relevant.  But the fact remains that the Church does and vast swathes of their decisions are based upon it.  Discussion of why the school made the decision it did are key to this thread and the sole point I wanted to make was a partial defence of the digression into Catholic Policy and Procedure in the thought there may be an explanation there,; an answer - as I said - to the charge of being esoteric.

Offline kylieTopic starter

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          I don't mean esoteric in the sense that there's no reason for it...  Anyone can find a reason for something somewhere, I suppose.  But if the claim is that this is an interpretation of religious doctrine, then I would think it should be an argument about where freedom of religion ends.  They are trying to defend a legal case under speech not religion.  And that just doesn't feel right to me. 

           If in fact there are precedent cases that don't help the church but there is some distinct argument to be made there...  Then maybe someone needs to go back and re-argue freedom of religion another way?  Though ultimately, I would still suspect there is a point where the state may need to say, hey equal protection and (just if that wasn't clear enough already) non-discrimination laws are here for a reason.  If we make some category more important than those, we can all just as well go back to Jim Crow. 

         It's a more interesting question whether in this case, the school would have been allowed to bar people with gay marriages from getting the job in the first place.  I'm doubtful that they should be allowed to -- I'm not even clear that the state should actually need a particular law about same-sex category, before enforcing equal protection broadly interpreted.   Although...  I don't really know much about the scope of what religious exemptions have been generally allowed so far (and that is also not saying I would agree they are all constitutional)...  But all that isn't being tested here.
 
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 01:44:22 PM by kylie »

Offline ladia2287

I'm not sure how the employment policies of religious institutions works in the US, but here in Oz there is occasionally furore. Religious organisations and schools have the ability to claim exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act, which is designed to ensure that no employee or potential employee can be discriminated against on various grounds including (but not limited to), gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation etc. the EO Act also makes it illegal to subject an existing employee to unfair treatment based on these grounds. That means you're not allowed to demote, discipline or fire someone for these reasons.

Sadly, in my opinion at least, religious institutions get away with frequent breaches of the Act by refusing to hire staff without proof that they conform to the same religious ideals that the institution follows. That means I, as a Catholic, cannot get a job even as a cleaner at an Anglican school. It is justified by an apparent need to consistently uphold the teachings of whichever Church they are affiliated with, and so they get away with it all too easily.

It seems to me that this is what is happening in this case. The school in question has discovered that one of it's staff is living in a situation which disobeys certain religious doctrine and therefore has given him an ultimatum; conform or leave. Personally I think it sucks. I'm one of those naughty little Catholics who argues that there is no evidence of same-sex relationships being a sin (my argument being based on the fact that the only statement in the bible that I am aware of, which could be inferred as denouncing homosexuality, is not written by God, or Christ, or even one of the Prophets, but supposedly by a fisherman - who was most likely illiterate - in a letter to someone else. But I digress.

I don't think the teacher's home life is any of the school's business, and the very idea that it would even be suggested that he commit an even graver sin to fix the 'problem' is disgusting. I say best of luck to him in his legal action.

Offline Oniya

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Sadly, in my opinion at least, religious institutions get away with frequent breaches of the Act by refusing to hire staff without proof that they conform to the same religious ideals that the institution follows. That means I, as a Catholic, cannot get a job even as a cleaner at an Anglican school. It is justified by an apparent need to consistently uphold the teachings of whichever Church they are affiliated with, and so they get away with it all too easily.

The thing is, they didn't 'refuse to hire him' - or even suggest that they needed any sort of proof of his religious ideals.  It's a lot easier to 'not hire' someone, simply by claiming that another applicant suited the position better.