Hell’s Frozen: WND Commenters and I Agree on Catholic School Teachers Quitting Because of Morality Clauses

Posted: June 16, 2014 in education, religion
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On May 22, WND posted a three-paragraph snippet from the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, “Catholic-School Teachers Quit Over Morality Clause.” I’ll reproduce it in full from WND:

Parent protests in front of school. Online petitions circulating. And perhaps most concerning to the Oakland Catholic Diocese: Some donors are declining to contribute money to schools.

There is more fallout coming from our story last week about how Catholic school teachers must sign a new contract with the Diocese of Oakland pledging to conform to church teachings outside the workplace.

Five of the Diocese’s approximately 1,000 teachers have refused to sign the new contract and will not return next year. Three are from Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and two are from St. Elizabeth High School in Oakland.

So, that’s 0.5%-ish. And reading farther down the original article, it also would classify all teachers as “ministers,” meaning that they would no longer be protected under any employee or workplace protection laws because of a Supreme Court decision a few years ago (wherein it was decided that “ministers” would not be protected because that would be government interference in the affairs of a religious institution … and the church can decide whatever criteria they want for saying someone’s a “minister”).

But, this seems to be a thing among the Christian colleges, or at least several of them these days: In the face of a less religious social structure (in the US), they’re doubling-down on enforcing their religion on their employees. I did a post about that a few weeks ago Bryan college.

The Bishop in charge, Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, wrote in part:

… But we do teach, model and uphold the values and commandments of Christ and his Church. So does Pope Francis. This is the Church’s mission. This is the mission of a Catholic school. By signing a contract to teach in one of our Catholic schools, a teacher is voluntarily joining us in our mission.

And you know what? I think that’s fine. Go for it. More power to you. You are a private religious group, you are free and should remain free to set your own rules for how you’re going to govern employees. And, those employees can then make the choice to leave. And I think they should. And I hope that more do. That’s where I’m coming from on this, and it’s what I think will happen: The more draconian the Church (and other religious institutes) insist on being in enforcing these Dark Age clauses, the more people are going to wake up and decide they don’t want to be a part of it. There’s a reason that it’s the younger people who are the ones who are more likely to leave organized religion.

Meanwhile, many of the 276 WND comments agree with me.

“Don Bruce” with 30 up-votes wrote: “It is the teachers absolute right not to sign that contract, and it is the churches absolute right not to hire them because they won’t sign.”

“larryPTL” with 28 up-votes wrote: “Then these teachers need to leave. Adults, especially in leadership positions over children, will pass their morals and beliefs on to them. It is impossible not to do so. This requirement is in line with their line of work.”

And yeah, I agree. Your private, religious institute, that receives no public money, should be able to do whatever it wants with these kinds of contracts, and people should see them for what they are: imposing their bronze-age beliefs in the 21st century.

Edited to Add (June 17, 2014): I should’ve looked more through my archives before writing the above, because on June 1, WND copied a story from CNN about “Catholic Teachers Challenge Morality Clause.” Particularly draconian in this one is that “revised contracts forbid teachers from — among other things — living together or having sex outside of marriage, using in-vitro fertilization, a gay “lifestyle,” or publicly supporting any of those things.” (emphasis mine)

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