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Switch to Forum Live View Church Claims ADA Doesn't Apply to Teacher at Church-Run School
3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 3:22PM #1
Wanderingal
Posts: 5,504

Okay--this is complicated which is why i finally decided--after seeing that there were at least three possible boards this could be psosed on--to post it here because IMO the posters here are the most thoughtful and would give this the most consideration.

The Supreme Court is hearing a case of wrongful firing in which a teacher has been fired from a Christian church-run school.

She claims she was dismissed as a result of her disability--which is in contradiction of the Americans with Disabilities Act.



The church says that they are protected by the "Ministerial Exemption" to such laws against discrimination and that for courts to interfere with hiring/firing practices of churches would constitute government interference with religion--which is unconstitutional.

Some questions to consider would be whether the church has the right to classify a teacher as a minister--which would then call the Ministerial Exemption into play.

Whether the court can/should be even working on this issue.


And whether you think the teacher is being discriminated against.


This story is getting a lot of play in the media but I think this article with internal links to additional coverage at SCOTUSblog is informative.

Moderated by Merope on Oct 10, 2011 - 09:26PM
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 3:31PM #2
mountain_man
Posts: 39,665

Oct 10, 2011 -- 3:22PM, Wanderingal wrote:

The Supreme Court is hearing a case of wrongful firing in which a teacher has been fired from a Christian church-run school.

She claims she was dismissed as a result of her disability--which is in contradiction of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Does her disability prevent her from fulfilling her duties as a teacher?


The church says that they are protected by the "Minsterial Exemption" to such laws against discrimination and that for courts to interfere wih hiring/firing practices of churches would constitute government interfence with religion--which si unconstitutional.


The MINISTERIAL exception applies to ministers, not teachers in schools or other staff.

Some questions to consider would be whether the church has the right to classify a teacher as a minister--which would then call the Ministereial Exemption into play.


They are abusing that exemption as legal excuse to ignore the values of our society.

Moderated by Merope on Oct 10, 2011 - 09:28PM
Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 3:42PM #3
Girlchristian
Posts: 11,384

Oct 10, 2011 -- 3:31PM, mountain_man wrote:


Oct 10, 2011 -- 3:22PM, Wanderingal wrote:

The Supreme Court is hearing a case of wrognful firing in which a teacher has been fired from a ?Christian church-run school.

She claims she was dsmissed as a result of ehr disability--which is in contradiction o the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Does her disability prevent her from fulfilling her duties as a teacher?


According to the article, which I couldn't access from the link, but found on the PBS website, her disability is a sleep disorder for which she took a leave of absence and the church decided not to let her come back.


The church says that they are protected by the "Minsterial acception to such laws against discrimination and thzt for courts to interfere wih hiring/firing practices of churches would sontitute government iterfence with religion--which i unconsituttional.


The MINISTERIAL exception applies to ministers, not teachers in schools or other staff.


According to the article, she teaches secular subjects, but also teaches relgion and leads prayer. Also according to the article, judges in the past have interpreted the exception broadly to anyone that performs religious duties, i.e., teaching religion and leading prayer.


Some questions to consider would eb whether the church ahs rhe right to classify a teacher as a minister--which would then call the Minsiterial Excemption into play.


They are abusing that exemption as legal excuse to ignore the values of our society.

One of the values of our society is separation of church and state, which is why churches are exempt from discrimination laws, otherwise, churches would be forced to hire people that don't fall in line with their teachings and/or their beliefs.





According to the article, even the archbishop has some secular responsiblities as part of their job description like managing finances, etc...which is why the term is so broadly defined. Otherwise, the hard line would be anyone who performs 'exclusively religious functions' which would exclude any minister or pastor that does the secular-type functions of a church and even the archbishop. It will be intersting to see how this plays out.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 4:24PM #4
Wanderingal
Posts: 5,504

The stand of the church is that the Supreme Court should NOT be allowed to make decisions "about religion."


IE--who is a minister and who is not.


That I think is the crux of the issue.


 

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 4:35PM #5
TemplarS
Posts: 6,865

I know next to nothing about the law in question, so cannot comment intelligently from a legal perspective.


But, seems to me: 


1) There are good reasons for such an exemption, where religious principles clearly come into play.


2) But this can easily enough be subject to abuse, where the institution in question uses the "ministerial" exemption simply to avoid complying with the law, whether or not the disability in question has anything to do with religious beliefs. 


I would like to see the court narrow the definition of this exemption to areas which are clearly related to religious beliefs.


 

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 4:50PM #6
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Religious institutions should never be exempt from the laws of the land. After all, they're supposed to set a good example. 

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 4:50PM #7
Wanderingal
Posts: 5,504

Templar--I think that's the crux of it-and I think that churches have been getting away with discrimination for years because no one has challenged their abuse of the Ministerial Exemption.


I'd like to see the court define it more narrowly too. And I think that's what the churches are afraid of.


 

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 6:29PM #8
mountain_man
Posts: 39,665

Oct 10, 2011 -- 3:42PM, Girlchristian wrote:

According to the article, which I couldn't access from the link, but found on the PBS website, her disability is a sleep disorder for which she took a leave of absence and the church decided not to let her come back.


I can't help but wonder if that is the real reason.


According to the article, she teaches secular subjects, but also teaches relgion and leads prayer. Also according to the article, judges in the past have interpreted the exception broadly to anyone that performs religious duties, i.e., teaching religion and leading prayer.


What was wrong with her religious teachings? Did not not conform to the church's beliefs? They could fire her for that quite easily. Why claim it's an account of her disibility and then claim an exemption?


Someone, the church or the teacher, is not telling the truth here.


One of the values of our society is separation of church and state, which is why churches are exempt from discrimination laws, otherwise, churches would be forced to hire people that don't fall in line with their teachings and/or their beliefs.


There is nothing here to show that she did go against the teachings of that church. They do not get an exemption from other discrimination laws, just when it comes to preachers. For secular positions they should be forced to obey the morals of the society. One of the important morals of this society, at least for those on the Left, are the ones prohibiting discrimination of someone based on their physical disabilities, color, sex, and so on. Churches should be leaders of moral behavior, not trying to get around them.


According to the article, even the archbishop has some secular responsiblities as part of their job description like managing finances, etc...which is why the term is so broadly defined. Otherwise, the hard line would be anyone who performs 'exclusively religious functions' which would exclude any minister or pastor that does the secular-type functions of a church and even the archbishop.


That's a fallacious argument. No one is trying to claim the church hierarchy has to hire Atheists to be preachers.


It will be intersting to see how this plays out.


If they are going to abuse the exemption, it's time to remove it.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 7:15PM #9
REteach
Posts: 14,757

In this case the real Supreme Court is God.  I do not think God will find in favor of the school.


The RCC also has a real habit of maltreating its employees as well.  Clearly being a Christian institution does not require a nodding relationship with Christ.


 


 


On a more secular level, I can see granting a religious institution the right to hire people who meet their moral beliefs, but when it comes to that which is outside of the realm of the religion, I would tend to side with the state.  If they accept absolutely no secular funds, I might possibly reconsider.

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 7:30PM #10
Fodaoson
Posts: 11,158




Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting anestablishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,…  





The  law(constitution ) does not say church or use the term church. Church is a Christian   institution and to use Church would be the establishment or hindrance of a religion.   A school can be an extension of religion, teaching doctrine, culture and  liturgy .  Some send their children to a religious school to avoid “the World”. An example is the Amish and the Hassidic Jews.   In effect the teachers are Ministers of theChurch. It is up to the religion to determine what a ministry or a minister is. Any activity under the umbrella of religious teaching is outside the  pale of government.     

“I seldom make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.” Edward Gibbon
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