Are Loyalty Oaths for Catholic School Teachers The New Inquisition?
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 13, 2014 at 11:08:34 AM EST
Unlike the National Football League, which took a small but significant step forward towards inclusiveness with the drafting of the openly (and proudly) gay Michael Sam, several Archdioceses around the country are taking giant leaps backwards.

Last September, Pope Francis made what many considered to be an extraordinary statement when in an interview "he criticized the church for putting dogma before love, and for prioritizing moral doctrines over serving the poor and marginalized," The New York Times reported. Throughout his first year, Francis has clearly been concerned with expanded the church, not further contracting its membership.

It appears, however, that Archdioceses in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oakland, California, and the state of Hawaii have either not gotten the message or are being just plain ornery. Those districts are demanding that their teachers at Catholic schools pledge fealty to Catholic doctrine in their actions inside and outside the workplace.

Pope Francis told the interviewer, a fellow Jesuit: "It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

"We have to find a new balance," the Pope continued, "otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel." In words, if not church doctrine, Pope Francis was making a clear distinction from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Now, less than a year later, Archdioceses in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oakland, California, and the state of Hawaii are pressing teachers, employed in Catholic schools, to sign contracts, which can be read as loyalty oaths to Catholic doctrine.

According to The New York Times' Frank Bruni, employment contracts being forced upon thousands of teachers, many of whom aren't Catholic, will result in a climate of McCarthyism and possibly force teachers, who need their jobs, to take their beliefs and personal behavior underground.

The teachers' contract "handed down earlier this year," in Cincinnati -- which if not signed could cost teachers their jobs -- "strictly forbid[s] public support of homosexuality," Michael D. Clark recently reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The employment contract - exclusively obtained and reported by The Enquirer in March - continues to divide huge sections of the region's Catholics. The "morality" clauses - though not unique among Catholic schools nationwide - were a first for the 19-county Archdiocese school system."

In late March, Clark pointed out that "For the first time, [the contract] details prohibited practices such as gay 'lifestyles,' out-of-wedlock relationships, abortions and fertility methods that go against Catholic teachings." It orders teachers "to refrain 'from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the school or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.' It goes so far as to ban public support of the practices."

Under the new contract, teachers are expressly prohibited from: "improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside of marriage; public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock; public support of/or homosexual lifestyle; public support of/or use of abortion; public support of/or use of a surrogate mother; public support or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination."

In explaining the expanded wording of the contract, Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said: "There aren't any new expectations of our teachers in the 2014-2015 contract. The revised wording is just more explicit in that it lists examples of behaviors that are unacceptable as contrary to church teaching. We think that's fairer to the teachers and a help to them.

"We've always regarded our schools as a ministry. That's why we open the doors in the morning. Not all of our students are Catholic and not all of our teachers are Catholic, but all of our schools are Catholic. And we found out from listening sessions around the Archdiocese two years ago - when we developed our Vision for Catholic Schools - that Catholic identity is very important to our Catholic school families," Andriacco added.

"We regard all of our teachers - not just religion teachers - as ministerial employees, even if they are not Catholic. Our contract for many years has reflected that by including a moral conduct clause. Last year we made that clause more explicit by mentioning the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and this year we've added examples of unacceptable behaviors."

In Hawaii, teachers were presented with an expanded Teacher Employment Agreement in late March. According to HawaiiNewsNow, "Section 3.3 of the contract spells out the grounds for terminating a teacher the church believes is living immorally. The areas include adultery, homosexual activity, same sex unions, procuring, abetting or promoting abortion, euthanasia or in vitro fertilization and unmarried cohabitation."

In Oakland, California, Diocese spokesman Mike Brown said "this is not a witch hunt." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown "said the new language is an attempt by Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, who took over last year, to 'be more clear about the contract.'"

"Faithful Catholicism has never been a condition of employment in most Catholic schools, which have Protestant teachers, Jewish teachers, teachers of no discernible religion," The New York Times' Frank Bruni pointed out. "They know to be respectful. They know to be discreet. But they're there to decipher the mysteries of algebra, to eradicate the evils of dangling prepositions. They're not priests."

"The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is blurring that distinction, labeling the new employment agreement a "teacher-minister contract." The language is deliberate. Religious organizations can claim exemption from anti-discrimination statutes in the hiring and firing of ministers who are actual caretakers of the faith. Putting teachers in that category -- lumping them together with clergy -- is an end run around laws that govern other employers."

Will contracts of this type be considered legal? Will teachers who teach subjects outside of religious doctrine be subject to the same restrictions? Will religion trump free speech?

"A private school like this has the right to impose any religious restrictions it wants," said David Rosenfeld, who teaches at the UC Berkeley School of Law and has represented teachers unions. "If they got wind that somebody was buying contraceptives, they could fire them."

While many long-term teachers are fearful they will lose their jobs if they don't sign the contracts, a number of parents are seriously reconsidering educational options for their children because of them.

Over the past year, Pope Francis has played to an audience that generally appreciates his efforts to expand and modernize the Church. Will he speak out against these oppressive contracts? Stay tuned.

Some archdiocesan teachers have sought advice from existing unions (St. Louis and SEIU) on pressuring the archdiocese to increase teachers' salaries. The teachers have public opinion on their side. I daresay that the move toward calling teachers "teacher-ministers" is meant to avoid equal-opportunity controversies, workplace safety laws, union organization and other public complaints by teachers (and allegations by teachers concerning other staff members' inappropriate behavior with children?), and lastly, ensure teacher conformity, in speech and action, to (very selective) Catholic doctrines. Next up, fire teachers who have yard signs for Democrats?

"Learn to lie effectively. Attend a Catholic school." ?

by NancyP on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:38:23 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

The Sour Grapes Of Wrath: Tenn. County Politician Seeks To Stave Off God's Vengeance
It has become a cliché to say that you spotted an article online that was so strange you first assumed it was from The......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star -- Revised and Updated
An international network of some of the world’s most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Banned In Boston (And Elsewhere): The American Tragedy Of Censorship
When I was kid, the phrase "Banned in Boston" confused me. I thought of Boston as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Surely they didn't censor......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bill Donohue Mum While Andrew Napolitano Calls Pope Francis "A False Prophet"
Catholic League president Bill Donohue goes after anyone he believes is engaging in anti-Catholic behavior, real or imagined. But as we have come to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Decade Of Disgrace: Marking Ten Years Of The `Values Voter Summit'
The annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), the nation's largest gathering of the Religious Right, begins today. The event, sponsored by the Family Research Council......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Looking Beyond the Francis Frenzy
Much has been and will be written about the Pope regarding his historic visit to the U.S.  But it will be important to try......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Barton Bounces Back: Religious Right Purveyor Of Ersatz History Still Going Strong
Three years ago, Religious Right phony historian David Barton published a ridiculous book called The Jefferson Lies that argued, in part, that Thomas Jefferson......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right
In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, "Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness." Donohue then went on to describe the......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Coercion In Kansas?: State Worker Claims She Was Fired For Non-Attendance At Christian Service
Let's say some people at a company want to get together during lunch hour and hold a Bible study. It's totally voluntary, and they......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Kim Davis and Southern Civil Disobedience
Kim Davis, the county official who refused to grant marriage licenses, fits the profile of a long line of civil disobedience from the South.......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
An Anti-Theocratic, Progressive Christian Leader
I recently posted a short excerpt here, from an interview I published with Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, the new General Minister and President of......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Litany Of Lies: FRC's Perkins Packs An Email With Copious Falsehoods
I realize that people may be tired of reading about the saga of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who is in jail......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Kim Davis is No Jack Kennedy
Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk who sits in jail for defying a Federal Court order to issue marriage licenses to everyone who......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.