First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of Ohio, where a “morality clause” has forced some celebrated school teachers to resign from the private Catholic schools where they’ve taught for years.
A revised teachers’ contract in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has forced some teachers to leave their positions even after years of service.First-grade teacher Molly Shumate and high school English teacher Robert Hague are among the veteran teachers choosing to leave the diocese over a ‘morality clause’ included in the new contracts. The clause reportedly prohibits teachers, whether Catholic or not, from having sex or living with a partner outside of marriage, using in-vitro fertilization, leading a gay “lifestyle,” or publicly supporting any of the above.
That last part is of particular interest. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese wrote the “morality clause” in such a way as to apply not just to employees’ actions, but also their stated opinions.
In other words, if you work at a Catholic school in Cincinnati, you can’t be gay or try to have children through IVF treatments, and at the same time, you also can’t say you support gay rights or endorse IVF treatments in general.
Shumate, a lifelong Catholic who talked to msnbc’s Tamron Hall this week, felt the need to resign because the archdiocese’s “morality clause” would pit her against her own gay son. “For me to sign this (contract),” Shumate told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I feel like I would be telling my son I’ve changed my mind, that I don’t support him as I did. And I won’t do that.”
Robert Hague, who has taught high school English for 50 years and is now leaving the archdiocese, added that the church’s new contracts represent “an embarrassment and a scandal.”
It’s worth noting, of course, that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is a private religious institution, which is free to establish its own rules of conduct for its employees, and which is not subject to anti-discrimination laws. None of the teachers who’ve quit will be able to seek legal course.
That said, Ohio is one of several states that allow private school religious vouchers, which means taxpayers can subsidize the same parochial schools that are imposing “morality clauses” on their employees.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Lawmakers in Pennsylvania may be struggling with a variety of important policy challenges, but this week, state lawmakers found time to advance a measure to display “In God We Trust” in the state’s public schools.
* The story that will not end: “The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case against the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM), the target of antagonistic legal action from community residents since 2010.”
* The U.S. military allows servicemembers to identify themselves as “humanists,” but the Navy has nevertheless rejected the application of a humanist who sought a commission as a military chaplain.
* And the religious right movement is nothing if not predictable: “Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is urging parents across the country to pull their children out of public schools in response to a Washington, D.C., principal’s decision to come out to his students and school staff.”