Where’s the Love?
A Catholic school fired an 8th grade math teacher for being an atheist on Facebook. For the record, she says she’s not an atheist in reality — but she’s not sure about organized religion. She’s a classic Doubting Thomas, and somehow I doubt this is going to inure her to faith. Once again, the Apostolic Church proves its inflexibility, hypocrisy and lack of forgiveness.
(Plus, it shows how harmful the new Facebook privacy setting changes are.)
On one hand, it’s the school’s right to fire anyone they want especially because she signed a contract saying she had to “uphold the faith” while being a teacher. Pre-algebra has as much to do with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as it does with George, Paul, Ringo and John, but they have the right to think God is in the quadratic formula if they want. As a religious institution that’s funded by tuition and church tithes rather than tax money, they can freely fire atheists without breaking any discrimination laws — in fact, they could even argue first amendment protection here. Legally and contractually, I believe the school is entitled to fire her.
But legal right isn’t the same as ethically right.
Last I heard, it would be more consistent with the message of Christ to offer the teacher, Nurre, redemption and reconciliation. This is the same Catholic church that has kept child molesters in their ranks over the objections of nearly everyone in their congregations because they believe pedophiles deserve a second chance. Oh by the way, this is the same Iowa diocese that has banned the kids of gay parents from attending Catholic schools, and fired a teacher for being a lesbian. The bishop of that diocese, R. Walker Nickless, opposes government-subsidized health care, despite the pope’s pronouncement that health care is a human right. (Wait, didn’t Jesus heal the lepers? Did I miss the part where he required them to prove it wasn’t a pre-existing condition?) Forgiving and attempting to redeem pedophiles while booting a doubter, axing a lesbian, opposing healing the sick, and shunning children is really ridiculous. This diocese deserves all the disgust and derision that result.
But what can anyone do about it?
If you’re reading this and you are a Catholic, it is your ethical responsibility, if you disagree with the church’s actions in Iowa, to take a stand on Sunday morning. Tell them you don’t want that to happen in your diocese. Freethinkers, bloggers and pundits can jabber all we want, but the hypocrites with collars like Nickless won’t give a damn. They won’t even start to take notice until the congregations who pay their salaries start making real noise about their mismanagement and bigotry.
All you have to do (assuming you agree with me) is write a letter to your congregation. Most congregations have a newsletter where church members can write opinion letters. Or a bulletin board, website, email list, social club, Facebook page, etc. If I were a Catholic — or a member of any church congregation — I would say something like this:
“I don’t like the hypocrisy I see happening in Iowa, and I want to make sure that our diocese shows a spirit of forgiveness and love, rather than stone-throwing and bigotry. Where was the attempt to welcome the doubting teacher, Nurre, into the faith, when they fired her for saying she didn’t believe? Where was the Mission for those kids with gay parents when they expelled them from school? Where was the forgiveness for the lesbian teacher when they gave her the boot? Where was the love and open arms? All the Body of Christ is showing in Iowa is back of our hand. Our congregation and diocese needs to be an example of compassion and redemption to light the way for those who have forgotten what it means to be Christian.”
But I can’t. Maybe you can.