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-Do Christian Schools Have a Right to Hire Only Christian Teachers?

by Dr. D ~ February 3rd, 2013

Calvary Chapel's logo

                                  (Calvary Chapel’s logo: Wikipedia)

Do Christian schools have a right in America to hire only Christian teachers that adhere to a particular doctrinal standard? The Obama administration doesn’t think so as they demonstrated in an earlier court case against a Christian school but in that case the US Supreme Court unanimously supported that right.

Now here’s another case involving teachers in a Christian school who do not want to be forced to confirm their Christian faith and sued the school when they were fired. Now the school has counter-sued the teachers. Here’s the story from the Christian Post:

A Christian school in Southern California has recently filed its own lawsuit against two of its former teachers who had sued the school for being fired after refusing to provide proof of their Christian faith.

The Little Oaks School in Thousand Oaks filed a lawsuit in federal court last Wednesday, claiming its right to hire teachers who subscribe to the school’s Christian belief, arguing that its hiring practice is protected by civil rights laws at both the state and federal levels.

The teachers, Lynda Serrano and Mary Ellen Guevara, however, claim they are protected from religious discrimination being exercised by the school under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act that applies to for-profit religious groups. The school is recognized as a for-profit entity owned by Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Another challenge to religious freedom in America and in this case in California. The school was purchased by Calvary Chapel in 2009 and turned into a Christian school. The conflict arose when two of the teachers working at the school during the transition refused to submit to answering questions about their faith and were subsequently fired.

The question raised by the case is this- Do Christian organizations have the right to choose their own leaders and in this case teachers even if it is an allied ministry that makes a profit? Or does California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibiting discrimination supersede the religious rights of the organization?

The earlier case cited above involved a teacher who was also a licensed minister so an open and shut case as far as SCOTUS was concerned. This case will be far more important in terms of establishing whether we still have freedom of religion in this country or in the state of California. This case revolves around the question of whether Christian allied organizations and ministries and in this case schools still have the right to hire leaders and teachers that conform to their particular religious standards. If not then our religious liberties are now severely curtailed.              *Top

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3 Responses to -Do Christian Schools Have a Right to Hire Only Christian Teachers?

  1. Discordian

    You have a right to do anything you wish to do, so long as you don’t violate the rights of others Any government “law” which penalizes you for acting according to your rights is not a law: it is an instrument of bloody tyranny, which is CRIME.

    If someone (a non-Christian teacher, in this case) complains that you violate their rights by not giving them a job, they are either mistaken due to government brain-washing, or they lie and have malicious designs to deprive you of your rights by using CRIMINAL GOVERNMENT as their weapon. Or they are stupid and unthinking. They can start their own damn school; they DO have a right to do that.

    By the way, I am a teacher who would pointedly refuse to say I believed some version of faith if I did not, in fact, believe it. I was recently hired by a Christian school who judged me by character and accomplishments, rather than by catechism.

    However, I have applied to schools which DID require a “profession of faith” for employment. Since I was not comfortable with that, I LOOKED SOMEWHERE ELSE for a job. Perhaps that’s too complicated for the new “dependent American” citizen to grasp.

  2. Dr. Bonczek

    It’s discrimination, an invasion of privacy. And, poor pedagogy.

  3. Dr. D

    Thanks for your thoughts Dr.Bonczek,
    In the context of public education your observations would be true. However, a private faith based school is an entirely different situation. The whole point in this case is to provide an alternative private education and pedagogy based upon a specific religious world view.

    Apply this thought to administrators of a private Muslim school based upon the teachings of Islam. One would expect them to restrict their employees and particularly their teachers to those who are faithful followers of their religion and it naturally could be claimed that they ‘discriminated’ against Christian and secular folks in the process. But that is the nature and context of private religious education.

    In this case, the school is striving to provide a evangelical Christian environment and expects all of their employees to adhere and support a conservative Biblical world view. If at some point that kind of ‘discrimination’ is no longer deemed to be ‘legal’ then private religious schools would be no different than public ones and religious education would cease to exist.

    As a minister I am used to the fact that I am accountable for my personal beliefs and lifestyle to the church in which I serve. That has always been the case with those in the ministry and on a couple of occasions I have had to change churches and denominations over my closely held beliefs. Some churches actually require their ministers and leaders to affirm their theological beliefs and adherence to certain lifestyle standards yearly. This is also required and expected in many private religious schools.

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