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-Massachusetts: Court Ruling May Doom Religious Schools in the State?

by Dr. D ~ February 18th, 2016


A recent Massachusetts court ruling may make it very difficult for faith-based religious schools to exist in the state. Here’s the story from CNA:

Boston, Mass., Feb 15, 2016 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Massachusetts court ruling against a Catholic school may have set a dangerous precedent that interferes with religious schools’ ability to hire staff consistent with their mission, critics said.

“This court decision makes it impossible for faith-based institutions to survive,” Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told CNA.

Beckwith was responding to a court ruling that Fontbonne Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in Milton, Mass., violated state anti-discrimination laws. The ruling suggested that religious freedom exemptions do not apply to the school because it accepts non-Catholic students.

“If this decision stands, it will either force faith-based schools to close their doors to anyone who is not of the same religion or they will have to give up their beliefs and hire without any regard to faith which will ultimately cease to make them faith-based institutions,” Beckwith said.

<Read the whole article>

Response: In reality this ruling has made it very difficult for faith-based religious schools to even exist in the state. This is also another case where a court has ruled that LGBT rights trump religious freedom.

According to this ruling, religious schools in Massachusetts must now close their doors to any student out side of their faith in order to maintain their right to choose personnel that reflect their values and mission. The problem is that there may not be enough students of the same faith available to economically support the school which is why they opened their doors to others in the first place.

This is a catch 22, in order to keep their doors open, the religious schools will have to downsize, close, or abandon their standards and cease to exist as a ‘religious’ institution and become just regular ‘private’ schools instead. Regardless, if this ruling stands it will become far more difficult to maintain a faith-based school in Massachusetts.               *Top

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1 Response to -Massachusetts: Court Ruling May Doom Religious Schools in the State?

  1. Brian

    The judge’s ruling, by logical extension, would abolish all religious freedom in Massachusetts, not just freedom to operate religious schools.

    The core of the judge’s ruling is that Fontbonne accepts students of all religious faiths. The judge contends that to be entitled to the protection of the First Amendment, and to be exempt from various Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws, the school would have to restrict its enrollment solely to Catholics.

    A couple of thoughts on this:

    (A) Assume I am a member of a minority religious group in Massachusetts (assume Southern Baptists, of which there are very few in Massachusetts). I wish to enroll my child in a religious school – but there are very few evangelicals in Mass. so there are no evangelical protestant schools available. I will have no other option but to enroll my child in a school of another faith. Is the judge now precluding me from enrolling my child in any religious school?

    (B) Is the judge not saying to the school – You must employ Matthew Barrett – he has the right to force you to employ him despite the fact that he is a homosexual. However, in regards to a hypothetical Baptist student who tries to enroll at Fontbonne – you must exclude him and he has no right to enrollment. Matthew Barrett can force himself on the school. A non-Catholic student, apparently, does not have a similar right.

    (C) How does this apply to churches? By logical extension, to maintain their religious exemption, a church must hang out a sign “NO NON-CATHOLICS ALLOWED” (or whatever faith). Since the mission of all Christian churches is to seek converts from the unchurched, is this not forcing them to abandon their central mission?

    (D) What about the right to associate? Do I not have a right not to associate? Can a person form a club limited to double-jointed vegetarians and exclude those who eat meat?

    Back in 1984, in the Roberts v. United States Jaycees decision allowed women to join the Jaycees. At the time, commentators questioned the wisdom of the decision, wondering where it would lead. This was the first decision in which the court found that there was a constitutional right to join a private organization. In oral arguments, one of the US Supreme Court justices asked “Where do we stop with this, once we have crossed this Rubicon? What if five guys get together for a Friday night poker game? Can a woman sue to be allowed to join the game?”

    Where does this end?

    (e) By logical extension, there is no right to withdraw from membership. I imagine person X joins my organization. I find person X to be morally objectionable, and withdraw from the organization. So do all the other members. This means that person X has just been denied his right to join, since the organization has effectively ceased to exist upon his joining. Can the court compel me (and other members) to continue membership in the organization, so that person X can join?

    (f) Also, by logical extension, there is no right to exclude/dismiss an existing member any more. If Matthew Barrett, for example, is allowed to become an employee of Fontbonne Academy, and then engages in flagrantly anti-Catholic actions, can the school sanction or dismiss him?

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