A grave, immoral sinner

The Catholic church in the US wants to operate as if it were a separate country from the US with full diplomatic immunity and perhaps national sovereignty as well. It wants to declare itself immune from the laws and thus permitted to do whatever it damn well wants to.

Mother Jones has the story.

A teacher at a Catholic grade school in Indiana got in vitro fertilization treatment.

[A]fter church officials were alerted that Herx was undergoing IVF—making her, in the words of one monsignor, “a grave, immoral sinner”—it took them less than two weeks to fire her.

There they are again. Raping children doesn’t make a priest “a grave, immoral sinner” but getting IVF makes a woman “a grave, immoral sinner.” That’s a healthy moral system.

Herx filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2012. In response, St. Vincent de Paul School and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, her former employers, countered with an argument used by a growing number of religious groups to justify firings related to IVF treatment or pregnancies outside of marriage: freedom of religion gives them the right to hire (or fire) whomever they choose. But in this case, the diocese took one big step further: It’s arguing that religious liberty protects the school from having to go to court at all.

“I’ve never seen this before, and I couldn’t find any other cases like it,” says Brian Hauss, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Center for Liberty. The group is not directly involved in the lawsuit but has filed amicus briefs supporting Herx. “What the diocese is saying is, ‘We can fire anybody, and we have absolute immunity from even going to trial, as long as we think they’re violating our religion. And to have civil authorities even look into what we’re doing is a violation.’…It’s astonishing.”

They want it all – everything. Special status that sets them apart from the state and the (non-Catholic) people who make it up, and allows them to do whatever they want provided they claim it’s part of their religious whatever.

The diocese argued that a trial on this question would violate its freedom of religion and appealed the judge’s decision to a three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. “[If] the diocese is required to go through a trial,” attorneys for the diocese and school argued, it would “irrevocably” deny Fort Wayne-South Bend the benefits of religious protection. Herx’s attorneys are fighting the appeal.

They’re nothing if not greedy.

Yesterday the court

ruled that religious freedom exemptions do not give theFort Wayne-South Bend Diocese immunity from Emily Herx’s sex-discrimination lawsuit. Herx’s lawsuit can now go forward in US District Court.

But the church will keep trying. It will never stop. It thinks it’s on a cloud above the rest of us.


  1. Ed says

    Isn’t “immoral sinner” a redundancy? I thought priests were highly educated, but I guess they start sputtering when people break the really big rules like keep all that sciency stuff away from the reproductive system. It’s both bad and not good.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    No, they don’t want special status that sets them apart from the state. They want the state.

  3. carlie says

    Ed – you know, immoral sinner as opposed to accidental sinner. It’s why the teen pregnancy rate is so high among fundamentalists – if you accidentally end up in a tempting situation and give in to having sex that’s a sin, but if you use birth control, then you obviously planned to do it so that’s several more levels of sin and you’re immoral because you sinned on purpose.

  4. says

    Ditto carlie@4. It’s the difference between “mortal” versus “venial” sin in the eyes of the church. Somehow the “mortal” sins always end up being the ones that mostly affect women, it seems. This is why theology is so often ridiculed.

  5. freemage says

    You know, I’m almost tempted to say, “Give them what they think they want.” The rules for operatives and subjects of a foreign power on U.S. soil are far more intrusive and restrictive than the kid gloves that traditionally are used to handle religious institutions.

    For one thing, they’d have to give full disclosure of their finances–which would, I would think, include all those confidential settlements with sex-abuse victims….

  6. Crimson Clupeidae says

    This part:

    [A]fter church officials were alerted that Herx was undergoing IVF[.]

    Bothers me the most (well, maybe not…) because it is potentially due to a HIPPA violation. This woman was undergoing a medical procedure (voluntary, yes, but I’m pretty sure those are still subject to HIPPA regulations). I suspect she probably was talking about the procedure with a coworker, and they (or someone who overheard) ‘alerted’ the church fuckheads.

    That may be gray area, legally speaking, but ethically, it’s pretty cut and dried to me. Then again, so is abusing/raping young children. Guess I just don’t have the church’s objective moral teachings to guide me…..

  7. brucegee1962 says

    Isn’t this just one of the lead floats in the “parade of horribles” that was predicted to come after the Hobby Lobby decision?

    Better get out the popcorn and beer. I suspect each float is going to look more grotesque than the one before it, and the last one is no where in sight.

  8. smrnda says

    In terms of hiring and firing, religious agencies shouldn’t have these special perks at all. They can want a priest who is actually Catholic who is willing to spout the dogma, but outside of that, the same anti-discrimination laws should apply with no exception.

    I’m also concerned with how these things violate HIPPA. The ‘you can take birth control but only if it’s for something other than contraception’ is a clear violation.

  9. lorn says

    “it would “irrevocably” deny Fort Wayne-South Bend the benefits of religious protection.”

    What does that even mean?

  10. forestdragon says

    Gaaaaah. Initial instinctive reaction: so why don’t you all fuck off to the Vatican (which if memory serves, is considered a country in and of itself, not a part of Italy) if you don’t like secularism? There isn’t a facepalm big enough.

  11. says

    “it would “irrevocably” deny Fort Wayne-South Bend the benefits of religious protection.”

    In English, it means they’re going to take the ball and go home.

    What assholes.

  12. says

    This Church is a bad joke, and their latest Pope is just another obedient hack, droning the same old lies with a nicer-looking smile.

    And how the fuck can they tolerate so much child-rape for so long, but not allow a woman to voluntarily get pregnant by IVF? Whatever moral authority they may have regained under John XXIII is now gone.

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