I’m glad I’m not at risk of ever getting a job offer from a Catholic university


Not that I’d ever apply; I wouldn’t ever want to work in an instition with an irrational commitment to a weird medieval superstition. It leads them to make all kinds of strange decisions.

Marquette University has just done that. They’ve been searching for a new dean for the college of arts and sciences, and had made an offer to a Dr Jodi O’Brien, a professor of sociology at Seattle University. They have now abruptly yanked the offer off the table and announced that the search has failed.

The reason? Partly, it’s because she’s a lesbian. Marquette does have other gay faculty, though, so that’s not the whole story — the other part of the story is that she actively studies the sociology of homosexuality, and has written papers that favor gay marriage.

“I guess if she was a lesbian abut her research was on microorganisms, she might have been acceptable,” Franzoi said. But he said scholars study issues that are important to them and O’Brien’s sexual orientation makes her scholarship related to gays and lesbians important to her.

“This issue has always been a problem with Marquette officials. This is just the latest and probably most publicly embarrassing of its kind.”

Apparently, you can be a lesbian at Marquette as long as you aren’t too lesbian. People outside the university seem to have applied pressure — donors, possibly, who don’t want to hire administrators who are insufficiently conservative.

And that’s why I’m happy to stay clear of private universities with peculiar affiliations. They have a rather limited definition of academic freedom.


Et tu, Canada? It must be dangerous to teach while lesbian.

Comments

  1. MAJeff, OM says

    The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s largest anti-gay hate organization.

  2. Mattir says

    You do know you actually have to apply to get a job, right? Were you afraid that you might apply and interview while under the influence of Cthulhu? I’m sure there’s some woo to prevent that from happening. Deepak might know.

  3. mon.professeur.de.biologie says

    Does not the state of Wisconsin have laws related to discrimination, generally it is illegal to discriminate based on age, country of origin, phenotypic appearance, or sexual preference — at least up here in the Great White North.

  4. Rider1 says

    ‘The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s largest anti-gay hate organization’ – and yet…. ah, the irony, the sheer hypocrisy. Still, they get theirs for free, unlike Rekers.

  5. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Well, indeed. What the hell is one doing, as a queer academic, applying at a “university” whose mission includes:

    As a Catholic university, we are committed to the unfettered pursuit of truth under the mutually illuminating powers of human intelligence and Christian faith.

    Girl, you’re better than that.

  6. mxh says

    “And that’s why I’m happy to stay clear of private universities with peculiar affiliations. They have a rather limited definition of academic freedom.”

    Yep, academic freedom kind of goes out the window when you’ve already defined your agenda.

  7. ronsullivan says

    “I guess if she was a lesbian abut her research was on microorganisms, she might have been acceptable,”

    Or vice versa, I suppose. The church likes its little women as little as possible.

    Feel free to read that in at least two ways.

  8. nentuaby says

    mon.professeur.de.biologie:

    Apparently, yes:
    http://fairwisconsin.com/resources/legal/laws

    I’m a little surprised, actually. You can’t take sexual orientation being a protected category in any given state for granted, quite yet.

    Probably won’t help, though. If she sues, they’ll more than likely get a judge friendly enough to let them split the hair between “being homosexual” and “endorsing homosexual causes.”

  9. Ralph Dosser says

    So, would this make the university ineligible for federal or state money of any sort?

  10. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s largest anti-gay hate organization.

    Which is funny considering the costumes and red prada shoes.

    *too much?

  11. Ralph Dosser says

    What do you call it when you attempt to pwn and then self-pwn by mangling your attempted pwnage? Not a a good sign for a spokesgay, Josh. But hey, I’m still on your side.

  12. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    @Ralph:

    Not a a good sign for a spokesgay, Josh. But hey, I’m still on your side.

    Apologies if my humor meter got broked. .it happens:)

  13. Cerberus says

    Josh @14

    Hope you had insurance on it, those can be expensive to replace.

  14. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    @Cerberus:

    Nah, I’m raw, baby. I take care of my own shit. Lol.

  15. YetAnotherAtheist says

    It’s hilarious how many Catholic establishments are kinda accepting homosexuality, but not too much, of course. There’s a saying… “shit or get off the pot”.

    Either accept homosexuality completely (which would go against the Catholic teachings entirely), or outright reject it and get rid of all gays in the college (which would essentially alienate them from modern society entirely).

    Rock and a hard place, it seems.

  16. Mattir says

    @Blondin – It’s their money and their game. I don’t really care, as long as they don’t get my tax dollars. Which of course they do, both directly and indirectly. Sometimes reality is so aggravating – it keeps tossing up things to be annoyed about.

    I think it’s important to think about what the values of an organization are before you go work there – how could it possibly have come as a surprise that the RCC thought that divorce or homosexuality was bad? If regular people were a bit more careful with the company they keep, so to speak, the marketplace of ideas might help convey societal disapproval of such bullshit.

  17. sciencelizard says

    I, for one, study and write papers endorsing the mating behaviors of LeSbian microbes.

  18. R. Schauer says

    It’s like Marquette University is saying…we may give you a 4.0 but really it’s only a 3.0 education.

  19. MadScientist says

    One huge reason for not hiring O’Brien would be that her conclusions are not in agreement with what the school teaches (homosexuals = evil people, god doesn’t want homosexuals to get married, etc).

  20. Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom says

    And now celibacy is to blame – Cardinal Levada Blames Celibacy for Clergy Sex Abuse…

    …It’s not?

  21. Craig M says

    I know someone who trains teachers, some of whom work in the Catholic school system in Australia. Apparently, even today it’s not that unusual for teachers in those schools to be fired for the heinous sin of openly living together without being married…

  22. chuckwolber says

    I am surprised that no one mentioned the irony here. Seattle University is a Jesuit Catholic University.

    I am currently a student at Seattle University working on a Biochemistry degree. I got my first degree at a public university (Washington State University). Having been a student at S.U. for almost a year now, it is no surprise that Dr. O’Brien is a professor here. S.U. could not be more open and inclusive if they tried.

    Funny thing about W.S.U… as a public university, the place is overrun with CCC, fundie preachers, and flyers for churches (ok, I exaggerate, but only a little). As an Atheist, it made my skin crawl and I got into a lot of debates during my time there. You see none of that at Seattle University. If I had to put it into words, I would say the whole place screams social justice, service towards others, being comfortable with who you are and finding a way to cure the ills of this world. And none of it comes with theological strings attached. “Do good for goodness sake”, etc.

    I might also add that quality of the education is way beyond what I got at W.S.U. About the only annoying thing I have found about S.U. is everyone’s incessant need to say “bless you” after someone sneezes.

    ..Ch:W..

  23. puzzledponderer says

    I’m a lesbian scientist myself and I do feel for her, even though such blatant discrimination is to be expected from a Catholic place. Also, I hope once my fiancee is pregnant, I’ll not be deprived of the chance to be a good, normal spouse.

  24. Bill Door says

    I don’t know … I think I’d prefer a school that is bound by law not to discriminate. I’m glad you found a Catholic school that doesn’t take Catholicism very seriously, though.

  25. BCSteve says

    I’m a gay liberal atheist student at a one of the more conservative catholic universities. Yeah, the school is stupid for believing in fairy tales (I didn’t choose to go to a Jesuit school because of the religion, I chose it for the academics, despite of the whole delusion thing). Yeah, the atmosphere isn’t exactly the most friendly towards my people. My freshman year roommate made a point of reminding me quite often that I was going to “burn in hell for my sins”. Don’t get me wrong, I love my school, but part of me can’t wait till I go to a grad school where out of 10,000 students I can’t count the openly gay students on two hands.

  26. wirelizard says

    So, what’s acceptable for one (Jesuit) Catholic university isn’t cool at another (non-Jesuit?) Catholic uni in another part of the country?

    Fun.

    Of course, the prof in question isn’t up for Dean @ SU, either. That could make a difference.

  27. wirelizard says

    Further to the above, Wikipedia says Marquette is also a Jesuit school.

    Evidently Left Coast Jesuit is different (and more humane) that MidWest Jesuit.

  28. MAJeff, OM says

    BCSteve….are you at the Heights?

    Got my PhD at Boston College. First time at a non-public university. My goal is to never set foot on a Catholic campus again (ever) if I can help it.

    I’m sending back a request for donations with “There’s no way this anti-gay hellhole will ever get a dime from me.”

    It’s pretty well known that if you’re a queer faculty member you can get tenure so long as your research work has nothing to do with queer people.

  29. Kurt1 says

    I don’t know … I think I’d prefer a school that is bound by law not to discriminate. I’m glad you found a Catholic school that doesn’t take Catholicism very seriously, though.

    or they take their faith very seriously and came to the conclusion, that their allknowing and allmighty god really doesnĀ“t care, what people do with their genitalia, or whom they love. the bible states, that god loves everyone equally, and he made everything. so he made homosexual people and he loves them (and now you can go to a believer of your choice and tell him, his god is bisexual).

    My freshman year roommate made a point of reminding me quite often that I was going to “burn in hell for my sins”.

    did you tell him, that hell is for people, who believe in it?

    it is sad, that some people still think, homosexuality is some kind of illness. and in case of this canadian school, that it must be contagious.

  30. MAJeff, OM says

    the bible states, that god loves everyone equally

    It also shows it to be a genocidal monster that demanded death for people engaging in same-sex sexual behavior. The idea that the christian god is all-loving is laughably ridiculous.

  31. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnb-E55g7vrnvH-3L1M6d7QuDYWoM_IDEM says

    The RCC must be the only organization who’s membership profile has far more homosexuals than the general populace, but who viviously persecutes the outsiders who are just like them.
    Its OK to be gay, provided:
    1) You are a priest or nun.
    2) You don’t get caught.
    3) You profess to hate others like you.

  32. Becky says

    Yes, you can really tell that “all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love,” to quote the Roman Catechism.

  33. Kurt1 says

    It also shows it to be a genocidal monster that demanded death for people engaging in same-sex sexual behavior. The idea that the christian god is all-loving is laughably ridiculous.

    exactly my point, there is proof for or against nearly every argument in the bible, making it moraly and ehtically redundant.

  34. PeteJohn says

    So, wait…

    This woman’s research has focused on sociological issues related to homosexuality, then she gets offered a job and has the offer revoked because of what she’s spent significant time researching? Um… how did Marquette miss this when they offered her the job? That’s, well, weird, lazy, or both.

  35. Shala says

    That’s, well, weird, lazy, or both.

    Oh hey you just summed up Catholicism in one sentence.

    Bravo!

  36. Blondin says

    I think it’s important to think about what the values of an organization are before you go work there – how could it possibly have come as a surprise that the RCC thought that divorce or homosexuality was bad? If regular people were a bit more careful with the company they keep, so to speak, the marketplace of ideas might help convey societal disapproval of such bullshit.

    If you look at the Caldwell v St Thomas Aquinas case in the link at post 17 you’ll find it’s not just a case of choosing your employer.

    “Margaret Caldwell, a Roman Catholic, began teaching at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 1973. After five years of satisfactory service at this roman catholic denominational school, Caldwell was dismissed when administration discovered that she had married a divorced man in a civil ceremony.”

    The idea that your employer has some control over your personal life or relationships is quite scary.

  37. Rogue Medic says

    I’ve got to get me one of those PhD thingies. You get offers of jobs and the people offering the job don’t even know what you do.

    Let’s see. Your Advanced Devil Worship class sounds very Biblical. Why don’t you come work for us. And we have free crackers, but they are a little bland.

    Is that what an academics job interview is like? ;-)

  38. Ing says

    “the bible states, that god loves everyone equally”

    Really? A book where the majority is all about how one group is THE CHOSEN PEOPLE states that God loves everyone equally?

  39. raven says

    Not too sure why PZ thinks a Catholic school demanding obedience to dogma is unusual. Most or all the religious schools do it. Why bother being in a religion if you can’t hunt witches, apostates, and heretics and excommunicate them, torture them, and stone, hang, or torch them to death. Oops, just looked at a calendar and it is the 21st century in America. No more “direct action wet work”. Damn those secularists.

    Incidents where faculty are fired for thought crimes is common.

    Richard Collins was finally fired from Olivet Nazarene for teaching biology, evolution of course.

    Bruce Waltke, noted biblical scholar and theologian was recently fired from The Reformed Theological Seminary for saying the bible and evolution are compatible.

    ***long, long list cut for length*******

    One of the current champions and winner of the Stalin award for purges, gulags, and shakedowns is…***Horns, Drums*** the Mormon Church. I’ve heard that they periodically have witch hunts at BYU and identify heretics and fire them.

    They are also perennial contenders for the Orwell award, in a crowded field no less.

    google capture:

    Despite this condemnation, BYU has persisted in a systematic purge of freethinking faculty. The two most recent victims: BYU professors Steven E. Jones and …
    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section…23...

  40. CW says

    Et tu, Canada?

    Canada? Well, we’re lumbered with them too, if that’s what you mean and there was no special dispensation from Ratzi for the Canadian Catholics to not be bigoted reactionaries like the rest of the planet’s. However, while this crap might still happen it certainly doesn’t represent the national or even the local norm. The city of Vancouver is, after all, rapidly approaching an atheist majority and the province of B.C. was one of the first regions in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

  41. raven says

    Routine. Another witch biologist fired from a fundie university.

    insidehighered.com:

    If Christian colleges don’t permit the teaching of evolution, “they could be left behind,” said Richard Colling.

    He knows how sensitive these issues are. Colling this year left Olivet Nazarene University, where he taught for 30 years, after a dispute in which he was barred from teaching general biology or having Random Designer, his book, taught at the university that is his alma mater. When the book appeared in 2004, some anti-evolution churches campaigned to have him fired, and while the university initially defended him, it subsequently put limits on what he could teach and barred his book from being taught. Those limits were lifted after an investigation by the American Association of University Professors found that his rights were violated. But Colling continued to be subjected to intense criticism from some Nazarene church members, and he resigned in an agreement with the university.

    Colling said he hopes the new movement will “open up the possibility” that he and professors who teach evolution at Christian colleges can have more security, allowing their colleges to gain more respect within academe. “If the colleges don’t change, no one will take us seriously. If we require students to check their intellect at the door of our churches and colleges, they will not come in.”

  42. Anni says

    Oh, Catholic universities. I go to DePaul in Chicago. To their credit, the science department is stellar and they pretty much throw money at us for research because, hey, they own a chunk of the Loop and have all kinds of high and mighty faculty (Daley, anyone?). No (creationism) quacks there! On the other hand, we have two required religion classes to graduate with a BS, and when I looked for an acceptable one, I took “Debates About God.” Seems promising, right? Nope, it’s a history of the Abrahamic religions. Turns out it’s debates about God in the mainstream. Not that really important debate – you know, is that invisible guy you’re praying to real? It’s taught by a priest who thinks he’s hip because he lives in Lincoln Park.

    It should also be noted that while DePaul in and of itself should be ashamed (our president is a priest, and so our health clinic will not prescribe birth control, it’s against the rules to give out condoms, or do HIV testing) our Sciences are doing their damnedest to fight back. You can find big bowls of condoms in the Psychology building anytime. Sometimes you have to fight from within, I suppose.

  43. DaveH says

    Canada? Well, we’re lumbered with them too,

    Tell me about it. I live in Ontario, where for historical reasons, the province funds two parallel K-12 school systems. One is your standard public school system, the other is Catholic, where shit like this goes on all the time. Like the family friend who was fired because she was pregnant and unwed.

    The historical reasons? The Catholic francophone minority was worried about the Protestant anglophone majority dominating the public school system (this is back in the late 1800’s). Then the anglophone Catholics jumped on board with their French-speaking brethren, and they created a whole parallel school system with public monies. And since it is enshrined in law, any attempt to change the system results in a very vocal minority getting so annoying that the issue gets put off.

    (shakes head at the stupidity)

  44. Anti_Theist-317 says

    Rather then spreading lies or not understanding the situation I would suggest you contact the university directly. It is extremely important you understand their situation and their side of the story:
    Mary Pat Pfeil who directly explained the situation to the media would be the best contact.

    Mary Pat Pfeil
    Senior Director of University Communication
    marypat.pfeil@marquette.edu
    (414) 288-4719 (office)
    (414) 235-0063 (cell)

    http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Pat-Pfeil/1450480052
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mary-pat-pfeil/6/b83/371

    After-hours media line:
    (414) 288-4849

    Brigid O’Brien Miller
    Director of University Communication
    brigid.miller@marquette.edu
    (414) 288-7445 (office)
    (414) 313-7445 (cell)

    Christopher Stolarski
    Media Relations Specialist
    chris.stolarski@marquette.edu
    (414) 288-1988 (office)
    (414) 235-6060 (cell)
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Christopher/Stolarski/

    Andy Brodzeller
    Media Relations Specialist
    andrew.brodzeller@marquette.edu
    (414) 288-0286 (office)
    (414) 587-6241 (cell)

  45. mswzebo says

    Well, Andy, I’m gonna call bullshit on that #50. Marquette’s news office has no news releases related to this topic, the quotes from Pfeil in the press are exactly as presented in PZs article, and Pfeil seems dedicated to obfuscation and protecting the president of her university, to whom she owes her continued employment, as opposed to the students, faculty, staff, etc., to whom she is not accountable. If there is another side to this they aren’t presenting it, as you claim they are.

  46. mswzebo says

    This does point to a gaping hole in University communication. The official channels are completely controlled and beholden to the president of the university, who can dismiss ‘Media Relations Specialists’ and ‘Senior Directors of University Communication’ at will, or alternatively approve changes in payscale. The only other common venue is the student newspaper, which of course is run by 20-year-olds with little experience and no collected wisdom (I say this as the former editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, reflecting on how unprepared I was to handle the resignation of the president in a scandal). In any case, as above, these University spokespeople are in no way directly responsible to faculty, students, staff, the truth, reality, university tradition, etc…and presumably they have families to support.

  47. Biddy says

    Iā€™m no longer optimistic about getting rid of the catholic school system in Ontario anytime soon. Not too long ago there was a glimmer of hope, but recently our Premiere has been bending over backwards to accommodate them. The catholic school system has been resisting attempts to update the sexual education curriculum, resulting in an on slot of headlines that makes it hard to distinguish Ontario from any fundamental corner of Deep South, USA. Stories regarding hiring are relatively common too. And I really hoped to be the last generation subjected to their nonsense.

  48. monado says

    PZ, don’t say that to DD (dear daughter); she’s an out lesbian at university, grad student, loves to teach undergrads, organizes seminars for the grad students, and is voted outstanding by faculty. She’s wondering whether to go into academe or industry or a bit of both. But I doubt she’d ever end up at a Catholic university.

  49. monado says

    If an organization has made an offer of employment and then withdrawn it, is that some kind of breach of contract (promise?)? It’s possible in the litiginous U.S. that the prospective employee is entitled to some kind of cash settlement for the disruption in her career plans.

  50. Judy22 says

    I just wanted to say that Seattle University, also a Jesuit Catholic institution, is an extremely liberal, accepting and open University–that not all Catholic institutions follow suit with what Marquette has done. As a student of SU, as well as a member of the LGBT community, I can honestly say that I have been welcomed with open arms and have never felt out of place. I recognize that there are many aspects of the Catholic church that are failing right now in regards to many issues, including homosexuality, but not all of them are. It bothers me that the draconian actions of one University have the ability to sour the reputations of the many thriving and open Jesuit institutions that exist in our country. I have attended both private and state Universities, and my experiences at SU have thus far been incomparable in regards to the level of acceptance for the LGBT community. The public Universities I have attended were far more conservative and in some instances even dangerous to us LGBT folk.