Catholic elementary school teachers now subject to morality police


The bishop of the Cleveland diocese has issued a letter outlining the terms of the contract that all elementary teachers at more than 100 elementary schools must sign. The letter explicitly spells out its “morality clause” in detail, giving a long list of activities teachers must agree to avoid, even outside of school, or they will lose their jobs. The church is essentially telling teachers that they have jurisdiction over their entire lives.

The teachers will also henceforth be called ‘Teacher-Ministers’, suggesting that their functions are at least partly religious and thus they have few of the legal protections that secular people have at their jobs, even though they may not be religious themselves. The US Supreme Court had already ruled unanimously in 2012 that religious organizations had a ‘ministerial exception’ that freed them from complying with federal, state, and local anti-discrimination employment laws in the case of any employee that it considers to have a ministerial function. Calling teachers ‘Teacher-Ministers’ seems designed to make sure that teachers are in no doubt that they are considered such and thus can be fired at will.

Here’s the relevant section 6 from the morals clause on page 2 of the Cleveland contract. It is really something to see.

As such, the Teacher-Minister agrees to act, speak, and live at all times in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and understands that actions and speech that are contrary to Catholic teaching will not be tolerated by the Parish and shall be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination. The following, although in no way an exclusive list, represents by way of example certain speech or actions that are considered to be contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church:

a. Public support of positions contrary to Roman Catholic Church teaching (including, but not limited to, publically supporting abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, surrogate parenthood, direct sterilization, or so-called homosexual or same-sex marriage or unions).
b. Procuring or assisting another in procuring an abortion.
c. Making use of or participating in artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, or surrogate parenthood.
d. Preparing for or engaging in a same-sex marriage or union.
e. Engaging in or publicly supporting sexual relations outside of marriage (which shall be understood for purposes of this Agreement as being the marriage between one man and one woman.)
f. Living with another as husband or wife without the benefit of a marriage recognized as valid by the Roman Catholic Church or cohabitating outside of marriage.
g. Engaging in or supporting transvestitism, transgenderism, or sex reassignment.
h. Membership in any organization that is anti-Catholic or whose philosophy is in any way contrary to the ethical or moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
i. Indecent or lewd behavior (including, but not limited to, the unlawful use of drugs, substance abuse, or use of pornography).
j· Serious dishonesty.
k. Entering into a marriage with a person when one of the parties to the marriage is validly married to another person in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church (e.g., entering into a marriage if one of the parties has entered into marriage previously and has not received an annulment from the Roman Catholic Church).
l. Use of social media or electronic means of communication (e.g., email and texting) in an improper, immoral, or scandalous manner (including, but not limited to, use of social media or electronic means to communicate, post, share, or send material that is lewd, indecent, sexually suggestive, or pornographic).

Notice a glaring omission in the list? There is no mention of birth control and contraceptives. This may be a tacit admission that this is an issue that they have lost on a practical level. After all, the very fact that their teachers are not like the Duggars suggests that contraceptive use is rampant among them.

Another surprise was the hostility to ‘transvestitism, transgenderism, or sex reassignment’. Why is that a moral issue? What is their problem with transgender people? And isn’t it a bit rich for the Catholic church to object to transvestitism when their priests wear long dresses and their bishops dress like below, with chic purple sashes to boot?

bishops

If the diocese strictly enforces all these rules, I suspect that about 90% of teachers would lose their jobs immediately and the remaining 10% would be those who are really good at hiding their private lives from scrutiny.

Note that teachers are not only prohibited from doing these things, they are also banned from publicly supporting them. But what does public support mean? If one is invited to a same-sex wedding, would attending constitute public support? What if your child is gay and invites you to attend some function where allies are welcome? I have a t-shirt that says “LGBT? Fine by me” and a rainbow wristband that says “LGBT ALLY” and a Safe Zone sticker on my office door. If I were a teacher in a Catholic school would any of those be grounds for dismissal? Does that mean that you cannot even engage in a campaign to change any of these rules?

Apparently similar rules have gone out to other dioceses and there have been protests in Oakland, CA and one teacher in Cincinnati, OH has resigned because her son is gay and she supports him.

“In my eyes there is nothing wrong with my son,” [Molly] Shumate told The Cincinnati Enquirer, (http://cin.ci/QoY9DJ). “This is what God gave me and what God created and someone I should never be asked to not support.”

Shumate said signing the contract would send a message to her son, who’s 22, that she doesn’t support him. “And I won’t do that,” she said.

In a tight job market for teachers, many will have no choice but to sign but this kind of morality clause will delight those who have private vendettas against others. All it would take is to send an anonymous tip to the diocese that a teacher is doing one of these prohibited things and that person will be in the dock. It may be something as innocuous as a Facebook post or ‘liking’ something that the church objects to.

These policies are not (as yet anyway) applicable to high school teachers in Cleveland because they are unionized and thus policies have to be negotiated, another strong argument in favor of unions.

You can now expect the Catholic church to indulge in an elaborate song-and-dance that this is not as hateful and narrow-minded as it obviously is. Good luck with that.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    Americans Catholics are quite liberal, despite the institution being so conservative. The real macro consequence from this is just people leaving the Church even faster than they were already.

    I notice pedophilia is not on there.

  2. says

    The real meaning behind the words:

    a. This does not, of course, apply to catholic priests engaged in illicit relationships or guilty of raping children.

    b. Yes, this includes young girls who are raped, such as the Brazilian 9 year old. Her father, the rapist, is still allowed to attend church, but not her doctor or mother.

    c. But it’s still perfectly okay for the catholic church to kidnap children and place them with wealthy people for profit (see: Spain, Chile, Argentina, Brazil during fascist regimes, the kidnapping of children from women enslaved in the Magdelene Laundries).

    d. This also extends to attending other people’s weddings, being friends with any LGBTQ person or protecting their rights in any way.

    e. Again, “no sex outside of marriage” does not apply to priests who rape women and children or have affairs.

    f. But a priest who lives with a nun and “gets some on the side” is okay as long as he doesn’t get caught.

    g. Treating people like human beings with rights is inhuman and wrong.

    h. In other words, we’ll track which political party and cantidates you support, donate to, register with or are seen associating with. We’ll use it as reason to fire you if you disobey, argue with or confront us.

    i. Again, this does not extend to priests who rape women and children.

    j. Yes, that is from the people who covered up thousands of beastly pedopriests around the world, and took part in the Sicilian Mafia’s land flipping of the 1980s (along with other criminal frauds). Deal with it.

    k. This also includes you not knowing the person was previously married and didn’t tell you. Again, we reserve the right to invade and scrutinize your life, but the demanding such accountability of us is grounds for termination.

    l. We will track whether you vocally support any human rights cause we oppose, including groups like SNAP. This also includes any criticism you make of the catholic hospital which murdered Savita Halappanavar, or advocating people report priests who molested children.

    —–

    There may be no mention of condoms, the pill, HPV vaccines or RU-486, but that’s only in countries where the decency of the populace can’t be argued with. In poor countries, you can be sure they’ll continue to oppose condoms (and thus encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS), vaccines and any other means of improving the health of the population. .

  3. Bruce Martin says

    It mentions that penalties go up to dismissal.
    Where is the section about transferring offenders to a different facility without telling anyone of the prior “offense”?
    Or is that only for minor offenses? Or is that only for offenses with a minor?
    Hypocrites, cast the beam out of thine own eye first.
    As they say.

  4. says

    j· Serious dishonesty.

    So, does this mean speech or actions have to be seriously more dishonest than a pedophilia racket?

    The conciet of these people is limitless.

  5. raven says

    Whoever wrote that list has too much time on his hands and seems rather obsessed with other people’s marriage and sex lives. Most of the priests seem to be warped old men, no surprise.

    The RCC has lost around 1/3 of their membership in the last few years, an astounding 22 million people have left. They obviously don’t care.

    Half my extended family is Catholic. Or was. AFAIK, none of them go to Mass any more and one is a mid-level church official…in a Protestant church.

  6. naturalcynic says

    Public support of positions contrary to Roman Catholic Church teaching (including, but not limited to, publically supporting abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, surrogate parenthood, direct sterilization, or so-called homosexual or same-sex marriage or unions).

    The bold leaves a lot of room for the bishop to drive through as it relates to contraception and other topics..

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    … grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination.

    By hanging, the wheel, or the stake, at the Bishop’s pleasure.

    Notice a glaring omission in the list? There is no mention of birth control and contraceptives.
    +
    Dunc @ # 3: Also no mention of the death penalty…

    Nor anything about participating in or supporting unjust wars. Nor not giving anything at all to the poor.

  8. Trebuchet says

    f. Living with another as husband or wife without the benefit of a marriage recognized as valid by the Roman Catholic Church or cohabitating outside of marriage.

    As far as I know, Protestant, Civil, Muslim, or Jewish marriages don’t count. It’s only a marriage if performed by a Catholic priest. So the whole thing is to justify employment discrimination.

    Is it really only elementary school teachers? Are they short of high school teachers and don’t dare apply it to them?

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    h. Membership in any organization that is anti-Catholic or whose philosophy is in any way contrary to the ethical or moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Does that include, say, the Democratic Party?

  10. Mano Singham says

    @Trebuchet,

    Because high school teachers have a union, their work rules must be negotiated with them and cannot be handed down unilaterally by the church.

  11. Mano Singham says

    @naturalcynic,

    Yes, but I think the fact that they were so detailed about other things and left this out is telling.

  12. machintelligence says

    How about striking out all of the offending language on the contract, and writing “refused” after it. Dare them to do something about it and then sue them if they fire you. We know how much the RCC loves lawsuits, and I would bet there are plenty of folks who would contribute to the legal fund.

  13. lochaber says

    I strongly suspect that they define “support” as any activity other then outright bullying and harassment.

    🙁

  14. Mano Singham says

    But they would likely lose. The Supreme Court has already made it hard for teachers in any parochial school to sue for wrongful dismissal.

  15. says

    I’ve done my fair share of School-Teachin’, so I understand the calling. But why, oh why would a person with the calling work for such an odious institution?

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