Purity matters more than good works

Colleen Simon is a Lutheran who has spent decades as a Catholic, drawn to that church by its social work mission. She was the coordinator of social work ministries at St. Francis Xavier Church in Kansas City and spent years encouraging food donations from the congregation and seeing that it was efficiently distributed to the needy. Her devotion to this work was highlighted in a profile in the Kansas City Star and that’s when she got into trouble.

Colleen Simon and her wife, the Rev. Donna Simon of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, were mentioned deep in the story, along with the fact that they are a married couple.

The freelance writer didn’t intend to out the couple. They bear no grudge to her, nor to the priest currently serving St. Francis. The Simons have never hidden their marriage (in Iowa on May 19, 2012).

Rather, Colleen Simon kept a don’t-ask, don’t-flaunt attitude. She said she told the pastor who hired her in July 2013 (he is no longer at the parish) of her marriage.

But the bishop has fired her.

In November, Simon will reach the milestone of being three years cancer-free from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But many bills from her treatment remain unpaid. At 58, she worries about her ability to find a new job quickly.

But the church doesn’t care about things like that or the fact that was a woman who put her heart and soul into helping the poor in her community through her adopted church. Gays and lesbians must not be allowed to sully their purity.


  1. colnago80 says

    I’m a little confused here. You say that Ms. Simon was a Catholic at one time but is now a Lutheran and was employed at a Catholic church. I wasn’t aware that Catholic churches employed people who had converted from Catholicism to another faith, in this case Lutheran. That doesn’t sound like the Raping Children Church I know.

  2. Mano Singham says

    She is a Lutheran who has attended the Catholic Church for decades because she likes it but never formally converted.

  3. smrnda says

    Great commitment to human welfare there – basically throw someone on the streets who is actually doing some good things rather than bad things (or covering them up) while the same church makes sure sexual predators never have to work or worry about $.

    Scum, that’s all I can say.

  4. Trebuchet says

    I don’t think Catholics — or any other church — are allowed to apply a religious test to secular jobs. Clerical, yes, but not secular jobs like office staff or even social work coordination. Or teaching. That doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it but federal law says they can’t. (Glad to be corrected here, BTW.)

    This, by the way, is the reason a diocese somewhere or other recently re-classified their teachers as “teacher-ministers”. So they’d have an excuse to force them to sign a pledge controlling every aspect of their personal lives.

  5. Trebuchet says

    As soon as I posted it occurred to me that maybe they were just looking for an excuse to stop paying for her medical insurance. Corporations do it all the time.

  6. Mano Singham says


    Unfortunately the US Supreme Court in 2012 gave enormous leeway to religious institutions as to how they classify jobs.

    Lyle Denniston explains:

    Closing the courthouse door much of the way, but not completely, to workplace bias lawsuits by church employees who act as ministers to their denominations, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously gave its blessing — for the first time — to a “ministerial exception” to federal, state, and local laws against virtually all forms of discrimination on the job. The Court’s ruling, which only Justice Clarence Thomas said did not go far enough, did not order courts to throw out all such lawsuits as beyond their jurisdiction, but it left them with only a narrow inquiry before the likely order of dismissal would come down. As soon as the denomination makes its point that it counts an employee as a “minister,” within its internal definition, that is probably the end of the case. And the employee could be anyone from the congregational leader, on down to any worker considered to be advancing the religious mission. [My italics-MS]

    The church will say that her work in the food pantry was advancing the church’s religious mission.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Gays and lesbians must not be allowed to sully their purity.

    Unless, of course, they are priests who rape alter-boys. Then, they must have the full weight of the church hiding their crimes and stonewalling any attempts to investigate them.

  8. astrosmash says

    The optimist in me says this won’t go well for the bishop. There’s this really weird thing that’s all the rage now…the innerrest, or innernest? I can’t remember…intertest?

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