Guest / Limited Access /
Schools Tussle Over Sex Standards
Schools Tussle Over Sex Standards

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati expects to go to trial soon to defend the 2010 firing of an unmarried teacher who used artificial insemination to get pregnant.

Religious freedom advocates say the case could clarify the rules when faith-based employment decisions collide with anti-discrimination laws.

In last year's landmark Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously said a "ministerial exception" exempts religious employers from federal employment and disability laws.

But the ruling hasn't stopped lawsuits against churches and Christian schools for morals-related firings. Legal experts don't see a spate of recent suits in Texas, Florida, and Georgia as a trend—but they do consider them a harbinger of a coming wave.

"I would predict there will be more over time," said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "You'll get more people who think it's perfectly fine to co-habitate and are genuinely surprised that a church employer feels otherwise."

Given this situation, Christian institutions must regularly update lifestyle covenants, said Tom Cathey, director of legal issues for the Association of Christian Schools International. Cathey counsels his 25,000 member schools to be forthright with staff about moral expectations and causes for dismissal.

"If their lifestyle agreements fit within the definition of church autonomy, then they'll absolutely win," said University of Missouri law professor Carl Esbeck.

Those who get sued shouldn't panic either, since many cases fizzle or settle in pre-trial proceedings.

The latter is common, said Stanley Carlson-Thies, president ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedWhy Hobby Lobby Is This Year's Supreme Court Case To Watch
Why Hobby Lobby Is This Year's Supreme Court Case To Watch
(UPDATED) Tuesday's Green family appeal has religious liberty, corporate law, and Obamacare contraception all at stake.
TrendingHow to Date Jesus' Wife
How to Date Jesus' Wife
New tests suggest a manuscript fragment is ancient after all. Is it important? We asked noncanonical gospels expert Nicholas Perrin.
Editor's PickFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisJanuary/February January/February

In the Magazine

January/February 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.