Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is This a Church Issue?

First, the CNS news report:

http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/terence-p-jeffrey/doj-feds-can-tell-church-who-its-ministers-will-be

As I read this story, it's not about a church and its "ministers" as the term is ordinarily understood. It's about a teacher who was hired for one year, and not rehired next year, because she developed a disease condition that limits her effectiveness as a teacher. The teacher has sued for reinstatement under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the church has told her that her lawsuit violates the teaching of the church.

However: If a teacher's disability has already compromised her credibility with her students, whether it's a church school, a state school, or any other kind of school, should the A.D.A. be subject to use to force the school to rehire this teacher, thereby compromising the school's credibility? Shouldn't the teacher realize that, even if she's justified in believing that she can be an effective teacher again, she needs to prove her ability in a different school where she's not lost credibility?

The federal government probably should have refused to get involved in this kind of issues from the beginning, because subjecting this case to federal law makes it very messy. My amateur's understanding is that there should be established criteria for distinguishing between a religious school that wants to enforce a denomination-specific policy on administrative matters like complaints and appeals, and a religious school that might want to enforce Sharia law in a way that conflicts with existing U.S. civil law...but I'm not sure exactly what those criteria are.

If any person involved in this issue wants my advice, it would be the same to the teacher, the school, the denominational headquarters, the state, the county, or the federal government: BACK OUT. I don't see this as a case that anyone can possibly win except by dropping it and exercising common sense. If the teacher was hired for one year, and was allowed to work for that year or the portion of it when she was physically able to work, she has no complaint. If she's lost credibility at that school entirely because she was incapacitated by an illness, the denomination has no complaint and should be actively helping her move on.

And the federal government...should recognize that, even if nobody else has gone broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American people, the federal government is already dangerously close to being the first.