TCTI: Too Crazy To Ignore
Dave Ross
eastsidecatholicschool.jpg
Despite the outcry from students at Eastside Catholic School over the firing of vice principal Mark Zmuda, employees at Church schools are not generally protected by discrimination laws. The Supreme Court has ruled that churches are allowed to fire employees who are part of the church's religious mission if they don't live their lives as the church teaches. (KIRO Radio Photo/Brandi Kruse/File)

The clash between homosexuality and religion isn't over

The firing of Mark Zmuda at Eastside Catholic is just the latest of a number of similar firings at Catholic schools around the country: teachers losing their jobs for taking advantage legalized gay marriage.

On Dec. 6, at a Catholic prep school near Philadelphia, Michael Griffin got sacked for a similar reason.

NBC 10 reported:

After 12 years as a high school Spanish and French teacher he was fired after he informed the school he'd be getting married in New Jersey.

Griffin said, "The Father then said it's not a secret around here that the faculty and staff know you're gay. 'So I take it then that this is a same sex marriage?' (I said) that's correct. Then he said that's a violation of church rules."

The school's president Father James McCloskey sent this statement saying Griffin knew he had a provision in his contract and he violated that provision.

He'd been with his partner for 12 years, and the school knew he was gay. It was the decision to marry - not that he was gay - that got him fired.

Last August, at a Catholic girls school in Glendora, California - Ken Bencomo, who'd taught at St Lucy's Priory for 17 years, was fired for marrying his partner. And again the school had known he was gay for a long time.

Last June in Cincinnati, Christa Dias, who taught computer science, was fired, not directly for being gay, but for having a baby by artificial insemination. She sued, and a jury awarded her $170,000 in damages, back pay, and fines.

Last April, at a Catholic high school in Columbus, Ohio, gym teacher Carla Hale was fired, after someone noticed that she listed her lesbian partner's name in her mother's obituary.

In each case the decision was made not because the teachers were gay but because it became too obvious, which in the words of one school spokesman made the same-sex relationship a "public spectacle."

And then there was the university professor who got in trouble not for violating Catholic teaching but for following it. At the University of Indiana three years ago, Professor Kenneth Howell was teaching the course on Catholicism he'd taught for many years, and sent his students an email to clarify a lecture of how the Church views homosexuality.

"On the subject of homosexuality I always teach what the Catholic Church officially teaches, and that is that people who had a same-sex attraction cannot be held morally responsible for that attraction. But the church also teaches that to act upon these inclinations is, to use the official language of the church as, "gravely immoral." And I teach that because I'm teaching a class on Catholicism," said Howell. "If I were teaching a class on civil engineering I wouldn't teach about that. But if I'm teaching a class about Catholicism that's my obligation, to teach what the Catholic Church is teaching."

Well a student who saw the email said it made him feel uncomfortable, he complained, and Dr. Howell was dismissed.

But his students supported him, he appealed his dismissal as a violation of free speech, and after a lawsuit threat from the Alliance Defense Fund, the university reinstated him. And he wasn't alone - there have been several cases of educators being fired for appearing to be critical of homosexual behavior.

So despite the spread of gay marriage - the clash between homosexuality and religion isn't over yet.

But employees at Church schools are not generally protected by discrimination laws. The Supreme Court has ruled that churches are allowed to fire employees who are part of the church's religious mission if they don't live their lives as the church teaches.

Read more:
Can Eastside Catholic protests ultimately change Church?
Former vice principal at Eastside Catholic says he didn't resign, was terminated
'Deadliest Catch' daughter helps ignite the Eastside Catholic protest
Listen: Eastside Catholic's senior class president on resignation of gay vice principal

Dave Ross, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.
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