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Opinion: Catholic school OK to not hire lesbian

Bishop John A. Marshall School – photo credit BJAMS.org.

To the Editor:

Re: “Can Religious Schools Still Discriminate?” (July 8, 2021)

I find it a disgrace that your reporters accuse Bishop Marshall (a Catholic school!) of discrimination because the headmaster refused to hire a lesbian teacher who is married to a woman. All the Abrahamic religions have survived unchanged for thousands of years and should not be subject to societal shifts and modernistic whims. 

Freedom of religion is one of the most sacred liberties in this country. The Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, period. I wonder if there would be the same outrage if an Islamic school in the United States insisted on hiring only practicing Muslims as teachers. Somehow, it seems that the woke crowd always gives other faiths a break but is outraged when it’s about Christians trying to adhere to their religious principles. 

What’s next, will the Catholic Church be forced to endorse abortion or hire female priests? I’m sure with Joe Biden’s “Equality Act,” that’s exactly what’s coming down the pike.

Shannara Johnson, Morrisville

Editor’s note: According to the July 8 News & Citizen story (which first appeared in VTDigger), the Bishop John A. Marshall School in Morrisville recently refused to hire Meredith Sandherr as a teacher. School officials reportedly told Sandherr, who is a woman married to a woman, “Given what you’ve shared, I do not believe you would be able to sign our employment contract, based on its terms.”

Due to recent U.S. Supreme Court and Vermont court decisions, private religious schools may soon be allowed to receive public tuition funds. Leaders in the Vermont Senate have pledged to recommend legislation that would prevent tuition payments to private schools, and especially to schools that (they say) practice discrimination, including refusing to employ openly gay teachers.

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16 replies »

  1. The key thing here is that since SCOTUS has ended the discrimination against religious schools, parents who receive state money to send their kids to schools of their choice should be allowed to chose religious schools. If you have “school choice” because of where you live, insist on a religious school. Test cases are needed.

  2. Catholic Schools ROCK! I attended a Diocesan H.S. in the ’70’s & it was the best – literally saved my life & soul in so many ways. Get your kids OUT of public schools, parents. You do not need to be Catholic to attend a Catholic school and your children will be taught love, respect, & the basics of education – NOT CRT or Marxism. Tuition assistance is typically available.

  3. Thank you Shanara for speaking up. I agree 100% with the Superintendents decision. Somethings are sacred. I’m a product of Catholic school education as are my children and my Father here in Rutland.

    • Catholic schools have, overall, been respected for providing a good education.
      Countless Jewish parents have sent their children to Catholic schools for that very reason.

  4. Vermont is an Employment-At-Will State. Employers may hire whoever they like. Employees may choose to work for whoever they like. And both employers and employees have the right to terminate those relationships whenever they choose to do so. Furthermore, as long as an Equal Opportunity Employer does not discriminate against a potential employee because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information, the employer is in compliance with the law. That a Catholic School chose to not hire Meredith Sandherr, “Given what [she] shared……” doesn’t mean that her being a Lesbian was the reason. I suspect Ms. Sandherr ‘shared’ several things in her application and interview that may have swayed the school’s decision. And even if being married to a woman was the reason, the EOE Act doesn’t specify that being married to anyone, of either sex, is a protected status.

    Consider this: can the Catholic Church choose to not hire a priest or a bishop who is married?

    This will all come down to our courts… and the judges who reside in them. But the point they must consider is that, if everyone must be, or even act, the same as the person next to them in order to function in society, doesn’t that requirement eliminate the prospect of making any choices or evolving in the first place? Every living thing evolves one way or another, by choice, by instinctive behavior, or by simply being in the right place at the right time… or not.

    Do stones make choices or evolve? If someone sits around long enough and watches, yes, even stones evolve, at least by being in a certain place at a certain time. So, at what point is legislative hubris called out for what it really is? Do we have to wait for death to be the ultimate equalizer? After all, if the human species, and all other living things, ceased to exist, the stones would inherit the earth and determine what their morality is.

    If that logic seems absurd to you, consider how the discussion started.

  5. With the accountability of public schooling in question, what should and shouldn’t be taught in public schools added to the overall mental health and moral health in modern capitalism large scale underlying issues – I don’t think we should be throwing even more money at non-problems, for any reason. I reference the Margaret thatcher quote about running out of other peoples money here. You want private, you pay for private. Next we’ll be paying for all base extremist ideals in religions to be public funded. I advise all – DON’T tip that first domino. I’ll cap my stance with that we shouldn’t be ramming anything religion related down school children’s throats – it should be adult only, like alcohol, driving, guns, etc., so they can make their own decisions.
    Someone please add more awareness ideals to their ponderings when we re-write some of the text books.

    • Public schools are full of extremists who unmind parents and even keep their children’s activities secret from their parents. If someone wants to send their child to say a Catholic school, will you kindly give them their money back so they can? People take a word like “religion” and fill it with their biases, when it seems that a religious school has the best interests of their students in mind generally versus the generally unaccountable public school bureaucrats who call themselves “administrators” and “teachers.”

      • Overcrowded? Vermont’s public schools have lost 30% of their enrollments over the last 25 years, and Vermont’s public school student-teacher ratio is the lowest in the nation.

        Dublin has it right. “The criteria should be broadened to include “choice” period.”

    • Re: “You want private, you pay for private.”

      The problem is, of course, that many of us don’t want ‘public’ either, but have to pay for it anyway.

      If a parent chooses to send their children to a religious school, does that mean ‘we’ are ramming anything, religious or otherwise, down anyone’s throat?

      And what makes you think ‘extremist ideals’ are the exclusive domain of religious schools? If anyone is ramming anything down anyone’s throat, it’s the public school monopoly that controls the curriculum AND our tax dollars, whether we like it or not.

  6. The criteria should be broadened to include “choice” period. We did not choose this takeover of our tax funded public schools and our children should not be subjected to it. More needs to be done asap!

  7. I’m far from homphobic. And I have disagreements with th Catholic Church. Nontheless, the point is well taken.
    And if it were an islamic School?
    We need more enfporcementof the Bill of Rights, not less.

    • Whether it’s an Islamic school or a school that teaches that all white people are ‘privileged white supremacists’, choice is choice. Let the free market and its economic democracy do its thing.

  8. We can give thanks for the wisdom and foresight of the Founding Father (yea, I said it, Fathers!)
    of this Great Nation who saw fit to place religious freedom on a high pedestal. The recent wisdom of the conservatives on the Supreme Court regarding the Colorado cake baker has established that religious freedom even supersedes public accommodation law and the sexual orientation elements of our civil rights laws, the way it should be. It is a commonly recognized element of the doctrines of the Abrahamic Religions that homosexuality is taboo. Many elements of our society are free to recognize and celebrate that lifestyle, but a Catholic institution should not be required to have the rainbow flag rubbed in their faces.

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