Supreme Court: Catholic School Teachers Are ‘Ministers’

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday delivered a long-awaited religious liberty decision on the right of religious schools to hire and fire teachers. The court found in favor of two Catholic schools in California, ruling that a “ministerial exception” to government interference applies to teachers in religious schools.

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As an outsider and agnostic, I agree wholeheartedly with the decision. Religious institutions should be able to set their own requirements and anyone not of that faith that works there has an implicit agreement to follow their rules.

It was a strong decision, too. 7-2 in favor if I’m remembering correctly.

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I wish this decision had come down a few years ago, before my diocese chose to settle a case from the parish down the road from me. A teacher’s contract was not renewed after she demanded that her second try at in-vitro fertilization be covered by her employer’s insurance. This was after the Hosanna-Tabor decision, which should have put an end to these lawsuits.

I predict there will be more of these lawsuits anyway, because religious liberty is not highly valued in many cities and states. I also want to thank the lawyers who take these expensive cases from organizations under the patronage of the martyrs Thomas Becket and Thomas More.

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