There was a time when religious groups and ministries could hire without fear only those who supported their mission and core beliefs, but that day is quickly disappearing. Recently in Massachusetts a landmark decision—the first of its kind—has just been made adding an even greater threat to religious liberty: a Roman Catholic school is effectively being forced to hire practicing homosexuals despite the school’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
According to a Massachusetts court, a Catholic preparatory school for girls, whose mission is “the education of young women rooted in gospel values and the teachings of the Catholic church,” was looking to hire a food services director in 2013. School policies have always required that employees must be Catholic and are considered “ministers of the mission.”
A man named Matthew Barrett applied for the position. During one of his interviews he was told that all employees are expected to model Catholic teachings and values and he “responded affirmatively” to being able to do that. The school then offered him employment and he accepted.
Later, however, Barrett filled out a new employee form and listed his “husband” as an emergency contact. The school scheduled another meeting where they told Barrett that they could not hire someone in a same-sex marriage because that’s inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church—teachings he was expected to uphold as an employee.
Barrett filed a lawsuit to challenge the school policy, and last month a judge ruled in his favor stating that the school had acted contrary to Massachusetts law by discriminating against Barrett based on his sexual orientation. The judge stated that Barrett had "suffered denial of employment, that the reason for denial was his sexual orientation, and that he suffered harm as a result.”
Apparently, because the school accepts students of all faiths and because a food services director does not accord with the state’s definition of a minister of the gospel, the school does not get a religious exemption from the non-discrimination law.
It doesn’t matter that the Catholic church has always opposed same-sex “marriage” and that the school’s employees are expected to support Catholic teachings. A court has now ruled that the school must hire someone who blatantly disagrees with its core beliefs.
This is ridiculous! How is a religious ministry supposed to present a cohesive message if it can't reject applicants who don't agree with its sincerely held religious beliefs? Would an atheist group be treated the same way and be forced to hire a Bible believing Christian for its organization?
We have warned many times that such rulings as this would be forthcoming—this is one of the first. This nation in many ways (including through the court system) has determined that persons engaged in homosexual behavior should be elevated to a protected legal class and everyone must be forced to agree and comply, regardless of any religious conviction to the contrary. Religious convictions, particularly those of Christians, are increasingly being forced out of the public square. Yes, Christian discrimination and persecution is here—and it will continue to increase in the present spiritual climate.
Religious liberty is quickly disappearing in the US. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that since the Supreme Court of the United States decision to legalize same-sex “marriage” in 2015, those who oppose this redefinition of marriage are coming under attack. As our culture continues to drift further from biblical values, we can only expect battles like this to increasingly be fought. As Christians, we need to be bold in standing for God’s Word and biblical morality in a culture that is growing more and more hostile to moral absolutes drawn from God’s Word. We are a shining light in this dark world. We must continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ to people even as our religious liberty continues to fade.
Please pray for AiG and Ark Encounter as we fight our own religious freedom battle here in Kentucky. Wake up America—the First Amendment of the Constitution, and the “first freedom” listed therein, is under unprecedented attack:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (Emphasis added)
Sadly, the Massachusetts court did not even pay lip service to the Constitution!
This essential prohibition against government infringement upon religious exercise applies equally to the state by virtue of the 14th Amendment, which reads in relevant part:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Emphasis added)
Moreover, the Massachusetts court totally ignored the specific exception under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which allows religious organizations to exercise religious preferences in hiring. Federal law recognizes that such preferences are necessary in order for a ministry or other religious organization to follow its core religious beliefs and effectively maintain its religious identity. To hold otherwise amounts to unlawful discrimination against the religious entity and its religious beliefs, and ignores the application of the Constitution and federal statutory law, which are expressly designed to protect these precious religious freedoms.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.