Cathy Samford is a middle school science teacher and volleyball coach. She’s also in a longterm relationship — engaged — and planned to get married last summer, but there were some delays and the wedding didn’t happen as scheduled… Anyway, she’s about to give birth to a child.
“We had the feeling that because kids on her volleyball team and kids in her classes knew she was pregnant, it really wouldn’t have changed anything,” the school’s headmaster Dr. Ron Taylor told ABCNews.com. “It doesn’t change that her behavior was out of wedlock.”
Oh, right. This is a Christian school. Where they act like Jesus and throw the unwed pregnant people out of their
“It’s not that she’s pregnant. The issue here is being an unmarried mother,” Taylor said. “Everything that we stand for says that we want our teachers, who we consider to be in the ministry, to model what a Christian man or woman should be.”
And what should a Christian woman be like? Should she be a wonderful educator? Apparently, that doesn’t matter. Neither does being a successful coach. Or being in a long-term, committed relationship.
Instead, the people running Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall, Texas adhere to some silly rule about chastity that (I’ll bet just about anything) other teachers there probably don’t follow either. They just don’t have the bellies to show for it.
Samford’s attorney Colin Walsh disagrees.
“It’s against the law to fire someone for them taking a pregnancy leave and you can’t preventatively fire someone. You can’t contract around anti-discrimination laws,” Walsh told ABCNews.com. “Just being generally religious or upholding Christian values is not enough to evoke the ministerial exception.”
Walsh and Samford have filed a charge of gender and pregnancy discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are preparing a lawsuit against the school.
I’m not sure how successful the lawsuit will be, but similar cases are being played out elsewhere in the country. The success could hinge on whether or not Samford is considered a “minister” — ministers cannot sue their church employers for anti-discrimination reasons that would be lawsuit-worthy in other settings.
In the meantime, here’s what working for a Christian organization has done for Samford:
“I’m very worried about money. I’m just hoping to make it through this month. I’ve had lots of medical bills. My insurance was dropped so everything I’ve had to pay is out of pocket,” she said. “I’m using my tax return just to live on. It’s a big concern. I don’t know what next month holds for me.”
She said her students, volleyball team members and their parents have been largely supportive and miss her at school.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Samford’s students found some way to peacefully protest…? Maybe they can stage a walkout at the school… or their parents could pull their kids from Heritage (along with the tuition payments) and send them to a better school, one where a teacher is valued for what she brings to the classroom instead of fired for something completely unrelated.
(Thanks to Scott for the link)