Catholic School Teacher Loses Her Job Because She’s a Victim of Domestic Abuse

Who would Jesus fire?

Catholic Holy Trinity School in El Cajon, California told second-grade teacher Carie Charlesworth she is out of a job. Charlesworth’s infraction? Funny story: There isn’t one.

She is a victim of a stalker who happens to be her ex-husband. The school has decided that Charlesworth is too unsafe to be allowed back in school, not because of anything she did, but because of the behavior of her former spouse.

Back in January, the man, who has a history of inflicting domestic abuse, showed up in the school’s parking lot; in a likely overreaction, the school went into lockdown mode. Charlesworth, who is just now coming forward, was put on indefinite leave for three months, then fired.

The letter confirming her dismissal stated:

“…while you were still physically at Holy Trinity School, … the temporary restraining order in effect was not a deterrent to [the ex-husband]. Although we understand he is currently incarcerated, we have no way of knowing how long or short a time he will actually serve and we understand from court files that he may be released as early as next fall. In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work there, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese.”

So Charlesworth, having done exactly nothing wrong, is out of luck, and so are her four kids.

“They’ve taken away my ability to care for my kids,” said Charlesworth. “It’s not like I can go out and find a teaching job anywhere. … The kids and I are being punished for something we didn’t even do.”

The children also attended Holy Trinity School, but, like their mom, they haven’t been back since January.

While it’s not difficult to sympathize with the school district and the concerned parents of other kids, who acted out of an abundance of caution, it doesn’t seem particularly Christian to kick this teacher while she’s down.

And her firing doesn’t just affect her and her family: it sends a terrible signal to abused women everywhere, many of whom are already reluctant to speak out. To victims, the prospect of getting fired is surely as daunting, and as effective in forcing their silence, as any embarrassment or fear of spousal retaliation.

Charlesworth does not know where she’ll turn next. The Catholic community that long employed, supported, and literally nourished her is crumbling and retreating around her in the face of a bad situation. She’ll get paid through August, and then… well, no one knows.

It remains to be seen whether her faith will sustain her. “I have not been back to a Catholic church since this happened,” she told a reporter for her local NBC station. “Everything I thought I had, I don’t.”

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

    The Catholic church has nothing short of a long history of blaming the victim.

    • Tough Cookies

      There was no “over reaction”.
      The school can’t take the chance that children at the school could be harmed.
      I don’t give a crap is some atheist is offended, you aren’t going to gamble with my kids lives.

      • It’s not about atheism

        It’s not about atheism. This harms women. This makes it easier for abusers to abuse and harder for women to have and hold equal rights. You aren’t going to gamble with women’s lives.

      • Hat Stealer

        In situations like this the best thing to do would be to crack down on the ex-husband (the one actually doing something wrong) instead of punishing the victim. I can understand where the school is coming from, and it does seem that they’re acting out of concern for the children more than they are Catholic teachings. But the fact that our society stigmatizes women who are being stalked in this manner is very disturbing, and the actions taken by the school show that it’s still more acceptable to throw the woman out onto the street than it is to go after and rail in the husband.

      • onamission5

        Did you miss the part where her ex-husband was *in jail?* Tell me how the other school children were at risk from someone who is incarcerated. Do also explain how, if the school’s interest is protecting kids, children of an abuser are better protected by A) not having a school to attend and B) their mother being unemployed.

        They could have transferred her elsewhere, they could have upped security, they could have pressured the legal system to actually enforce the restraining order against the ex or gotten one themselves, but they did not do any of those things. What they did was turn their backs on a vulnerable mother and her vulnerable children, and abandon them in their time of need, unceremoniously dump them out on their collective asses for no other reason than they were victims of abuse.

      • closetatheist

        Any person with sense and common decency would be offended at this “solution.” Can’t you see that they totally disregarded a loyal and good teacher’s life and livelihood instead of taking the time and effort to search for a better option – of which there are several? When she needed support from her own community they kicked her to the curb.

        And according to your logic, anyone with any relation to a person in jail is unemployable in an institution which serves children…how does this make sense? How does this protect children’s lives?

      • Shockna

        You also apparently couldn’t give a shit when a woman’s life is ruined.

        Oh well; you’re probably Catholic. Everyone knows women aren’t properly human in Catholicism.

      • decathelite

        If your wife’s crazy brother came to your house and threatened your children, would you divorce your wife to protect your children, or would you just call the police?

        • phantomreader42

          I suspect he’s the type to set his wife and children on fire. Not to prevent someone else from killing them, but just because he’s a murderous sociopathic death cultist.

          • Michael W Busch

            You may be justified in calling Tough Cookies a death cultist, if he is indeed a Christian.

            But you have no grounds to call him murderous, and none to call him sociopathic. The latter is an obsolete term for a specific mental disorder, and should not be used as an insult.

      • phantomreader42

        We all know perfectly well that the catholic cult doesn’t give a flying fuck about protecting children. And obviously neither do you. All you care about is making sure innocent people suffer to promote your sick death cult.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    This was posted over at their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Holy-Trinity-Catholic-School/111766975554124?fref=ts

    Jason Shaya: All of you against the school in my opionion are very ignorant and expressing your own judgements based on very limited facts which you read from a few articles. However you are entitled to your opinion. Unless you know most of the facts o…f an incident (which you don’t if you only heard one interview or so on it), how do you base judgement like that? Also, making this an issue about the Catholic Church is absurd for it has nothing to do with it. If it was in a public school it would be the same circumstance/issue. Shame on you for involving religion, this is a safety issue (from the teachers point of view and the childrens) and nothing else. Also, the teacher wasn’t fired, her contract was not renewed.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Contract not renewed = fired. Everyone knows that.

      • George

        They are not the same thing. There is no legal obligation for the school to renew a contract. Calling it “firing” would be misleading, if what Jason said was true. Sure it is similar and I still think it is wrong, but we should refrain from distorting the facts.

        • Sven2547

          There is no legal obligation for the school to renew a contract.

          There is no legal obligation saying the school can’t fire teachers either. What’s your point?

          The termination letter made it abundantly clear that her employment was being ended through no fault of her own, but because of her ex-husband’s behavior. The word we use to describe it, “firing”, “termination”, “layoff”, “non-renewed contract”, whatever, is semantics and nothing more. Certainly not “distorting the facts”. She was canned because of someone else’s behavior whom she is not responsible for. End of discussion.

          • George

            You can only be fired for good cause (poor performance, bad conduct, etc.) or for a reason specified in the contract. If they don’t have good cause, the employer can be sued.
            I wish she was fired instead, then she would have legal recourse.

        • Mario Strada

          Even just the fact that if you work as a teacher for the Diocese you don’t have the benefit of a stable job is appalling. The only reason they do that, possibly beside saving on pensions, benefit and such, is so they can fire anyone and claim they are not really firing them.
          This is not dissimilar from the Landlord that never rents to qualified black families yet claims he is not racist.

          • George

            I don’t think this is any different from many schools and universities. Professors, at least, need to become tenured before they have the job security of needing to be “fired” or “laid off” in order for the universities to get rid of them. Before they are tenured, the universities can just decide not to renew the contract. I agree the system is setup to allow abuse like this, but I believe it is standard practice for schools.

            • fsm

              14 years and she didn’t have tenure yet? Sounds to me like they don’t give it there and just want to not have to worry about cause when firing a teacher.

              • George

                That’s a good point. It sounds like teachers in public schools usually get tenure within 7 years.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          It’s only a technicality. Legally you are probably right. Morally, it’s the same thing. She now doesn’t have a job because she is being stalked. So now she has a stalker AND no job. That’s disgusting.

    • Michael W Busch

      Shaya: “If it was in a public school it would be the same circumstance/issue. Shame on you for involving religion, this is a safety issue (from the teachers point of view and the childrens) and nothing else.”

      Citation Needed.

      Have there been any recent cases where a US public school teacher was fired / let go because they were being pursued by an ex-turned-stalker? I found no such case on a cursory Google search.

      • Michael W Busch

        Edit: My initial search missed a lot. Such cases do happen, and far too frequently. I apologize for not realizing the extent of this problem sooner. Please see my separate comment.

  • RJ (TO)

    I guess counting on, oh, I don’t know, JESUS for protection isn’t an option….?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The RCC has pretty well reduced Jesus to a metaphor. He might as well be Big Brother.

  • Croquet_Player

    Why would they support their employee? The Catholic Church holds divorce in such horror that priests routinely counsel women to remain with abusive spouses, leaving women and any children in perilous, potentially fatal situations. It’s a scandal. Whether the school overreacted by locking down the campus when the ex turned up is more tricky. Stalkers can be very dangerous indeed. I hope she gets an excellent lawyer.

    • Hat Stealer

      I feel that this right here might be the crux of the issue. It’s pure speculation, but I can’t help but think the fact that the victim was divorced contributed to the school’s decision.

  • unclemike

    Did El Cajon fire the entirety of its police force? It seems they have a responsibility here, especially in light of a restraining order.

    • Olive Markus

      As someone who has been through this, I can tell you that police and the state don’t care one bit about victims of stalking and domestic violence. I was blamed every time. One cop even told me that if I didn’t like the attention I wouldn’t be making such a “fuss” over it.

      I actually worked at a community college throughout this – as a student worker and adjunct. They were instrumental in helping me and hired a new, full-time security guard to be on duty while I worked and took/taught classes. They were amazing and are the only reason the police even did anything for me. They made sure the district attorney took my case, as he was friends with a few administrators. He was terrible, but he took it.

      So fuck you, Catholic Church. And fuck the police, too.

      • unclemike

        I have been enlightened. Thanks, Olive. Sorry you had to deal with that crap.

      • onamission5

        (((Olive)))
        My mom quit going to police for help because more often than not they would put her into the back of the police car and take her “home to her husband where she belonged.” Instead of, you know, the hospital or a shelter or the police station or even just to a friend or her parents’ house.
        Fuck you police doesn’t even come close.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Cops won’t do shit until you’re in the morgue. And even then, it’s iffy…

    • baal

      Enforcement of restraining orders is a difficult subject. Generally, the cops are uneven in their ability or willingness to enforce them. The TROs are more useful with institutions. i.e. you want a guy stopped at the front door of your work place rather that being let in to meet with a partner at lunch, or you want to get a bank to dissolve a joint account without the 2nd person’s signature or you want to prove to a court that a baby-parent should not get unsupervised custody etc.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Many years ago I had a coworker (not someone I worked with directly, but someone in a related company) who was being stalked. We all rallied around her. We were informed so that we would not give out any schedule information that would help him find her and of course to notify our boss if anyone called asking for information about her. When I say that morality is based on empathy and compassion, this is exactly what I mean. Everyone was horrified at the situation and wanted to do whatever they could to ensure her safety. Security was very helpful but her friends made sure she was never alone. What a nightmare. It never would have occurred to the company to fire her. What a scumbag thing to do. This is the lack of morality of the Catholic Church: covering up for pedophiles but firing a woman being stalked by her ex. No compassion, no empathy, no common decency. Just when I thought I couldn’t have any less respect for that organization.

    • Kayra

      Well this is the Catholic church after all, the most unchristian of Christendom, the Whore of Babylon, we should expect this bs and more

      • Michael W Busch

        No, the Catholic church is not “unchristian” – that’s the No True Scotsman fallacy. Catholics are Christian.

        The Catholic hierarchy is complicit in actions that have caused the deaths of many people and great suffering for many more. This doesn’t make the hierarchy “unchristian” – what it shows is how religion can be used to enable evil.

        Also: you seem to be using “unchristian” as a substitute for “bad”. It isn’t. Nor is “christian” a substitute for “good”.

        • Tough Cookies

          How do you know?
          You have not defined “Christian” so you can’t make those claims or assert any fallacy.

          • Space Cadet

            There’s a simple test for determining whether someone is a Christian: listen to them. Do they identify as a Christian? Then they are, in fact, a Christian.

          • Sven2547

            If they believe in, or recite, the Apostles’ Creed (or the Nicene Creed), that’s pretty much the definition of “Christian”.

          • Michael W Busch

            How do I know that half of the Christians in the world are in fact Christians? Because they say that they follow a religion based on teachings they attribute to a character called Jesus of Nazareth. That’s the definition of Christianity. That nobody can agree on what teachings to attribute to Jesus is reflected in the 30,000+ Christian sects, but that does not make any of those groups non-Christian.

          • RobMcCune

            You have not defined “Christian”

            Catholics defined “Christian” for 1200 years, I think it’s a safe bet to say they’re Christian.

            • Michael W Busch

              Well, less the Orthodox Churches. And the Nestorians. And most of the Gnostics. And the Arians, the Cathars, the Sabellinists, the Priscillianists, and a bunch of other Christian groups. Christianity has always had a tendency to fragment.

              • RobMcCune

                Sure, the point was that they have been a major branch of Christianity for most of it’s history, so it’s absurd for some fundy protestant to make the ‘not Christian’ claim.

      • Sven2547

        I’m not normally someone who defends the Roman Catholic Church, but the allegation within certain sections of Protestantism that Catholics aren’t Christian might be the dumbest thing I’ve seen in contemporary theology. And that includes young-Earth Creationism, which says a lot.

      • Randay

        Why is “whore” considered a bad thing by religions? I have seen this word used more than once by Islamic clergymen. They mean to women that if you don’t do as I say according to my superstitious nonsense, then you are a whore. Even many non-religious use the word as an insult. What is the word for men, philanderer? That hardly as charged as “whore”.

      • Hat Stealer

        Unfortunately, the Catholic church is very Christian.

      • jah man

        a christian is anyone that calls themself a christian.

    • Tough Cookies

      Your experience was years ago.
      Now these swine show up with guns.
      The kids come first, and must be protected.
      Tough Cookies if you don’t like it.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Now? NOW? These “swine” (way to impugn pigs, by the way) have always shown up with lethal force. The most dangerous time in an abused woman’s life is the time immediately before and after she leaves; this has been known for decades.

        It’s always been that way. Now, we just know about it and care more. Unfortunately, we don’t care enough or breaking a restraining order would have much more severe consequences.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          It’s just another example of the extremes that Catholics will go to in order to rationalize the sexist policies of the mother church.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        My experience was Texas. Everyone had access to guns. I won’t dispute the necessity of a lockdown. I wasn’t there and I’m not going to second guess a decision (and in general I support erring on the side of caution in such matters). I think firing her was a horrible thing to do. Considering that the RCC continues to shield pedophiles from prosecution, the very suggestion that this was to “protect the children” is laughable.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Your meter is so far gone from the tracks
        As to place you among the ungreatest hacks
        Perhaps prose is your forte? Your poetry lacks
        Even the sense from a canard when it quacks.

      • amycas

        Go look up the history of school shootings. Most school shootings up until the 60′s-70′s were men coming to school and shooting a (usually) woman teacher. How is this situation different?

  • JohnnieCanuck

    I don’t suppose they considered offering her a new job in a different location so she could continue her work without being harassed. That sort of service is likely only available to priests.

    • fsm

      Only available to pedophile priests.

    • Peter Hardy

      LOL, very good point (I’m a Catholic).

      • amycas

        You acknowledge that the church covers up pedophile priests and moves them around so they can keep a job, but they won’t do it for this poor woman, yet you’re still a Catholic. Weird.

        • Peter Hardy

          Why is that weird? Why would I stop believing that Catholicism is true just because some of the people who happen to administrate its institutional machinery are corrupt? That would be rather irrational given that there’s such a well documented history of that, one which long predates this more recent scandal.

          Moreover, apparently holy people behaving wickedly is exactly what we’d expect to see if Catholicism was true. This is one of the most prominent themes in the Gospels.

          • Whoever

            Amy, you should know better than to try to reason with a theist. Just look at the cognitive dissonance in his reply.

            • Peter Hardy

              Hi Whoever, where is the cognitive dissonance?

              • Nicala

                Hi Peter, I think he is more so referring to the fact that you know the horrors of the people that lead the Catholic church and have lead it for centuries obviously, yet you are able to dismiss those and choose to highlight the well versed “goods” that many people have done as well. It’s not necessarily cognitive dissonance though because who knows if that actually makes you uncomfortable. You could very well be fine with that. In fact, most Catholics do that…they don’t agree with the bad stuff no matter how much there is, but they believe in the supernatural stuff and deem the bad stuff mankind’s ignorance and spirits and devil’s. Personally, I don’t think Catholicism is false because of the deeds of people, I think Catholicism is false because the supernatural claims made have yet to be proven…they are only claims. Claims made by people who do unspeakable horrors to those that they have dominion over using the fear of hellfire and a vengeful God who will send them there to control them. I don’t think you feel cognitive dissonance yet, but I wish you would reexamine the claims made. Cognitive dissonance would follow and that’s not a bad thing. It helps people to self-check their beliefs. I hope you don’t feel beat up on in this…you’re holding your own quite nicely :-)

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Isn’t Catholicism supposed to make people better? Not perfect, of course, but more moral, more empathetic, more charitable, etc? How do you square that with the entire hierarchy of the RCC covering up the rape of children? That seems the opposite of moral, empathetic, and charitable.

            • Peter Hardy

              Of course it is meant to if it is done properly, but like with anything humans are weak and things go wrong. It’s as simple as that.

              Although it took place in multiple countries (I am British), nothing like “the entire hierarchy of the RCC” were “covering up the rape of children”. It would certainly be a minority, but I am unable to speculate as to the proportion.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Uh, it goes up to the (previous) pope. If your supreme leader who is sometimes infallible helps cover up child rape, and Ratzinger unquestionably did, it’s fair to indict the whole institution.

          • Michael W Busch

            Moreover, apparently holy people behaving wickedly is exactly what we’d expect to see if Catholicism was true

            That’s also what we’d expect to see if Catholicism was false. So your claimed evidence is in reality not evidence of anything other than that people and institutions can cause incredible harm to others.

            More importantly:

            The problem with the Catholic church is not “some of the people are corrupt”. It’s the entire culture of the hierarchy of the Catholic church that is the problem. That culture enables the otherwise-avoidable deaths of thousands and suffering of many more. Why continue to contribute to it? This has nothing to do with theology and everything to do with people suffering right now.

            • Peter Hardy

              “So your claimed evidence is in reality not evidence of anything other than that people and institutions can cause incredible harm to others.” – I didn’t claim it was evidence of anything. I was merely implying that it wasn’t evidence that Catholicism is false.

              “That culture enables the otherwise-avoidable deaths of thousands and suffering of many more. Why continue to contribute to it?” – That is a massive claim for you to make that would need a lot of evidence to justify. Let alone the part about me contributing to the purported net amount of suffering. You must not be aware of how much the Catholic Church does for charity (more that any other organisation in the world, after the UN).

              • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

                More a matter that we know what sort of things the Church likes to do in the name of ‘charity’.

              • Hat Stealer

                Crusades
                Inquisition
                Child Rape
                Deporting Jews
                Indulgences
                Supporting Mussolini
                Ignoring Hitler
                Persecuting Heretics
                Stealing Money
                Crusades Again, Because There Were Like Eleven of Them
                Hates Gays (you’ll undoubtedly say something stupid like “they don’t hate gays, they just blablablaba…)
                Not Too Fond of Women Either (“No! Men and women just have different roles blablabla….”)

                Well at least they donate to charity! Why, they donate… it looks like they donate… Huh, I can’t seem to find any statistics that tell me how much the Catholic Church donates that don’t come from the Catholic Church itself. They don’t even tell you where they donate money to. For all we know, it could be one of those awful hospitals that Mother Teresa set up that refused to use anesthetic, presumably so that the patients could feel the suffering of Jesus.

                But no! Keep supporting the Catholic Church. I’m sure it’s easier than admitting that your money has been spent protecting child rapists all these years, and that you haven’t actually been eating a dead man, just a stale cracker. I’m sure you’re a better person because of it.

              • Michael W Busch

                That is a massive claim for you to make that would need a lot of evidence to justify.

                In decreasing order of resulting body count: opposition to contraception (~150,000/year – higher if we include deaths from AIDS that could have been avoided if more people used condoms), opposition to abortion (~20,000/year), opposition to assorted other health care, and the entire culture of covering up priests who are rapists. You may find the evidence for this quite readily, since you have access to Google and to Wikipedia.

                You must not be aware of how much the Catholic Church does for charity

                I am aware of that – although it is far from being the 2nd largest contributor to charity in the world. Charitable spending by the Church is ~$8 billion/year – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/08/17/the-economist-estimates-the-catholic-church-spent-171600000000-in-2010/ , about 2x that of individual large private charities such as the Red Cross/Crescent – but way below charitable spending by national and even some local governments. And the Church’s charitable activities are also only a very small fraction of total private charitable donations (there are many large charitable organizations), and only ~5% of the Church’s total spending.

                I also know the harm that the Church does that could be very easily avoided. You contribute to that when you contribute to the Church and let the harmful actions that it does go unchallenged.

          • kagekiri

            Yeah, know what else is in the Gospels? The theme that God literally strikes dead people who harm others in the Church. So is expelling the immoral brother, instead of just waffling and letting them continue in sin.

            How little does God care that he doesn’t kill off the bad popes, bishops, and other corrupt leaders? He killed a couple for lying about donations in Acts. But covering up child rapes, thousands of them? He’s okay with that? You’re okay with that?

            How little do you care that you Catholics don’t try to flush out these evil rapists from your church? That’s what Paul, the writer of the core of your theology for pretty much the entire existence of Christianity, said to do, not to sit on your ass and say it’s not your problem or responsibility. Jesus said people who messed with the upbringing of children would be better off drowned, but you’ll let those kid-rapists and their protectors lead your church? These people Jesus himself said were essentially damned?

            Your Gospels are useless if you’re not going to act on all the parts that require you to hold your leaders and fellow Christians accountable. Of course, your Gospels also go on and on about not being a hypocrite, but it’s obvious few in the Church care about their personal or institutional hypocrisy. And your gospels talk about God leading the church, but it’s obvious he’s not doing his job, either.

            Spare us your rationalizations. We judge you by the fruit of your beliefs (which is also Biblical), and all that’s come out is evil.

          • amycas

            You can still believe it’s true, while also not supporting the organization that does this terrible shit. Much like I would leave any atheist/humanist organization that did shit like this. If there’s such a well-documented history of the Catholic Church being corrupt and terrible, why support it?

    • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

      Silly Johnny, the Catholic Church only gives those services to abusers, not the abused.

  • Miss_Beara

    Victim blaming in the Catholic church. And they don’t just punish the teacher, her 4 kids as well! I just… speechless. So now the diocese fires lesbians, unmarried pregnant women and survivors of domestic abuse along with their children. Priests that rape children though? They get to go to another church.

    I wish Catholic women would wake up and see what a disgusting boys club the RCC is.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Speechless is a good way to describe it. Spluttering curse words would also work. I haven’t been able to reply until just now because every time I tried, the only thing that would come was, what the fucking hell? Save me from “Christian compassion” if this is all they got- domestic violence is penalizing enough, so you punish the victim/survivor and her children more? What the fuck?

      • Tough Cookes

        And spare me from Atheists who claim they are so “good without god”.

        An atheist tried to set up up for a crime, but I exposed him.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Try again, in English this time. What was the second sentence trying to say?

          As for the first sentence, of course not all atheists are fantastically awesome people. Atheists are people, and people are well-known to be capable of being assholes. It is absolutely possible to be good without gods, but it’s not a guarantee. Still, given the religiosity rates of prisoners vs. religiosity in the general populace, it’s safe to say that religion definitely doesn’t lead to people being morally better.

          EDIT: Why not discuss the actual issue, which is that the RCC (which is unquestionably Christian) fired a woman for daring to leave her abusive husband. Do you consider that morally acceptable?

        • Hat Stealer

          An entire organization has been running a ring of pedophiles, covering it up and hiding evidence from authorities. We’ve been trying to expose them, but nobody seems to want to do anything about it.

          But no, I’m sure your vague anecdote carries with it the same weight as the mountains of evidence we have that religion, in fact, does not make you a better person.

        • closetatheist

          wow, your vague, anecdotal evidence just totes proved your point – whatever the hell it was…

        • Pattrsn

          Can’t wait for your “I used to be an atheist”. Come on cookie testify for us.

        • baal

          If you troll people in real life like you are trolling us not tough cookes, I can understand taking actions to get you away from other people. That said, I don’t support setting people up (and not knowing the facts, I have no idea if you were or were not).

    • Olive Markus

      But if you read about the case of Beatriz, the young woman in El Salvador, the Church takes great pride in their protection of the poor, helpless, and defenseless of society (in this case, the fetus that was going to die and was killing this woman). Until it is born with a vagina, that is. Then fuck it. In other words, Official Catholic Doctrine is: Women are to blame and should suffer tragic consequence for every single situation on this planet.

      I’m finding it really, REALLY hard not to just throw caps-locked profanity out there today. (Edited, because I referenced the wrong person. Sorry!)

    • Stev84

      Hooray for “family values”

  • Carmelita Spats

    Carie Charlesworth is being punished and used as a cautionary tale. The Catholic Church believes in sadism masquerading as REDEMPTIVE suffering. They canonized a woman for staying in a physically and psychologically abusive relationship which means that the death cult believes divorce to be WORSE than being beaten in front of your children. This is really sick! Elizabeth Canori Mora was canonized for putting up with domestic violence and adultery, “Attracted by a woman of simple status, he [Elizabeth's husband] deceived his wife and estranged himself from the family, reducing it to destitution. To the physical and psychological violence of her husband, Elizabeth responded with absolute fidelity. There are no excuses, conveniences or interests that can justify any detraction whatsoever to the code of fidelity which is of love and of total surrender.”

    http://www.savior.org/saints/mora.htm

    The highly SADISTIC notion of “redemptive suffering” allowed the Hag O’ Christ, Mother Teresa, to inflict unnecessary suffering on those who were in very vulnerable situations. The RCC is a perverse cult. It needs to collapse.

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      I am a Passionist who believes strongly in redemptive suffering. It simply gives reason to the suffering we all experience. People suffer, whether they believe in God or not. Catholic teaching on redemptive suffering simply gives the reasoning for it.

      • Mr. Pantaloons

        I’m pretty sure that “reason” has nothing to do with it. The idea that suffering has some greater purpose, other than to reveal the societal/personal flaws leading to them in a straightforward case of cause and effect, is an extremely depraved idea that justifies the willful and even institutionalized neglect of those who could actually be helped.

        “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.” – Mother Teresa

        That is beneath contempt. Be honest and call it what it is – Stockholm Syndrome.

        • Michael W Busch

          I don’t think Anjezë Bojaxhiu’s ideas about suffering count as Stockholm Syndrome. She was not usually the one doing the suffering.

          It was the sick people at her houses for the dying that suffered – both those who could have been healed and those who would have died but did not need to be in so much pain while they were dying.

          • Mr. Pantaloons

            That’s true, although I think it could also be argued that her sympathy was toward the “God” who allowed that suffering, on behalf of the people she was supposed to be helping (since no one was going to run around collecting quotes from every single patient). Ultimately, the fact that people would end up using her ideas to contextualize or justify the suffering in their own lives makes her a carrier, then, instead of a direct patient – and that’s just sick.

      • Alice

        No one needs Catholicism to have a reason. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” doesn’t require the existence of a deity. “Life’s not fair, and that really sucks, but we’re each going to do the best we can and help each other through it” is more comforting than believing a deity is abusing people or standing by while a devil abuses them.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Everyone suffers, but suffering sucks. It hurts. Pain has a purpose- to tell us something is wrong so we can go fix it! If we embrace the pain, we never fix the underlying problem. How is that healthy?

      • Michael W Busch

        There are reasons for some suffering – e.g. chemotherapy may nearly kill a cancer patient before it heals them.

        But there is no reason for most suffering.

        A lot of suffering is caused strictly by random chance – one particle interaction goes differently, and that cancer patient never gets cancer in the first place. More is caused by entirely objective-less impersonal predictable forces – there is no purpose to people dying when a building collapses during an earthquake. And still more suffering is caused by humans (and no one else) doing things without recognizing or acknowledging the consequences of their actions – every time someone is a victim of another.

        Claiming “you’re suffering so that we won’t be punished in heaven for your sins” to someone who has done nothing deserving of such punishment is evil. This applies especially when that person’s suffering has been caused by someone else. That is victim blaming.

      • Rain

        People suffer, whether they believe in God or not. Catholic teaching on redemptive suffering simply gives the reasoning for it.

        That’s pretty ironic for the people who don’t believe in God. They don’t realize that they suffer because there is a god. They don’t suffer because there isn’t one. They suffer because there is one! Irony alert!

      • Tom

        I believe you’re tacking reasons on to the suffering of the world because you can’t bear to contemplate that it might not actually have a reason, let alone be just or fair. As soon as you do that, you seriously warp your perception of human worth, including your own, and destroy any incentive to do anything to make the world better. Your thoughts are unhealthy, counterproductive and dangerous.

      • playonwords

        So in this case the Church is making someone suffer to help them be redeemed.

        Right …

      • closetatheist

        Don’t you realize that this attitude keeps people from finding a way out of their own suffering and discourages others from seeking to end the suffering of others? How does that not disgust you? Shouldn’t the relief of suffering, instead of praising and extension of it, be the primary doctrine for an institution that claims to be the arm of a compassionate god?

      • Isilzha

        People who believe suffering is punishment often lack compassion. How is that moral?

      • Shockna

        All the entire concept of “redemptive suffering” does is rationalize a negative as a positive. Seeing the monstrous problems with that concept was one of the things that lead me out of Catholicism.

    • Peter Hardy

      The Church doesn’t teach that suffering is good -it is bad in itself- but it is an important part of human life and in many cases leads to growth and other benefits. This contrasts with Buddhism in which avoiding suffering is the no. 1 priority. As Benedict XVI put it: “It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater.”

      • Rain

        Then why does he have a ton of fancy clothes, jewelry and fine foods and chauffeurs and whatnot. Why did he ride in the popemobile? He wasn’t withdrawing from hurt was he? What the heck is he talking about? Going to pope school and learning pope type stuff? You call that suffering? (Okay maybe.) He avoids all kinds of suffering, so why are you quoting a hypocrite like you can’t notice that he avoids the suffering that 99% of the rest of the world has. He should try getting married for example. I KID. Only kidding…

        • Peter Hardy

          Because, just as I said, suffering is bad. It’s simply not the no. 1 priority to avoid it.

          • Bob’s Kid

            That quote about avoiding hurt by withdrawing from pursuing truth???? Really??? From the guy who sponsored the move to protect pedophile priests and inflict their perversions on more children??? Totally unacceptable from one who claims to be a man of God–more likely from a worshiper of the Devil.

            • Michael W Busch

              There is no devil, just like there is no god. There are merely people, some of whom do very evil things. The Catholic hierarchy is made only of humans, and the evil it has done was done by those people and not by anyone else.

            • Peter Hardy

              There is no evidence he did anything of the sort. Unless you wish to present some?

          • Rain

            Okay that explains why the pool of Bethesda healed the first person that stepped in it when the angel came down and troubled the water. That lucky person was first priority. And that explains why Jesus healed the blind and mute guy by casting the demons out of him. He didn’t want that guy to suffer from the demons that cause blindness and muteness.

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    I read the article you linked to. It says “Several parents mentioned being part of a movement to ‘pull kids out of the school’ if Charlesworth
    returned.” Think of the parents. They don’t want their kids to be traumatized or injured. I don’t blame them.

    • Rain

      Well then I guess that’s a good reason to “wash their hands” of the whole mess, O dispassionate one.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      No, the parents need to push the police to enforce restraining orders. To punish those who break them. To treat domestic violence as a serious issue.

      The parents do NOT need to be sheltered from the shitstorm that is life, and especially do not need to have their pretty little sheltered lives catered to. They heard about an incidence of domestic violence, and instead of forming a cordon of strength and support around the victim, they threw her to the wolves. Think of the parents? Oh trust me, I am. It’s just not very nice thoughts.

      • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

        Re: “No, the parents need to push the police to enforce restraining orders.”

        Absolutely correct. This scumbag shouldn’t be permitted to just waltz up to the school … which by virtue of the court order he is NOT permitted to do. That he keeps getting there is the real problem here.

        And he gets there, because police will not impose the court’s will upon him.

        I live not far from Torrington CT where in 1983, rather famously, a woman was nearly murdered by her estranged husband. Police in that city had repeatedly refused to enforce court orders against him or take complaints about his threats and trespassing, not from her, or from other people. He showed up at someone’s house looking for her one day; homeowners called police, who chose to do nothing. She (admittedly foolishly) went out to tell him to buzz off, at which time he slashed her, almost beheading her. While she was laying on the ground, he continued kicking and beating her. Several cops showed up … who proceeded to do absolutely nothing whatsoever. They stood and watched him attack his own son, and allowed him to keep kicking and beating her. An ambulance showed up to take Tracey away; only once the estranged husband started going after the paramedics did the police move to stop him.

        The city was sued (in Thurman v. City of Torrington) and lost (what was at the time) a ton of money over it. A lot of changes were supposedly made to domestic violence laws. But the bottom line is that many police departments still tolerate this kind of behavior and absolutely will not intervene to prevent it. Not even with this very-costly precedent in mind (which I guarantee is known to all law enforcement personnel in the country, even if most of them refuse to draw any lessons from it).

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      We’re well aware that the RCC teaches its supporters how to rationalize indecent behavior, thanks.

    • Michael W Busch

      Is there evidence (beyond the apparent perception of such) that the stalker actually poses a danger to anyone other than Charlesworth and her family?

      Is there any reason why law enforcement would not be able to continue to enforce the restraining order after the stalker gets out of prison?

      And why are you thinking of the feelings of the parents of other children at the school, rather than of the actual welfare of those children? And more importantly, where is your concern for the welfare of Charlesworth’s children, and of Charlesworth herself?

    • Tom

      What Feminerd said. When you are afraid of a stalker, you give them power. Those parents are *all* giving power to the stalker. They are helping him harm his former partner. They are not just letting him win, they are actively helping him. That is exactly the wrong thing to do.

    • Tom

      Also, how do you square these parents’ desire to avoid suffering for themselves and their children with your ideas that suffering is redemptive and necessary?

    • TCC

      It’s good to know that you think the victim of domestic abuse is an acceptable scapegoat under these circumstances.

  • Carpinions

    The divorce angle is the silent get-back I think. Security of the other students and staff is the plausible deniability play. This is like Protestant schools dismissing students or faculty who don’t live up to their godly-yet-somehow-penned-by-normal-people-please-sign-on-the-dotted-line agreements.

    Never put it past the Catholic Church to instinctively find the absolute wrong answer, and then jump into implementing it with Medieval zeal. The security thing is not a bad point, but seriously, bounds of reason: Help someone out. Clearly Ms. Charlesworth made efforts to shield others by confronting her tyrant of an ex away from others. But I guess that’s not enough.

    This is one of those situations where some sort of donation or other monetary help would seem appropriate.

  • atheisticallyyours

    How VERY CHRISTIAN of them! And so typical!

  • Alice

    If the school is worried about the safety of their students, they should permanently increase their security measures. Duh!!! Getting rid of this teacher only “solves the problem” of one man. There are all kinds of dangers out there, and there’s usually no advance warning.

  • JuanJacinto

    OMFG…. I go to that church sometimes…. well I used to go all the time, until I came to my senses=reason/logic and I deconverted… allthough I still go there sometiems with a ladyfriend of mine…. but I don’t have kids thank god and probably won’t… I’m 36 btw…

  • Michael W Busch

    The school’s firing / letting go Charlesworth may not be specifically religious. What it is is one example of the far-too-common pattern of blaming victims of domestic violence and stalking.

    Doing a bit more background checking on the story, I found this incredibly scary quote in a report by the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center:

    “Nearly 40 percent of [domestic abuse] survivors in California reported being fired or feared termination because of domestic violence”

    Given this appalling high fraction, Charlesworth’s situation may be primarily due to victim-blaming rather than being specifically due to the school being a religious one. If the school uses the ministerial exemption at any point in its attempts to justify its actions, that would be a specifically religious argument.

    I did find one encouraging thing. LAS-ELC is co-sponsoring California state legislation to make it specifically illegal to fire someone because they are a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking; and to require employers to make reasonable accommodations for the victim’s safety. This is to clarify and amplify the current set of employee protections. Similar laws are already in force in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Oregon. Some details about the proposed California law are available here: http://www.las-elc.org/sites/default/files/media/DV-AB-400-Press-Release.20130220.pdf .

    So this particular form of victim-blaming may soon be grounds for legal action in California, and already is in a number of places. But we really need to change the culture so that there is no prejudice against victims in the first place.

    • Nate Frein

      Still, you’d think the “morally superior” Catholic Church would be on the frontlines to change that culture, not contribute to it.

      • Michael W Busch

        I in no way defend the church. But the problem of punishing victims of domestic violence and stalking extends to the entire culture, not just to religious employers.

        • Nate Frein

          I agree

    • closetatheist

      Maybe it has something to do with victims of domestic abuse – especially those who are in the process of fleeing or going to court – being more likely to miss more days of work or be preoccupied which may lead to bad work performance…NOT that this makes it ok, but businesses may have semi-legitimate reasons – at least from their own point of view.

  • Aspieguy

    I hope this mom submits her resignation from the RCC. What a horrible excuse for a religion.

  • Em Huler

    I’m an atheist too, but unlike several other commentators i’m also a skeptic, not a reactionary. Just because the story is about a catholic school does not mean we can blame the religious or religion. From all research done it seems to be a no win situation for the school. This crazy guy (who is the villain in the story, no much how you try to paint it as the school) keeps turning up, and in modern times forces the school to go into lock-down.

    So they give her 3 months paid leave (which they didn’t have to), and did not renew her contract. Not fired. Its not the same, its a private school which runs through yearly contracts for teachers, and is also funded by donations. If the school wants ton stay operating it needs to please its parents.

    I feel for her. If the justice system and restraining orders worked this would not be a problem. I however feel worse for her four children. they have had to move school, and who knows what they have witnessed.

    Its a no win situation. But she does have a masters degree, and a solid 14 year experience teaching. Hopefully she can find employment and give her kids a solid life away from any abusers.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Speaking from family experience about a very similar situation*, potential future employers are going to find out why her contract wasn’t renewed and, based on this school’s decision and lacking detailed context, will probably not choose her, degree and experience be damned. Her only real options are based in tremendous luck or in heavy donations to help her move immediately upon getting accepted in another state, and the timeframe for that is very small.

      She’s not an idiot. She HAD to know that the extended length of the leave meant that she wasn’t going to be returning and that they were just waiting her out. If she hasn’t gotten any bites on a new job yet, she isn’t going to, unless by the aforementioned luck someone in authority sees her plight and approaches her about a job.

      *The ex’s new wife was the dangerous stalker. It was a close thing; if it had been the ex himself, or the ex/ex’s wife’s other issues had been common knowledge, my relative would be unemployed and her children would be homeless, which is EXACTLY what the crazies were shooting for. Their intention was to abuse a divorce contract by making her unable to pay for her house, claim it, and sell it for a profit.

    • George

      Minor correction: they had a contract for the entire school year and didn’t have a good cause to fire her, so I believe they were obligated to pay for the three months.

  • Jean1

    What would really be wonderful, a win-win, would be if the school and church could help this woman find a new job in a related church school, help her relocate quietly so that her ex-spouse cannot find her. Another state? The other side of her state? This would be the christian thing to do.

    • amycas

      “This would be the *right* thing to do”
      ftfy

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Well, a win for the teacher certainly. Don’t know how important doing the right thing is to the administration.

      As we were saying upthread, they ought to do this for her. They do it for pedophile priests, afterall.

  • pete084

    There’s that good old Christian love again. They can’t even look after their own!

  • jah man

    The headline should read: “Woman loses job because her husband is an asshole.”

  • Don Gwinn

    EVERY school and workplace faces threats. It’s a shame that people freak out over the known, identified threats. I’m not saying they should do nothing about the stalker, but that we should always keep in mind that the stalker we know about and the stalker we don’t are equally dangerous in different ways. Our reaction can’t be to try to cut the victims of this kind of intimidation out of the herd and leave them out on their own.

    If he’s incarcerated (hey, look, the system worked) and she has an order of protection, she most certainly can find out when he’ll be released, and there’s nothing stopping her from sharing that information with the district–except that they’ve decided to abandon her instead of sitting down and making a plan. Yes, the fear is understandable. But it’s still the wrong thing to do.

    Wisdom flees before fear.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    I. Can’t. Even.

    I’m sorry. This is just too much for me right now.

  • Ridge runner

    Instances of professing Christians who are in practice indistinguishable from atheists are no surprise to someone familiar with the Christian scriptures and Holy Tradition, which give fair warning of such phenomenon, and the consequences. “Faith without works is dead,” “not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the Father’s will”, and the parable of wheat and tares are just a few of many examples warning such people that they are deluding themselves, but not fooling God (and they are generally not even fooling many of the people who become familiar with their behavior).

    It’s always a bit amusing to see atheists complaining about the behavior of other people who “do what is right in their own eyes” and act as if there is no god, all quite consistent with a world view which asserts that there is no “higher authority” to call them to account.

    • Michael W Busch

      Your “No True Christian” line is fallacious and irrelevant.

      And, as I said above, this situation does not have to do with atheism or religion as much as it has to do with a pervasive culture of victim-blaming that is equally wrong no matter who is propagating it.

      Neither atheists nor religious people have a monopoly on bad behavior.

    • DavidMHart

      Atheists are not generally concerned about people acting as if there are no gods … but the thing religious people need to remember is that the fact that there is no supernatural higher authority calling us to account does not and need not prevent us from calling each other to account, and continuing to scrutinise the laws and customs we have in place to see if they could be improved.

      And if the supernatural higher authority is imaginary (and therefore cannot be consulted to resolve difficult moral issues), whereas human beings are real and can consult and discuss with each other what actions are likely to lead to the best outcomes for human beings in this life, which is the only life we have any good reasons to believe we actually have, then a morality based on holding each other to account for the real harms we do to real humans is almost certainly going to be better in ethical terms than a morality that is based on trying to figure out the will of an arbitrary and uncontactable and almost-certainly non-existent magic spirit in the sky. Atheists find it frustrating and bizarre that so many religious people think that if we don’t believe in magic beings, we would lack either the will or the means to try to work out how best to live good lives together.

      So no, atheists are not concerned about people acting as if there are no gods, as long as they act in accordance with the observance that humans are real, and have more-or-less the same capacity for happiness or suffering, and therefore no one should claim more rights for themself than they’d be willing to grant to others.

      What we are concerned about (among other things), is people who are willing to do harm to others, or allow others to come to harm specifically because they believe almost-certainly-untrue things about the nature of reality (such as the idea that a god exists and wants, say, people not to be gay, or women to have to carry pregnancies to term regardless of whether they want to – or regardless of whether they are even likely to survive the procedure, or wants heresy stamped out so that people won’t believe rival mythologies, or whatever). I’m sure you can think of many specific examples of people causing other people harm because they think it’s the will of a god. I don’t think you can think of any specific examples of someone causing harm to someone else specifically because that first person didn’t believe in a god.

    • baal

      It is normal and human to see someone having problems for no fault of their own and to want to help them. I don’t need the invisible pink bunny in quilted underoos to tell me that. You don’t either even though you profess to.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Your ignorance of atheists is noted, as is your own Christlike smugness. Would you like some eyedrops? That beam must smart.

  • pagansister

    That is just plain obscene! I spent 10 years teaching in a Catholic elementary school, and find the conduct of this school just that—obscene. The school I taught in always had the front doors locked, opened with a buzzer after the person was ID’ed with the camera and the person giving their name etc. While in the recess yard, the back doors were watched by the teachers in the yard, and locked when the children were back in the building. Anyone who came to the back recess yard to get in, unless known by the teacher(s) in the yard, were sent to the front to enter—and sometimes even those parents that were known were sent to the front, as they had to go to the office immediately upon entering and sign in. This school has not protection methods? I feel very sorry for this teacher and her family. She is being punished for the actions of her former husband! Did she apply for an annulment by any chance or is she still married in the eyes of the Church (who refuses to help protect her) because she only has a secular divorce!

    • Ridge runner

      Sounds more like a prison than a school, except that schools are increasingly difficult to distinguish from prisons, “Weapons of Mass Instruction,” as John T Taylor interestingly describes them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbhQ7aepvkg -

      • Ridge runner

        John Taylor Gatto – sorry, couldn’t find an “edit” feature here.

      • pagansister

        I couldn’t get the sound to work on my computer so I really have no idea what was said on the video. However, teaching in the school, with the security we had most certainly didn’t feel like a “prison”. The school was in the middle of a large city. It didn’t have a “guard” walking about or bars on the windows. No, no prison atmosphere. This security was before 9/11. Called common sense actually.

  • ant-eye-christ

    You can email scumbag, i mean mr. charlesworth, by following this link… http://apps.sdsheriff.net/wij/wij.aspx
    search for “Martin Charlesworth”, click on his name, then “email inmate”. but you’d better hurry. Our flawless justice system has reformed him & he is scheduled for release on 6/28.

  • Beth

    She’s a woman! Why isn’t she in the kitchen: bare-foot and pregnant? She should have prayed harder that her ex-husband would change.

    Is this yet another example of Christian love? Not standing with your employee in her time of need?

  • Guest

    Please ignore my slanderous language, but if this story holds a high merit of the truth… it is obvious the catholic church was very out of line. They are supposed to help and protect their people not feed them to the dogs.

  • Guest

    P.s. my intent to use slanderous language against the Catholic Church failed. Well, stories like this do infuriate me!

  • Michael W Busch

    Some good news about this story:

    Charlesworth has been offered a job at a school in LA.

    Ref: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Carie-Charlesworth-Teacher-Fired-Domestic-Violence-Job-Offer-211808321.html

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Oh hot damn!


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