Why Did This Christian Group Fire a Divorced Woman but Not Fire Divorced Men?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses how InterVarsity Christian Fellowship recently fired a woman after she got divorced… even though they didn’t fire men who did the exact same thing:

You can read more details about the story here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • ShoeUnited

    Since I never weigh in on the topic it seems, I must say you have a charismatic voice and you do good work.

  • ChristineIam

    Wonderful. Thank you.

  • corps_suk

    Uh…er…um…gawd!
    Why does this surprise us? We know that they base their life views on the 3000 year old myths of bronze aged goat herders, so why wouldn’t we expect them to have the values and regard for women that match?

    • viaten

      They don’t “base” their life views on the 3000 year old myths, though they might use the myths as an excuse. But it sure seems they have the same mentality as goat herders of 3000 years ago and haven’t risen above it. It seems that in this day and age there should be no justification such mentalities.

  • Dustin Adams

    Better replace that smoke detector battery :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      It has been destroyed.

  • bananafaced

    There used to be an unwritten rule among employers…don’t hire divorced women because they are unstable. But it was ok to hire divorced men because they had gotten rid of a problem. Funny how our society worked back then. Medieval. Like Evangelicals today.

    • advancedatheist

      I wouldn’t consider this an arbitrary prejudice. Humans have managed to survive by evolving good pattern-recognition of people’s behavior and forming generalizations about the kinds of people we can trust and the ones we should avoid. Just look at the recent news stories about the problems caused by Gypsies in Europe. Gee, those “Medieval” stereotypes about Gypsies, like the fact that they still kidnap and exploit children, have held up pretty well, haven’t they?

      BTW, refer to Randall Parker’s post about the social science of the women who become high divorce risks.

      http://www.parapundit.com/archives/007506.html

      • bananafaced

        I forgot to mention that I divorced my husband…because he was the slut.

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

        Yeah, yeah, you’re a bigoted asshole. We get it.

      • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

        That article was entitled “Sluttology”. You now have negative credibility sir.

  • http://www.prawnworks.net/ Rich Gardner

    Reminds me of the woman who got fired for being too attractive. It wasn’t her fault that her boss never heard of cold showers! Yeah, I’m former military (PN3, USN, 1991-2001) and feel that people who follow the rules deserve every benefit of the doubt. Organizations should set rules, but should bend over backwards to accommodate people who follow those rules.

  • Pete

    I know of a minister who was counseling a couple and ended up having an affair with the man’s wife and divorced his own wife, so that he could marry the woman he wanted more. The upshot was that the church understood, forgave and supported the minister’s actions, and he got to keep his job, ministering and counseling others. The now divorced minister’s ex-wife was treated horribly by the church members. This was about 40 years ago. It appears that the Christian community hasn’t changed at all.

  • beah1988

    Mr. Mehta, what other research have you done to verify your assumption that Intervarsity treats its female employees different than their male?

    • David Kopp

      That’s now how it works. The accusations of favoritism are supported in her lawsuit, referencing at least two other cases where men didn’t lose their jobs under similar situations. Intervarsity didn’t deny them, they simply said “We can fire whoever we want.” Put in the context of a very patriarchal religion, there’s even less reason to doubt her story.

      The preponderance of evidence at this moment is in favor of Intervarsity being unfair. If you have evidence otherwise, please present it.

  • Bobby

    Hey Hemant, thanks for posting the video, but could I request something? Could you also applaud faith communities when they help to better this world? I understand the frustration you feel when you hear about this court case, and I agree that IV might be in the wrong if it turns out to be true, but check out this article and learn a little more about InterVarsity’s heart and mission, outside of a handful of missteps or mistakes. Thanks!!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/modern-day-slavery-exists-new-york-city-and-christians-fight-article-1.1483299

    • Mogg

      When it appears that helping people in a tragic and traumatic situation is only secondary to “winning 1000 people for Christ”, I would suggest that their heart and mission is misguided at best, even if they happen to do some good along the way.

      • Bobby

        I don’t fighting sex slavery was secondary in their mind, nor does the 10 day event seem to allude to that…if the fact that IV is actively fighting sex trafficking seems “misguided,” I wonder if there’s actually some personal injury you’ve experienced that is bringing you to that conclusion. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for Christians who have insulted or hurt you, however deeply. I wish I could say we were like “mini-Jesuses,” but it’s simply not true for anyone, myself included. I hope you have some good interactions with kind, loving Jesus-followers to change your mind :)

        • JohnnieCanuck

          I find your comment quite patronising. Postulating that the only reason he might object to religious misbehaviour on this subject is because of bad things other Christians have done to him personally is pretty poor manners.

          • Bobby

            I want to explain myself, but afraid that I’ll just dig myself into a hole & pour more fuel on the fire. Mogg, know that I didn’t assume that was your reason, but just wanted to say sorry IF that was the case. Have a good day everyone…

          • Mogg

            Cheers.

        • Mogg

          It may not seem that way to you, but that is how the article reads – a huge emphasis on the importance of “spiritual” as well as practical help, and an outright statement of a goal of winning 1000 souls tends to give that impression. I absolutely agree that sex trafficking is a problem, and one which is perhaps more horrible than anything I can imagine. I also think that Christians (along with any other kind of believer and non-believer) can provide genuine help to people in crisis. It’s the bits about “spiritual healing” and the stated goal of “winning souls” that bother me.

          As JohnnieCanuck said, making an assumption about my relationship or experiences with Christians on the basis of one comment over the internet is rather presumptuous. I have had good, bad and indifferent experiences with Christians, just as I have with non-Christians, and I don’t consider it your place to apologise on behalf of others any more than I would consider it appropriate for you to apologise for any other group you happen to belong to which I don’t. And the very best of Christian people still don’t, in the end, give me any reason to think that their beliefs are true, and I certainly have reason to think that many varieties of Christian belief and practice can be unhealthy and impractical. Hence my suspicion regarding practical help as secondary to “spiritual” goals.

    • Randy Meyer

      While it’s nice that people are fighting something that definitely needs to be eliminated, it doesn’t really have anything to do with this subject. There are better places and sites you can go to that can champion your cause.

    • Anna

      Yes, human trafficking is horrible, but your group is using it as a way to convert people to your religion. These are vulnerable, victimized girls and women, and you’re looking to proselytize to them, telling them they need your god in order to heal.

      “Trafficking breaks down people’s psyches and their souls,” Barnard student Esther Kitavire said. “This is a spiritual evil that we are fighting against and you need God’s spiritual guidance.”

      This is all about trying to get people to adopt certain supernatural beliefs. What about the survivors who don’t believe in any of that? You’re using what they’ve been through as a way to target them. I find it in very poor taste indeed.

      • Gehennah

        To me its like the religious soup kitchens that are perfectly willing to feed you, as long as they get to preach to you first.

        If a group honestly wants to be decent human beings and help people, then they can do so without preaching or holding help ransom until they get to sell you their product first.

        • Mogg

          Quite. And there are some Christian organisations which do this. I have no problem with them.

      • KelpieLass

        To me, it’s a lot like time shares. Win a free vacation. Win a free vacation, but only if you spend the entire vacation listening to me telling you to buy a time share.

        If they really cared, they would help these women no strings attached. As is, it’s just cheap marketing.


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