A Lutheran church & school before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is taking up what some are describing as the most important religious liberty case in decades.  And it involves a Lutheran school whose church fired a called teacher.  From Notre Dame law school professor Richard Garnett:

In a nutshell, Hosanna-Tabor is a lawsuit brought by Cheryl Perich, a former teacher at a church-run Lutheran grade school who argues that the church violated a federal law against disability-based discrimination when it rescinded her “call” as a “commissioned minister” — and fired her as a third- and fourth-grade teacher, after a disability-related leave of absence.

A federal trial court in Michigan dismissed the teacher’s claim, insisting that the “ministerial” nature of her position and the religious dimensions of the church’s decision made it inappropriate to apply the anti-discrimination law. But the court of appeals disagreed and concluded that her “primary duties” — as a “commissioned minister” at a school that aims to provide a “Christ-centered education” from teachers who “integrate faith into all subjects” — were secular, and not religious.

The court gave little weight to the facts that the teacher led her students in prayer several times a day and taught religion classes four days a week, and instead simply compared the minutes she spent on religious formation with those she spent teaching “secular subjects.”

The Supreme Court should reverse this decision, and it is important to understand why.

For starters, it is well established that a “ministerial exception” to job-discrimination laws prevents secular courts from jumping into religious disputes that they lack the authority to address or the competence to solve. The question in the Hosanna-Tabor case is not so much whether the exception exists — it does, and it should — as how it should be understood and applied.

As the court of appeals recognized, this exception is “rooted in the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom.” Indeed, a religious-liberty promise that allowed governments to second-guess religious communities’ decisions about what should be their teachings or who should be their teachers would be a hollow one.

via Hosanna-Tabor case to test our church-state divide – USATODAY.com.

Frankly, I’m confused about this, both legally and theologically.  Is the church running roughshod over its own doctrine of the call, in effect demanding the religious liberty to ignore its own religious teaching?  Is the state doing what the church should be doing, in enforcing the binding nature of the call?  Would a legal win on the part of the church be a theological defeat?  Or does this legal challenge unmask the confusion between the teaching office and the pastoral ministry?  And should the state presume to define “church work” and “ministry,” denying the teacher that status because she teaches “secular” subjects?

Can anyone untangle these issues?  And does anyone know anything about the disability issues being raised?  Were there other factors in the congregation’s desire to dismiss this teacher?  (Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church is an LCMS congregation in Redford, Michigan.)  I mean, I can’t help but sympathize with the congregation being dragged before the court, but help me sort out not only the law but the theology and the church practice.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Cheryl Perich was hired in 1999 as a contract kindergarten teacher and, after completing colloquy, was called as a commissioned teacher in 2000 and could claim a housing allowance on her income taxes. In 2003-4 shool year she taught 4th grade.

    After becoming ill in June 2004, Perich, at the suggestion of church administrators, applied for disability leave of absence for the 2004-5 school year. In December, Perich informed the school board that her illness had been diagnosed as narcolepsy, and medication was prescribed so that Perich could return to work in a couple of months. The details of what followed can be read starting on p. 4 of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision . Some rather strange goings-on are described.

    From p. 10 of the Appeals Court decision:

    Religious organizations are not exempt from title I of the ADA or [these regulations]. A religious (entity) may give a preference in employment to individuals of the particular religion, and may require that applicants and employees conform to the religious tenants [sic] of the organization. However, a religious organization may not discriminate against an individual who satisfies the permitted religious criteria because that individual is disabled.

    What happens when a religious organization does discriminate because of an individual’s disability when that individual satisfies the permitted religious criteria, and then the organization maintains that objecting to such illegal discrimination is a violation of the organization’s religious tenets, thus allowing the organization to depose the person for violating that church’s religious tenet and not allegedly because of any discrimination against the person’s disability?

  • Carl Vehse

    Cheryl Perich was hired in 1999 as a contract kindergarten teacher and, after completing colloquy, was called as a commissioned teacher in 2000 and could claim a housing allowance on her income taxes. In 2003-4 shool year she taught 4th grade.

    After becoming ill in June 2004, Perich, at the suggestion of church administrators, applied for disability leave of absence for the 2004-5 school year. In December, Perich informed the school board that her illness had been diagnosed as narcolepsy, and medication was prescribed so that Perich could return to work in a couple of months. The details of what followed can be read starting on p. 4 of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision . Some rather strange goings-on are described.

    From p. 10 of the Appeals Court decision:

    Religious organizations are not exempt from title I of the ADA or [these regulations]. A religious (entity) may give a preference in employment to individuals of the particular religion, and may require that applicants and employees conform to the religious tenants [sic] of the organization. However, a religious organization may not discriminate against an individual who satisfies the permitted religious criteria because that individual is disabled.

    What happens when a religious organization does discriminate because of an individual’s disability when that individual satisfies the permitted religious criteria, and then the organization maintains that objecting to such illegal discrimination is a violation of the organization’s religious tenets, thus allowing the organization to depose the person for violating that church’s religious tenet and not allegedly because of any discrimination against the person’s disability?

  • Carl Vehse

    In its decision (p. 17-8), the Sixth U.S Court of Appeals did recognize the problem of the court trying to judge church doctrine:

    In the instant case, Hosanna-Tabor has attempted to reframe the underlying dispute from the question of whether Hosanna-Tabor fired Perich in violation of the ADA to the question of whether Perich violated church doctrine by not engaging in internal dispute resolution. However, contrary to Hosanna-Tabor’s assertions, Perich’s claim would not require the court to analyze any church doctrine; rather a trial would focus on issues such as whether Perich was disabled within the meaning of the ADA, whether Perich opposed a practice that was unlawful under the ADA, and whether Hosanna-Tabor violated the ADA in its treatment of Perich. As Plaintiff notes, the LCMS personnel manual, which includes EEOC policy, and the Governing Manual for Lutheran Schools clearly contemplate that teachers are protected by employment discrimination and contract laws. In addition, none of the letters that Hosanna-Tabor sent to Perich throughout her termination process reference church doctrine or the LCMS dispute resolution procedures.

  • Carl Vehse

    In its decision (p. 17-8), the Sixth U.S Court of Appeals did recognize the problem of the court trying to judge church doctrine:

    In the instant case, Hosanna-Tabor has attempted to reframe the underlying dispute from the question of whether Hosanna-Tabor fired Perich in violation of the ADA to the question of whether Perich violated church doctrine by not engaging in internal dispute resolution. However, contrary to Hosanna-Tabor’s assertions, Perich’s claim would not require the court to analyze any church doctrine; rather a trial would focus on issues such as whether Perich was disabled within the meaning of the ADA, whether Perich opposed a practice that was unlawful under the ADA, and whether Hosanna-Tabor violated the ADA in its treatment of Perich. As Plaintiff notes, the LCMS personnel manual, which includes EEOC policy, and the Governing Manual for Lutheran Schools clearly contemplate that teachers are protected by employment discrimination and contract laws. In addition, none of the letters that Hosanna-Tabor sent to Perich throughout her termination process reference church doctrine or the LCMS dispute resolution procedures.

  • Carl Vehse

    In its decision (p. 9-10) the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals noted:

    Title I of the ADA includes an exception–known as the “ministerial exception”–which allows religious entities to give “preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion” and to “require that all applicants and employees conform to the religious tenants [sic] of such organization.” 42 U.S.C. § 12113(d)…. However, a religious organization may not discriminate against an individual who satisfies the permitted religious criteria because that individual is disabled.

    .

    Using the ADA’s “ministerial exception” does not allow a religious organization to discriminate on the basis of a disability of a qualified individual (see 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a)). But more than that – the court decision also noted (p. 9):

    The retaliation provision of the ADA prohibits employers from “discriminat[ing] against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by [the ADA] or because such individual made a charge . . . under [the ADA].” 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a)

    So, the court said that not only is discriminating against a qualified individual’s disability unlawful, but also unlawful is discriminating (by retaliation) against an individual opposing an unlawful discrimination. In deposing the called commissioned teacher on the basis of “insubordination and disruptive behavior,” which consisted of opposing an unlawful act by her employer, the church’s action seems tantamount to admitting they did indeed unlawfully discriminate against the teacher in both ways prior to their claiming a “ministerial exception.”

    This is another messy court case, likely to go on through 2011 or longer, which the Missouri Synod doesn’t need, especially after recently abandoning the Oakland lawsuit (and the money wasted on it), which was also begun under the previous Missouri Synod president.

  • Carl Vehse

    In its decision (p. 9-10) the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals noted:

    Title I of the ADA includes an exception–known as the “ministerial exception”–which allows religious entities to give “preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion” and to “require that all applicants and employees conform to the religious tenants [sic] of such organization.” 42 U.S.C. § 12113(d)…. However, a religious organization may not discriminate against an individual who satisfies the permitted religious criteria because that individual is disabled.

    .

    Using the ADA’s “ministerial exception” does not allow a religious organization to discriminate on the basis of a disability of a qualified individual (see 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a)). But more than that – the court decision also noted (p. 9):

    The retaliation provision of the ADA prohibits employers from “discriminat[ing] against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by [the ADA] or because such individual made a charge . . . under [the ADA].” 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a)

    So, the court said that not only is discriminating against a qualified individual’s disability unlawful, but also unlawful is discriminating (by retaliation) against an individual opposing an unlawful discrimination. In deposing the called commissioned teacher on the basis of “insubordination and disruptive behavior,” which consisted of opposing an unlawful act by her employer, the church’s action seems tantamount to admitting they did indeed unlawfully discriminate against the teacher in both ways prior to their claiming a “ministerial exception.”

    This is another messy court case, likely to go on through 2011 or longer, which the Missouri Synod doesn’t need, especially after recently abandoning the Oakland lawsuit (and the money wasted on it), which was also begun under the previous Missouri Synod president.

  • WebMonk

    I haven’t been following this, but from what Carl has posted and reading the decision (quickly) it seems that the church was very clearly doing a straight-forward violation of ADA law. I can’t tell that there’s any question at all of whether or not there was any religious doctrine question that materially affects the case. Whether or not she was a “minister” or a “teacher”, she was still protected under ADA law, and the school was blatantly legally wrong.

    I think the USA Today article is trying to find the most controversial possibility in the case, regardless of whether or not that part actually has anything to do with the case.

    Gasp! I’m shocked! A newspaper is making an issue sound more dramatic than it really is! Say it ain’t so, Joe!

  • WebMonk

    I haven’t been following this, but from what Carl has posted and reading the decision (quickly) it seems that the church was very clearly doing a straight-forward violation of ADA law. I can’t tell that there’s any question at all of whether or not there was any religious doctrine question that materially affects the case. Whether or not she was a “minister” or a “teacher”, she was still protected under ADA law, and the school was blatantly legally wrong.

    I think the USA Today article is trying to find the most controversial possibility in the case, regardless of whether or not that part actually has anything to do with the case.

    Gasp! I’m shocked! A newspaper is making an issue sound more dramatic than it really is! Say it ain’t so, Joe!

  • Joe

    It ain’t so, :)

  • Joe

    It ain’t so, :)

  • Joe

    Dr. Veith – we did more damage to the doctrine of the call when we extended it to non-pastoral offices for the purposes of gaming the tax code.

  • Joe

    Dr. Veith – we did more damage to the doctrine of the call when we extended it to non-pastoral offices for the purposes of gaming the tax code.

  • Kirk

    @4 Ok, good, I’m not crazy. I understand that one of the issues in play is a church’s hiring policies, but it does seem to be a simple ADA violation. I guess the question is what trumps what, a church’s right to self govern or the ADA. EPIC 1st v. 14th AMENDMENT BATTLE!!!

    Anyways, if my simple reading of the facts is correct, I’m going to side with the narcoleptic lady on this one, at least in principle. He illness affected her ability to carry out her daily ministry, sure, but it didn’t affect her desire or theology or heart, etc etc. It seems like the church fired her because it would be more expedient for them to hire someone else. This strikes me as cold and unfair. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s immoral, but I think it’s unbecoming of a church.

    Legally, it’s a different issue. When you trump religious exemption with equal protection (rarely, if ever done), you really open a Pandora’s box. Does it mean that EDNA now applies to churches? Right off the bat, no, but you do have legal precedent for future cases.

    I’m not sure where I fall on this one. On the one hand, I sympathize with Perich. On the other hand, I won’t like the ruling if she wins.

  • Kirk

    @4 Ok, good, I’m not crazy. I understand that one of the issues in play is a church’s hiring policies, but it does seem to be a simple ADA violation. I guess the question is what trumps what, a church’s right to self govern or the ADA. EPIC 1st v. 14th AMENDMENT BATTLE!!!

    Anyways, if my simple reading of the facts is correct, I’m going to side with the narcoleptic lady on this one, at least in principle. He illness affected her ability to carry out her daily ministry, sure, but it didn’t affect her desire or theology or heart, etc etc. It seems like the church fired her because it would be more expedient for them to hire someone else. This strikes me as cold and unfair. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s immoral, but I think it’s unbecoming of a church.

    Legally, it’s a different issue. When you trump religious exemption with equal protection (rarely, if ever done), you really open a Pandora’s box. Does it mean that EDNA now applies to churches? Right off the bat, no, but you do have legal precedent for future cases.

    I’m not sure where I fall on this one. On the one hand, I sympathize with Perich. On the other hand, I won’t like the ruling if she wins.

  • Dan Kempin

    So according to the infinite wisdom of the ADA, once you have been counted as legally disabled, you are in a protected class that cannot be fired for any reason. Do I have that about right?

    Would a reformed Christian school have treated this any differently . . . perhaps “once hired, always hired?”

  • Dan Kempin

    So according to the infinite wisdom of the ADA, once you have been counted as legally disabled, you are in a protected class that cannot be fired for any reason. Do I have that about right?

    Would a reformed Christian school have treated this any differently . . . perhaps “once hired, always hired?”

  • Kirk

    @Dan

    Well, you can’t be fired just because you’re disabled. I think the employer is supposed to provide reasonable accommodations for you if you are capable of preforming a job. Simple illness, pregnancy or physical handicap, etc can’t be listed as a reason for firing someone.

    Of course, if you’re handicapped and you look at pron on your work computer, you can get fired, but it’d be for looking at pron, not because you’re disabled.

  • Kirk

    @Dan

    Well, you can’t be fired just because you’re disabled. I think the employer is supposed to provide reasonable accommodations for you if you are capable of preforming a job. Simple illness, pregnancy or physical handicap, etc can’t be listed as a reason for firing someone.

    Of course, if you’re handicapped and you look at pron on your work computer, you can get fired, but it’d be for looking at pron, not because you’re disabled.

  • Carl Vehse

    Webmonk @4:

    Whether or not she was a “minister” or a “teacher”, she was still protected under ADA law, and the school was blatantly legally wrong.

    Moreover, the church seems to be claiming that, whether or not it is blatantly legally wrong in dealing with the teacher and her disability, it is permitted under the ministerial exception to be blatantly legally wrong, because when a teacher (or pastor) accepts a call to their position, that called worker voluntarily agree to abide with the church’s religious tenets that they will not use the secular justice system to deal with internal disagreements, including unlawful actions committed by the church. And when a called teacher does use the justice system to file a legally protected complaint, that teacher has violated the church’s religious tenets and, under the ministerial exception, is subject to being deposed.

    From their decision statement quoted @2, the Sixth Court of Appeals rejected such a claim.

  • Carl Vehse

    Webmonk @4:

    Whether or not she was a “minister” or a “teacher”, she was still protected under ADA law, and the school was blatantly legally wrong.

    Moreover, the church seems to be claiming that, whether or not it is blatantly legally wrong in dealing with the teacher and her disability, it is permitted under the ministerial exception to be blatantly legally wrong, because when a teacher (or pastor) accepts a call to their position, that called worker voluntarily agree to abide with the church’s religious tenets that they will not use the secular justice system to deal with internal disagreements, including unlawful actions committed by the church. And when a called teacher does use the justice system to file a legally protected complaint, that teacher has violated the church’s religious tenets and, under the ministerial exception, is subject to being deposed.

    From their decision statement quoted @2, the Sixth Court of Appeals rejected such a claim.

  • Carl Vehse

    Kirk @7: “He[r] illness affected her ability to carry out her daily ministry, sure, but it didn’t affect her desire or theology or heart, etc etc.

    Besides the teacher’s “desire or theology or heart,” her physician released Perich for “work without restrictions.” From p.5 of the the Appeals Court decision:

    On February 8, 2005, Perich’s doctor gave her a written release to return to work without restrictions on February 22, 2005. The next day Salo contacted Perich to discuss her employment. Perich instead requested to meet with the entire school board. At the meeting on February 13, 2005, the Board presented the peaceful release proposal, and Perich responded by presenting her work release note. The Board continued to express concerns about Perich’s ability to supervise students for the entire day. Perich explained that, as of her doctor’s release on February 22, 2005, she would no longer be eligible for disability coverage and would be required to return to work.

    If Perich’s previously acknowledged ability to supervise students was of concern now to the church after being treated for her illness and despite her physician’s unrestricted release statement, they should have requested additional medical evaluations to support their concerns or presented evidence of the supervision criteria, applicable to all teachers, which they claim she could no longer meet.

  • Carl Vehse

    Kirk @7: “He[r] illness affected her ability to carry out her daily ministry, sure, but it didn’t affect her desire or theology or heart, etc etc.

    Besides the teacher’s “desire or theology or heart,” her physician released Perich for “work without restrictions.” From p.5 of the the Appeals Court decision:

    On February 8, 2005, Perich’s doctor gave her a written release to return to work without restrictions on February 22, 2005. The next day Salo contacted Perich to discuss her employment. Perich instead requested to meet with the entire school board. At the meeting on February 13, 2005, the Board presented the peaceful release proposal, and Perich responded by presenting her work release note. The Board continued to express concerns about Perich’s ability to supervise students for the entire day. Perich explained that, as of her doctor’s release on February 22, 2005, she would no longer be eligible for disability coverage and would be required to return to work.

    If Perich’s previously acknowledged ability to supervise students was of concern now to the church after being treated for her illness and despite her physician’s unrestricted release statement, they should have requested additional medical evaluations to support their concerns or presented evidence of the supervision criteria, applicable to all teachers, which they claim she could no longer meet.

  • Kirk

    @11

    Very true. But I was talking about the period of her medical leave when she wasn’t at work.

    Wait, this is a moment. Carl, you and I are agreeing on something!

  • Kirk

    @11

    Very true. But I was talking about the period of her medical leave when she wasn’t at work.

    Wait, this is a moment. Carl, you and I are agreeing on something!

  • Dan Kempin

    Kirk, #9,

    “Of course, if you’re handicapped and you look at pron on your work computer, you can get fired, but it’d be for looking at pron, not because you’re disabled.”

    Yes. But if you contend that they are really firing you because of your disability and that the other given reason is a pretext, then you have a whole lot of leverage against an employer. Especially if you allege that the given reason for firing is really retaliation for taking refuge in the ADA.

    And I think you meant to say “Tron.” You can get fired for watching “Tron” on your computer at work.

  • Dan Kempin

    Kirk, #9,

    “Of course, if you’re handicapped and you look at pron on your work computer, you can get fired, but it’d be for looking at pron, not because you’re disabled.”

    Yes. But if you contend that they are really firing you because of your disability and that the other given reason is a pretext, then you have a whole lot of leverage against an employer. Especially if you allege that the given reason for firing is really retaliation for taking refuge in the ADA.

    And I think you meant to say “Tron.” You can get fired for watching “Tron” on your computer at work.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “And I think you meant to say “Tron.” You can get fired for watching “Tron” on your computer at work.”

    He, he. I thought he transposed the ‘o’ and the ‘r’ in ‘pron’ so as to avoid the spam filter.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “And I think you meant to say “Tron.” You can get fired for watching “Tron” on your computer at work.”

    He, he. I thought he transposed the ‘o’ and the ‘r’ in ‘pron’ so as to avoid the spam filter.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s a rare day when I get to agree with multiple comments by Carl Vehse on a single thread, so I’ll sieze the opportunity to do so now.

    Of course, I’m not any more informed about this case than what I’ve read here, but Carl does seem to point to sufficient evidence to make the point that the school was in the wrong here. I really don’t see how your questions apply much at all, Dr. Veith.

    Of course, as with all disagreements between sinful Christians, under Scripture, no one is exonerated. One could certainly lament that a dispute between believers has been aired in front of unbelievers (cf. 1 Cor. 6). But the church school also appears to not be submitting to the laws in authority over it (cf. Rom. 13) — nor is this a case where the church must obey God rather than men. It’s sad when a believer must sue other believers in order to get her legal rights.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s a rare day when I get to agree with multiple comments by Carl Vehse on a single thread, so I’ll sieze the opportunity to do so now.

    Of course, I’m not any more informed about this case than what I’ve read here, but Carl does seem to point to sufficient evidence to make the point that the school was in the wrong here. I really don’t see how your questions apply much at all, Dr. Veith.

    Of course, as with all disagreements between sinful Christians, under Scripture, no one is exonerated. One could certainly lament that a dispute between believers has been aired in front of unbelievers (cf. 1 Cor. 6). But the church school also appears to not be submitting to the laws in authority over it (cf. Rom. 13) — nor is this a case where the church must obey God rather than men. It’s sad when a believer must sue other believers in order to get her legal rights.

  • DonS

    From what I’ve read, I think Carl has sorted the legal issues out very well. I’m not a fan of the ADA as a whole, but it fairly applies to this school and the school’s reliance on the ministerial exception and its requirement, as applied, that the teacher not use the civil justice system to settle disputes seems pretextual. This is the kind of case that does serious damage to genuine religious liberty disputes, unfortunately.

  • DonS

    From what I’ve read, I think Carl has sorted the legal issues out very well. I’m not a fan of the ADA as a whole, but it fairly applies to this school and the school’s reliance on the ministerial exception and its requirement, as applied, that the teacher not use the civil justice system to settle disputes seems pretextual. This is the kind of case that does serious damage to genuine religious liberty disputes, unfortunately.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@8), if you are really interested in the answer to your question (to which the short answer would be “no”), there are places one could start reading.

    And while I don’t think writing the word “porn” (or its extended remix version) will get you caught in this site’s spam filter, I thought I’d let SG know (@14) that Kirk is using a well-worn Internet spelling of the word, also commonly (arguably more legitimately) spelled with a zero: pr0n. I could point you to sites like UrbanDictionary.com where one could read more about that, but I’d feel a bit awkward in doing so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@8), if you are really interested in the answer to your question (to which the short answer would be “no”), there are places one could start reading.

    And while I don’t think writing the word “porn” (or its extended remix version) will get you caught in this site’s spam filter, I thought I’d let SG know (@14) that Kirk is using a well-worn Internet spelling of the word, also commonly (arguably more legitimately) spelled with a zero: pr0n. I could point you to sites like UrbanDictionary.com where one could read more about that, but I’d feel a bit awkward in doing so.

  • Kirk

    I was worried about the spam filter. Good to know it kills soci@lism, but not porn. It makes the political discussions so much easier.

  • Kirk

    I was worried about the spam filter. Good to know it kills soci@lism, but not porn. It makes the political discussions so much easier.

  • Kirk

    @13

    Of course, and it always comes back to that, or if not that then gender or race or sexual orientation or religion.

  • Kirk

    @13

    Of course, and it always comes back to that, or if not that then gender or race or sexual orientation or religion.

  • Louis

    Reading through the post, I decided that the school was quite obviously in the wrong, and Carl’s posts confirmed that opinion.

  • Louis

    Reading through the post, I decided that the school was quite obviously in the wrong, and Carl’s posts confirmed that opinion.

  • Carl Vehse

    Joe @6: “we did more damage to the doctrine of the call when we extended it to non-pastoral offices for the purposes of gaming the tax code.”

    The Missouri Synod notion of teachers as “called commissioned ministers” was started during WWII to allow male Lutheran school teachers to avoid being drafted along with the fathers of their students. As “called commissioned ministers,” male Lutheran school teachers also qualified for ministerial housing allowances that were not subject to income tax. In the baby-boomer decades following WWII, increasing numbers of female Lutheran school teachers, who were not called, but instead had teaching contracts, and not qualified to receive IRS-permitted housing allowances started to protest. In the late 70s or early 80s the Missouri Synod began calling female teachers as “commissioned ministers” so they could receive the tax-benefits of a housing allowance. This military draft and IRS two-step danced around and into the Missouri Synod’s understanding of the doctrine of the ministry.

    If the church’s (or Synod’s) lawyers become involved in trying to theologically stretch the Synod’s tenets thin enough to provide ministerial exception cover for Hosanna-Tabor’s actions, they may just rip apart the Missouri Synod’s claim to a Lutheran doctrine of the ministry, forcing LCMS congregations and seminaries to accept any employee into synodical membership and being called as a minister.

  • Carl Vehse

    Joe @6: “we did more damage to the doctrine of the call when we extended it to non-pastoral offices for the purposes of gaming the tax code.”

    The Missouri Synod notion of teachers as “called commissioned ministers” was started during WWII to allow male Lutheran school teachers to avoid being drafted along with the fathers of their students. As “called commissioned ministers,” male Lutheran school teachers also qualified for ministerial housing allowances that were not subject to income tax. In the baby-boomer decades following WWII, increasing numbers of female Lutheran school teachers, who were not called, but instead had teaching contracts, and not qualified to receive IRS-permitted housing allowances started to protest. In the late 70s or early 80s the Missouri Synod began calling female teachers as “commissioned ministers” so they could receive the tax-benefits of a housing allowance. This military draft and IRS two-step danced around and into the Missouri Synod’s understanding of the doctrine of the ministry.

    If the church’s (or Synod’s) lawyers become involved in trying to theologically stretch the Synod’s tenets thin enough to provide ministerial exception cover for Hosanna-Tabor’s actions, they may just rip apart the Missouri Synod’s claim to a Lutheran doctrine of the ministry, forcing LCMS congregations and seminaries to accept any employee into synodical membership and being called as a minister.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    No no, Kirk (@18), we can say “socialism” without fear now, too.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    No no, Kirk (@18), we can say “socialism” without fear now, too.

  • Grace

    An excerpt from the article in USA Today:
    “To be sure, not every employee of a religious institution is a “ministerial employee,” and religious institutions — like all employers — have many legal obligations to their employees. Although there are difficult questions to be asked, and many fine lines to be drawn, when it comes to interpreting and applying the First Amendment’s religious-freedom guarantees, it cannot be the role of secular government to second-guess the decisions of religious communities and institutions about who should be their ministers, leaders and teachers, any more than they should review their decisions about the content of religious doctrines.”

    1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

    2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

    3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

    4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

    5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

    6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

    7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

    8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 1 Corinthians 6

    It may be a legal matter to include the secular world, but within the church, taking other Believers to task through the judicial system is wrong. If this were a case wherein a child or adult had been molested by a church teacher or leader, it would be a different, there would be cause to bring criminal charges IF there were such a crime.

    I would bet there is much more to this story, than has been revealed within the church or court documents.

  • Grace

    An excerpt from the article in USA Today:
    “To be sure, not every employee of a religious institution is a “ministerial employee,” and religious institutions — like all employers — have many legal obligations to their employees. Although there are difficult questions to be asked, and many fine lines to be drawn, when it comes to interpreting and applying the First Amendment’s religious-freedom guarantees, it cannot be the role of secular government to second-guess the decisions of religious communities and institutions about who should be their ministers, leaders and teachers, any more than they should review their decisions about the content of religious doctrines.”

    1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

    2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

    3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

    4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

    5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

    6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

    7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

    8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 1 Corinthians 6

    It may be a legal matter to include the secular world, but within the church, taking other Believers to task through the judicial system is wrong. If this were a case wherein a child or adult had been molested by a church teacher or leader, it would be a different, there would be cause to bring criminal charges IF there were such a crime.

    I would bet there is much more to this story, than has been revealed within the church or court documents.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I wonder if they use the ministerial exemption as a short cut to fire someone that they know can’t really perform the duties, rather than go to the trouble of establishing that the employee can’t perform the duties or alternatively accommodating her problem. Also, might it be easier for the employee to find employment elsewhere (public ed?) if she had been released under the ministerial exemption rather than due to incapacity?

    Okay, I don’t know much about narcolepsy, so I looked it up at NIH.

    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/narcolepsy.htm

    “None of the currently available medications enables people with narcolepsy to consistently maintain a fully normal state of alertness. But EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.”

    From that description and other info on that page, I would not be too confident having her as a teacher of grade school kids, her doctor’s note notwithstanding.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I wonder if they use the ministerial exemption as a short cut to fire someone that they know can’t really perform the duties, rather than go to the trouble of establishing that the employee can’t perform the duties or alternatively accommodating her problem. Also, might it be easier for the employee to find employment elsewhere (public ed?) if she had been released under the ministerial exemption rather than due to incapacity?

    Okay, I don’t know much about narcolepsy, so I looked it up at NIH.

    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/narcolepsy.htm

    “None of the currently available medications enables people with narcolepsy to consistently maintain a fully normal state of alertness. But EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.”

    From that description and other info on that page, I would not be too confident having her as a teacher of grade school kids, her doctor’s note notwithstanding.

  • Grace

    The paper below might give a clearer view into Narcolepsy.

    Stanford School of Medicine
    Symptoms
    The main symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM sleep: Narcolepsy is not only a serious and common medical problem, it also offers basic sleep researchers a unique opportunity to gather new information on the central mechanisms regulating REM sleep and alertness. Since the 1960s it has been known that several of the disabling symptoms of narcolepsy, such as sleep paralysis, cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations, are pathological equivalents of REM sleep. In sleep paralysis, a frightening symptom considered to be an abnormal episode of REM sleep atonia, the patient suddenly finds himself unable to move for a few minutes, most often upon falling asleep or waking up. During hypnagogic hallucinations, patients experience dream-like auditory or visual hallucinations, while dozing or falling asleep. Cataplexy, a pathological equivalent of REM sleep atonia unique to narcolepsy, is a striking, sudden episode of muscle weakness triggered by emotions. Typically, the patient’s knees buckle and may give way upon laughing, elation, surprise or anger. In other typical cataplectic attacks the head may drop or the jaw may become slack. In severe cases, the patient might fall down and become completely paralyzed for a few seconds to several minutes. Reflexes are abolished during the attack.

    http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/narcolepsy/symptoms.html

  • Grace

    The paper below might give a clearer view into Narcolepsy.

    Stanford School of Medicine
    Symptoms
    The main symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM sleep: Narcolepsy is not only a serious and common medical problem, it also offers basic sleep researchers a unique opportunity to gather new information on the central mechanisms regulating REM sleep and alertness. Since the 1960s it has been known that several of the disabling symptoms of narcolepsy, such as sleep paralysis, cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations, are pathological equivalents of REM sleep. In sleep paralysis, a frightening symptom considered to be an abnormal episode of REM sleep atonia, the patient suddenly finds himself unable to move for a few minutes, most often upon falling asleep or waking up. During hypnagogic hallucinations, patients experience dream-like auditory or visual hallucinations, while dozing or falling asleep. Cataplexy, a pathological equivalent of REM sleep atonia unique to narcolepsy, is a striking, sudden episode of muscle weakness triggered by emotions. Typically, the patient’s knees buckle and may give way upon laughing, elation, surprise or anger. In other typical cataplectic attacks the head may drop or the jaw may become slack. In severe cases, the patient might fall down and become completely paralyzed for a few seconds to several minutes. Reflexes are abolished during the attack.

    http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/narcolepsy/symptoms.html

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Some pretty calm rational voices at the REM Runner blog. Author has narcolepsy and doesn’t see this as too cut and dried.

    http://remrunner.blogspot.com/2011/03/breaking-news-us-supreme-court-takes-on.html#comments

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Some pretty calm rational voices at the REM Runner blog. Author has narcolepsy and doesn’t see this as too cut and dried.

    http://remrunner.blogspot.com/2011/03/breaking-news-us-supreme-court-takes-on.html#comments

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG, you might take some advice from your latter link (@26), which says:

    It is important not to make judgements about a person with narcolepsy without knowing that person’s individual circumstances. Narcolepsy affects people differently – not everyone experiences all of the possible symptoms nor experience these symptoms to the same degree.

    I say this with regard to your summary judgment of this case (@24):

    From that description and other info on that page, I would not be too confident having her as a teacher of grade school kids, her doctor’s note notwithstanding.

    I find it odd that you would admit your own ignorance of narcolepsy, and then, based on some quick reading, presume to know the person’s case better than her own doctor.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG, you might take some advice from your latter link (@26), which says:

    It is important not to make judgements about a person with narcolepsy without knowing that person’s individual circumstances. Narcolepsy affects people differently – not everyone experiences all of the possible symptoms nor experience these symptoms to the same degree.

    I say this with regard to your summary judgment of this case (@24):

    From that description and other info on that page, I would not be too confident having her as a teacher of grade school kids, her doctor’s note notwithstanding.

    I find it odd that you would admit your own ignorance of narcolepsy, and then, based on some quick reading, presume to know the person’s case better than her own doctor.

  • Carl Vehse

    Despite any Cranach board-certified medical expert who appears to diagnose without even seeing the patient, whether Perich’s narcolepsy and treatment result in her being physically capable of handling her teaching duties is not an issue before the SCOTUS.

    The issue that the SCOTUS will decide is presented in the Petition for Writ of Certiorari:

    Whether the ministerial exception applies to a teacher at a religious elementary school who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and regularly leads students in prayer and worship.

    BTW, check out the name of additional counsel for the petitioners listed on the inside cover of the Petition itself – Sherri Strand, the lawyer for the Missouri Synod’s Board of Directors, who will likely post on their LCMS webpage that the Missouri Synod has absolutely no involvement in this case.

    Yeah, like Strand is doing this pro bono.

  • Carl Vehse

    Despite any Cranach board-certified medical expert who appears to diagnose without even seeing the patient, whether Perich’s narcolepsy and treatment result in her being physically capable of handling her teaching duties is not an issue before the SCOTUS.

    The issue that the SCOTUS will decide is presented in the Petition for Writ of Certiorari:

    Whether the ministerial exception applies to a teacher at a religious elementary school who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and regularly leads students in prayer and worship.

    BTW, check out the name of additional counsel for the petitioners listed on the inside cover of the Petition itself – Sherri Strand, the lawyer for the Missouri Synod’s Board of Directors, who will likely post on their LCMS webpage that the Missouri Synod has absolutely no involvement in this case.

    Yeah, like Strand is doing this pro bono.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I find it odd that you would admit your own ignorance of narcolepsy, and then, based on some quick reading, presume to know the person’s case better than her own doctor.”

    Nah, I just wouldn’t feel confident having her supervise kids. If they gave her the job and something happened to a student, then perhaps we would be discussing the school board’s negligence, or the doctor’s error. What are the odds? Pretty low, but hey, I am risk averse and dislike deferring responsibility. I would rather second guess the doctor to protect the kids from a situation where her condition put them at risk, and I would rather deal with people being angry at me and have the peace of mind that I didn’t risk the kids’ safety because it was easier for me. I also respect the judgement of others who are not as risk averse as I am and would decide the other way. It is interesting that the judgement of the majority of members of the school board was against retaining her. It is possible they had good judgement in this case. I don’t know.

    Bottom line, a high margin of safety for the kids is more important to me than this one teacher’s position. She can get another job if she really is so qualified and her condition is under control.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I find it odd that you would admit your own ignorance of narcolepsy, and then, based on some quick reading, presume to know the person’s case better than her own doctor.”

    Nah, I just wouldn’t feel confident having her supervise kids. If they gave her the job and something happened to a student, then perhaps we would be discussing the school board’s negligence, or the doctor’s error. What are the odds? Pretty low, but hey, I am risk averse and dislike deferring responsibility. I would rather second guess the doctor to protect the kids from a situation where her condition put them at risk, and I would rather deal with people being angry at me and have the peace of mind that I didn’t risk the kids’ safety because it was easier for me. I also respect the judgement of others who are not as risk averse as I am and would decide the other way. It is interesting that the judgement of the majority of members of the school board was against retaining her. It is possible they had good judgement in this case. I don’t know.

    Bottom line, a high margin of safety for the kids is more important to me than this one teacher’s position. She can get another job if she really is so qualified and her condition is under control.

  • Dan Kempin

    SG, #29

    “If they gave her the job and something happened to a student, then perhaps we would be discussing the school board’s negligence”

    That is a lucid point and very likely true. Sued if you do and sued if you don’t.

  • Dan Kempin

    SG, #29

    “If they gave her the job and something happened to a student, then perhaps we would be discussing the school board’s negligence”

    That is a lucid point and very likely true. Sued if you do and sued if you don’t.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Also, can we be realistic for a minute. What are the chances the doctor is more familiar with her condition than coworkers and students who saw her? When a person goes to the doctor and reports her symptoms, it is based on her own perception. Is that as objective as the views of many other folks? And what about the parents? Sure, the school could hire her back and then have every parent withdraw their child from her class, never to return. And other parents might follow suit because they disagree with the judgement of the school board. That could spell the end of the school. Now this may seem far fetched to some, but I figure it could be at least 10% possible.

    I am just skeptical. That is all. Other than that, I basically agree with Carl’s points.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Also, can we be realistic for a minute. What are the chances the doctor is more familiar with her condition than coworkers and students who saw her? When a person goes to the doctor and reports her symptoms, it is based on her own perception. Is that as objective as the views of many other folks? And what about the parents? Sure, the school could hire her back and then have every parent withdraw their child from her class, never to return. And other parents might follow suit because they disagree with the judgement of the school board. That could spell the end of the school. Now this may seem far fetched to some, but I figure it could be at least 10% possible.

    I am just skeptical. That is all. Other than that, I basically agree with Carl’s points.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Okay, I looked and this case is from Michigan. Is that one of those states where it is super hard to ever fire someone, like where it costs more to fire them than keep them? If it is, it may explain why they want to hide behind the religious exemption.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Okay, I looked and this case is from Michigan. Is that one of those states where it is super hard to ever fire someone, like where it costs more to fire them than keep them? If it is, it may explain why they want to hide behind the religious exemption.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @tODD

    “It is important not to make judgements about a person with narcolepsy without knowing that person’s individual circumstances. Narcolepsy affects people differently – not everyone experiences all of the possible symptoms nor experience these symptoms to the same degree.”

    Yeah, I agree. Maybe the parents, staff and students do as well. The students are likely more familiar with her condition than her doctor. They spent hundreds of hours with her. The doctor surely did not.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @tODD

    “It is important not to make judgements about a person with narcolepsy without knowing that person’s individual circumstances. Narcolepsy affects people differently – not everyone experiences all of the possible symptoms nor experience these symptoms to the same degree.”

    Yeah, I agree. Maybe the parents, staff and students do as well. The students are likely more familiar with her condition than her doctor. They spent hundreds of hours with her. The doctor surely did not.

  • Phillip

    Dr. Veith’s Questions

    Is the church running roughshod over its own doctrine of the call, in effect demanding the religious liberty to ignore its own religious teaching? Yes, we’ve been doing this for years. Ever since we invented commissioned minister positions we’ve been doing it. There’s nothing new here about that.

    Is the state doing what the church should be doing, in enforcing the binding nature of the call? I answer that the position is not actually a “rite vocatus” call and the question doesn’t apply. The title exists to game the tax system. Theologically only “rite vocatus” positions are true binding calls. Everything else is semantics to get around rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    Would a legal win on the part of the church be a theological defeat? No, the theological defeat has already taken place. We lost when we called men commissioned ministers to exempt them in WWII. On the other hand, this won’t lead to women being considered real ministers if we do win the case.

    Or does this legal challenge unmask the confusion between the teaching office and the pastoral ministry? It does unmask it, but we won’t change anything unless the government stops giving us financial incentive to call them ministers. Theology won’t trump money on this point.

    And should the state presume to define “church work” and “ministry,” denying the teacher that status because she teaches “secular” subjects? Certainly not. How many RC priests and monks would cease to be priests or monks because they teach secular subjects in Catholic schools? It is absolutely absurd and a blatant contradiction of the First Amendment to create a scale and define what percentage of time must be religious to qualify as “church work” instead of “secular” work. People send their children to religious schools to get a religious education in all subjects, not to get a secular education in most subjects and a religious education on the side. If the Supreme Court upholds that she is a secular teacher, the First Amendment religious protection is well on its way to being gone, since the government now defines what religion can choose to be. If they say the church is not ADA exempt that’s one thing, but if they say she is a secular teacher then religious liberty is in trouble. You could no longer require Lutheran science teachers to teach 144 hour (6 Day) Creation, because science is a secular subject, etc. If the Supreme Court rules against the school and does not explicitly state that she is a commissioned minister despite teaching secular subjects this problem of religious schools teaching creationism or other religious positions on secular subjects will be a problem that will come up in the courts.

    Furthermore, if anyone thinks this can be a dead letter case they’re delusional. Either way a precedent will be set, even if the SC tries to avoid one. If they rule for the school, First Amendment protections will be strengthened. If they rule against the school, years of litigation will ensue because it will destroy the boundary between secular and religious education. It will then be years of cases later before the boundary is clearly redefined. I think the Notre Dame professor is working from a pseudo-Thomistic position and thinking that regardless of the merit of the woman’s claim, religion as a whole and the legal system will suffer badly. On those grounds he’s behind the school regardless of questions of fact. As to the legitimacy of the woman’s claim, I do not know the facts or feel inclined to read all the trial facts to be able to make that decision. The appeals court is clearly in error in claiming the woman is not a religious teacher, but I don’t know whether ADA is applicable here.

  • Phillip

    Dr. Veith’s Questions

    Is the church running roughshod over its own doctrine of the call, in effect demanding the religious liberty to ignore its own religious teaching? Yes, we’ve been doing this for years. Ever since we invented commissioned minister positions we’ve been doing it. There’s nothing new here about that.

    Is the state doing what the church should be doing, in enforcing the binding nature of the call? I answer that the position is not actually a “rite vocatus” call and the question doesn’t apply. The title exists to game the tax system. Theologically only “rite vocatus” positions are true binding calls. Everything else is semantics to get around rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    Would a legal win on the part of the church be a theological defeat? No, the theological defeat has already taken place. We lost when we called men commissioned ministers to exempt them in WWII. On the other hand, this won’t lead to women being considered real ministers if we do win the case.

    Or does this legal challenge unmask the confusion between the teaching office and the pastoral ministry? It does unmask it, but we won’t change anything unless the government stops giving us financial incentive to call them ministers. Theology won’t trump money on this point.

    And should the state presume to define “church work” and “ministry,” denying the teacher that status because she teaches “secular” subjects? Certainly not. How many RC priests and monks would cease to be priests or monks because they teach secular subjects in Catholic schools? It is absolutely absurd and a blatant contradiction of the First Amendment to create a scale and define what percentage of time must be religious to qualify as “church work” instead of “secular” work. People send their children to religious schools to get a religious education in all subjects, not to get a secular education in most subjects and a religious education on the side. If the Supreme Court upholds that she is a secular teacher, the First Amendment religious protection is well on its way to being gone, since the government now defines what religion can choose to be. If they say the church is not ADA exempt that’s one thing, but if they say she is a secular teacher then religious liberty is in trouble. You could no longer require Lutheran science teachers to teach 144 hour (6 Day) Creation, because science is a secular subject, etc. If the Supreme Court rules against the school and does not explicitly state that she is a commissioned minister despite teaching secular subjects this problem of religious schools teaching creationism or other religious positions on secular subjects will be a problem that will come up in the courts.

    Furthermore, if anyone thinks this can be a dead letter case they’re delusional. Either way a precedent will be set, even if the SC tries to avoid one. If they rule for the school, First Amendment protections will be strengthened. If they rule against the school, years of litigation will ensue because it will destroy the boundary between secular and religious education. It will then be years of cases later before the boundary is clearly redefined. I think the Notre Dame professor is working from a pseudo-Thomistic position and thinking that regardless of the merit of the woman’s claim, religion as a whole and the legal system will suffer badly. On those grounds he’s behind the school regardless of questions of fact. As to the legitimacy of the woman’s claim, I do not know the facts or feel inclined to read all the trial facts to be able to make that decision. The appeals court is clearly in error in claiming the woman is not a religious teacher, but I don’t know whether ADA is applicable here.

  • Carl Vehse

    sg @29: “It is interesting that the judgement of the majority of members of the school board was against retaining her. It is possible they had good judgement in this case. I don’t know.”

    According to the Appeals Court decision document, the church’s Board of Directors began making plans back in November to fill Perich’s position, which they did, because parents complained about the increased class size placed on a teacher and part-time teacher to teach three grades in one classroom. From the descriptions of the events, it seems they made promises they could not keep, they changed rules in the middle of the stream, they pressured Perich to voluntarily resign, and, when she didn’t, they railroaded her out on lame, if not trumped up, charges.

    I don’t consider this “good judgment” by the school board (and I used to be a school board chairman) or the church.

    Of course, the claim presented to the SCOTUS is that even if a church treats its called ministers in such an unChristian manner or even ignores laws that apply to such behavior by secular organizations, the church is protected from accountability by the ministerial exception.. As I recall, objections to this kind of behavior have been raised before.

  • Carl Vehse

    sg @29: “It is interesting that the judgement of the majority of members of the school board was against retaining her. It is possible they had good judgement in this case. I don’t know.”

    According to the Appeals Court decision document, the church’s Board of Directors began making plans back in November to fill Perich’s position, which they did, because parents complained about the increased class size placed on a teacher and part-time teacher to teach three grades in one classroom. From the descriptions of the events, it seems they made promises they could not keep, they changed rules in the middle of the stream, they pressured Perich to voluntarily resign, and, when she didn’t, they railroaded her out on lame, if not trumped up, charges.

    I don’t consider this “good judgment” by the school board (and I used to be a school board chairman) or the church.

    Of course, the claim presented to the SCOTUS is that even if a church treats its called ministers in such an unChristian manner or even ignores laws that apply to such behavior by secular organizations, the church is protected from accountability by the ministerial exception.. As I recall, objections to this kind of behavior have been raised before.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey, thanks for the info, Carl.

    Do you know if employment in Michigan is ‘at will’ or is it hard to fire people? Is Michigan a state where you have to trump up something in order to fire someone, or can you just fire them?

    Also, is it unchristian to fire people? Do you have to have a really good reason? Is that pietism? I don’t mean to sound snarky. I just would like to have some kind of non-bureaucratic understanding here. Thanks.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey, thanks for the info, Carl.

    Do you know if employment in Michigan is ‘at will’ or is it hard to fire people? Is Michigan a state where you have to trump up something in order to fire someone, or can you just fire them?

    Also, is it unchristian to fire people? Do you have to have a really good reason? Is that pietism? I don’t mean to sound snarky. I just would like to have some kind of non-bureaucratic understanding here. Thanks.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Okay, I looked it up. Employment is at will unless you are one of the protected groups in the following categories:
    Age
    Race
    Sex
    Religion
    National origin
    Disability

    So, healthy, American born, Christian, male, white, young/middle aged men can be dumped at will. Everyone else is protected.

    Whew, an employers nightmare.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Okay, I looked it up. Employment is at will unless you are one of the protected groups in the following categories:
    Age
    Race
    Sex
    Religion
    National origin
    Disability

    So, healthy, American born, Christian, male, white, young/middle aged men can be dumped at will. Everyone else is protected.

    Whew, an employers nightmare.

  • Phillip

    @sg

    It’s not unchristian to fire someone. It’s unchristian to fire someone when you’ve given them a contract that promises you won’t without reason if you don’t have adequate reason to fire them. It’s not pietism if you’ve voluntarily bound yourself to act that way. If the contract allowed for her to be fired without cause at any time then it would be perfectly okay to do so, so long as it was not done spitefully to that person.

  • Phillip

    @sg

    It’s not unchristian to fire someone. It’s unchristian to fire someone when you’ve given them a contract that promises you won’t without reason if you don’t have adequate reason to fire them. It’s not pietism if you’ve voluntarily bound yourself to act that way. If the contract allowed for her to be fired without cause at any time then it would be perfectly okay to do so, so long as it was not done spitefully to that person.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “It’s unchristian to fire someone when you’ve given them a contract that promises you won’t without reason if you don’t have adequate reason to fire them.”

    That sounds good, but what if the reason the person is no longer qualified is also in the ADA? I mean, it seems like a catch 22.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “It’s unchristian to fire someone when you’ve given them a contract that promises you won’t without reason if you don’t have adequate reason to fire them.”

    That sounds good, but what if the reason the person is no longer qualified is also in the ADA? I mean, it seems like a catch 22.

  • Carl Vehse

    The problem here is that a Catch-22 was engineered and then used by the church to depose (i.e., fire) the teacher whose disability had been treated and who had been released by her doctor for unrestricted duty.

    In the Catch-22, if Perich had not returned to work resulting in a policy-mandated resignation, and had not objected to accepting a voluntarily resignation when she did return to work, she would not have been deposed. The church is claiming in their appeal to SCOTUS that the ministerial exception allows them to get away with this.

  • Carl Vehse

    The problem here is that a Catch-22 was engineered and then used by the church to depose (i.e., fire) the teacher whose disability had been treated and who had been released by her doctor for unrestricted duty.

    In the Catch-22, if Perich had not returned to work resulting in a policy-mandated resignation, and had not objected to accepting a voluntarily resignation when she did return to work, she would not have been deposed. The church is claiming in their appeal to SCOTUS that the ministerial exception allows them to get away with this.

  • Phillip

    Purely theoretically, it’s not unchristian to fire someone who should be even if they’re under ADA. Even if it makes it hard for them to get a job elsewhere, you have a responsibility to the children, parents, other staff, the church, et al. to not let someone who shouldn’t work. That responsibility trumps any desire to help the person who is under ADA. If the person tries to use ADA to protect himself or herself from being fired, then it becomes an issue of weighing which is worse, the consequences of continuing to employ them or the consequences of the legal issues of firing them. In this case it comes down to a lose-lose value judgment of which is less harmful. It’s not immoral to fire someone with cause even if they can’t get another job. The responsibilities the firer has to take into account always extend beyond the person being fired.

  • Phillip

    Purely theoretically, it’s not unchristian to fire someone who should be even if they’re under ADA. Even if it makes it hard for them to get a job elsewhere, you have a responsibility to the children, parents, other staff, the church, et al. to not let someone who shouldn’t work. That responsibility trumps any desire to help the person who is under ADA. If the person tries to use ADA to protect himself or herself from being fired, then it becomes an issue of weighing which is worse, the consequences of continuing to employ them or the consequences of the legal issues of firing them. In this case it comes down to a lose-lose value judgment of which is less harmful. It’s not immoral to fire someone with cause even if they can’t get another job. The responsibilities the firer has to take into account always extend beyond the person being fired.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Carl, it seems to me that the church employer gamed the ministerial system for the benefit of the employees? Is that your understanding? Then one thing led to another, as tends to happen, and we wound up here. However, it should be noted that in the public schools, it can be extremely hard to fire someone and they often have to keep them and pay them even though they can’t be put in a classroom because they pose a risk to students.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Carl, it seems to me that the church employer gamed the ministerial system for the benefit of the employees? Is that your understanding? Then one thing led to another, as tends to happen, and we wound up here. However, it should be noted that in the public schools, it can be extremely hard to fire someone and they often have to keep them and pay them even though they can’t be put in a classroom because they pose a risk to students.

  • Carl Vehse

    @42: “it can be extremely hard to fire someone and they often have to keep them and pay them even though they can’t be put in a classroom because they pose a risk to students.”

    sg, you have repeatedly raised this and related concerns in posts 24, 29, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, and 39. Yet you have provided no evidence from court testimony or elsewhere that

    - Cheryl Perich was a risk to students. who needed protection from the situation of her condition;
    - after spending hundreds of hours with her the students were familiar with her condition, which first had symptoms appearing after spring semester had ended;
    - a medical doctor, likely a specialist, was less familiar with symptoms of narcolpsy before and after medication doses than a fourth grader;
    - Perich was no longer qualified to be a teacher at the school, despite her previous classroom training and her doctor’s written release without restrictions;
    - the church knew the called commission teacher couldn’t really perform the duties as a teacher;
    - the church needed to use the ministerial exemption as a short cut to fire the called commissioned teacher.

    Since you have not presented any evidence or links, what makes you assume that all of these concerns are factual?

  • Carl Vehse

    @42: “it can be extremely hard to fire someone and they often have to keep them and pay them even though they can’t be put in a classroom because they pose a risk to students.”

    sg, you have repeatedly raised this and related concerns in posts 24, 29, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, and 39. Yet you have provided no evidence from court testimony or elsewhere that

    - Cheryl Perich was a risk to students. who needed protection from the situation of her condition;
    - after spending hundreds of hours with her the students were familiar with her condition, which first had symptoms appearing after spring semester had ended;
    - a medical doctor, likely a specialist, was less familiar with symptoms of narcolpsy before and after medication doses than a fourth grader;
    - Perich was no longer qualified to be a teacher at the school, despite her previous classroom training and her doctor’s written release without restrictions;
    - the church knew the called commission teacher couldn’t really perform the duties as a teacher;
    - the church needed to use the ministerial exemption as a short cut to fire the called commissioned teacher.

    Since you have not presented any evidence or links, what makes you assume that all of these concerns are factual?

  • Grace

    Phillip @41

    “Purely theoretically, it’s not unchristian to fire someone who should be even if they’re under ADA. Even if it makes it hard for them to get a job elsewhere, you have a responsibility to the children, parents, other staff, the church, et al. to not let someone who shouldn’t work. That responsibility trumps any desire to help the person who is under ADA.”

    You are right Phillip.

    Children come FIRST, their safety and security should trump all nonsensical reasons to keep anyone employed.

    Anyone who is supervising children, needs to be in top mental condition – there are many physical conditions that preclude someone from over-seeing children in any category. ‘MENTAL CAPABILITIES’ are first.

  • Grace

    Phillip @41

    “Purely theoretically, it’s not unchristian to fire someone who should be even if they’re under ADA. Even if it makes it hard for them to get a job elsewhere, you have a responsibility to the children, parents, other staff, the church, et al. to not let someone who shouldn’t work. That responsibility trumps any desire to help the person who is under ADA.”

    You are right Phillip.

    Children come FIRST, their safety and security should trump all nonsensical reasons to keep anyone employed.

    Anyone who is supervising children, needs to be in top mental condition – there are many physical conditions that preclude someone from over-seeing children in any category. ‘MENTAL CAPABILITIES’ are first.

  • Grace

    Carl,

    Perhaps the school and church are trying to be charitable.

    I wouldn’t allow any child of mine, to be part of a classroom where the teacher had such an illness as the one we are discussing. I understand your legal acumen, but there is no wiggle room for disease, which could, no matter how small the chance, harm another. Children should NEVER be put in the position to oversee a teacher, “in case of” fill in the blank. It’s not worthy of debate among those of us who are educated.

  • Grace

    Carl,

    Perhaps the school and church are trying to be charitable.

    I wouldn’t allow any child of mine, to be part of a classroom where the teacher had such an illness as the one we are discussing. I understand your legal acumen, but there is no wiggle room for disease, which could, no matter how small the chance, harm another. Children should NEVER be put in the position to oversee a teacher, “in case of” fill in the blank. It’s not worthy of debate among those of us who are educated.

  • Carl Vehse

    Grace @45:

    I wouldn’t allow any child of mine, to be part of a classroom where the teacher had such an illness as the one we are discussing.

    If there were evidence that the teacher’s condition were a threat to the students or that her condition prevents her from performing her duties as a teacher, then your claim might have credence, and such a teacher could be removed from the classroom. But “fill in the blank” is not evidence; it is fearmongering.

    Would you likewise refuse to allow your child to be in a classroom of a teacher who is diabetic, or has a heart condition, or cancer, or has a a family history of strokes, or is significantly overweight, or has asthma, or is pregnant, or undergoing menopause, or has PMS? Even if a physician is successfully treating these conditions and has released the person for unrestricted duties, would you still regard a teacher with any such conditions as a threat who could harm the children?

    As for the church being charitable, the evidence documented in the Appeals Court decision indicates otherwise. But then, maybe the Appeals Court judges in the case are also being treated for one or more of the conditions mentioned above and are a threat while on the bench. Or perhaps members of the school board or the congregational voters assembly acted as they did because of one of the medical conditions they had.

    Do you see now, with no need for evidence, how idle speculation, once started, can continue on to encompass anything and everyone?

  • Carl Vehse

    Grace @45:

    I wouldn’t allow any child of mine, to be part of a classroom where the teacher had such an illness as the one we are discussing.

    If there were evidence that the teacher’s condition were a threat to the students or that her condition prevents her from performing her duties as a teacher, then your claim might have credence, and such a teacher could be removed from the classroom. But “fill in the blank” is not evidence; it is fearmongering.

    Would you likewise refuse to allow your child to be in a classroom of a teacher who is diabetic, or has a heart condition, or cancer, or has a a family history of strokes, or is significantly overweight, or has asthma, or is pregnant, or undergoing menopause, or has PMS? Even if a physician is successfully treating these conditions and has released the person for unrestricted duties, would you still regard a teacher with any such conditions as a threat who could harm the children?

    As for the church being charitable, the evidence documented in the Appeals Court decision indicates otherwise. But then, maybe the Appeals Court judges in the case are also being treated for one or more of the conditions mentioned above and are a threat while on the bench. Or perhaps members of the school board or the congregational voters assembly acted as they did because of one of the medical conditions they had.

    Do you see now, with no need for evidence, how idle speculation, once started, can continue on to encompass anything and everyone?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Since you have not presented any evidence or links, what makes you assume that all of these concerns are factual?”

    I don’t.

    However, I do think people try to work around unworkable rules. So, I wonder what the facts are. I wonder whether the school was initially complicit in helping the teacher figure a way to cope with the situation, but upon realizing they were in a mess, they hid behind the religious exemption. As for the doctor’s release, I know people who have been on disability and the doctors tend to see them as able to go back to work even when they still have issues. Since everything is now regulated by committee and bureaucracy and the doctor’s release was the defining moment, you have to wonder what motivated him to release her. Any doctor whose patient in on disability is always under pressure to release a patient who is pretty functional because the insurer doesn’t want to keep paying. However, narcolepsy has no cure and is chronic, and teaching kids is not like sitting in an office. So, while she could work, she might have issues that make it impossible for her to keep the students safe. I wonder whether the school says nothing about her incapacity because they have been advised that it would make it obvious that they want to fire her in violation of ADA. I don’t know that. I just wonder. I wonder if the school is outright violating the ADA and hiding behind the religious exemption. I question the wisdom of the ADA rules. I wonder if the school just decided to quit digging because this is a no win situation. I don’t have evidence other than the nature of narcolepsy. The notion that she really has narcolepsy but now she is just fine, period end of discussion, is just silly. As for the doctor’s assessment, what is it based on? Her self-reported symptoms? As for the legal aspects, I have already said I agreed with Carl, that the school appears to be in the wrong. This is the culmination of gaming the system. More broadly it is human nature to cheat rules with semantics. Then new rules are written, etc. Until we have a million rules but no morality.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Since you have not presented any evidence or links, what makes you assume that all of these concerns are factual?”

    I don’t.

    However, I do think people try to work around unworkable rules. So, I wonder what the facts are. I wonder whether the school was initially complicit in helping the teacher figure a way to cope with the situation, but upon realizing they were in a mess, they hid behind the religious exemption. As for the doctor’s release, I know people who have been on disability and the doctors tend to see them as able to go back to work even when they still have issues. Since everything is now regulated by committee and bureaucracy and the doctor’s release was the defining moment, you have to wonder what motivated him to release her. Any doctor whose patient in on disability is always under pressure to release a patient who is pretty functional because the insurer doesn’t want to keep paying. However, narcolepsy has no cure and is chronic, and teaching kids is not like sitting in an office. So, while she could work, she might have issues that make it impossible for her to keep the students safe. I wonder whether the school says nothing about her incapacity because they have been advised that it would make it obvious that they want to fire her in violation of ADA. I don’t know that. I just wonder. I wonder if the school is outright violating the ADA and hiding behind the religious exemption. I question the wisdom of the ADA rules. I wonder if the school just decided to quit digging because this is a no win situation. I don’t have evidence other than the nature of narcolepsy. The notion that she really has narcolepsy but now she is just fine, period end of discussion, is just silly. As for the doctor’s assessment, what is it based on? Her self-reported symptoms? As for the legal aspects, I have already said I agreed with Carl, that the school appears to be in the wrong. This is the culmination of gaming the system. More broadly it is human nature to cheat rules with semantics. Then new rules are written, etc. Until we have a million rules but no morality.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Do you see now, with no need for evidence, how idle speculation, once started, can continue on to encompass anything and everyone?”

    Yes, which is why it would be helpful to know the facts. However, the case turns on the ministerial exemption, not ADA, unfortunately. It should be an ADA case. Therefore, likely pertinent facts are exempted from discussion and the use of the religious exemption which is here misapplied several ways, is now jeopardized. Maybe SCOTUS will surprise us and come up with a ruling that will reduce the misuse of the exemption without making useless altogether.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Do you see now, with no need for evidence, how idle speculation, once started, can continue on to encompass anything and everyone?”

    Yes, which is why it would be helpful to know the facts. However, the case turns on the ministerial exemption, not ADA, unfortunately. It should be an ADA case. Therefore, likely pertinent facts are exempted from discussion and the use of the religious exemption which is here misapplied several ways, is now jeopardized. Maybe SCOTUS will surprise us and come up with a ruling that will reduce the misuse of the exemption without making useless altogether.

  • Carl Vehse

    One of the issues in the Appeals Court decision regarding the ministerial exception was whether Perich was a “ministerial employee,” which is a legal category and not necessarily equivalent to the church’s recognition of a “called commissioned minister.” From the evidence presented, the Appeals Court concluded (p.17):

    Furthermore, the district court in the instant case found that the primary duties of called teachers are identical to those of contract teachers, who do not have the title of minister, and at least one contract teacher who taught at the school was not Lutheran. Given the undisputed evidence that all teachers at Hosanna-Tabor were assigned the same duties, a finding that Perich is a “ministerial” employee would compel the conclusion that all teachers at the school–called, contract, Lutheran, and non-Lutheran–are similarly excluded from coverage under the ADA and other federal fair employment laws.

    More significantly, the Appeals Court indicated that a court’s purview included investigating church doctrine as it noted (p.18):

    Furthermore, this Court would not be precluded from inquiring into whether a doctrinal basis actually motivated Hosanna-Tabor’s actions. See, e.g., Geary v. Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Sch., 7 F.3d 324, 329 (3d Cir. 1993) (finding that the First Amendment did not preclude the court from “determin[ing] whether the religious reason stated by [the school] actually motivated the dismissal”).

    That is one closet of potential skeletons I suspect Missouri Synod bureaucrats, and the BOD-appointed lawyer will not want anyone looking into.

  • Carl Vehse

    One of the issues in the Appeals Court decision regarding the ministerial exception was whether Perich was a “ministerial employee,” which is a legal category and not necessarily equivalent to the church’s recognition of a “called commissioned minister.” From the evidence presented, the Appeals Court concluded (p.17):

    Furthermore, the district court in the instant case found that the primary duties of called teachers are identical to those of contract teachers, who do not have the title of minister, and at least one contract teacher who taught at the school was not Lutheran. Given the undisputed evidence that all teachers at Hosanna-Tabor were assigned the same duties, a finding that Perich is a “ministerial” employee would compel the conclusion that all teachers at the school–called, contract, Lutheran, and non-Lutheran–are similarly excluded from coverage under the ADA and other federal fair employment laws.

    More significantly, the Appeals Court indicated that a court’s purview included investigating church doctrine as it noted (p.18):

    Furthermore, this Court would not be precluded from inquiring into whether a doctrinal basis actually motivated Hosanna-Tabor’s actions. See, e.g., Geary v. Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Sch., 7 F.3d 324, 329 (3d Cir. 1993) (finding that the First Amendment did not preclude the court from “determin[ing] whether the religious reason stated by [the school] actually motivated the dismissal”).

    That is one closet of potential skeletons I suspect Missouri Synod bureaucrats, and the BOD-appointed lawyer will not want anyone looking into.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    That’s a beauty, Carl @ 49.

    Does anyone think she was actually let go for a religious reason? I am guessing, no. No, as in not even the school thinks that. It appears they were just thinking, hey, we are a religious school, the rules just don’t apply to us.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    That’s a beauty, Carl @ 49.

    Does anyone think she was actually let go for a religious reason? I am guessing, no. No, as in not even the school thinks that. It appears they were just thinking, hey, we are a religious school, the rules just don’t apply to us.

  • Carl Vehse

    All of the unsubstantiated speculations about Perich’s “mental capacity,” “incapacity,” and “issues that make it impossible for her to keep the students safe” are just that – gossipy speculations. Another questionable speculation was noted by the Appeals Court during a congregational meeting at the end of January, 2005, when “Hoeft and the school board expressed their opinion that it was unlikely that Perich would be physically capable of returning to work that school year or the next.” This was three days after Perich informed Hoeft that she would be returning sometime in mid-February to start working again.

    In fact, the Appeals court decision noted that on February 22, when she first returned to the school to work, Principal Hoeft told Perich that she would likely be fired.

    On April 10 the congregation voted to rescind Perich’s call. On May 17 Perich filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the
    EEOC. On September 28, 2007, the EEOC filed a complaint against Hosanna-Tabor in the United States District Court.

  • Carl Vehse

    All of the unsubstantiated speculations about Perich’s “mental capacity,” “incapacity,” and “issues that make it impossible for her to keep the students safe” are just that – gossipy speculations. Another questionable speculation was noted by the Appeals Court during a congregational meeting at the end of January, 2005, when “Hoeft and the school board expressed their opinion that it was unlikely that Perich would be physically capable of returning to work that school year or the next.” This was three days after Perich informed Hoeft that she would be returning sometime in mid-February to start working again.

    In fact, the Appeals court decision noted that on February 22, when she first returned to the school to work, Principal Hoeft told Perich that she would likely be fired.

    On April 10 the congregation voted to rescind Perich’s call. On May 17 Perich filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the
    EEOC. On September 28, 2007, the EEOC filed a complaint against Hosanna-Tabor in the United States District Court.

  • Carl Vehse

    sg @50: “Does anyone think she was actually let go for a religious reason?”

    Well, Hosanna-Tabor’s lawyers (including Sherri Strand) are still dancing to that tune, when they stated in their Petition for certiorari (p.6) to the SCOTUS:

    “The Church also emphasized that it fired Perich not for filing an ADA claim but because her insubordination and threats of litigation violated Church teaching.”

  • Carl Vehse

    sg @50: “Does anyone think she was actually let go for a religious reason?”

    Well, Hosanna-Tabor’s lawyers (including Sherri Strand) are still dancing to that tune, when they stated in their Petition for certiorari (p.6) to the SCOTUS:

    “The Church also emphasized that it fired Perich not for filing an ADA claim but because her insubordination and threats of litigation violated Church teaching.”

  • Louis

    It appears that the Church did not want to go through the process of declaring her disabled, or a risk to the children (if indeed either of these two factors are real).

    As someone who has been on the board of a small, private Christian school, I know how these things often turn out. I resigned from the board, and took my children out in protest against financial irregularities (not theft, but unwillingness to do things right and proper and follow the law). Mywife had been doing admin pro-bono for the school, as the school couldn’t afford a secretary. So, when she resigned, the board decided to appoint one of the minister’s wifes on the board to the position, and pay her!

    Also, ministers on the board wanted the board to forgive their parishioners’ debt (which they allowed to creep up), while at the same time the school couldn’t fulfill it’s salary obligations.

    No, these things get really, really messy. It permanently destroyed close friendships.

    So I’m with Carl on this one, in that one should stick to the facts, and not simply assume that the church has it right.
    Of course, within 18 months after I left, the school had to close – as the finances couldn’t allow them to proceed.

  • Louis

    It appears that the Church did not want to go through the process of declaring her disabled, or a risk to the children (if indeed either of these two factors are real).

    As someone who has been on the board of a small, private Christian school, I know how these things often turn out. I resigned from the board, and took my children out in protest against financial irregularities (not theft, but unwillingness to do things right and proper and follow the law). Mywife had been doing admin pro-bono for the school, as the school couldn’t afford a secretary. So, when she resigned, the board decided to appoint one of the minister’s wifes on the board to the position, and pay her!

    Also, ministers on the board wanted the board to forgive their parishioners’ debt (which they allowed to creep up), while at the same time the school couldn’t fulfill it’s salary obligations.

    No, these things get really, really messy. It permanently destroyed close friendships.

    So I’m with Carl on this one, in that one should stick to the facts, and not simply assume that the church has it right.
    Of course, within 18 months after I left, the school had to close – as the finances couldn’t allow them to proceed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “All of the unsubstantiated speculations about Perich’s “mental capacity,” “incapacity,” and “issues that make it impossible for her to keep the students safe” are just that – gossipy speculations”

    Okay, but she was let go for some reason and it wasn’t some religious reason, hence the speculation. I mean she was fired for insubordination. That is just goofy. What insubordination? That she refused to resign? That she complained that it would be illegal to fire her because she had been released to work without restriction? How is that insubordination? I don’t get the lawyer’s reasoning there. It seems like circular logic. Do they think that will sell to any other than the most willing of buyers?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “All of the unsubstantiated speculations about Perich’s “mental capacity,” “incapacity,” and “issues that make it impossible for her to keep the students safe” are just that – gossipy speculations”

    Okay, but she was let go for some reason and it wasn’t some religious reason, hence the speculation. I mean she was fired for insubordination. That is just goofy. What insubordination? That she refused to resign? That she complained that it would be illegal to fire her because she had been released to work without restriction? How is that insubordination? I don’t get the lawyer’s reasoning there. It seems like circular logic. Do they think that will sell to any other than the most willing of buyers?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@33), my wife is a school teacher. I am quite certain that no one knows better about her medical conditions than her doctor — not her students, and most certainly not their parents. Your insistence, even in the face of your obvious ignorance about this woman — indeed, in your own admitted ignorance about narcolepsy in general — that you could assess this situation better than the teacher’s doctor is galling. The same holds for your assumptions about her students’ knowledge. Sitting in a room with someone is not the same as examining them medically, and it certainly does not impart medical knowledge!

    You seem intent on seeing this as a conspiracy against the school — apparently in keeping with your pro-authority tendencies (not that that has any bearing on the actual facts in this case). Your position also seems informed by some desire to combat perceived “political correctness”. But I would argue that your comments here have little to do with this actual case or its facts. Instead, it appears that your biases are running on nothing but assumptions — of what value is that to anyone?

    You say (@48) “it would be helpful to know the facts”, but your comments show little interest in such facts. Seriously, read your completely suppositional previous comment (@47).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@33), my wife is a school teacher. I am quite certain that no one knows better about her medical conditions than her doctor — not her students, and most certainly not their parents. Your insistence, even in the face of your obvious ignorance about this woman — indeed, in your own admitted ignorance about narcolepsy in general — that you could assess this situation better than the teacher’s doctor is galling. The same holds for your assumptions about her students’ knowledge. Sitting in a room with someone is not the same as examining them medically, and it certainly does not impart medical knowledge!

    You seem intent on seeing this as a conspiracy against the school — apparently in keeping with your pro-authority tendencies (not that that has any bearing on the actual facts in this case). Your position also seems informed by some desire to combat perceived “political correctness”. But I would argue that your comments here have little to do with this actual case or its facts. Instead, it appears that your biases are running on nothing but assumptions — of what value is that to anyone?

    You say (@48) “it would be helpful to know the facts”, but your comments show little interest in such facts. Seriously, read your completely suppositional previous comment (@47).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It seems that narcolepsy is diagnosed and treated based on symptoms. It is not like cancer where lab tests are used for diagnosing etc. So, yeah, I think coworkers/students could be more aware of her symptoms than her doctor.

    I looked at the link that Carl supplied, and it seems the school was concerned that she might not be up to the job:

    “Perich, however, obtained a release from her doctor and sought permission to return to work in the middle of the school year. Id.7a, 37a. The school declined, expressing concern about Perich’s ability to safely supervise students, and about the students’ ability to adjust to a third new teacher in a single school year. Id. 6a-7a, 36a-37a. It asked Perich to resign her call for the remainder of the school year, with the understanding that her call could be rein- stated upon her return to work in the following school year. Id. 6a-7a, 36a-37a.
    Perich refused this arrangement and told the school that she would report to work. When she reported to work, the school had no job for her. Citing the school handbook, which states that failure to return to work on the first day following the expiration of medical leave may be considered voluntary termination, Perich refused to leave school grounds until the school gave her a letter acknowledging that she had reported for work. Id. 8a, 37a. The school gave her a letter stating that she had provided improper notification of her return to work and asking her to continue her leave so that the school could develop a plan for her return. Later that day, when the school principal suggested that her conduct had placed her continued employment in jeopardy, Perich threatened to sue. Id. 8a, 38a.”

    It looks like Perich didn’t want to go six months with neither a disability check nor a paycheck. It seems she had to follow the rule that she had to report to work as soon as she was released by the doctor, which was probably written without foreseeing a situation like this. She might have felt abused. She might have been tired of the games. The fact that I don’t know doesn’t change the fact that these things are relevant. In fact they are probably the determining factors rather than this goofy business about what percent of her duties were religious. She went to the extra trouble to become a called teacher, and then goes on to argue that her duties were really mostly secular. So which is it? Does she want to be called if there is some financial benefit, but when there are more benefits to being a contract teacher, then she thinks she will argue for that? Just askin’

    My next question, if SCOTUS rules in favor of the school, will it make being a called teacher a less attractive option? I mean, gaming the system for the housing allowance made it more attractive, but with this now it seems less so, will fewer teachers want a call instead of a contract position?

    If SCOTUS rules in favor of the teacher, will religious schools all over the country have to print their own materials or use textbooks with religious content that cannot be used in public schools in order to prove they are religious enough?

    “You seem intent on seeing this as a conspiracy against the school — apparently in keeping with your pro-authority tendencies”

    He, he, he, you crack me up. It’s not about me, really it’s not.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It seems that narcolepsy is diagnosed and treated based on symptoms. It is not like cancer where lab tests are used for diagnosing etc. So, yeah, I think coworkers/students could be more aware of her symptoms than her doctor.

    I looked at the link that Carl supplied, and it seems the school was concerned that she might not be up to the job:

    “Perich, however, obtained a release from her doctor and sought permission to return to work in the middle of the school year. Id.7a, 37a. The school declined, expressing concern about Perich’s ability to safely supervise students, and about the students’ ability to adjust to a third new teacher in a single school year. Id. 6a-7a, 36a-37a. It asked Perich to resign her call for the remainder of the school year, with the understanding that her call could be rein- stated upon her return to work in the following school year. Id. 6a-7a, 36a-37a.
    Perich refused this arrangement and told the school that she would report to work. When she reported to work, the school had no job for her. Citing the school handbook, which states that failure to return to work on the first day following the expiration of medical leave may be considered voluntary termination, Perich refused to leave school grounds until the school gave her a letter acknowledging that she had reported for work. Id. 8a, 37a. The school gave her a letter stating that she had provided improper notification of her return to work and asking her to continue her leave so that the school could develop a plan for her return. Later that day, when the school principal suggested that her conduct had placed her continued employment in jeopardy, Perich threatened to sue. Id. 8a, 38a.”

    It looks like Perich didn’t want to go six months with neither a disability check nor a paycheck. It seems she had to follow the rule that she had to report to work as soon as she was released by the doctor, which was probably written without foreseeing a situation like this. She might have felt abused. She might have been tired of the games. The fact that I don’t know doesn’t change the fact that these things are relevant. In fact they are probably the determining factors rather than this goofy business about what percent of her duties were religious. She went to the extra trouble to become a called teacher, and then goes on to argue that her duties were really mostly secular. So which is it? Does she want to be called if there is some financial benefit, but when there are more benefits to being a contract teacher, then she thinks she will argue for that? Just askin’

    My next question, if SCOTUS rules in favor of the school, will it make being a called teacher a less attractive option? I mean, gaming the system for the housing allowance made it more attractive, but with this now it seems less so, will fewer teachers want a call instead of a contract position?

    If SCOTUS rules in favor of the teacher, will religious schools all over the country have to print their own materials or use textbooks with religious content that cannot be used in public schools in order to prove they are religious enough?

    “You seem intent on seeing this as a conspiracy against the school — apparently in keeping with your pro-authority tendencies”

    He, he, he, you crack me up. It’s not about me, really it’s not.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@56), “He, he, he, you crack me up. It’s not about me, really it’s not.”

    I suppose I should have predicted you would say that — it is a frequent retort from you, though I have no idea what it means to you.

    If it’s not about you, why do you keep inserting yourself into it, substituting your own assumptions and guesses from ignorance for actual facts and information?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@56), “He, he, he, you crack me up. It’s not about me, really it’s not.”

    I suppose I should have predicted you would say that — it is a frequent retort from you, though I have no idea what it means to you.

    If it’s not about you, why do you keep inserting yourself into it, substituting your own assumptions and guesses from ignorance for actual facts and information?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey tODD, I went through and read the stuff at that link from Carl. They way they develop the argument boils down to religious organizations can hire and fire ministers for any reason and the courts have always gone along and not been involved therefore they should continue to do so.

    It appears the school expected she would be on leave the whole year and wasn’t prepared for her to show up in February demanding her job back. Perhaps she didn’t realize/like that the trade off for the ministerial housing deal was that she would have to go through the Synod process and would not be entitled to the same legal status as contract employees.

    Did these ideas come to my mind based on how I see things? Well, yes, but that is to be assumed about every person’s comments. Duh. Beyond that, I just find it weird that you go off on the tangent of the people making the comments instead of the comments themselves. I won’t speculate as to why. ;-)

    I hope you had a nice Easter.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey tODD, I went through and read the stuff at that link from Carl. They way they develop the argument boils down to religious organizations can hire and fire ministers for any reason and the courts have always gone along and not been involved therefore they should continue to do so.

    It appears the school expected she would be on leave the whole year and wasn’t prepared for her to show up in February demanding her job back. Perhaps she didn’t realize/like that the trade off for the ministerial housing deal was that she would have to go through the Synod process and would not be entitled to the same legal status as contract employees.

    Did these ideas come to my mind based on how I see things? Well, yes, but that is to be assumed about every person’s comments. Duh. Beyond that, I just find it weird that you go off on the tangent of the people making the comments instead of the comments themselves. I won’t speculate as to why. ;-)

    I hope you had a nice Easter.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Oh, here is what seems to be what the school lawyers think the court will agree with:

    p.30

    “Religious questions are also at the heart of Hosanna-Tabor’s defense on the merits. According to the Church, it rescinded Perich’s call for doctrinal reasons–namely, disruption and insubordination, along with its belief that congregations and ministers should use the Synod’s dispute resolution process. Id. 38a, 50a, 77a-80a. Perich claims that this doctrinal motivation is a pretext. In order to resolve this dispute, the court will have to decide whether the Church was truly motivated by its religious doctrine.
    This Court prohibited just such an inquiry in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop. There, the Court noted the inevitable entanglement that would result from mandatory collective bargaining at religious schools: Teachers would charge the schools with an unfair labor practice; the school would defend on the ground that its conduct was doctrinally motivated; and the teachers would claim the doctrinal motivation was pretextual. 440 U.S. at 502. The Board would then be forced to inquire “into the good faith of the position asserted by the [school] and its relationship to the school’s religious mission.” Ibid. “It is not only the conclusions that may be reached by the Board which may impinge on rights guaranteed by the Religion Clauses,” the Court said, “but also the very process of inquiry leading to findings and conclusions.” Ibid. That is precisely why other circuits, in conflict with
    the court below, have refused to resolve claims of pretext. See Part I.A.2.b, supra.”

    It sounds to me (I don’t know much about this stuff) that they are making the point that religious organizations can hire and fire for their own reasons which are beyond the scope of legal inquiry as long as the person is a minister.

    This brings back that question as to whether a ruling in favor of the school would mean fewer teachers would want to be called.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Oh, here is what seems to be what the school lawyers think the court will agree with:

    p.30

    “Religious questions are also at the heart of Hosanna-Tabor’s defense on the merits. According to the Church, it rescinded Perich’s call for doctrinal reasons–namely, disruption and insubordination, along with its belief that congregations and ministers should use the Synod’s dispute resolution process. Id. 38a, 50a, 77a-80a. Perich claims that this doctrinal motivation is a pretext. In order to resolve this dispute, the court will have to decide whether the Church was truly motivated by its religious doctrine.
    This Court prohibited just such an inquiry in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop. There, the Court noted the inevitable entanglement that would result from mandatory collective bargaining at religious schools: Teachers would charge the schools with an unfair labor practice; the school would defend on the ground that its conduct was doctrinally motivated; and the teachers would claim the doctrinal motivation was pretextual. 440 U.S. at 502. The Board would then be forced to inquire “into the good faith of the position asserted by the [school] and its relationship to the school’s religious mission.” Ibid. “It is not only the conclusions that may be reached by the Board which may impinge on rights guaranteed by the Religion Clauses,” the Court said, “but also the very process of inquiry leading to findings and conclusions.” Ibid. That is precisely why other circuits, in conflict with
    the court below, have refused to resolve claims of pretext. See Part I.A.2.b, supra.”

    It sounds to me (I don’t know much about this stuff) that they are making the point that religious organizations can hire and fire for their own reasons which are beyond the scope of legal inquiry as long as the person is a minister.

    This brings back that question as to whether a ruling in favor of the school would mean fewer teachers would want to be called.

  • Carl Vehse

    A SCOTUS ruling which puts the Perich complaint under the ministerial exception means that a called church worker (or any dependent) diagnosed with a serious disease/disability that would be expensive to treat could reasonably anticipate being fired to avoid causing greater expenses for the church. If the called worker objects to such discrimination, that objection can be used as a reason for the church to depose the called worker. The ministerial exception would prevent the worker from getting the EEOC to taking the church to court.

    The church’s worry that a district president, as ecclesiastical supervisor, may deal with its unethical actions through a dispute resolution process can be dismissed by the Michigan District’s failure in the last six years to get involved in the case, and by the LCMS’s (along with other religious groups) Amici Curiae brief opposing the Appeals Court decision.

    This may cause some teacher to weigh the benefit of a tax-free housing allowance against a family risk of some disease or other disability or an infant who is premature or has birth defects.

  • Carl Vehse

    A SCOTUS ruling which puts the Perich complaint under the ministerial exception means that a called church worker (or any dependent) diagnosed with a serious disease/disability that would be expensive to treat could reasonably anticipate being fired to avoid causing greater expenses for the church. If the called worker objects to such discrimination, that objection can be used as a reason for the church to depose the called worker. The ministerial exception would prevent the worker from getting the EEOC to taking the church to court.

    The church’s worry that a district president, as ecclesiastical supervisor, may deal with its unethical actions through a dispute resolution process can be dismissed by the Michigan District’s failure in the last six years to get involved in the case, and by the LCMS’s (along with other religious groups) Amici Curiae brief opposing the Appeals Court decision.

    This may cause some teacher to weigh the benefit of a tax-free housing allowance against a family risk of some disease or other disability or an infant who is premature or has birth defects.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So, Carl, the type of person who doesn’t want to be a burden would be okay with what you describe, but the type who expects others to take care of him would be wary and maybe figure it would be better to work for the public school. However, a friend of mine had a serious injury while working as a teacher for a public school and was promptly put on workman’s comp and pushed right out the door with no benefits other than workman’s comp.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So, Carl, the type of person who doesn’t want to be a burden would be okay with what you describe, but the type who expects others to take care of him would be wary and maybe figure it would be better to work for the public school. However, a friend of mine had a serious injury while working as a teacher for a public school and was promptly put on workman’s comp and pushed right out the door with no benefits other than workman’s comp.

  • Carl Vehse

    My comment in #60 that some teachers may weigh benefit vs risk was in the context of a teacher being able and wanting to work despite a disability to self or family member.

  • Carl Vehse

    My comment in #60 that some teachers may weigh benefit vs risk was in the context of a teacher being able and wanting to work despite a disability to self or family member.

  • Grace

    Carl – 46

    “If there were evidence that the teacher’s condition were a threat to the students or that her condition prevents her from performing her duties as a teacher, then your claim might have credence, and such a teacher could be removed from the classroom. But “fill in the blank” is not evidence; it is fearmongering.

    Would you likewise refuse to allow your child to be in a classroom of a teacher who is diabetic, or has a heart condition, or cancer, or has a a family history of strokes, or is significantly overweight, or has asthma, or is pregnant, or undergoing menopause, or has PMS? Even if a physician is successfully treating these conditions and has released the person for unrestricted duties, would you still regard a teacher with any such conditions as a threat who could harm the children?”

    Perhaps you didn’t read the entire paper from Stanford Medical which I posted a link @25:

    Stanford Medical

    Socioeconomic Impact

    Narcolepsy is a very disabling and underdiagnosed illness: the effect of narcolepsy on its victims is devastating. Studies have shown that even treated narcoleptic patients are often markedly psychosocially impaired in the area of work, leisure, interpersonal relations, and are more prone to accidents. These effects are even more severe than the well-documented deleterious effects of epilepsy when similar criteria are used for comparison.

    http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/narcolepsy/symptoms.html

    I often enjoy your posts, and learn from them. However Carl, when you proceed to compare Narcolepsy with diabetics, cancer, asthma, or more foolishly individuals “pregnant, or undergoing menopause, or has PMS” you make NO SENSE. Those illnesses and normal conditions as the last three do not inhibit one from a position as teacher, however one occasionally hears the ‘old refrain’ from a few men who have little understanding, often using the last three as reasons to ‘suit their own interests.’

    No one can know when someone will have a stroke or heart attack. As for asthma and diabetics, there is medication and diet. I won’t even comment on cancer,…. you should know better.

  • Grace

    Carl – 46

    “If there were evidence that the teacher’s condition were a threat to the students or that her condition prevents her from performing her duties as a teacher, then your claim might have credence, and such a teacher could be removed from the classroom. But “fill in the blank” is not evidence; it is fearmongering.

    Would you likewise refuse to allow your child to be in a classroom of a teacher who is diabetic, or has a heart condition, or cancer, or has a a family history of strokes, or is significantly overweight, or has asthma, or is pregnant, or undergoing menopause, or has PMS? Even if a physician is successfully treating these conditions and has released the person for unrestricted duties, would you still regard a teacher with any such conditions as a threat who could harm the children?”

    Perhaps you didn’t read the entire paper from Stanford Medical which I posted a link @25:

    Stanford Medical

    Socioeconomic Impact

    Narcolepsy is a very disabling and underdiagnosed illness: the effect of narcolepsy on its victims is devastating. Studies have shown that even treated narcoleptic patients are often markedly psychosocially impaired in the area of work, leisure, interpersonal relations, and are more prone to accidents. These effects are even more severe than the well-documented deleterious effects of epilepsy when similar criteria are used for comparison.

    http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/narcolepsy/symptoms.html

    I often enjoy your posts, and learn from them. However Carl, when you proceed to compare Narcolepsy with diabetics, cancer, asthma, or more foolishly individuals “pregnant, or undergoing menopause, or has PMS” you make NO SENSE. Those illnesses and normal conditions as the last three do not inhibit one from a position as teacher, however one occasionally hears the ‘old refrain’ from a few men who have little understanding, often using the last three as reasons to ‘suit their own interests.’

    No one can know when someone will have a stroke or heart attack. As for asthma and diabetics, there is medication and diet. I won’t even comment on cancer,…. you should know better.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@58), my replies were all directed at your comments. Specifically, at your insistent assumptions with which you have peppered this thread.

    Assuming you know more than the doctor does: “I would not be too confident having her as a teacher of grade school kids, her doctor’s note notwithstanding.” (@24)

    Piling hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals to justify your earlier conclusion: “If they gave her the job and something happened to a student, then perhaps we would be discussing the school board’s negligence, or the doctor’s error.” (@29)

    Positing that it’s likely that the teachers coworkers and students know more about the teacher’s condition than does her doctor, even though you know nothing about any of them: “What are the chances the doctor is more familiar with her condition than coworkers and students who saw her?” (@31)

    Piling hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals to justify that conclusion: “Sure, the school could hire her back and then have every parent withdraw their child from her class, never to return. And other parents might follow suit because they disagree with the judgement of the school board. That could spell the end of the school.” (@31)

    Pulling a number out of your … hat to back up your hypotheticals: “Now this may seem far fetched to some, but I figure it could be at least 10% possible.” (@31)

    Once again positing that you know best about who likely knows best in this case: “The students are likely more familiar with her condition than her doctor. They spent hundreds of hours with her. The doctor surely did not.” (@33)

    Please do let me know, SG, if you find any evidence that anyone else is considering the students’ testimony when evaluating this teachers’ medical condition. Because it seems an important point for you … and for no one else.

    Then there is your summary of employment law (@37) which, frankly, seems just a wee bit dubious to me: “So, healthy, American born, Christian, male, white, young/middle aged men can be dumped at will. Everyone else is protected.” Feel free to point me to the place you looked that up, but I’m going to guess for now that you have misunderstood the nature of those categories (e.g. you can still fire a Hindu woman without cause, but you can’t fire her for being a woman or a Hindu).

    And then back to your favorite hypothetical situation, the danger to students (@42): “it should be noted that in the public schools, it can be extremely hard to fire someone and they often have to keep them and pay them even though they can’t be put in a classroom because they pose a risk to students.”

    And then, of course, there was your masterwork of conspiracy and assumptions (@47), in which you claim not to know if your concerns are factual, but you insist on “wondering” all the same as to whether: (1) the school attempted to help first, then tried to bend the rules; (2) the doctor was incompetent in his assessment; (3) the doctor was unduly motivated by insurance issues; (4) (once again!) the idea that her narcolepsy might present a danger for the students; (5) the school’s not mentioning the “incapacity” you presume on her part in order to gain a favorable ADA ruling. And so on.

    Again, if it’s not about you, then we can do without all the assumptions, guesswork, and so on that you have injected into this discussion. But you seem disinclined to let those go.

    But this case isn’t about you, SG. It’s about the facts.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@58), my replies were all directed at your comments. Specifically, at your insistent assumptions with which you have peppered this thread.

    Assuming you know more than the doctor does: “I would not be too confident having her as a teacher of grade school kids, her doctor’s note notwithstanding.” (@24)

    Piling hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals to justify your earlier conclusion: “If they gave her the job and something happened to a student, then perhaps we would be discussing the school board’s negligence, or the doctor’s error.” (@29)

    Positing that it’s likely that the teachers coworkers and students know more about the teacher’s condition than does her doctor, even though you know nothing about any of them: “What are the chances the doctor is more familiar with her condition than coworkers and students who saw her?” (@31)

    Piling hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals to justify that conclusion: “Sure, the school could hire her back and then have every parent withdraw their child from her class, never to return. And other parents might follow suit because they disagree with the judgement of the school board. That could spell the end of the school.” (@31)

    Pulling a number out of your … hat to back up your hypotheticals: “Now this may seem far fetched to some, but I figure it could be at least 10% possible.” (@31)

    Once again positing that you know best about who likely knows best in this case: “The students are likely more familiar with her condition than her doctor. They spent hundreds of hours with her. The doctor surely did not.” (@33)

    Please do let me know, SG, if you find any evidence that anyone else is considering the students’ testimony when evaluating this teachers’ medical condition. Because it seems an important point for you … and for no one else.

    Then there is your summary of employment law (@37) which, frankly, seems just a wee bit dubious to me: “So, healthy, American born, Christian, male, white, young/middle aged men can be dumped at will. Everyone else is protected.” Feel free to point me to the place you looked that up, but I’m going to guess for now that you have misunderstood the nature of those categories (e.g. you can still fire a Hindu woman without cause, but you can’t fire her for being a woman or a Hindu).

    And then back to your favorite hypothetical situation, the danger to students (@42): “it should be noted that in the public schools, it can be extremely hard to fire someone and they often have to keep them and pay them even though they can’t be put in a classroom because they pose a risk to students.”

    And then, of course, there was your masterwork of conspiracy and assumptions (@47), in which you claim not to know if your concerns are factual, but you insist on “wondering” all the same as to whether: (1) the school attempted to help first, then tried to bend the rules; (2) the doctor was incompetent in his assessment; (3) the doctor was unduly motivated by insurance issues; (4) (once again!) the idea that her narcolepsy might present a danger for the students; (5) the school’s not mentioning the “incapacity” you presume on her part in order to gain a favorable ADA ruling. And so on.

    Again, if it’s not about you, then we can do without all the assumptions, guesswork, and so on that you have injected into this discussion. But you seem disinclined to let those go.

    But this case isn’t about you, SG. It’s about the facts.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    tODD, I don’t know if you are having a bad day or something. I am sorry if you are. Yeah, those things came to my mind. So what? If you think it spurious, maybe ignore it. Others do.

    The facts are sketchy. And those omitted facts are likely the real story here. The legal facts of the case hinge on the ministerial exception being used to dismiss called ministers. Do you think that she would not have been fired if she had been a contract teacher? I don’t know when they renewed contracts. So it could be that her contract just simply would not have been renewed.

    So, do you think that a win for the school in this case would make called teaching positions less attractive?

    Do you think a win for the teacher is possible given the general lack of interest by the courts in getting involved in these false “pretext” disputes from employees of religious organizations? If so, do you think that will impede the work of religious organizations?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    tODD, I don’t know if you are having a bad day or something. I am sorry if you are. Yeah, those things came to my mind. So what? If you think it spurious, maybe ignore it. Others do.

    The facts are sketchy. And those omitted facts are likely the real story here. The legal facts of the case hinge on the ministerial exception being used to dismiss called ministers. Do you think that she would not have been fired if she had been a contract teacher? I don’t know when they renewed contracts. So it could be that her contract just simply would not have been renewed.

    So, do you think that a win for the school in this case would make called teaching positions less attractive?

    Do you think a win for the teacher is possible given the general lack of interest by the courts in getting involved in these false “pretext” disputes from employees of religious organizations? If so, do you think that will impede the work of religious organizations?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG suggested to me (@65), “If you think it spurious, maybe ignore it. Others do.” Um, how about this: If I think your argumentation here spurious, I’ll say so. In the comments. And if you want to follow your own suggestion, you can ignore me. Others here do.

    But, while you seem to think yourself free to speculate wildly on the thinnest of pretexts, you seem to have a problem if others comment on that — even though they have far more basis to their comments than you do! How does that work out?

    “The facts are sketchy,” you say. But your wild guesses are far sketchier! Let’s try to stick to the facts, hmm?

    As to what might happen if the case turns out in a certain way, that’s too much speculation for me. I prefer to see how the Supreme Court will rule, and may have an opinion on that opinion, but only at that time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG suggested to me (@65), “If you think it spurious, maybe ignore it. Others do.” Um, how about this: If I think your argumentation here spurious, I’ll say so. In the comments. And if you want to follow your own suggestion, you can ignore me. Others here do.

    But, while you seem to think yourself free to speculate wildly on the thinnest of pretexts, you seem to have a problem if others comment on that — even though they have far more basis to their comments than you do! How does that work out?

    “The facts are sketchy,” you say. But your wild guesses are far sketchier! Let’s try to stick to the facts, hmm?

    As to what might happen if the case turns out in a certain way, that’s too much speculation for me. I prefer to see how the Supreme Court will rule, and may have an opinion on that opinion, but only at that time.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    You know, tODD, when I was in high school, a book came out called Winning through Intimidation. I never read that book, but always remembered the title. That seems to be the angle you are taking here. Your point seems to be that speculating on this case is somehow “bad” and therefore those who speculate are “bad”. Okay, whatever, manipulative insults don’t work on me. You can be “good” and not express any curiosity about facts beyond the narrow scope on which the court will rule. I am naturally curious (and non-conforming) and it seemed to me that this would have been seen as an ADA case but for the ministerial exception. Also, it seemed that the defense had a strong point in noting that the teacher didn’t go through the Synod’s process for ministerial dispute resolution but rather chose to argue her duties weren’t mostly ministerial. That is odd for someone who specifically sought to be a called teacher.

    Hey, and when are you going to thank me for staying off of here during Lent? :-)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    You know, tODD, when I was in high school, a book came out called Winning through Intimidation. I never read that book, but always remembered the title. That seems to be the angle you are taking here. Your point seems to be that speculating on this case is somehow “bad” and therefore those who speculate are “bad”. Okay, whatever, manipulative insults don’t work on me. You can be “good” and not express any curiosity about facts beyond the narrow scope on which the court will rule. I am naturally curious (and non-conforming) and it seemed to me that this would have been seen as an ADA case but for the ministerial exception. Also, it seemed that the defense had a strong point in noting that the teacher didn’t go through the Synod’s process for ministerial dispute resolution but rather chose to argue her duties weren’t mostly ministerial. That is odd for someone who specifically sought to be a called teacher.

    Hey, and when are you going to thank me for staying off of here during Lent? :-)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@67), come on. You call yourself “curious”, and yet also seem content not to find out the actual facts in this case, but to answer your own curiousity with little more than assumptions from ignorance. That’s not really curiosity in my opinion.

    You can speculate wildly all you want, of course. But don’t expect me to praise you for it — or to remain silent when it’s clear you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sorry, that’s not how things work.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@67), come on. You call yourself “curious”, and yet also seem content not to find out the actual facts in this case, but to answer your own curiousity with little more than assumptions from ignorance. That’s not really curiosity in my opinion.

    You can speculate wildly all you want, of course. But don’t expect me to praise you for it — or to remain silent when it’s clear you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sorry, that’s not how things work.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Expect praise? goofy. I’d be lucky just to get the benefit of the doubt.

    Anyway, I said twice that I read the links Carl shared. So whatever. Did you read them? Also, my speculation was about the topic not what motivates you to be so rude in demanding that I approach the case the way you do, the right way, aka your way. People are different. (Diversity is great until someone does something different.) So, you want to wait for the decision, and not ask why about what lead to the situation, fine. I will say that by thinking out loud on this topic and kind of going in one direction along my natural train of thought and then reading through the links Carl posted did help me better understand the way the exception works and consider its impact on this particular instance. Sometimes a person can learn more by trying to think through something first and then look at how someone else sees it. I also like to throw ideas out and ask questions and see what others think, because other people have interesting insights. That way the ideas and the arguments make more sense. Anyway, that works for me. It would be nice if folks could understand and appreciate different ways of approaching things rather than just criticize. But even if roundly criticized for asking questions or speculating, I will not shut up.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Expect praise? goofy. I’d be lucky just to get the benefit of the doubt.

    Anyway, I said twice that I read the links Carl shared. So whatever. Did you read them? Also, my speculation was about the topic not what motivates you to be so rude in demanding that I approach the case the way you do, the right way, aka your way. People are different. (Diversity is great until someone does something different.) So, you want to wait for the decision, and not ask why about what lead to the situation, fine. I will say that by thinking out loud on this topic and kind of going in one direction along my natural train of thought and then reading through the links Carl posted did help me better understand the way the exception works and consider its impact on this particular instance. Sometimes a person can learn more by trying to think through something first and then look at how someone else sees it. I also like to throw ideas out and ask questions and see what others think, because other people have interesting insights. That way the ideas and the arguments make more sense. Anyway, that works for me. It would be nice if folks could understand and appreciate different ways of approaching things rather than just criticize. But even if roundly criticized for asking questions or speculating, I will not shut up.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Oh, and one more thing, Dr. Veith started us off with a whole bunch of questions for us to consider, ponder and even speculate on. That was the topic of this post. He didn’t just suggest we all just wait for the decision of the court.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Oh, and one more thing, Dr. Veith started us off with a whole bunch of questions for us to consider, ponder and even speculate on. That was the topic of this post. He didn’t just suggest we all just wait for the decision of the court.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    More questions.

    Can the court make a ruling specific to her case and a ruling on the pretext issue? I seem to remember that it can. But I may misunderstand how that works.

    Like, can they say that since she didn’t even go through the Synod’s process for dispute resolution that her case is different from a case where the plaintiff did go through the established process of an organization? Can they then go on to say that the courts will/will not get involved in cases of pretext?

    This case focuses on labeling the individual a minister and therefore exempt. However other cases focus on the identity of the institution, which is sort of in the same vein:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/01/11/nlrb_backs_right_of_adjuncts_to_unionize_at_manhattan_college

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    More questions.

    Can the court make a ruling specific to her case and a ruling on the pretext issue? I seem to remember that it can. But I may misunderstand how that works.

    Like, can they say that since she didn’t even go through the Synod’s process for dispute resolution that her case is different from a case where the plaintiff did go through the established process of an organization? Can they then go on to say that the courts will/will not get involved in cases of pretext?

    This case focuses on labeling the individual a minister and therefore exempt. However other cases focus on the identity of the institution, which is sort of in the same vein:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/01/11/nlrb_backs_right_of_adjuncts_to_unionize_at_manhattan_college

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG lamented (@69), “Expect praise? goofy. I’d be lucky just to get the benefit of the doubt.”

    Forgive me, but that’s rich. While you repeatedly speculate that the teacher’s doctor was incompetent or unduly influenced by money concerns, and furthermore speculate that the teacher was not competent to work as her doctor claimed, but in fact presented a very real potential danger to her students, you ask for the “benefit of the doubt”. But where have you shown those in this case the same benefit, SG?

    I guess politeness is something you ask of others, not show to them? And yet you call me “rude”! Even though I have actual evidence for my claims about you, in this very thread. But where is the evidence for your repeated claims that the teacher might present a danger to her students? Where is your evidence about her doctor’s incompetence or malfeasance?

    And since you seem not to have deduced it from what I’m saying, what I find galling is this speculation about the teacher and her doctor. That is what is so rude on your part. As to how this case will be judged, or what impact that will have, speculate away — there’s nothing rude about that, is there? I just don’t personally have much interest in guessing about such things, at least at this point.

    But to assume your own facts with no actual knowledge yourself, to the detriment of others’ reputations, that is the problem towards which nearly all of my comments have been directed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG lamented (@69), “Expect praise? goofy. I’d be lucky just to get the benefit of the doubt.”

    Forgive me, but that’s rich. While you repeatedly speculate that the teacher’s doctor was incompetent or unduly influenced by money concerns, and furthermore speculate that the teacher was not competent to work as her doctor claimed, but in fact presented a very real potential danger to her students, you ask for the “benefit of the doubt”. But where have you shown those in this case the same benefit, SG?

    I guess politeness is something you ask of others, not show to them? And yet you call me “rude”! Even though I have actual evidence for my claims about you, in this very thread. But where is the evidence for your repeated claims that the teacher might present a danger to her students? Where is your evidence about her doctor’s incompetence or malfeasance?

    And since you seem not to have deduced it from what I’m saying, what I find galling is this speculation about the teacher and her doctor. That is what is so rude on your part. As to how this case will be judged, or what impact that will have, speculate away — there’s nothing rude about that, is there? I just don’t personally have much interest in guessing about such things, at least at this point.

    But to assume your own facts with no actual knowledge yourself, to the detriment of others’ reputations, that is the problem towards which nearly all of my comments have been directed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I guess politeness is something you ask of others, not show to them?”

    tODD, she isn’t here. How can I be rude to someone that I am not even talking to?

    It is so absurd.

    I think you are rude because you can’t just complain about what I said, you wildly speculate about me personally like:

    “You seem intent on seeing this as a conspiracy against the school — apparently in keeping with your pro-authority tendencies (not that that has any bearing on the actual facts in this case). Your position also seems informed by some desire to combat perceived “political correctness”. But I would argue that your comments here have little to do with this actual case or its facts. Instead, it appears that your biases are running on nothing but assumptions — of what value is that to anyone?”
    touché

    It is a variant of the ad hominem. My speculation wasn’t wild. It was pertinent. There has to be more to the story. There was some reason she was fired. And there is some reason she felt it was wrong. We can only speculate because the case doesn’t hang on those facts. So, the facts aren’t presented.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I guess politeness is something you ask of others, not show to them?”

    tODD, she isn’t here. How can I be rude to someone that I am not even talking to?

    It is so absurd.

    I think you are rude because you can’t just complain about what I said, you wildly speculate about me personally like:

    “You seem intent on seeing this as a conspiracy against the school — apparently in keeping with your pro-authority tendencies (not that that has any bearing on the actual facts in this case). Your position also seems informed by some desire to combat perceived “political correctness”. But I would argue that your comments here have little to do with this actual case or its facts. Instead, it appears that your biases are running on nothing but assumptions — of what value is that to anyone?”
    touché

    It is a variant of the ad hominem. My speculation wasn’t wild. It was pertinent. There has to be more to the story. There was some reason she was fired. And there is some reason she felt it was wrong. We can only speculate because the case doesn’t hang on those facts. So, the facts aren’t presented.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@73), well, I’ll give you this: you’re tenacious.

    You said, “She isn’t here. How can I be rude to someone that I am not even talking to?” Um, not that you know who is or isn’t reading this thread (how could you?), but defaming someone behind her back is only adding to the problem. Or do you think it’s okay to assume the worst about people as long as they’re not around to hear you do so? If so, where in the world did you get that idea? At least if you were defaming people to their faces, they’d have the opportunity to defend themselves against your baseless accusations.

    “I think you are rude because you can’t just complain about what I said …” Um, no, that’s exactly what I did. I complained about what you said.

    As to my speculations about you, they are derived from my reading many of your comments here over time — or, indeed, on this thread. Which ones do you take issue with? Do you want me to point you to comments that gave me the impression you think like that?

    (Also, “touché” is French for “touched”, and generally indicates that the argument of one’s “opponent” has hit home. Is that what you intended to convey?)

    “My speculation wasn’t wild. It was pertinent.” Um, the opposite of speculation isn’t pertinence. Yes, your speculation was relevant to the topic, yet it was still speculation — and baseless speculation, at that.

    The way to disprove an accusation that you are speculating wildly would be to give us evidence. Surely it can’t have passed you by that, though both Carl (e.g. @43) and I have repeatedly asked you for something to back up your guesswork, you have failed to provide any. And, unlike my speculation based on reading quite a bit of your output, you don’t even know the people in this case, do you, nor have you interacted with them, have you?

    Yet you persist in justifying your own assumptions and, simultaneously, complaining about assumptions made about you. I suppose the irony truly is lost on you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@73), well, I’ll give you this: you’re tenacious.

    You said, “She isn’t here. How can I be rude to someone that I am not even talking to?” Um, not that you know who is or isn’t reading this thread (how could you?), but defaming someone behind her back is only adding to the problem. Or do you think it’s okay to assume the worst about people as long as they’re not around to hear you do so? If so, where in the world did you get that idea? At least if you were defaming people to their faces, they’d have the opportunity to defend themselves against your baseless accusations.

    “I think you are rude because you can’t just complain about what I said …” Um, no, that’s exactly what I did. I complained about what you said.

    As to my speculations about you, they are derived from my reading many of your comments here over time — or, indeed, on this thread. Which ones do you take issue with? Do you want me to point you to comments that gave me the impression you think like that?

    (Also, “touché” is French for “touched”, and generally indicates that the argument of one’s “opponent” has hit home. Is that what you intended to convey?)

    “My speculation wasn’t wild. It was pertinent.” Um, the opposite of speculation isn’t pertinence. Yes, your speculation was relevant to the topic, yet it was still speculation — and baseless speculation, at that.

    The way to disprove an accusation that you are speculating wildly would be to give us evidence. Surely it can’t have passed you by that, though both Carl (e.g. @43) and I have repeatedly asked you for something to back up your guesswork, you have failed to provide any. And, unlike my speculation based on reading quite a bit of your output, you don’t even know the people in this case, do you, nor have you interacted with them, have you?

    Yet you persist in justifying your own assumptions and, simultaneously, complaining about assumptions made about you. I suppose the irony truly is lost on you.

  • Carl Vehse

    #71:

    Like, can they say that since she didn’t even go through the Synod’s process for dispute resolution that her case is different from a case where the plaintiff did go through the established process of an organization?

    The allegation that Perich did not use the dispute resolution process is largely irrelevant because of Bylaw 1.10.3. If the Synod is contending that a member of Synod has no right to suggest she may report an unlawful action taken against her to appropriate law enforcement and regulatory agencies, then the Synod is in fact arguing that the “exclusive remedy” (Bylaw 1.10.3) for any unlawful acts, such as rape, murder, robbery, etc. of a synodical member or family, must be the synodical dispute resolution process, and that a member-victim of such actions may not even suggest they might call the police or 911 because that would violate any doctrinal position claimed by the synodical member committing the unlawful act.

    Just as the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Hosanna-Tabor’s claim that its unlawful actions against a member were covered by the ministerial exception, such a synodical claim that it has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal act committed by and on its members (or itself) should also get a sharp rebuke from SCOTUS.

  • Carl Vehse

    #71:

    Like, can they say that since she didn’t even go through the Synod’s process for dispute resolution that her case is different from a case where the plaintiff did go through the established process of an organization?

    The allegation that Perich did not use the dispute resolution process is largely irrelevant because of Bylaw 1.10.3. If the Synod is contending that a member of Synod has no right to suggest she may report an unlawful action taken against her to appropriate law enforcement and regulatory agencies, then the Synod is in fact arguing that the “exclusive remedy” (Bylaw 1.10.3) for any unlawful acts, such as rape, murder, robbery, etc. of a synodical member or family, must be the synodical dispute resolution process, and that a member-victim of such actions may not even suggest they might call the police or 911 because that would violate any doctrinal position claimed by the synodical member committing the unlawful act.

    Just as the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Hosanna-Tabor’s claim that its unlawful actions against a member were covered by the ministerial exception, such a synodical claim that it has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal act committed by and on its members (or itself) should also get a sharp rebuke from SCOTUS.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If the Synod is contending that a member of Synod has no right to suggest she may report an unlawful action taken against her to appropriate law enforcement and regulatory agencies,”

    Okay maybe I am missing something. I thought that the ministerial exception meant that religious organizations could choose their own ministers. So firing an employee for x reason would usually be unlawful except if that person is a minister. The ministerial exception doesn’t appear to allow any other unlawful acts to be suddenly lawful. It just means that while you can’t discriminate in employment generally, you can if it is a minister within your religious organization.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If the Synod is contending that a member of Synod has no right to suggest she may report an unlawful action taken against her to appropriate law enforcement and regulatory agencies,”

    Okay maybe I am missing something. I thought that the ministerial exception meant that religious organizations could choose their own ministers. So firing an employee for x reason would usually be unlawful except if that person is a minister. The ministerial exception doesn’t appear to allow any other unlawful acts to be suddenly lawful. It just means that while you can’t discriminate in employment generally, you can if it is a minister within your religious organization.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’ll give you this: you’re tenacious.”

    It is my defining characteristic.

    Refreshing to see you actually make an accurate judgement about me.

    But still, all of #74 is just boring thread jacking.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’ll give you this: you’re tenacious.”

    It is my defining characteristic.

    Refreshing to see you actually make an accurate judgement about me.

    But still, all of #74 is just boring thread jacking.

  • Carl Vehse

    sg @76: “Okay maybe I am missing something. I thought that the ministerial exception meant that religious organizations could choose their own ministers.”

    sg, reread the quote in #52. Hosanna-Tabor is claiming it fired Perich, under the ministerial exception, because she violated church teachings when she refused to voluntarily resign after being told she probably would be fired, and because she subsequently threatened to report unlawful actions to government agencies.

    Likewise the Missouri Synod claimed Perich, a called commissioned minister, was fired for doctrinal reasons when the Synod asserted in an Amici Brief (p. 5): “Church teaching [i.e., doctrine], however, provides that such disputes [regarding unlawful acts] should be resolved within the Church rather than in civil court.”

  • Carl Vehse

    sg @76: “Okay maybe I am missing something. I thought that the ministerial exception meant that religious organizations could choose their own ministers.”

    sg, reread the quote in #52. Hosanna-Tabor is claiming it fired Perich, under the ministerial exception, because she violated church teachings when she refused to voluntarily resign after being told she probably would be fired, and because she subsequently threatened to report unlawful actions to government agencies.

    Likewise the Missouri Synod claimed Perich, a called commissioned minister, was fired for doctrinal reasons when the Synod asserted in an Amici Brief (p. 5): “Church teaching [i.e., doctrine], however, provides that such disputes [regarding unlawful acts] should be resolved within the Church rather than in civil court.”

  • helen

    1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
    Considering what I have learned about our infamous “Dispute Resolution Process”, it would appear that utilizing it would indeed be “going to law before the unjust”. It begins by swearing the complainant to a vow of silence about the procedure as he experienced it, and usually ends with him losing, after extended time and expense. I haven’t heard of many “saints” running that “CYA for bureaucracy” game.

    It’s been an interesting topic. I am thankful to God that neither “sg” nor anyone like her has been on my school boards, when I was teaching.
    But if we’re engaged in “speculation” is it possible that the Hosanna-Tabor school board gave another teacher a contract for Perich’s position and is just trying to wriggle out of paying them both?

  • helen

    1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
    Considering what I have learned about our infamous “Dispute Resolution Process”, it would appear that utilizing it would indeed be “going to law before the unjust”. It begins by swearing the complainant to a vow of silence about the procedure as he experienced it, and usually ends with him losing, after extended time and expense. I haven’t heard of many “saints” running that “CYA for bureaucracy” game.

    It’s been an interesting topic. I am thankful to God that neither “sg” nor anyone like her has been on my school boards, when I was teaching.
    But if we’re engaged in “speculation” is it possible that the Hosanna-Tabor school board gave another teacher a contract for Perich’s position and is just trying to wriggle out of paying them both?

  • helen

    …she violated church teaching when she refused to voluntarily resign after being told she probably would be fired….

    Whoa, there! It’s now “church teaching” that a minister must voluntarily resign if they are threatened with being fired?

    [Technically, it would be rescension of call, not "fired", assuming (as I do not) that teachers should be equivalent to called Pastors. If the board said "fired" they apparently don't take it seriously either.]

    God knows we’ve seen enough Pastoral resignations (or in ‘stubborn’ cases, rescensions) in central Texas, but I still have not believed it was “church teaching” but rather an abuse of the Office. [There are only a few justified reasons for removing a Pastor.]

    But Sherri Strand infamously “makes it up as she goes along”. Her ‘inventiveness’ cost the church almost $2 million in California… (total waste) … and she backed down at the end.

  • helen

    …she violated church teaching when she refused to voluntarily resign after being told she probably would be fired….

    Whoa, there! It’s now “church teaching” that a minister must voluntarily resign if they are threatened with being fired?

    [Technically, it would be rescension of call, not "fired", assuming (as I do not) that teachers should be equivalent to called Pastors. If the board said "fired" they apparently don't take it seriously either.]

    God knows we’ve seen enough Pastoral resignations (or in ‘stubborn’ cases, rescensions) in central Texas, but I still have not believed it was “church teaching” but rather an abuse of the Office. [There are only a few justified reasons for removing a Pastor.]

    But Sherri Strand infamously “makes it up as she goes along”. Her ‘inventiveness’ cost the church almost $2 million in California… (total waste) … and she backed down at the end.

  • Carl Vehse

    Helen @80: “Whoa, there! It’s now “church teaching” that a minister must voluntarily resign if they are threatened with being fired?”

    The refusal to accept an offer to voluntarily resign and, instead, showing up for work the next day as required by school policy is apparently considered by Synod theologians (or, equivalently, by the Synod’s lawyer) grounds – “insubordination and disruptive behavior” – provided by church teaching for deposing a called commissioned minister.

    The Amici Curiae brief warns (p. 22) that if the court inquires into details of “church polity and resolutions,” the court will risk “judicial rewriting of church law.”

    One should also note that the Amici Curiae brief on behalf of the LCMS was submitted in November, 2010. In its Feb., 2011, meeting minutes, the Synod Board of Directors recognized, “No one cited any significant concerns, and no one recommended changing legal counsel,” and voted to extend the contract with Sherri Strand’s law firm through June 30, 2014.

  • Carl Vehse

    Helen @80: “Whoa, there! It’s now “church teaching” that a minister must voluntarily resign if they are threatened with being fired?”

    The refusal to accept an offer to voluntarily resign and, instead, showing up for work the next day as required by school policy is apparently considered by Synod theologians (or, equivalently, by the Synod’s lawyer) grounds – “insubordination and disruptive behavior” – provided by church teaching for deposing a called commissioned minister.

    The Amici Curiae brief warns (p. 22) that if the court inquires into details of “church polity and resolutions,” the court will risk “judicial rewriting of church law.”

    One should also note that the Amici Curiae brief on behalf of the LCMS was submitted in November, 2010. In its Feb., 2011, meeting minutes, the Synod Board of Directors recognized, “No one cited any significant concerns, and no one recommended changing legal counsel,” and voted to extend the contract with Sherri Strand’s law firm through June 30, 2014.

  • helen

    Carl Vehse @ 81
    The Amici Curiae brief warns (p. 22) that if the court inquires into details of “church polity and resolutions,” the court will risk “judicial rewriting of church law.”

    Is that supposed to be worse than tinpot lawyers rewriting church law!? (To order, yet, as in the case of the “decision of the Committee for Constitutional Matters” dictated by that same Sherri Strand?)

  • helen

    Carl Vehse @ 81
    The Amici Curiae brief warns (p. 22) that if the court inquires into details of “church polity and resolutions,” the court will risk “judicial rewriting of church law.”

    Is that supposed to be worse than tinpot lawyers rewriting church law!? (To order, yet, as in the case of the “decision of the Committee for Constitutional Matters” dictated by that same Sherri Strand?)

  • Carl Vehse

    I think this will be another topic for lively discussion at the koinoniafest being planned for the Missouri Synod.

    BYOB (Bring your own bylaws).

  • Carl Vehse

    I think this will be another topic for lively discussion at the koinoniafest being planned for the Missouri Synod.

    BYOB (Bring your own bylaws).


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