Different takes on the LCMS school case

Here are two different framings of the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC case that was just heard before the Supreme Court.  The first shows why so many religious groups are backing the LCMS school:
Washington Wants a Say Over Your Minister–Wall Street Journal

The second is slanted towards the rights of the disabled:

Supreme Court Weighs Rights Of Parochial-School Teachers : NPR.

Then there are many confessional Lutherans who disapprove of teachers being conflated with pastors and so oppose the congregation’s claim for a “ministerial exception.”

I suspect there are also LCMS teachers and others who support the notion of the teacher’s “call” and yet sympathize with her for being discriminated against because of her disability.

How do you think the court should rule, and how do you think it will rule?  What measures should the church body take to address these issues?

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.

  • PHW

    It should uphold the position of Hosanna-Tabor. I think it will 6-3.

  • PHW

    It should uphold the position of Hosanna-Tabor. I think it will 6-3.

  • Tom Hering

    “The first shows … the second is slanted …” – Dr. Veith.

    Do I detect a preference for one position over the other? :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “The first shows … the second is slanted …” – Dr. Veith.

    Do I detect a preference for one position over the other? :-D

  • Carl Vehse

    Subchapter I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 126, § 12113(d), states:

    (1) In general – This subchapter shall not prohibit a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society from giving preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities.

    (2) Religious tenets requirements – Under this subchapter, a religious organization may require that all applicants and employees conform to the religious tenets of such organization.

    This exception, known as the ministerial exception, is not a license to discriminate for causes outside of the religious tenets of the religious organization. Thus a church’s tenets on male-only pastors, or against homosexuality or abortion advocacy can be used to decide on who to allow as pastors or teachers. But a church that claims no religious tenets restricting pastors or teachers because of their particular race, or handedness, or wearing glasses, or blood pressure or cholesterol medications, etc., cannot expect carte blanche to claim the right to discriminate against pastors or teachers for such or other reasons not related to its professed religious tenets.

    However, Subchapter IV of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 126, § 12203(a), states:

    No person shall discriminate against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this chapter or because such individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter.

    As yet another example of unintended consequences, this creates a major loophole in the law that allows a religious organization to essentially include ANY/ALL discrimination or ANY/ALL other illegal acts or even ANY/ALL complaints of such alleged illegal acts to be within its religious tenets, under the threat of deposing a complaining member. That loophole is the claiming of a doctrinal tenet by a religious organization requiring that all members must use the organization’s dispute resolution process for complaints of alleged illegal or criminal acts, rather than reporting them to government regulatory, law enforcement, or judicial entitites.

    And in the Hosanna-Tabor case, the religious tenet appears to include forbidding a member, under threat of being deposed, from even threatening to report illegal acts to government regulatory, law enforcement, or judicial entitites.

    Compounding this is the fact, pointed out in the SCOTUS hearing transcript, that Hosanna-Tabor did not request the LCMS to remove the deposed (supposedly) heterodox teacher from membership, but, instead recommended her to other congregations to be a called commissioned teacher (comparable in this sense to past instances of Roman archbishops transferring pedophile priests to congregations in other dioceses).

  • Carl Vehse

    Subchapter I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 126, § 12113(d), states:

    (1) In general – This subchapter shall not prohibit a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society from giving preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities.

    (2) Religious tenets requirements – Under this subchapter, a religious organization may require that all applicants and employees conform to the religious tenets of such organization.

    This exception, known as the ministerial exception, is not a license to discriminate for causes outside of the religious tenets of the religious organization. Thus a church’s tenets on male-only pastors, or against homosexuality or abortion advocacy can be used to decide on who to allow as pastors or teachers. But a church that claims no religious tenets restricting pastors or teachers because of their particular race, or handedness, or wearing glasses, or blood pressure or cholesterol medications, etc., cannot expect carte blanche to claim the right to discriminate against pastors or teachers for such or other reasons not related to its professed religious tenets.

    However, Subchapter IV of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 126, § 12203(a), states:

    No person shall discriminate against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this chapter or because such individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter.

    As yet another example of unintended consequences, this creates a major loophole in the law that allows a religious organization to essentially include ANY/ALL discrimination or ANY/ALL other illegal acts or even ANY/ALL complaints of such alleged illegal acts to be within its religious tenets, under the threat of deposing a complaining member. That loophole is the claiming of a doctrinal tenet by a religious organization requiring that all members must use the organization’s dispute resolution process for complaints of alleged illegal or criminal acts, rather than reporting them to government regulatory, law enforcement, or judicial entitites.

    And in the Hosanna-Tabor case, the religious tenet appears to include forbidding a member, under threat of being deposed, from even threatening to report illegal acts to government regulatory, law enforcement, or judicial entitites.

    Compounding this is the fact, pointed out in the SCOTUS hearing transcript, that Hosanna-Tabor did not request the LCMS to remove the deposed (supposedly) heterodox teacher from membership, but, instead recommended her to other congregations to be a called commissioned teacher (comparable in this sense to past instances of Roman archbishops transferring pedophile priests to congregations in other dioceses).

  • TLB in Minnesota

    I won’t comment on how the court should rule as my comments would be spoken in ignorance. I know of this case and have read some news coverage about it but do not know enough to be able share any truly educated thoughts.

    As to the question about what the church body should do, I think non-ordained church workers of the LC-MS should not have the name “minister” attached to them, regardless of any loss of tax benefits. While “commissioned” called workers in the Missouri Synod support the ministry of pastors and help meet the educational needs of a congregation, they are not ordained. Adding the term “minister” to their title anywhere simply adds confusion. People in and outside the congregation begin to think the “commissioned minister” is actually a pastor.

    I am torn over the thought of even using the term “called” to describe their position. While it is true that ones vocation (calling) may be to serve the church professionally in a non-ordained role, that calling must not be confused with that of a man called to the office of public ministry(pastor).

    I know the “auxiliary offices” of DCE, DCO, DFM, Director of Parish Music, and Lay Minister are offices & roles the LC-MS has decided, as a church body, to adopt. I wonder if some confusion could be avoided by simply having one auxiliary office, a Commissioned Congregational Assistant of sorts. The preparation for this position would include thorough theological training with subsets of coursework offered in a variety of areas: Youth ministry, Parish Music, Family Ministry, Evangelism, etc. The way the credentials would read upon degree completion would be something like “CCA – Youth Ministy & Evangelism”. There would be no need to have separate titles for every different non-ordained worker. The worker would simply be identified by what areas of parish ministry they have received specialized training for.

    That’s my two cents. Though it may appear so…no hijacking of the thread was intended.

  • TLB in Minnesota

    I won’t comment on how the court should rule as my comments would be spoken in ignorance. I know of this case and have read some news coverage about it but do not know enough to be able share any truly educated thoughts.

    As to the question about what the church body should do, I think non-ordained church workers of the LC-MS should not have the name “minister” attached to them, regardless of any loss of tax benefits. While “commissioned” called workers in the Missouri Synod support the ministry of pastors and help meet the educational needs of a congregation, they are not ordained. Adding the term “minister” to their title anywhere simply adds confusion. People in and outside the congregation begin to think the “commissioned minister” is actually a pastor.

    I am torn over the thought of even using the term “called” to describe their position. While it is true that ones vocation (calling) may be to serve the church professionally in a non-ordained role, that calling must not be confused with that of a man called to the office of public ministry(pastor).

    I know the “auxiliary offices” of DCE, DCO, DFM, Director of Parish Music, and Lay Minister are offices & roles the LC-MS has decided, as a church body, to adopt. I wonder if some confusion could be avoided by simply having one auxiliary office, a Commissioned Congregational Assistant of sorts. The preparation for this position would include thorough theological training with subsets of coursework offered in a variety of areas: Youth ministry, Parish Music, Family Ministry, Evangelism, etc. The way the credentials would read upon degree completion would be something like “CCA – Youth Ministy & Evangelism”. There would be no need to have separate titles for every different non-ordained worker. The worker would simply be identified by what areas of parish ministry they have received specialized training for.

    That’s my two cents. Though it may appear so…no hijacking of the thread was intended.

  • Paul

    It seems to me that by not following the dispute-resolution process she agreed to by joining the synod she may rightly have forfeited her membership in synod. If her position in that particular school required that she be a member of synod – that the position was for a called worker (or at least be working toward rostering and thus becoming eligible for a call and receive and accept that call as may seem to be the case), then losing her rostered status for violating the bylaws of the synod by going outside the dispute resolution process would remove her from synod thus invalidating her call and making her ineligible for the position she held. In short, the congregation may expect that its called teachers adhere to synodical bylaws.

    However, if the congregation had no requirement or expectation that its teachers all be called or working toward, receiving, and accepting a Call, then it would only be her rostered and called status that would be in jeopardy, not her position itself. Again: if this school accepts both called teachers and contract teachers, then she would retain her employments rights since non-rostered, hence non-called, teachers are not expected to adhere to the bylaws of the synod of which they are not members.

    This highlights the pros and cons of extending the ‘called’ status to teachers and other ‘auxiliary’ offices. I believe that ultimately it is not in the interest of the synod or its congregations and schools to extend the ‘called’ status to non-pastors. The benefits of this status seem to be mostly for the workers for tenure and tax benefits. If this is true that we can and should designate whomever we please that works in the church as a called worker, then why not also include musicians, administrators, secretaries, custodians and cooks? Why not workers like nurses and doctors at Lutheran hospitals or aids at Lutheran nursing homes?

    Has not the LCMS only done so for female teachers for 50ish years and for male teachers for less than 100 years? Yes, there are examples of male teachers taking pastoral duties in times of need, but then it was either as a highly qualified layman with supervision of a nearby pastor or we specially licensed them or ordained them.

    In fact, this practice of extending membership in synod and thereby called status to teachers and others who are not clergy has only resulted in countless examples of confusion and places in jeopardy the whole distinction of clergy from hired workers. Now the Executive and Judicial branches of the United States are weighing in on it. This novel practice has not brought good things to the church and I believe we should change our Synod’s bylaws back to the historic practice. These workers should be clearly under the spiritual supervision of the local pastor, not the synod.

  • Paul

    It seems to me that by not following the dispute-resolution process she agreed to by joining the synod she may rightly have forfeited her membership in synod. If her position in that particular school required that she be a member of synod – that the position was for a called worker (or at least be working toward rostering and thus becoming eligible for a call and receive and accept that call as may seem to be the case), then losing her rostered status for violating the bylaws of the synod by going outside the dispute resolution process would remove her from synod thus invalidating her call and making her ineligible for the position she held. In short, the congregation may expect that its called teachers adhere to synodical bylaws.

    However, if the congregation had no requirement or expectation that its teachers all be called or working toward, receiving, and accepting a Call, then it would only be her rostered and called status that would be in jeopardy, not her position itself. Again: if this school accepts both called teachers and contract teachers, then she would retain her employments rights since non-rostered, hence non-called, teachers are not expected to adhere to the bylaws of the synod of which they are not members.

    This highlights the pros and cons of extending the ‘called’ status to teachers and other ‘auxiliary’ offices. I believe that ultimately it is not in the interest of the synod or its congregations and schools to extend the ‘called’ status to non-pastors. The benefits of this status seem to be mostly for the workers for tenure and tax benefits. If this is true that we can and should designate whomever we please that works in the church as a called worker, then why not also include musicians, administrators, secretaries, custodians and cooks? Why not workers like nurses and doctors at Lutheran hospitals or aids at Lutheran nursing homes?

    Has not the LCMS only done so for female teachers for 50ish years and for male teachers for less than 100 years? Yes, there are examples of male teachers taking pastoral duties in times of need, but then it was either as a highly qualified layman with supervision of a nearby pastor or we specially licensed them or ordained them.

    In fact, this practice of extending membership in synod and thereby called status to teachers and others who are not clergy has only resulted in countless examples of confusion and places in jeopardy the whole distinction of clergy from hired workers. Now the Executive and Judicial branches of the United States are weighing in on it. This novel practice has not brought good things to the church and I believe we should change our Synod’s bylaws back to the historic practice. These workers should be clearly under the spiritual supervision of the local pastor, not the synod.

  • Carl Vehse

    Paul,

    If Perich had continued to be a contract teacher, then pressuring her to resign, telling her she probably would be fired, and then firing her because she threatened to file an ADA complaint, would have been a violation of ADA on the part of Hosanna-Tabor.

    But one could simply substitute an ordained minister who accepted a call to teach children in a school, who is now medically treated for narcolepsy, and you are right back in the scenario/loop-hole described in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.

    Whether the Missouri Synod plays games with the IRS or ADA definition of “minister of religion” or limits the title used by its member churches to the specific confessional definition (AC.XIV) is a separate issue.

  • Carl Vehse

    Paul,

    If Perich had continued to be a contract teacher, then pressuring her to resign, telling her she probably would be fired, and then firing her because she threatened to file an ADA complaint, would have been a violation of ADA on the part of Hosanna-Tabor.

    But one could simply substitute an ordained minister who accepted a call to teach children in a school, who is now medically treated for narcolepsy, and you are right back in the scenario/loop-hole described in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.

    Whether the Missouri Synod plays games with the IRS or ADA definition of “minister of religion” or limits the title used by its member churches to the specific confessional definition (AC.XIV) is a separate issue.

  • Paul

    Carl @6

    Yes, I see that a Pastor who accepts a call to teach a class at a Lutheran School would raise this issue again. However, if that Pastor had other clergy-duties normally associated only with pastors like preaching, visiting the sick and shut in, performing weddings and funerals, etc., then it would be clear that he is a Pastor. If he doesn’t haven’t these clergy-type duties, then I would say that he’s now working outside of the Office of the Holy Ministry. Or perhaps he carries Pastoral Oversight for the entire school; something which the ‘regular’ Pastor would normally do, but doesn’t because one of the teachers is Called to be the School-Pastor and the ‘regular’ Pastor no longer does that. Even so, I would wonder why the School-Pastor doesn’t perform other clergy duties. From my perspective, the question is whether the individual works under the ecclesiastical authority of the Pastor (every congregation has a pastor) or under the ecclesiastical authority of the District President? The confusion comes from having a “called teacher” who is not ordained and functioning in the Pastoral Office. Is the conflict resolution process subject to the bylaws of the synod or is it subject by the laws of the state? Those who are NOT members of synod cannot be controlled by its bylaws and those who ARE members of synod cannot be controlled by the state. Called members of Synod should not be able to have it both ways! So, we must be clear as to who IS a member of synod (and thus is called rather than hired) and who is NOT a member of synod and can only be hired. It is already established that congregations MAY hire on the basis of beliefs ANY worker, but this is a privilege granted by the state, in my view. However, it is my opinion that those who are HIRED (not called) may also seek recourse though the civil courts because they do not have the theological training nor the expectation of understanding the Doctrine of the office of the Holy Ministry.

    I would compare this to the issue of Social Security taxes. The Synod has no doctrinal objection to Social Security and Medicare. Therefore, all employees are subject to the Law of the Land. However, clergy has the privilege (or some would say burden), given by the state, of filing as self-employed. Likewise, the state has exempted churches from paying income tax (most churches could still be tax exempt because they show no profit), but there is no doctrinal reason for the church not to pay if the state so required.

    Conversely, we do have doctrines concerning the Pastoral Office. The state should stay out of determining who our spiritual LEADERS may be, but they need not stay out of determining who our church employees may be or how we treat them. I think that this is a much ‘cleaner’ arrangement which would also keep the state out of issues concerning pastors.

  • Paul

    Carl @6

    Yes, I see that a Pastor who accepts a call to teach a class at a Lutheran School would raise this issue again. However, if that Pastor had other clergy-duties normally associated only with pastors like preaching, visiting the sick and shut in, performing weddings and funerals, etc., then it would be clear that he is a Pastor. If he doesn’t haven’t these clergy-type duties, then I would say that he’s now working outside of the Office of the Holy Ministry. Or perhaps he carries Pastoral Oversight for the entire school; something which the ‘regular’ Pastor would normally do, but doesn’t because one of the teachers is Called to be the School-Pastor and the ‘regular’ Pastor no longer does that. Even so, I would wonder why the School-Pastor doesn’t perform other clergy duties. From my perspective, the question is whether the individual works under the ecclesiastical authority of the Pastor (every congregation has a pastor) or under the ecclesiastical authority of the District President? The confusion comes from having a “called teacher” who is not ordained and functioning in the Pastoral Office. Is the conflict resolution process subject to the bylaws of the synod or is it subject by the laws of the state? Those who are NOT members of synod cannot be controlled by its bylaws and those who ARE members of synod cannot be controlled by the state. Called members of Synod should not be able to have it both ways! So, we must be clear as to who IS a member of synod (and thus is called rather than hired) and who is NOT a member of synod and can only be hired. It is already established that congregations MAY hire on the basis of beliefs ANY worker, but this is a privilege granted by the state, in my view. However, it is my opinion that those who are HIRED (not called) may also seek recourse though the civil courts because they do not have the theological training nor the expectation of understanding the Doctrine of the office of the Holy Ministry.

    I would compare this to the issue of Social Security taxes. The Synod has no doctrinal objection to Social Security and Medicare. Therefore, all employees are subject to the Law of the Land. However, clergy has the privilege (or some would say burden), given by the state, of filing as self-employed. Likewise, the state has exempted churches from paying income tax (most churches could still be tax exempt because they show no profit), but there is no doctrinal reason for the church not to pay if the state so required.

    Conversely, we do have doctrines concerning the Pastoral Office. The state should stay out of determining who our spiritual LEADERS may be, but they need not stay out of determining who our church employees may be or how we treat them. I think that this is a much ‘cleaner’ arrangement which would also keep the state out of issues concerning pastors.

  • Bill H

    I’m sure that there is more to the case than what we see in these 2 articles. As an Elder in my congregation and a layperson., my main concern is that our “called” teachers are teaching our Children what we believe, teach and confess. Anything less cannot be tolerated. My second concern would be that the Church did everything possible to help the teacher with her disability.

    My second concern is now that this matter in public, we have already lost the battle as St Paul tells us:

    “1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! ”
    1 Cor 6:1-8 (ESV)

    I pray that both parties come to their senses and find a way to settle out of court if it is not too late. Please, for the sake of Christ.

  • Bill H

    I’m sure that there is more to the case than what we see in these 2 articles. As an Elder in my congregation and a layperson., my main concern is that our “called” teachers are teaching our Children what we believe, teach and confess. Anything less cannot be tolerated. My second concern would be that the Church did everything possible to help the teacher with her disability.

    My second concern is now that this matter in public, we have already lost the battle as St Paul tells us:

    “1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! ”
    1 Cor 6:1-8 (ESV)

    I pray that both parties come to their senses and find a way to settle out of court if it is not too late. Please, for the sake of Christ.

  • Paul

    Bill H @8

    I agree that by suing her church (I assume that as a called teacher she’s a member there) that she should be confronted concerning this unchristian conduct. The trouble comes when one called minister (the Pastor) tries to guide another called minister (the teacher) that we get into a tit-for-tat about who is rightly interpreting Scripture where we do not want teachers or DCEs etc. to go; do we? Your desire to not tolerate false doctrine is best and ultimately vested in the authority that you give to your pastor to oversee doctrine and practice. Again, the confusion comes when ‘called’ teachers, etc., believe that they are qualified to do this. Hence, we end up with a called teacher who sues her congregation. If she was contracted, the pastor could exercise his responsibility to begin discipline on her false doctrine, eventually remove her from the congregation if she continues the suit, and thus she would be no longer eligible to teach in your school because we’re already allowed to require teachers to be members.

    In my view, it all comes down to rightly understanding the PASTORAL office (spiritual oversight) which is usurped when we treat teachers like pastors and/or confuse matters by ‘calling’ which brings in the Synod bylaws and now the US government. If synod merely upheld the Pastor’s doctrine of disciplining the member/teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher in your congregation, then the issue is between the congregation (Board of Elders) and the Pastor in regard to how to apply this doctrine in a that congregation’s setting. End of court case.

    Yes, as a Christian lay woman (the state allows us to hire only Christians), the teacher should be teaching only what we believe, teach, and confess. But lets not fool ourselves or anyone else into believing that teachers, DCEs, etc. are qualified to determine what we believe, teach, and confess. That’s what the Pastor and text books are for. The teacher’s instruction then falls under the supervision of some Pastor (or CPH, presumably). So, our confidence in what they are teaching should not be from their ‘called’ status, but from the Pastor’s oversight.

  • Paul

    Bill H @8

    I agree that by suing her church (I assume that as a called teacher she’s a member there) that she should be confronted concerning this unchristian conduct. The trouble comes when one called minister (the Pastor) tries to guide another called minister (the teacher) that we get into a tit-for-tat about who is rightly interpreting Scripture where we do not want teachers or DCEs etc. to go; do we? Your desire to not tolerate false doctrine is best and ultimately vested in the authority that you give to your pastor to oversee doctrine and practice. Again, the confusion comes when ‘called’ teachers, etc., believe that they are qualified to do this. Hence, we end up with a called teacher who sues her congregation. If she was contracted, the pastor could exercise his responsibility to begin discipline on her false doctrine, eventually remove her from the congregation if she continues the suit, and thus she would be no longer eligible to teach in your school because we’re already allowed to require teachers to be members.

    In my view, it all comes down to rightly understanding the PASTORAL office (spiritual oversight) which is usurped when we treat teachers like pastors and/or confuse matters by ‘calling’ which brings in the Synod bylaws and now the US government. If synod merely upheld the Pastor’s doctrine of disciplining the member/teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher in your congregation, then the issue is between the congregation (Board of Elders) and the Pastor in regard to how to apply this doctrine in a that congregation’s setting. End of court case.

    Yes, as a Christian lay woman (the state allows us to hire only Christians), the teacher should be teaching only what we believe, teach, and confess. But lets not fool ourselves or anyone else into believing that teachers, DCEs, etc. are qualified to determine what we believe, teach, and confess. That’s what the Pastor and text books are for. The teacher’s instruction then falls under the supervision of some Pastor (or CPH, presumably). So, our confidence in what they are teaching should not be from their ‘called’ status, but from the Pastor’s oversight.

  • Paul

    …and end of the offense to Christ.

  • Paul

    …and end of the offense to Christ.

  • Bill H

    Paul. thank you.

  • Bill H

    Paul. thank you.

  • Bill H

    I appreciate and am in 100% agreement.

  • Bill H

    I appreciate and am in 100% agreement.

  • Gary

    I _want_ the ruling to go in favor of the teacher. I _expect_ the ruling will back up the congregation’s position by invoking the non-establishment clause. And I don’t believe the LC-MS has the ability at this point to deal constructively with situations of this complexity, but in the end it won’t matter because in another generation there won’t be _any_ ministerial exceptions for _anyone_.

    And Paul (@ 9), putting her under church discipline for bringing suit to redress discrimination is a clear abuse of clerical authority.

  • Gary

    I _want_ the ruling to go in favor of the teacher. I _expect_ the ruling will back up the congregation’s position by invoking the non-establishment clause. And I don’t believe the LC-MS has the ability at this point to deal constructively with situations of this complexity, but in the end it won’t matter because in another generation there won’t be _any_ ministerial exceptions for _anyone_.

    And Paul (@ 9), putting her under church discipline for bringing suit to redress discrimination is a clear abuse of clerical authority.

  • paul

    Gary @13.

    There is no “clerical power” in the LCMS besides the authority of the Word of God. The Word of God tells us not to take one another to court as Bill H pointed out @8. When any person claiming to be a Christian goes against the clear Word of God, it is the responsibility of the Pastor to admonish them according to the Word of God. This is what our congregations specifically instruct their Pastors to do. This is Jesus’ own teaching in Matthew 18 whereby we may gain back our brother from his error which brings offense to Christ and His Bride, the Church, in the eyes of the world. This is what I mean when I say “discipline.” It is how we use the word in the LCMS. I am not suggesting at all what some others mean by this word; namely, that the Pastor may remove them from membership or the Means of Grace for every or any reason. He may not. But He should and He must admonish the erring according to the Word of God. If the individual then refuses to hear the Word of God, then the congregation (not the pastor) may remove them from membership because, like a non-believer, they fail to hear and abide by the clear Word of God.

    At the same time, the Pastor should admonish the leaders of the congregation to treat their employees at least as well as non-Christians do so that nonbelievers can look at the Church and say, “See how they love one another” instead of “See how they hurt and sue one another.”

    It is most sad when conflicts in the church escalate to this level.

  • paul

    Gary @13.

    There is no “clerical power” in the LCMS besides the authority of the Word of God. The Word of God tells us not to take one another to court as Bill H pointed out @8. When any person claiming to be a Christian goes against the clear Word of God, it is the responsibility of the Pastor to admonish them according to the Word of God. This is what our congregations specifically instruct their Pastors to do. This is Jesus’ own teaching in Matthew 18 whereby we may gain back our brother from his error which brings offense to Christ and His Bride, the Church, in the eyes of the world. This is what I mean when I say “discipline.” It is how we use the word in the LCMS. I am not suggesting at all what some others mean by this word; namely, that the Pastor may remove them from membership or the Means of Grace for every or any reason. He may not. But He should and He must admonish the erring according to the Word of God. If the individual then refuses to hear the Word of God, then the congregation (not the pastor) may remove them from membership because, like a non-believer, they fail to hear and abide by the clear Word of God.

    At the same time, the Pastor should admonish the leaders of the congregation to treat their employees at least as well as non-Christians do so that nonbelievers can look at the Church and say, “See how they love one another” instead of “See how they hurt and sue one another.”

    It is most sad when conflicts in the church escalate to this level.

  • Gary

    So, Paul, what you’re saying is if a Christian sues another person, who also happens to be a Christian, it is sin. You will quote the Apostle Paul (who, it may be argued, was not necessarily laying down a commandment) in order to show that going to court is simply a sin.

    So, armed with your Bible, I guess things are pretty cut-and-dried and black and white where you live, yes? You’ve got a verse to trump any and all discussion. (*golf clap*)

    By your reasoning, a Christian woman who sues her ex for court-ordered child-support he refuses to pay is sinning, and her pastor should bring the Word of God to bear on her hard heart. Or to take a historical example, Robert Preus was an impenitent sinner for taking his case against the LC-MS to court back in the day.

  • Gary

    So, Paul, what you’re saying is if a Christian sues another person, who also happens to be a Christian, it is sin. You will quote the Apostle Paul (who, it may be argued, was not necessarily laying down a commandment) in order to show that going to court is simply a sin.

    So, armed with your Bible, I guess things are pretty cut-and-dried and black and white where you live, yes? You’ve got a verse to trump any and all discussion. (*golf clap*)

    By your reasoning, a Christian woman who sues her ex for court-ordered child-support he refuses to pay is sinning, and her pastor should bring the Word of God to bear on her hard heart. Or to take a historical example, Robert Preus was an impenitent sinner for taking his case against the LC-MS to court back in the day.

  • Carl Vehse

    One of the points brought out in the SCOTUS transcript is that there is no indication in the court records that the teacher was instructed or counseled by the pastor or anyone in the church, prior to being deposed, specifically about violating church doctrine in her threat to “assert her legal rights against discrimination,” especially since the next day the School Board indicated they were looking into rescinding her call for what they called “disruptive behavior.”

    The church’s lawyer finally explained to the court, “Perich was a lifelong Lutheran. She worked 11 years in Lutheran schools. She had these eight theology courses. Simply not credible that she didn’t know about this doctrine.”

    Yet despite the church’s claim that she knowingly violated church doctrine, the congregation did not excommunicated the teacher, but instead recommended her as a commissioned teacher to other churches in the Missouri Synod.

    Perhaps this is why the question of “pretext” was brought up by several justices.

  • Carl Vehse

    One of the points brought out in the SCOTUS transcript is that there is no indication in the court records that the teacher was instructed or counseled by the pastor or anyone in the church, prior to being deposed, specifically about violating church doctrine in her threat to “assert her legal rights against discrimination,” especially since the next day the School Board indicated they were looking into rescinding her call for what they called “disruptive behavior.”

    The church’s lawyer finally explained to the court, “Perich was a lifelong Lutheran. She worked 11 years in Lutheran schools. She had these eight theology courses. Simply not credible that she didn’t know about this doctrine.”

    Yet despite the church’s claim that she knowingly violated church doctrine, the congregation did not excommunicated the teacher, but instead recommended her as a commissioned teacher to other churches in the Missouri Synod.

    Perhaps this is why the question of “pretext” was brought up by several justices.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X