Editorial: UP should take steps away from Hosanna-Tabor

By The Beacon | January 24, 2012 9:00pm

(The Beacon)


When elementary school teacher Cheryl Perich returned from medical leave for narcolepsy, her employer, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, asked her to resign.

Perich threatened to sue the school and was, in turn, fired, "for violating religious doctrine by pursuing litigation rather than trying to resolve her dispute within the church," the New York Times reported.

Perich sued Hosanna-Tabor in retaliation.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in favor of the school under the "ministerial exception," which bars government from interfering with religious matters at religious institutions. In its ruling, the Supreme Court did not determine who serves as a minister, but allowed institutions to define which employees are in that category.

We urge our University not to abuse the power that comes with defining which employees fall under the exception.

Other religious institutions can learn from this situation. Although the Court sided with Hosanna-Tabor, its decision to fire Perich still leaves many people with a bad taste in their mouth. We don't want our University to ever end up in a similar situation as Hosanna-Tabor.

The freedom to decide who is a minister and who is not should not be taken lightly. It is also a decision that could have disastrous consequences if implemented improperly.

Discrimination is wrong – it goes against the very definition of what it means to be a Catholic.

Therefore, we ask our University's administration to qualify which employees are considered ministers in order to prevent discrimination – perceived or real – from happening on our campus, by including the definition in employees' contracts beginning next year.

By creating a definition now, the school will have it to follow in case a problem should ever arise when it comes to removing an employee from staff in the future.