The Supreme Court has sided unanimously with a church sued for firing an employee on religious grounds, issuing an opinion on Wednesday that religious employers can keep the government out of hiring and firing decisions.
In the case of Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, Cheryl Perich, a "called" teacher, argued that the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Mich., had discriminated against her under the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to reinstate her to her job after she took leave for narcolepsy.
"Because Perich was a minister within the meaning of the exception, the First Amendment requires dismissal of this employment discrimination suit against her religious employer," reads the ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts. "The EEOC and Perich originally sought an order reinstating Perich to her former position as a called teacher. By requiring the Church to accept a minister it did not want, such an order would have plainly violated the Church's freedom under the Religion Clauses to select its own ministers. ...
"The exception ... ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church's alone," the ruling reads.
Roberts added that this particular case is based on the ministerial exception's use in dismissing the discrimination claim but does not bar other types of suits alleging breach of contract or "tortious conduct" by religious employers. The applicability of the exception to other circumstances would be dealt with separately "if and when they arise," he wrote.
The high court's decision overturned an earlier decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
To read the opinion, click here!
Now, to be sure, this was not the finest moment for Hosanna-Tabor or the LCMS and our muddy waters about who and who is not a "minister of religion" continues, but, without the government entering the fray to define things for us... so we need clean up our act and not rest secure upon this decision that nothing more needs to be said or done...
A good follow up article was this one by Matthew Frank at First Things.
Will the English language version of Walther's "Kirche und Amt" spark a revelation within the LCMS? I read that CPH will publish the book this Fall. What are the chances that Walther's advice will be codified into clearly defined bylaws for the LCMS?
She was a parish school teacher, not a minister. What a confusion. The LCMS nomenclature is a mess and needs to reflect the Bible and Confessions, not civil language.
The LCMS is more concerned about
tax status than accurate nomenclature
so everyone is a minister. There is
even a book title written in 1970's,
"Everyone Is A Minister" by Oscar
Fuecht. Unfortunately, the LCMS
is stuck with ordained and non-
Will the English language version of Walther's "Kirche und Amt" spark a revelation within the LCMS? I read that CPH will publish the book this Fall. What are the chances that Walther's advice will be codified into clearly defined bylaws for the LCMS?"
Anonymous, it is C.F.W. Walther's publication, Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt (The Voice of Our Church on the Question of Church and Ministry,), that was reaffirmed by the synodical convention as the official position of the Missouri Synod on church and ministry, which all pastors, professors, teachers of the church, and congregations are to honor, uphold, and teach in accordance with them.
Despite some scurrilous rumors in the past year or so, any new English language version should spark no more revelation within the LCMS (other than the usual advertising hype) than various previous English translations of Kirche und Amt, its theses, or other sections of the book.
As for teachers (as well as directors of Christian education, directors of Christian outreach, directors of family life ministry, directors of parish music, deaconesses, parish
assistants, and certified lay ministers) being called "ministers," the complete term is "ministers of religion—commissioned," and it is included in the LCMS Constitution in several places, in addition to being in various bylaws.
Where in the Bible and Confessions are school teachers named pastors? There is a difference and it should be upheld, not confused.
Obama administration urged against this ruling.
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