You should know that I had a blog post about Herod almost done when I came across some very disturbing newspeak. This story shook me so deeply that I have decided to move past my intended blog and present the following. It will be a bit more irreverent and a bit less scholarly, but it is still a reflection of my spiritual reading and as such, can find a place in the blog.
First of all you will need to read this? Too lazy? Then, let me explain what’s happening here…no, wait, there is too much…let me sum up. A Lutheran parochial school has fired a teacher diagnosed with narcolepsy. The plantiff in the case has filed suit against the school under the Americans with Disabilities act, specifically citing the section concerning retaliatory firings. She claims that her job was terminated as a retaliation for threatening to sue the school. The defendants in the case agree that she was fired for threatening to sue. Incredibly, they say that doesn’t matter. The defendants cite the many exemptions within civil rights statues relating to the sanctioned, autonomous hiring practices of churches. They argue that it is a parochial school and as such, they can pretty much do whatever they want regarding hiring and firing employees.
Come on, Lutherans, where is the outrage?
“It doesn’t matter why she was discharged,” says the school’s lawyer, University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock. “What matters is that she was performing ministerial functions, and churches get to decide for themselves who their ministers ought to be.”
Uh, yeah, it does matter why she was discharged. It matters for a lot of reasons. Let me give you just one!
It matters because of what this says about the modern church in America. The church should be a place where a sick person can find rest from the weary world of life. I would expect this type of behavior from a corporation or from a business that is solely focused on its image or its bottom line, but the church should never be about that. This was an opportunity for a redemptive relationship between the church and the teacher and they blew it, because according to them – the law of the US government says they can. Perhaps the Lutheran parochial school officials should read this?
There is a higher law to which the church (all believers) is called to adhere. God’s standard of love is (and should be) a much higher and more stringent law than the Americans with Disabilities Act. If and when the church, as an organization begins to break the greatest and the second greatest commandments, it is no longer the church that is referenced in the scriptures, at least, not in any way that is important and eternal. Tread carefully, Lutheran brethren, I fear you may be nearing a dangerous place. I admit, redemptive relationships are much harder than cold, hard executive decisions. This is true in the church and in my house and at the store and with my family and my friends. However, this difficulty never changes how we are called to relate to others, especially inside the church!
How sad is it when someone has to go to the courts to protect them from the church? It is supposed to be the other way around. The church should be the place where mankind runs for relief from the oppressive tyrannies of the earth, be they economic, governmental, social, etc. It is very sad and the fact that this has made it all the way to the supreme court is an embarrassment to believers of all stripes and to me personally as a minister in a church. I couldn’t disagree with professor Laycock more. It does matter why this teacher was fired!
Lord, save us from being the church that feels like it must obey man rather than You!