“Should a private religious school have the right to fire a teacher who is pregnant out of wedlock? “
Here’s how readers responded:
81 Percent Yes
15 Percent No
4 Percent Unsure
This question is a result of the controversy over a teacher at Heritage Christian Academy in Texas who was fired for an unwed pregnancy. The fired teacher believes that she was wrongly dismissed and has sought legal help. Her attorney contends: “It’s against the law to fire someone for them taking a pregnancy leave and you can’t preventatively fire someone.”
The administrators at the Academy are confident, if this case were to go to trial, they will be protected by existing religious exemptions allowing for religious schools to dismiss teachers who do not uphold the school values .
This is a difficult question as several of our readers pointed out. It boils down to this question: Perhaps the school does have the right to fire the teacher, but is it right?
Here is thoughtful comment from a reader:
My name is *Mary and I’m a director of a crisis pregnancy center ministry in Elizabeth, NJ. I was compelled to write to you because of the last poll question I read in your newsletter:
“Should a private religious school have the right to fire a teacher who is pregnant out of wedlock?”
I found it very difficult to respond to this poll and I usually respond to all your poll questions. My immediate response is “yes” a religious institution should have the right to fire anyone that is not living up to their biblical standards but is that the right thing to do? Is it the right thing to fire a single Christian woman who has fallen into sin? To deepen her crisis by now making her an unemployed single mother or maybe even worse put her in a situation were she would consider an abortion because her brothers and sisters in Christ turned their back on her.
My 10 yr old son attends a private Christian school and if his unmarried teacher was pregnant I would not want her fired (unless she was unrepentant), maybe she should be moved to another position but the situation should be handle with mercy and grace. I would expect the school to rally around her and lead her into reconciliation in her relationship with the Lord.
The saddest thing I see in my line of work is Christian women considering an abortion because they are afraid to face their church family. What is wrong with us?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should not let our zeal to protect our religious rights harden our hearts so that we no longer reflect our Saviors tender mercy.
A response would be appreciated.
*Mary [name changed for privacy reasons]
Crisis Pregnancy Center
The writer makes some important points. As we stated, this is a tough question. We at UFI believe it is crucial that religions and religious schools retain the right to determine the types of behavior by employees that are in keeping with their standards. Yet we make no claim as to know how to handle individual situations and circumstances. Perhaps that is exactly the point, each case requires individual consideration.
What are your thoughts?