Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.

pregnant nunButte Central teacher Shaela Evenson says she is planning on suing the Montana Catholic middle school that fired her for getting pregnant without the benefit of a husband. Whatever it is she is thinking (and whatever it is her lawyer is encouraging to keep thinking), it’s unethical, and I doubt the law will have much sympathy with it either.

  • She signed a contract promising “to respect the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church in both her professional and personal life”—a bit broad for my tastes, but this episode was pretty obviously exactly the kind of thing such a clause was designed to forbid, and nobody forced her to agree to it.
  • As Patrick Haggarty, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, said,  Evenson “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract.” It’s hard to argue that getting pregnant before marriage isn’t a willful decision, if she wasn’t raped.

  • Haggarty also notes, “The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman.” That sounds about right.

  • Is a Catholic school obligated to allow a teacher, as a role model, authority figure and exemplar, stand in front of impressionable student advertising the glories of unwed motherhood? It is obligated NOT to allow it. If I were a parent of one of her middle school students—exactly the age where such a message would be most persuasive and dangerous—I’d pull my kid out of class.

pregnant nun

Are people really going to be foolish about this? I read about the story initially on Fark, which gave it the site’s “FAIL” tag, and snarked (all Fark does is snark, often hilariously) “Unmarried Catholic school teacher fired after she becomes pregnant. Wait, didn’t an unwed single mother feature rather prominently in the ‘”origin story” of this religion??” Heh, funny. Well, they can’t all be gems. Unfortunately, I forsee some women’s advocacy groups, teachers and “Hey, what’s the matter with unwed motherhood?’ groups taking that line seriously.

Teachers must not model irresponsible and destructive behavior for their students, and school administrators must step in when they do. Getting pregnant as a single women is officially wrongful conduct in the Catholic church, and thus a Catholic school. If Shaela Evenson wanted to emulate all the rich Hollywood stars and be a baby mama to her main squeeze without the benefit or security of marriage, she should have scratched “Catholic school teacher” off her possible career choices. I don’t think this is even a close call.

Two final observations that may be a bit more contentious:

  • I think the same principle should apply to any secondary or primary school teacher, Catholic or not.
  • If Evenson’s pregnancy were the result of a rape, the Catholic school would be ethically obligated to let her continue teaching. To do otherwise would encourage abortion, the wrongfulness of which is also a moral tenet of the Church.

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Pointer: Fark

Facts: Yahoo!

250 thoughts on “Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.

  1. Ethics aside, she signed a contract, and she breached it. [Resisting the temptation to refer to a breach birth–couldn’t resist.] I don’t know whether Montana is an “at-will” state, but I’d like to know the underlying legal theory on which she’s planning to proceed.

    • I as well. I don’t see a legitimate theory, unless she’s going to argue that the contract was too broad or unenforceable as against public policy. Can the state constitutionally force a Catholic school to allow a pregnant single woman to teach? I would think not.

      • We live in a country now where Christian photographers and bakers are being sued – successfully – because they do NOT want to see their talents used in the context of same-sex marriage.

        I’m sure the courts will find a way to void the contract.

        • The market relationship between the baker/photographer and the homosexual couple is that of Seller / Buyer. In an ethical free market, the supplier, on the open market and not engaged in freelance or overtly advertised specific services, should not discriminate against buyers. Buyers, to the contrary, can discriminate sellers as much as they want.

          The market relationship between the teacher and the school is also that of Seller and Buyer. The teacher, in this instance, is the one offering a service to the school (the buyer of said service). The services demanded by the school were laid out in the contract, which the teacher has subsequently chosen to no longer sell the level of service the school demands. The school can then discriminate and choose to use her services no longer.

            • I disagree with your portrayal of the ‘duty’ of a seller to sell to anyone. What people often fail to do is reverse the situation. Instead of someone who doesn’t want to deal with gay people selling cakes, let’s say that person wants to buy cakes. Then that person walks into a bakery owned by a gay person, and starts mouthing off about how bad a person the proprietor is for being gay. Does the seller have this perceived duty to sell to the person who openly disdains him? I don’t believe so.

              Free markets mean that everyone is free to enter into contracts, but the contracts require two willing parties.

              • You’ve added an additional variable that was not present in the good faith transactions assumed in my point.

                By adding the variable of public misconduct and uncivil behavior, you’ve changed the scenario. I’ve no issue with sellers refusing service to jackasses engaged in jackassery in their shops.

                • Well, no. You need to define ‘jackassery’ for me then. Because while running your mouth is an obvious example, what about someone with “God hates Fags” on their jacket? or a KKK logo on their shirt? Or an obvious, and offensive tattoo? At what point does kicking out someone stop being a punishment for jackassery and starts infringing on free speech? When we leave situations like this to subjective elements, we have errors. I stand by the idea that we cannot ever morally force someone to enter into a contract against their will. Ever.

                • We don’t have that luxury in the current atmosphere where gay activists are free to be as jackassy as they please without the attendant option on the part of the shopkeeper to refuse service. Gay activists get to be jackasses without consequences and the rest of us just have to take it. Because shut up.

                  This isn’t only a gay activist thing, there are many other instances where the current political atmosphere allows and even encourages some entities to behave abominably and get away with it.

                  Before anyone jumps on this let me say I realize that this happens everywhere at all times in all places with different philosophies dictating what is currently politically correct. I’m dealing with what is going on here and now not with historical payback or class guilt.

                  • Oooh! I like that train of thought. If we are willing to toss out bigots who are being jackasses. Are we willing to toss out [insert group here] who are being jackasses? I just don’t think that we (as a society) are generally willing to do that. And tex, define jackassery in THAT context.

                    • You misunderstand me. I am willing to toss out anyone who behaves like a jackass because that is my privilege as a person offering my services. It might be a mistake and it might result in people not availing themselves of my services, but that is a risk I take. It’s not the responsibility of some outside entity to tell me I have to serve any person for any reason unless I choose to accept those conditions as part of the deal.

                    • I agree completely granny, maybe I put it poorly, but I was attempting to highlight how it’s just unreasonable to somehow draw a line, and force businesses to sell to some people, but not force them to sell to others, based on a subjective metric.

  2. Simple and straightforward. I see no disagreements so far, and I’d submit that your final point, about the Catholics ethically obligated to protect her in case of rape, I don’t think they wouldn’t.

  3. I agree with the a teacher in a private Catholic school. She doesn’t really have much of a leg to stand on this. However, I disagree quite vehemently about the same reasoning applied to a teacher in a public school. Under what theory should a public school be allowed to fire a unmarried pregnant teacher?

    • Probably under this theory:

      “Teachers must not model irresponsible and destructive behavior for their students, and school administrators must step in when they do.”

      Which Jack mentioned.

      • But what’s the acid test? IS having a child out of wedlock always irresponsible? Always? And it’s it’s not always, do we really trust administrators to deal fairly with these situations on a case by case basis? I agree with deery, the Catholic school specifically included language in the contract to deal with this, no one should be surprised, but I just can’t apply this to public schools.

        • It’s socially irresponsible, ALWAYS, yes, because its socially toxic conduct. It may be individually responsible: a rich, independent lesbian with child care resources and male role models around will probably raise a healthy child with great life options. But if the poor teenager downtown sees her family and takes it as an endorsement of single motherhood, that teen has been led down a dead-end road.

        • Said teen probably wouldn’t be in a public school. And even if they were, would be an insignificant;y small minority. I’ve changed my position, I agree with Jack.

        • I would doubt that an am heiress to a multi-billion dollar fortune would be attending public school, either as a teacher or a student. [She would probably be out setting a bad example through the media or or a “reality” tv show, if precedence comes into play.]

      • Well the teacher in question would not be a teen. She would be a grown woman, presumably with a degree and a full-time job. Your argument is making a stand against having other pregnant teens in school, but I still don’t see the argument against an adult, making adult decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with the student. If we wanted to impose our religious values on teachers, then send your student to a religious school.

        Under your scenario, a teacher who had an abortion would keep her job, one that chose to continue with a pregnancy would not. Something of a perverse incentive for you, I would think.

        • UGH.

          “Well the teacher in question would not be a teen. She would be a grown woman, presumably with a degree and a full-time job. Your argument is making a stand against having other pregnant teens in school, but I still don’t see the argument against an adult, making adult decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with the student.”

          Oh-MY-GOD. Are you seriously making this argument? So parents are similarly unable to be bad influences on children, because, see they are adults and the children aren’t, so the kids don’t see them as role models? What planet are you from?

          “If we wanted to impose our religious values on teachers, then send your student to a religious school.”

          “Don’t get pregnant without a committed relationship and a marriage license” is not “a religious value.” The fact that amcient religions adopted it as a moral imperative because it leads to a stable social structure doesn’t mean that religion is the basis of its validity. It’s is a standard of responsible behavior validated by research, statistics and experience. That’s a straw man argument if I ever saw one.

          Under your scenario, a teacher who had an abortion would keep her job, one that chose to continue with a pregnancy would not.

          That’s right, in a secular school.

          “Something of a perverse incentive for you, I would think.”

          Incentives have nothing to do with it. The post is about a teacher’s obligation not to teach children that it’s fine to have babies out of wedlock.

          • Jack,
            The top of my head was starting to lift then I saw your reply and it resumed it’s former position. You saved me from having a meltdown and saying the same thing but with much less finesse.

          • Adults can be role models for children, of course. If the role model is, get a degree, get a job, then have a baby, what would be the problem with that?

            “Don’t get pregnant without a committed relationship and a marriage license” is not “a religious value.” The fact that amcient religions adopted it as a moral imperative because it leads to a stable social structure doesn’t mean that religion is the basis of its validity. It’s is a standard of responsible behavior validated by research, statistics and experience.

            It is a religious value. What of the many people who are committed to each other, but see no inherent value in a state approved marriage license? What of all the gay couples out there who still can’t married? What of the woman who always wanted to be a mother, but never a wife? Or the nice sister-in-law who is carrying a fetus for her brother and his wife? Should the government really be delving into everyone’s personal life to see whether or not we approve or disapprove of the way and reasons why someone got pregnant? Should rape victims have to disclose that they were raped to their employers? Ugh. No. Just no.

            • 1.”What of the many people who are committed to each other, but see no inherent value in a state approved marriage license?”
              They are either rich, irresponsible, selfish (the kids are automatically at risk: see Woody and Mia) stupid, or some combination of the four.

              2. The fact that religious teach and value it does not make it a religious value. Just stop it. Is not lying a “religious value”? Go to the definitions and read them. You are mixing up morality and ethics.

              3. “What of the many people who are committed to each other, but see no inherent value in a state approved marriage license? What of all the gay couples out there who still can’t married? What of the woman who always wanted to be a mother, but never a wife? Or the nice sister-in-law who is carrying a fetus for her brother and his wife? Should the government really be delving into everyone’s personal life to see whether or not we approve or disapprove of the way and reasons why someone got pregnant? Should rape victims have to disclose that they were raped to their employers? Ugh. No. Just no.”

              Irrelevant to the post. The issue is conveying healthy, responsible values to the students, and the teachers’ various rights are, indeed, secondary ethically. If a pregnant rape victim doesn’t want to tell the school, fine. She still can’t act like a happily pregnant single women in front of a class of middle schoolers. How she resolves that dilemma is not my concern.

              • Irrelevant to the post. The issue is conveying healthy, responsible values to the students, and the teachers’ various rights are, indeed, secondary ethically.

                I think we part ways here. I don’t think the state should go sifting into employees’ sex lives to figure out whether or not they should remain employed. If the state cannot discriminate against married and unmarried people when hiring, I hardly see how it could do so when firing either. I don’t not believe that a pregnant unmarried teacher is inherently irresponsible, stupid, or selfish, even if she was not raped. If the goal is to bring children up in the most stable way that we can, I also fail to see how deliberately impoverishing the mother would lead to anything other than the very goal we say we are trying to avoid.

        • I had a seventh-grade teacher who got pregnant with twins, and after proudly announcing this to the class, then announced that after careful consideration, she had decided not to get married to the father at this time, but also after careful consideration, she had decided not to abort the babies either. Unfortunately, the expression “TMI” was not in wide use in that era. I don’t know the school-board position on that, but I sure have a personal opinion.

  4. You could have gotten to the same result simply on the basis of the First Amendment and rested your argument on the rights of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Instead, you choose to push further and attack the right of women to have sex. Birth control sometimes fails. Simply because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean that she chose to be. It may just mean that she chose to have sex, and then chose not to have an abortion.

    Where you lost me was at this particularly idiotic statement:

    “I think the same principle should apply to any secondary or primary school teacher, Catholic or not.”

    Really? First of all, with that statement you negated your First Amendment argument, which actually does defend the rights of the school, by making it clear that your position actually exceeds constitutional boundaries. (Congratulations on screwing yourself over on that one in particularly and cluelessly magnificent fashion.)

    So. Public school teachers who engage in sexual activity outside of wedlock should be fired. Not as a matter of religious liberty, but as a matter of public policy and civil law.

    Interesting.

    What are your plans for unmarried male public school teachers who engage in premarital sex? In order to be ethical, you’d have to worry about them, too, wouldn’t you?

    If you’re concerned about what you consider immorality, rather than simply attacking the one gender which potentially physically manifests the consequences, please tell me how you intend to police that equally between the genders?

    (Not really my problem. I’m a gay guy, so if visible pregnancy is your test, you’ll never find me. Although it is nice to get a little warning that you’re on the hunt.)

    Not, of course, that you intend to do anything other than pontificate.

    • You could have gotten to the same result simply on the basis of the First Amendment and rested your argument on the rights of the Roman Catholic Church.

      But that would have nothing to do with ethics, now, would it?

      Instead, you choose to push further and attack the right of women to have sex.

      Oh, balderdash. I said nothing of the kind. A woman who teaches in a Catholic school may have sex all she wants (i don’t think that contract can dictate her sex life), but she does so acknowledging the risk that her teaching days at a Catholic school are over. A female track star before the Olympics and a female soldier and a female Playboy model take the same risk—pregnancy disqualifies you for some jobs, and single pregnancy disqualifies you to teach at a Catholic school.

      “Birth control sometimes fails. Simply because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean that she chose to be. It may just mean that she chose to have sex, and then chose not to have an abortion.”

      Who’s being idiotic now, Chris? She chose to take a measurable RISK ( “Birth control sometimes fails.”). She gambled her career, and lost. Pregnancy, absent rape, is never completely outside the mother’s control. If she wanted to make certain to keep her job, she had three options: don’t have sex, get married before having sex, have her tubes tied. Tough choices, but she also chose to teach at a Catholic school and to sign a contract.

      Where you lost me was at this particularly idiotic statement: “I think the same principle should apply to any secondary or primary school teacher, Catholic or not.”Really? First of all, with that statement you negated your First Amendment argument, which actually does defend the rights of the school, by making it clear that your position actually exceeds constitutional boundaries. (Congratulations on screwing yourself over on that one in particularly and cluelessly magnificent fashion.) “So. Public school teachers who engage in sexual activity outside of wedlock should be fired. Not as a matter of religious liberty, but as a matter of public policy and civil law.”

      (Do NOT put words in my mouth. I mean it: I will not tolerate that.) I said nothing about civil law, or public policy. I said that they should be fired, by the school, meaning as sound educational policy, as part of the school’s obligation not to model destructive behavior. If a school didn’t, a responsible parent should object, and remove the child. Of course, the most at risk children, the poorest ones, wouldn’t have that option. That might suggest that a public policy is necessary, but I did not advocate such in the post.

      “What are your plans for unmarried male public school teachers who engage in premarital sex? In order to be ethical, you’d have to worry about them, too, wouldn’t you?”

      You know, if you are going to call my statements idiotic (especially when they are obvious and rational), you really should be careful not to make a really idiotic statement like this. What do you think, Chris, is the answer? Here’s what an unmarried male prospective father presents to his class:

      Here’s what an unmarried, celibate teacher presents to his class:

      See any difference? Neither do I. And neither will the kids, which is the point. The issue is not virtue or responsibility, but the message sent to the children, and if a teacher is happily parading her “baby bump” in a class of hormonal teens, which everyone oohing and ahhing about the baby and teacher “glowing” and acting as if everything is wonderful (whether it is or not), there is no way on earth, Chris, that this doesn’t undermine the message at school and home that getting pregnant without a stable relationship is catastrophic.

      “If you’re concerned about what you consider immorality, rather than simply attacking the one gender which potentially physically manifests the consequences, please tell me how you intend to police that equally between the genders?”

      Uh, I hate to break this too you, Chris, but the genders are not the same, and have different handicaps, advantages, disadvantages and responsibilities. And legaland social equality does not exempt them from reality.

      (Not really my problem. I’m a gay guy, so if visible pregnancy is your test, you’ll never find me. Although it is nice to get a little warning that you’re on the hunt.)

      Really jerkish statement. Nobody’s on “the hunt.” You are being willfully obtuse and obnoxious, without ammunition or cause.

      Not, of course, that you intend to do anything other than pontificate.

      Bite me. Education ethics are part of my field, and you’re just throwing bombs based on emotion and fantasy. Women who are pregnant show the world they are pregnant. Sorry, that’s the fact of it. Life is unfair. If a school teacher would be inappropriate to have a snake or a swastika tattooed on her forehead, and she would, she is similarly irresponsible to appear in class, unmarried and pregnant, saying to students—“Respect me, follow me, be like me.” As I said, it’s a no-brainer.

      • The issue is not virtue or responsibility, but the message sent to the children, and if a teacher is happily parading her “baby bump” in a class of hormonal teens, which everyone oohing and ahhing about the baby and teacher “glowing” and acting as if everything is wonderful (whether it is or not), there is no way on earth, Chris, that this doesn’t undermine the message at school and home that getting pregnant without a stable relationship is catastrophic.

        What if she is in a perfectly happy, stable, unmarried relationship, with no intention of ever getting married? I’m not sure the teacher is “modeling” anything, unless one knows the particulars of her life. Any pregnant teacher, unmarried or not, could lead an impressionable teen to conclude that they want a baby. Or pregnant women in general really.

        But considering that 46% of all births are to unmarried women, as far as showing social disapproval for the behavior, that horse has left the barn some time long ago.

        • “stable, unmarried relationship, with no intention of ever getting married”

          Marriage is the social display of the stability of a relationship.

          I don’t care how much it is spun in the modern “take it easy man” and “it don’t make no difference” culture we’ve developed, but without the social and publicly binding act of marriage, NO relationship implies stability.

          So grossly eroded is the social power of the public act of marriage these days that even marriages aren’t stable — yet the message portrayed by marriage IS STABILITY.

          • So marriages aren’t stable, which you acknowledge. Which any teen can see in their own lives, the lives of their friends, and pretty much everywhere. But we have to *act* like marriages equal a stable relationship(when they don’t). And rather than going full throttle and just banning out-of-wedlock sex or births (or divorce for that matter), we should instead engage in passive aggressive behavior and fire teachers when they are pregnant for doing something that everyone already knows that they do. It is completely ludicrous, a sham, an exercise in futility.

        • “But considering that 46% of all births are to unmarried women, as far as showing social disapproval for the behavior, that horse has left the barn some time long ago.”
          Many horses have left the barn but we don’t necessarily abandon the concept because of that. Many murders are committed. We still condemn it. Many people are bullied, we still condemn it. Many people drink 40 ounce sugared sodas we still condemn it. Get the idea?

          • But how are we condemning single parenthood? It is perfectly legal, normal behavior in our modern society. Celebrated even. We condemn poverty, and being poor, but don’t have much of a problem with unmarried people with means having children together (look at Angelina pre and post Brad).

            Obviously it is a value shift that many people are still very uncomfortable with, but given the new reality, I would have a hard time condemning a person for having a child out of wedlock.

              • All right. Leaving morality aside, what is the unethical behavior of a unmarried woman with a job having a baby? Assuming you know nothing else about her personal life.

                • Why do you need to ask this question? Because two parents are better than one. Because it’s unfair to the child. Because children of single parent households are at greater risk of poverty, neglect, criminal activity and abandonment of school.Because its irresponsible. Because a single parent with a job has to entrust his or her child to a third party who a certain percentage of the time is not trustworthy. How much more do you need?

                  • Because two parents are better than one.
                    Two parents can be better than one, but that isn’t really the argument here. All we know is that she is unmarried. We have no idea if the father is in the picture or not (for the record, they usually are).

                    Because it’s unfair to the child.
                    ? In what way other than what you have outlined?

                    Because children of single parent households are at greater risk of poverty, neglect, criminal activity and abandonment of school.
                    So are the children of poor people, minorities, disabled people. Should they also be fired from jobs when they reproduce?

                    Because a single parent with a job has to entrust his or her child to a third party who a certain percentage of the time is not trustworthy.
                    That is a fine argument against women in general having jobs (or two income households), but I’m not sure it is a good argument against out of wedlock births specifically. If that was the case, shouldn’t all teachers married or unmarried, be fired when they get pregnant?

                    • Deery, on what basis do you make the statement that most unwed fathers are in the picture? That has not been my experience and.or observation, particularly where the mother has more two or more children by different fathers.

                    • Deery,

                      I’d be surprised if Jack hasn’t thrown his computer through the window after reading this. You’ve shifted the goal posts from “teachers” to “anyone”.

                      If we KNOW that stable two-parent households ARE one of the key foundations of a stable, healthy and functioning society, and all evidence points that direction, then holding up individuals who flout the stablility-generating institution of two-parent households in positions of IMMEDIATE impact on young people’s lives and ideas of socially responsible behavior is ethically questionable.

                      Jack has not advocated the firing of every pregnant single mother in any profession. Quit being emotional and melodramatic.

            • “It is perfectly legal, normal behavior in our modern society. Celebrated even. We condemn poverty, and being poor, but don’t have much of a problem with unmarried people with means having children together (look at Angelina pre and post Brad).”

              [Interpolate long, high-pitched, bloody scream here.]

              1. “It’s legal” is a rationalization, a huge one, and irrelevant. Should I list all the destructive behavior that is legal?
              2. “It’s normal.” Yes, and we are paying for it. Stupidity, greed and self-destructive behavior are also normal. What kind of justification is that???
              3. Anyone who celebrates single parenthood IS an idiot. Celebrating those who make the best of singfle parenthood once they are stuck with it is something else. Celebrating single parenthood itself is like celebrating cancer.
              4. Angelina and Brad????? Pop quiz: why is their experience and situation completely irrelevant to this discussion? Who sasy we don’t have aproblem with it, despite their immunity from the results (many of them, at least) that the conduct engenders? They make the conduct look fun! Easy! Glamorous! Be like Brad!
              5. “Obviously it is a value shift that many people are still very uncomfortable with, but given the new reality, I would have a hard time condemning a person for having a child out of wedlock.”

              I can’t scream any more. There are five outrageous assumptions and/or fallacies in this single, brain-melting statement. I’ll let someone else ID them for you. Frightening statement.

              • Jack, I’m circling around to exactly what are we condemning and why when we condemn out-of-wedlock births. So I’m checking things off the list. It isn’t illegal or abnormal. Given the divorce rate in America we also know that marriage does not equal relationship stability. So we move on to other things as far as to why we could possibly condemn and fire a woman who gives birth out-of-wedlock

                Sex outside of marriage? Many people consider that immoral, but that is mostly for religious reasons. I don’t consider it unethical necessarily. Given modern technology, also assumes facts not in evidence.

                Raising a child in poverty? I don’t necessarily consider that unethical, though it is a tough call. Should poor people never have children? pre-birth control that was an easier answer. Post birth control harder, but then again, birth control is expensive on a day to day basis… 🙂 Plus, I’m not sure that showing that you could provide for the child on your own would be enough to satisfy critics of out of wedlock births. I fail to see how a single woman out of wedlock birth would be any more unethical on that basis than a poor married couple having children.

                Not having a dad around? Well that assumes facts not in evidence. In most cases the dad is around in some capacity. Plus I’m not sure that critics would be satisfied to know that the mother and dad live together, and are just unmarried.

                Poor role modeling? Well that’s circular reasoning. We don’t like out of wedlock births because that becomes a role model for other people to have out of wedlock births which we don’t like because….

                If a teen looked at their pregnant teacher and said, “hey I want to grow up, finish school, get my degree, get a job, and have a baby (without being married first),” you would have a problem with that because….?

                • “Given the divorce rate in America we also know that marriage does not equal relationship stability.”

                  But there is a correlation between children born outside of wedlock and almost every bad thing that could possibly happen to them. Is being born to a married couple a sure fire thing? No. Is being born to an unmarried mother a surefire disaster? No. But you’re playing Russian Roulette with your children. It’s just not a good idea.

                  “Sex outside of marriage? Many people consider that immoral, but that is mostly for religious reasons.”

                  No one is arguing that. The act of sex is not the fault here. It’s something the kids never see. Recreational drugs, being nude, drinking to excess…. None of those things would get the teacher fired unless she did them in front of her students. And just like going to work drunk or stoned would be wrong, for more than the obvious reasons, because she is inherently showing her class it’s ok to be drunk and stoned, pregnancy outside of wedlock is parallel, it’s something a teacher should not be advertising. Period.

                  “I fail to see how a single woman out of wedlock birth would be any more unethical on that basis than a poor married couple having children.”

                  We aren’t talking about individuals. It’s not whether it’s good for the teacher, it’s whether it’s good for the students to see the example. And time and time again, it is statistically superior for the children using almost any metric for the child to have two parents. Might this one example be better? Sure. It’s still not relevant.

                  “Not having a dad around? Well that assumes facts not in evidence. In most cases the dad is around in some capacity.”

                  Marriage is the outward indicator of stability in a relationship. You have to get past the emotional gut check and look at facts. The fact is that children are statistically better off with two parents. That statistically, two parents are more likely to stay together if married. And that statistically, the benefits of two parents are larger if the parents are married.

                  “Poor role modeling? Well that’s circular reasoning. We don’t like out of wedlock births because that becomes a role model for other people to have out of wedlock births which we don’t like because…”

                  That logic is toxic. For example: A mother who drinks during pregnancy is more likely to have an FAS child. That child, because of the way the child is raised, is also more likely to drink during pregnancy and have an FAS child. So we accept it and do nothing?!?!?

                  Just because something is legal, and common, does not make it good. Resistance is NOT futile. And you should be ashamed for suggesting otherwise.

                  “If a teen looked at their pregnant teacher and said, “hey I want to grow up, finish school, get my degree, get a job, and have a baby (without being married first),” you would have a problem with that because…?”

                  FOUL. I completely reject your straw man. But more than that. Again. What is good for AN INDIVIDUAL is not necessarily good for the GROUP. We should not encourage destructive behavior. And being a single mother is the single largest contributing factor to child poverty. If that child could do all those things: Great. The fact of the matter is most would not.

                  • But there is a correlation between children born outside of wedlock and almost every bad thing that could possibly happen to them.

                    Correlation is of course, not causation. Many have persuasively made the argument that it flows the other way, namely that poor people and unstable people are more likely to have children OOW. At any rate, you seem to be using OOW pregnancy as a proxy for a host of society’s ills, rather than just going straight to the source. Why not condemn poor people for having kids? Should a married teacher’s assistant, with a poor janitor husband be fired from her job for teaching the kids that it is ok to have children whilst poor? But a pregnant teacher isn’t poor. She presumably has a job that pays her above poverty wages.

                    What is good for AN INDIVIDUAL is not necessarily good for the GROUP. We should not encourage destructive behavior.

                    Allowing someone to continue in the job that they hold is now “encouraging destructive behavior”? Doesn’t firing the person cause the very problems surrounding poverty that you outlined? Should we also force them to wear a scarlet ‘A” after we fire them to really drive the point home?

                    No one is arguing that. The act of sex is not the fault here. It’s something the kids never see. Recreational drugs, being nude, drinking to excess…. None of those things would get the teacher fired unless she did them in front of her students. And just like going to work drunk or stoned would be wrong, for more than the obvious reasons, because she is inherently showing her class it’s ok to be drunk and stoned, pregnancy outside of wedlock is parallel, it’s something a teacher should not be advertising.

                    My main problem with someone being drunk or stoned in front of the class would be that they would not be able to do the job they were primarily hired to do, which is teach a class in the subjects of their expertise. A pregnant woman is still able to teach. I don’t think it is wrong to be drunk in your own free time (stoned, being illegal, is another matter for me.) Being unmarried and pregnant, in and out itself, is not inherently wrong.

                    That logic is toxic. For example: A mother who drinks during pregnancy is more likely to have an FAS child. That child, because of the way the child is raised, is also more likely to drink during pregnancy and have an FAS child. So we accept it and do nothing?!?!?

                    What should we do in your example? Arrest pregnant women who have a glass of wine with their dinner? Fire pregnant women who admit to having a few sips of beer? Refuse to sell alcohol to pregnant women? Force women to take a pregnancy test before they saddle up to the bar? Some private conduct the government has no business regulating.

                    • I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are trolling. Because I just can’t believe that an intelligent person could actually believe some of the things you say. You seem more interested in having the arguement than discussing the ideas. Your arguements are full of straw men, and one-off oulier statistics, and you don’t accept arguements in the spirit they were offered. Coninuing this discussion will only frustrate me more, and give you a larger platform from which to spout your nonsense. I feel that I have backed up my assertions with facts, and that anyone reading our discourse can judge our arguements on their merits, and come to the right conclusion.

                    • Persuasive to who? Those arguments are pure, PURE rationalizations. There are few correlations that are so direct and beyond debate.

                      I’m not even sure what you are arguing against in this instance. The fact that poorer people tend to have more OOW births? That wealthier people tend to marry? That mentally stable people tend to marry, while the mentally disabled do not? Your statistics are not the result of double-blind studies, but a method of self-selection to a great extent. So to a large degree many of these studies basically show that poorer people tend to be poor, just using OOW as a proxy. Substitute other things as needed.

                    • Poor people have more OOW births, and the children of OOW births tend to be poor. Also criminals. It’s a cycle. Chicken/ egg. This isn’t really a matter of controversy.

                  • “Given the divorce rate in America we also know that marriage does not equal relationship stability.”

                    Wrong. A marriage is be definition more stable than a non-marriage, and that fact that it is subject to potential instability doesn’t change the fact that the instability is speculative, while the instability in a single parent family or unmarried couple is certain. It’s like arguing that a seriously ill parent is as good as a live one because dead a healthy parent might get sick.

                    • Why is the instability in an unmarried two-parent household certain? Many, many couples stay together without ever having been married. It is becoming more the norm now than ever before. I hardly see how instability in that type of relationship is any more certain than instability in a marriage.

                    • Why? Because nothing stops the pair from dissolving at any time, harming the child (and others.) If the couple is stable, then why aren’t both parties to it willing to accept the legal commitment and responsibility? The child deserves a name, a family, a clean family tree, if at all possible.

        • A marriage is a contract giving your word that you will not, at any time, leave the relationship, harm the relationship via abuse, or cheat.

          Therefore a couple in a “happy, stable relationship” would have no reason not to get such a contract, especially when one party educates children. I’m pretty sure the paperwork doesn’t cost much.

      • Jack, at the point where you accuse me of putting words in your mouth, when I QUOTED you, I’m out of here. It seems clear to me that you are comfortable with the logical, and unethical, and sexist consequences of your arguments. So, you know — good for you.

        • Hey, if you’d bothered to read and not be knee jerk, you’d notice where he identified where you made up an argument for him… On public policy and civil law. He didn’t. That’s where you put words in his mouth.

          • Moron. When he went beyond Catholic schools (where I agree with him actually) and said this should include all teachers (all teachers includes public schools) that’s when he went into the arena of civil law. Which he apparently thinks we’re too stupid to notice. I’m not. Keep being a sheep since that seems to make you happy.

            • Often people double down on illiteracy, I’d say you are a member of that crowd. If you knew of the principle of which Jack discusses: the NTP and its extrapolated form here, you’d know Jack does not believe the firing of teachers in this scenario is mandatory, which you did accuse him of saying in that passage.

              It’s not so much ‘being a sheep’ as much as its about paying attention.

            • I am a lawyer, and I think I know when I am talking about the ” civil law.” The statement was that “I think the same principle should apply to any secondary or primary school teacher, Catholic or not.” There is no legal assertion or principle there. You are hallucinating, being careless, or just intellectually lazy. The principle is an ethical one: pregnant single teachers teach students that its cool to be single mothers. They can’t help it. That is a bad, destructive message, and they should not be permitted to make it, nor should any ethical teacher fail to understand that. Get pregnant without a husband, find another profession, or accept responsibility for the girls you push into premature motherhood without the resources to do it well.

              This should neither be a difficult concept nor a controversial one. If you can’t grasp it, look within, and don’t call others “morons”
              who can.

        • You’re on thin ice. You did NOT quote me, because I never said a thing about firing a teacher for sexual activity, not a thing. A teacher can have all the promiscuous, unmarried, reckless sex she wants, but if it gets her pregnant, and she is not married, then she can no longer be a responsible instructor or role model for children, because her pregnancy is a visual billboard endorsing and promoting high risk, irresponsible behavior that it is completely wrong of the school to permit going out as a message. The behavior, since you are being unbelievably dim in this thread, is not having sex, thought that is inadvisable at the age as well. It is having babies. It is starting families without being married.

          Your first response before was flabby, inattentive and insulting. Here it is just insulting. Bad show, all around. There is nothing sexist about noting that woman are pregnant. If you can’t think before you write, you must at least think before you start hurling insults without provocation. I insist on it.

    • So, just throwing this out there from the Catholic perspective- your birth control argument is totally bogus. BEING pregnant outside of marriage isn’t what breaks Catholic principles, having sex outside marriage is what breaks them. Not to mention that, in marriage or out of it, birth control also goes against the Catholic rule that no artificial steps should be taken to prevent concpetion during sex. Once she got pregnant, keeping the baby actually follows Catholic principles, since the option (abortion) is even worse.

      So yes- pregnancy is how she got caught. “choosing” to be pregnant isn’t th eproblem, choosing to have sex outside marriage is the problem, for Catholics. “Birth control sometimes fails,” you say, but I hardly think that “Well, yes, I broke a rule, but I broke ANOTHER rule to try to keep you from finding out about breaking the first one, it just didn’t work. So I shouldn’t have to go, because I really didn’t want to get caught.”

  5. “We live in a country now where Christian photographers and bakers are being sued… ”
    But I don’t see how extending services to gays in this fashion is breaking any Christian laws unless our freedom to do such things causes a weaker Christian who believes it’s wrong to stumble,as the Bible mentions. In which case I would do my best to explain to the weaker Christians my position but if they could not understand then I’m out of a career. Doesn’t seem quite fair but there it is. Not quite as simple as not eating meat sacrificed to idols in front of easily offended Christians,unfortunately.

    • This is kind of a play on the “No True Scotsman” arguement. It really doesn’t matter what religion means to an individual, the fact is a large number of Christians are behaving that way, they are basing it off of a part in Leviticus which calls on christians to kill ‘men that lie with another man as they would a woman’ with stones. Obviously they can’t kill them, but are we going to force them through legal coerscion to deal with them in the same way they would deal with anyone else? It’s one of those situations where I don’t agree with them, but I’m going to defend their right to be ignorant.

      • Humble Talent, the passage you cite in Leviticus only applies to the theocracy that existed in Israel right up until about 2000 years ago (and functionally ended long before that with the Babylonian invasion).

        Oprah, the President, and Ellen have made a similar hash of the basic Christian theology of an Old and New Covenant, whether willfully or ignorantly. So you’re in smart company. I’m just saying, Christians do not want to or need to kill homosexuals in order to comply with the Bible.

  6. Jack – I’ll have to stand up for Chris S. for a moment. I think if you go back and re-read his comment with the “Public School” filter, as opposed to the Catholic School filter, you might come back around. I know the main parts of the article were about the Catholic scenario, but you did lead into the public scenario and I think Chris’s comment highlights why you can’t take this “rule” into the public sphere.

      • So, being a pregnant teacher is okay as long as long as people don’t know if you are married or not. Got it.

        Ms Teacher, are you married?
        I don’t talk about my personal life.

        Ms Teacher, you don’t wear a wedding ring, are you not married?
        I don’t talk about my personal life.

        • And if that’s a plausible stance to take I’m all for it. I went to a tiny school where we knew every teacher’s family, because there were only so many people in the town. That meant a teacher couldn’t have refused to divulge details, we already knew them. In a larger school, though, where the teachers aren’t seen outside? By all means, don’t talk about yoru personal life, even if you have nothing to “hide.”

        • You’re grasping at straws. If there isn’t any indication that she is married, then she isn’t. And if everyone believes that she isn’t married then it sets the same example as if she was not married. You haven’t proved anything else.

          • So, a married pregnant teacher should be fired for not talking about her personal life because she gives the appearance that she might not be married?

            • Yes. Because in your hypothetical situation the policy exists (no children out of wedlock) at the public school and the teacher is aware of it. Her desire for privacy has prevented her from disclosing her martial status which gives the administration only one recourse, termination. Your question did not address this, but did you want to talk about the fairness of that particular situation?

              • I guess we should define what we are actually talking about here in terms of “employment situation”, right? I’m only concerned about discussing public government schools because I recognize the rights of the private institutions.

                I guess we have 3 levels in the public sphere:

                1) Employment contract prohibition on unwed pregnancy/single moms
                2) Policy against unwed pregnancy
                3) Administrator applying “principles”

        • So, being a pregnant teacher is okay as long as long as people don’t know if you are married or not.

          You’ll have to prove to me that this is a realistic scenario in a secondary or primary school. The rebuttable presumption is that the marital status of any pregnant teacher who did not disclose of reveal it previously would be quickly determined by any class within days if not hours once she turned up pregnant. If nobody knows, then her marriage status is like the naked online model status in the Naked Teacher cases—once it’s known, she’s toast.

          • I don’t think it will shock anyone here to know that I kept my maiden name and identify myself as Ms. (not Miss) on every single legal form. I also rarely wear my rings — I got out of the habit when I had my babies because the rings would scratch them. Now I tend to wear them on date nights or to family events (I don’t want or need family gossip). I’m sure that I have clients and colleagues who are unaware of my marital status. As for my children’s teachers? I know one is married for certain and that another one has children. I don’t know her marital status — and if my children ask, I will teach them that it isn’t their business to ask.

                • I’m just saying that every employer has, at a minimum, one person who knows if an employee is married or not.

                  So even if Beth were to teach at this Catholic School and never once mention that she is married during the entire interview process and her time teaching, at least one person would know that, if she ended up “in a family way”, she was not an unwed mother.

            • I went to school from the mid-80s through the 90s. I only ever knew my teacher’s situation if the teacher volunteered the information. Of course, my schools were in a large metropolitan area.

              • No wedding rings? That was the first thing the girls in my classes noticed. I went to a big school, but we all knew which teachers weren’t married (and often who they were dating) within a couple of weeks, a couple months at worst

                  • “Miss” means single. “Mrs.” means I want you know I’m married. “Ms.” falls somewhere on the scale of “none of your damn business” to “does it matter if I’m married or not?”

                • Regardless, the objection is being raised based on exceptions. I’d submit the norm, BY LARGE, is married people wear rings. That being the case, that a few married, ringless people, have children, does not invalidate the rule of un-married people having children pushes the message of instability.

                  • Is the problem that unmarried people make babies or that unmarried people raise children?

                    ‘Cause, an unmarried pregnant female teacher could resolve the issue by saying she’s giving the baby up for adoption.

                    ….or that she’s only a surrogate for a loving couple.

                    Of course, you’ll respond about some gibberish or something. Meanwhile, there’s a nice white married couple expecting a baby. The mother-to-be is a teacher and the school is fully supportive of this functional family. When the baby comes out, it’s black. Oh no! The school accidentally endorsed adultery and mixed-race relationships without even knowing it! Oh well, let’s make this a teachable moment, but instead of making unwed pregnancy a teachable moment, let’s just dismiss the teacher outright.

                    Lord knows we can find another highly qualified college grad to teach our kids on a poverty line salary.

                    Aside from the LAW providing protection based on pregnancy OR marital status…
                    Aside from UNIONS never permitting such a ridiculous employment contract provision….

                    Does anyone here actually think this idea, in a government public school, could be anything more than a “guiding principle”?

      • Avoided at all costs? Isn’t that a bit extreme?
        “Kill the teacher before her students learn of her situation.”

        It shouldn’t be “…at all costs”. It should be “…but at what cost?”

        As a principle, yes I agree it should be a model of what teachers strive to emulate and what administrators attempt to provide. However, in practice, life will always throw a curve to someone, somewhere. They are “teachable moments”. It’s a statistical inevitability that a single teacher will become pregnant for some reason or another and I don’t think a “no tolerance rule” of any sort is workable, ergo, I don’t think any “rule” is necessary.

        Guidance is sufficient in the public school sphere, not intolerance.

  7. I’m gonna be a little snarky here so beware 😉 Considering what the previous Bishop of the LA Archdiocese has ignored regarding the sexual abuse of children by clergy and also other Bishops around the country, I am a little annoyed at this woman being fired for breaking this vague contract. I do think that “the Emperor has no clothes” in this matter. Anyway this church still teaches that birth control is evil and sinful. They seem to have no problem with the number of teenage unwed mothers who have to drop out of school.

    • Just because they’ve picked their battles poorly, doesn’t negate or mitigate the fact that the teacher signed a contract in which she reasonably should have realized pregnancy outside of marriage could void. I’m not saying your comment isn’t something that Catholicism shouldn’t look at, it’s just not relevant here.

  8. I’m referring all comments to the following rationalizations:
    6. The Biblical Rationalizations
    7. The “Tit for Tat” Excuse
    12. The Dissonance Drag
    22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
    23. Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants”
    26. “The Favorite Child” Excuse
    27. The Victim’s Distortion
    32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”

    Which have or will possibly be used in this discussion wholly or in part. Even, sadly, by me but I am allowed to do it because my heart is pure.

  9. As a teacher of kids from ages 4 through 12 I just have to say this and then I’ll probably shut up. Maybe.
    This whole discussion is remarkably similar to a teacher making a statement of policy or fact or an announcement of a reality. The kids immediately begin to offer what if’s. What if this or that? The fact of the statement is hardly ever allowed to stand unchallenged. But, the facts have not changed just because they are challenged.
    It’s like saying the airplane has taken off and then everyone in the airport saying “Wait I needed to be on that flight because…” “It’s not fair.” “Why did—get to go and not me?” “But, my life will be ruined.”
    Too late.

  10. I want to table whether or not it was legal to fire this teacher. This is a contract issue, mingled with First Amendment problems, and interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. (It’s probable that the PDA exempts — or should exempt –religious institutions.) My guess is that this termination is legal, but I also wouldn’t bet on it without researching it first.

    I’m more interested in the thrust of your ethical argument — that it is ALWAYS socially irresponsible to have a child out of wedlock. Presumably, you are focused on the fact that two-parent, legally contracted families are more stable and financially secure. Okay — I will give you that, even if half of children already are being raised by single mothers and/or have parents who have divorced. No need to encourage this.

    But consider this, by logical extension (at least in Jack world), the school also would have to fire a single teacher who decides to adopt a newborn. After all, there is a long wait for newborns in the US, so she is being socially irresponsible by adopting that child. That child could have gone to a two-parent family. Or, maybe she is allowed to adopt — but only older, disabled, or unwanted children? Or maybe single mothers can be SO socially destructive, that teachers should be fired regardless of the circumstances surrounding their adopted children.

    As Luke G correctly pointed out above you and the alleged Catholic principles at play here are focused on the sex, not the child. The fact that you can’t tell when a man has violated his contract makes this pure discrimination — and in my book is unethical. If this teacher identified to her principal that the father was another teacher at the school, I assume that you would agree that he must be fired as well.

    Ironically, the result of this termination will be that this teacher may not be able to financially support her child — and good luck trying to find a new job when you are visibly pregnant. How very Christian of them.

    • The problem with your logic, Beth, is that it’s really hard to become pregnant without having sex. I could almost see the artificial insemination angle here, but we have to talk in what’s most common, and that isn’t. You’re right, the problem the teacher has is not necessarily that she is pregnant, it’s that she has had sex. And yes, it might seem unfair that because women get pregnant, that the act of firing someone for being caught having premarital sex will tend to punish the woman more often than the man. But that’s biology. I’m not sorry for it. No one should be more interested in our well being than us. This teacher made choices that led her to losing her job. Sorry. Some measure of responsibility has to land on her shoulders.

      • Look at what Jack wrote in his main entry and the comments — he is arguing that single motherhood is destructive to society. Of course I have problems with the obvious, blatant discrimination here — that’s why we have laws that would protect this teacher outside of a religious institution. But that’s not what I am focused on here — Jack is saying that she is deserves to be fired because single parenthood is the wrong message to send. I’m asking him to think about this a little more, because we can become parents in lots of ways, adoption being the second most popular method. If this teacher decided to adopt a newborn and then bring in pictures to show her class — or talk about her baby in class — she would have to be fired by this school. If the school didn’t do this (in real life or in parallel Jack world), then they are policing/punishing sex, not the alleged harmful affect of raising children alone.

        • The message to be avoided is irresponsible sex before marriage, or high risk conduct resulting in pregnancy and single parenthood.

          Hey, if any of the 8th grad students are moved to adopt and can meet the standards of the agencies, I say, go for it.

          • I think the flaw I’m finding here is the assumption of irresponsible/high risk sex leading to single parenthood. An adult woman could choose to have a child while not married, without it being reckless or risky. (You may argue that that is a foolish decision, I simply mean it can be a reasoned and deliberate decision). The students that are silly enough to see a pregnant woman cooed over, or a cute baby, and decide that pregnancy is what they want too, right now, this minute, are going to be just as silly and impressionable when a married teacher is cooed over and has a cute baby.

          • Ugh, although tongue-in-cheek, your last sentence proves my position. Single mothers can make deliberate and SMART decisions to have children, either through sex with a knowing partner, artificial insemination, or adoption. Assuming that they have the financial and emotional resources to do this, they are not sending anyone — including children — the wrong message. And, if any child asks — the teacher can and should explain to that child that it is not his place to question whether she should do this. Alternatively, an even better teacher would use that as an opportunity to teach tolerance and diversity of families. As we know, marriage does not equal stability. As you said Jack, all teachers are role models. The lesson here is that becoming a parent (through any method) should be made deliberately with a plan in mind for that child’s future.

            Again, not arguing that the Catholic school did anything legally wrong here, but this is an unethical decision in my mind.

            • Look, if people had evolved so that men had a bright green light growing out of their forehead that flashed when their BAC level was over .05, police would have an easy time finding and prosecuting drunk driving. From your logic, I can only assume that you think pulling those drunk drivers off the road would be discriminatory. The fact of the matter is, that if men could get pregnant, they would probably be under the same threat of job loss for becoming pregnant in these situations.

              My point is that for it to be discriminatory, someone needs to be descriminating. In this case, the descriminator is nature. We don’t need to legislate ourselves into homogeny, we need to accept that people are different, and educate ourselves about those differences.

              Unless you plan on suing mother nature for discrimination, I don’t know what to tell you/

              • You aren’t following my point. I also think it would be wrong to fire a MAN if he chose to be a single parent.

                The test for anyone is if they have the financial and mental resources to be a good parent. And if two parents are involved — even better — but not required.

                • This teacher entered into a contract, where it would be reasonable to assume that she should understand that if she had premarital sex, she would be fired. It is reasonable to assume that because she signed the contract. If she did not have the financial ability to care for a child after losing her job, she should not have consented to the act that put her in that predicament.

                  If someone makes a choice. Regardless of how stupid or disenfranchised that choice makes them. That person owns the consequences of that choice. Their financial situations are absolutely irrelevant.

                • Did you see the photos I sent Chris? What about that confuses you? A single man is not a walking advertisement for getting knocked up. A single man, in fact, is an advertisement, should he choose to be, for accepting responsibilities for his mistakes. We do not have a problem in this country with too many young men getting girls pregnant and then taking over the parenting, do we?

                  • We also do not have a problem with a myriad of single, college-educated female teachers warping the minds of young children with the glamour of single motherhood. As for walking billboards, these schools where everybody knows what is going on are sure to find out if Mr. X has a kid out of wedlock. In any event, who would you rather have teach your child? A single woman who deliberately and thoughtfully makes the decision to add to her family? Or a man who hides the fact that he is a baby daddy from his students who look up to him so much? This is an easy call. One is a responsible adult, the other is not.

                    • “As for walking billboards, these schools where everybody knows what is going on are sure to find out if Mr. X has a kid out of wedlock. In any event, who would you rather have teach your child?”

                      What? How? I don’t know if my best friends have had kids out of wedlock. That’s nuts, Beth. You can’t seriously argue that a pregnant single teacher and a male who may have knocked up his girl friend projects the same distractions and messages in class. It’s like saying a teacher who is showing an obvious hangover in class is no different from the teacher who got just as hammered but shows no affects in class. Either can drink all they want, but when it affects their appearance and demeanor in class, it becomes legitimate school business.

                    • Look — you (and others on this thread) are the ones talking about how kids know everything about their teachers. I was accepting your hypothetical for a moment.

                      My point boils down to this Jack. You and I agree that teachers have an enormous effect on children. But this is not a problem. A single teacher who adopts is going to bring in pictures of her new infant or toddler, and that’s going to raise a ton of questions in class and at home. And that’s good. Our kids are in school to learn to be a part of society too, not just algebra. They can learn what their teacher is doing, and they may get similar or different viewpoints at home. That SAME discussion is going to happen if a single teacher is visibly pregnant — and that also is a good thing.

                      As for, “yes, but she is advertising that she (most likely) had sex out of wedlock!” I just can’t wrap my head around this. Very young kids don’t know what sex actually is and kids who are old enough to know assume that single adults are having sex — and it usually grosses them out. I remember when two of my band teachers started going out — they eventually married and had a child. That was a distraction too (ESPECIALLY because I thought the man was gay), but I assure you the last thing that it did was make me want to go out and date a band teacher. And I certainly didn’t think about them having sex — eck. But they were good teachers. Yes, kids are going to have questions, but they don’t automatically look at their teachers and say, “Gosh, I want THAT life!”

                      This is not the naked teacher problem. There, teachers are advertising sex — and worse, a fantasy, unrealistic, sometimes dangerous version of sex. Here, teachers are showing that women are making different choices in today’s world, and those choices CAN be just as responsible as married adults. At a minimum, kids will ask questions and develop their own thoughts on the issue.

      • The problem, I think, is that a Catholic school and public school would look at this from two different angles. From the Catholic perspective the problem is that she was having sex out of marriage, not that she is pregnant out of marriage. The former is the break wiht Catholic teaching, the latter is just the evidence that she did so. If this woman chose to adopt a child her job likely would not have been in jeopardy, as that is a good and self-sacrificing act.

        When applying it to public schools, though, Jack highlights the social ills of single parenthood and the message it sends to the students. In that case, the pregnancy and resulting single parenthood are the key issues. Given that, Beth’s questions have weight. Surely giving birth to a child while having no stable partner is no more socially disruptive than adopting a small child while having no stable partner- at least, that’s a logical appearance.

        It’s all a bit apples to oranges, really. This teacher was fired for having sex and got caught because she was pregnant, although the pregnancy itself isn’t problematic except as proof of her extracurricular activities. A public school would be vastly overreaching to expect to dictate whether its employees have sex or not, but (by Jack’s reasoning at least) should send a message to its students about the irresponsibility of bringing a child into a single parent household.

        • But the disapproval, in Jack’s reasoning, isn’t really the irresponsibility of bringing a child into a single parent household (he has no problem with single parent adoption), it is “irresponsible sex before marriage, or high risk conduct resulting in pregnancy and single parenthood.”

          So the problem is unmarried sex, according to Jack. Which he denies, but it’s still boils down to it. Jack has a problem with students knowing that a woman has had a high probability of having had willing unmarried sex. Only women can demonstrate evidence of this, so only women can be punished for it. Which has no problem with, in either the religious or secular context. Whew. I hope I have that correct.

          • If you’re correct, then what Jack is saying about the social implications of bringing a child into a single-parent world and the stability of the family aren’t relevant arguments at all, becuase the problem is with the sex and not the child. If his arguments accurately convey his feelings, then it’s not the single sex that’s the problem, but the single parenthood.

            • Yes, I don’t think they are relevant, because the same arguments would apply in the case of single parent adoption, which he has no problem with. But the actual pregnancy? He seems to have a very large problem with that.

              • No one adopts because they haven’t thought about the consequences of taking on the responsibility of a child. Adoption is made by people who are vested in the interests of the stability of that child and it’s family, and vicariously the community.

                People who CREATE a child out of wedlock, either flippantly or not, who have not taken the steps to establish a stable family or living condition ARE NOT doing so with the interests of teaching values in mind.

                There is a difference, and it doesn’t undermine Jack’s objection, it isn’t about just sex.

                • Well, isn’t that the difference between individual outcomes, and group outcomes, as everyone has been shouting about? What of the cohabitating couple that deliberately think about creating a child, and go ahead and do it? Or the single woman with a good career who goes to a sperm bank? So people who adopt (single or not) are granted presumptively the mantle of responsible, while those who are unmarried are presumptively irresponsible, the presumption being strong enough that a teacher should be fired over it? No. Keep the government out of employees’ personal lives. I don’t like where this witch hunt is heading.

                  • We’ve already discussed the cohabitating parent issue above: There is NOTHING stable about a relationship that doesn’t even bother to publicly and outwardly declare commitment to that stability (which is marriage).

                    Single woman with good career? moving goal posts again. We’re talking about single teachers (whether their career is good or not).

                    You’re the only one taking this ‘witch hunt’ down the manufactured road you are taking it down. No one has established a compelled rule to fire the teacher, just a rule that a teacher, fired for that reason, doesn’t have a right to complain.

                    And yes, people who adopt are granted presumptively that mantle, because there is a long drawn out process for adoption, and the general rule is responsible stable people adopt. Of course there are outliers there that some would then claim destroy the principle (but it won’t).

                  • Keep the government out of employees’ personal lives. I don’t like where this witch hunt is heading.

                    First, this isn’t the government. This is a private entity.

                    Second, “where this is heading” is a place I like to call “contract enforcement” which is, in fact, one of the few things I think the government should do.

                    The teacher signed a contract of her own free will. Maybe she didn’t read it, but that does not negate her responsibility to abide by the terms of the contract.

                    She violated the contract, and thus can and should be fired.

                    The firing is ethical because it is the logical conclusion of an employee failing to abide by the terms they said they would.

                    • First, this isn’t the government. This is a private entity.

                      I’m not talking about the teacher in a Catholic school, that outcome I don’t disagree with. I’m restricting my disagreement to expanding the firing unmarried pregnant in public schools as Jack advocates.

                    • First, this isn’t the government. This is a private entity.

                      I’m not talking about the teacher in a Catholic school, that outcome I don’t disagree with. I’m restricting my disagreement to expanding the firing to unmarried pregnant teachers in public schools, as Jack advocates.

                    • If they sign a contract to such effect, I would have no issue with them being fired from a public school either.

                      Then again, if the contract said “never wear purple to work” and they did, I would support them being fired for that as well.

                    • If they sign a contract to such effect, I would have no issue with them being fired from a public school either.

                      Then again, if the contract said “never wear purple to work” and they did, I would support them being fired for that as well.

                      I think such a contract forbidding out of wedlock pregnancy would not pass even a rational basis test for sex discrimination, as well as discrimination based on marital status. You can’t really contract yourself out of those.

                    • Do I really need to remind you how much I think the government and it’s bullshit can fuck off?

                      While as a general rule I support such an act, the fact that it can override an agreement between private parties is disgusting to me.

                    • And this is one unintended consequence of said law that works a real disadvantage overall. Having been screwed twice as an employer hiring for a crucial job where a woman did not disclose that she was pregnant until about a week after being hired, then took leave, screwing over a major, crucial project, I think many of the actual applications of the law are either unethical or support unethical conduct.

                      When the employee returned, I told her: “You deceived me. You said you were ready and willing to work on this project and were committed to making the deadline, when you knew you could not, just to get your benefits. Well, you’ve got them, You fooled me. Congratulations. Now hear this. I no longer trust you, and I am likely never to trust you as long as you work here. You know why. Maybe you can regain my trust, but that will take a lot of work.” She didn’t stay long. She only took the job so we could pay for her baby, and as far as doing the job she was hired to do and pledged to do, she didn’t give a damn.

                      Nice. Yeah, it was all legal. And unethical as hell.

                  • “Keep the government out of employees’ personal lives”

                    Except it isn’t the ‘government being in employee’s personal lives’. It would the government not endorsing unstable parenting decisions before a class of malleable young minds.

                    • Except it isn’t the ‘government being in employee’s personal lives’. It would the government not endorsing unstable parenting decisions before a class of malleable young minds.

                      To do that the government of a necessity must investigate the marital status and sex lives of its employees. It must determine, “adoption good, unmarried pregnancy bad, separation gestation ?, surrogacy ?” Those “malleable” young minds will not be blown by having an unmarried pregnant teacher, especially not compared to the greater harm of firing said teacher.

                    • Hardly. I don’t know any job/career/profession/employment where employers don’t need to know any major life changes or health changes that may impact their employee’s ability to perform their tasks.

                    • Being pregnant in front of students isn’t parenting, it’s gestating. The first fallacy in all of these scenarios is that the teacher is keeping the baby, or that the baby is even the teacher’s…could be a surrogate.

                      With that said, your presumptions of moral principles fall apart, if not on their own, with a simple statement by the teacher in question.

                      If your objection isn’t that she had sex out of wedlock, but rather, that she’s intending to to raise the child herself without a spouse, then you are only vilifying her intentions and if she changes her intentions (give up to adoption), suddenly she’s an OK teacher. If your principle can be negated by the whim of one person’s intent, it’s not much of a principle.

                    • Hardly. I don’t know any job/career/profession/employment where employers don’t need to know any major life changes or health changes that may impact their employee’s ability to perform their tasks.

                      The employer may need to know if a teacher is pregnant, if she is planning on taking time off (though many teachers try to time their births for the summer, so no maternity leave needed). But the how, who, and why of it all? No thank you. I don’t think many people would welcome the government getting into who has a “good” reason for pregnancy, and thus can still be allowed to teach, and who has a “bad” reason for pregnancy, and thus should be fired.

                      And why stop (or start, for that matter) at teachers? “Malleable” young minds can be shaped by al sorts of people and occupations. I don’t think we should policing anyone’s sex life as heavily as you are proposing, especially not the government, and especially not for such an ethereal reason as being a “good role model.”

                    • Deery. Quit with the strawmen.

                      I’ve yet to propose a rule that compels termination, rather, reinforced the basis of the NTP, which is: if terminated for those reasons, the terminated employee doesn’t get to complain. Your objections are geared to the establishment of a compulsory IF-THEN rule, I’ve not propose such. Fix it.

                      Also, you need to review why teachers (with their CAPTIVE audience) do form a special case that doesn’t expand to the greater market.

                      They wouldn’t need to know the who and the why of it all. They know their employees enough to know the pertinent info.

                    • I’ve yet to propose a rule that compels termination, rather, reinforced the basis of the NTP, which is: if terminated for those reasons, the terminated employee doesn’t get to complain.

                      I think that unlike the NTP, which theoretically on its face at least, can be applied in a non sex discriminatory fashion, in this case, the principle can only be applied to women. So you are proposing that we should be allowed to discriminate against an individual on the basis of sex and marital status to serve a greater cause.

                      The greater cause? Being a good role model, you say.
                      Well, why is that person not a good role model? Because their unmarried pregnancy status has a very general association with bad outcomes you say.

                      Well not really if the mother is educated and has a well paying job. Nope not good enough. We should be able to fire her, thus causing her to be poor, and then contribute further to the same statistic that we decry. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

                      I guess I have a problem because unmarried pregnancy doesn’t seem necessarily like an ethical lapse. Allowing someone to be fired because of it seems just like a moral judgment, not an ethics judgment.

                • How, then, do you draw the line between a considered, caring single-parent adoption and a considered, caring single-parent natural birth and child-rearing?

                  Sure, there are stupid, careless people who become pregnant or get someone pregnant by accident. I’m asking how you can draw a bright line that NO out of wedlock pregnancy can be done by someone with the interest of teaching values, but that all adoption is made by those with vested interest in stability?

                  • First of all, you can drop the “alls” from both propositions. I’ve already identified they are general trends. And Jack has clearly identified the typical route of instability a child born out of wedlock will experience. It’s really not a matter of debate.

                    The reason also, that no one is arguing for a compulsory rule of automatic firing is because situations like that require discretion. But should the discretion be acted upon, the ‘firee’ doesn’t get to complain.

                    • So drop the “general trends” (that you presented as absolutes)- tell me the difference between an unmarried woman who chooses to adopt an infant, and an unmarried woman who chooses to give birth to and keep a child.

                    • Actually, the trends themselves weren’t presented as absolutes, but the values they represent are pretty damned close.

                      You and deery are muddying the waters here. The issue at hand is the message pushed on the malleable young minds: that out of wedlock birth is A-OK, when societal stats pretty well show it ISN’T. Tossing in the adoption and surrogacy topics as objections does not change the assertion that out of wed-lock births do increase the instability in the community. To continue to deny this is to push a boulder up hill, watch it roll down and push it back up again.

                      One thing deery and your objections (which if to be taken valid) ignore is that prior to any adoption or surrogacy, it’s assumed those involved let their employers know, which ISN’T unreasonable. I don’t know any employer that doesn’t have a need to know if the upcoming health changes in an employee may impact their ability to fulfill their profession’s expectations.

                      Upon learning that a certain teacher is becoming a surrogate, IMMEDIATELY mitigates that scenario, invalidating the objection. Same goes for adoption.

                    • I don’t think it’s muddying at all, really. The fundamental question is, is the problem getting pregnant out of wedlock or raising a child out of wedlock? If the problem is getting pregnant, then the discussion is about sexual taboos and moral luck (ie, using birth control responsibly but getting unlucky and a pregnancy results anyway). If the problem is raising a child, then HOW you get the child is irrelevant and an adoption by a single parent is just as objectionable as an unwed pregnancy.

                      For the record I don’t see how surrogacy fits in here at all (OK- in a Catholic school yes, because of their religious tenets about that topic. I mean in general cases). A surrogate mother neither bumbled her way into it withouth thinking NOR will be raising a child while unwed, so that would just be implying that pregnancy itself is somehow unclean.

                • Wrong! I have dear friends who never met Mr. Right but decided to have children in their late 30s/early 40s.

                  Here’s the deal. Some women are fine with adoption — but it is expensive (sometimes $50,000 or more). So they decided to have their own because that was a lot less money. Not that these women do not make good salaries, but they’d rather put that money toward college. A very responsible decision, don’t you think? Also, there was the emotional risk of never being chosen. Many adoptive mothers opt for two parent families for many of the perceived benefits espoused in this thread.

                  Another one of my single friends adopted from Vietnam — and she did so while she was quite young. Her children are now 10 and 11 and are wonderful, well-adjusted children.

                  Another friend made the decision that it was important for her to carry her own children. She wanted that connection, wanted the child to have a blood bond to her, and she was more comfortable knowing that the baby would be born in good health. (This particular decision also came with a $50,000 price tag btw.)

                  So no, never presume that a single mother, especially a college-educated one who waited until she was of a certain age to have a child did not do so flippantly.

                  It is not our place to judge these decisions.

                  Jack is arguing that single mothers should be fired from teaching jobs because they are role models. This is because Jack believes that deliberately being a single parent is generally bad for society. Yet he also acknowledges that single female teachers should be able to adopt. This is illogical and he knows it. Either he is condemning the sex (which he won’t admit) or the possible shameful result of sex (single motherhood). Since a mother is a mother is a mother (and I dare you to explain to an adoptive parent that there is a difference), then unwed teachers shouldn’t be able to adopt either in Jack World. And he’s not arguing that.

                  Also, by logical extension, a single mother (never married) would NEVER be allowed to teach again in Jack World because even though she might not be visibly pregnant, the children would still figure out that she was unwed and opt to do the same. Similar to his naked teacher rule — at least that would be consistent.

                  • “Jack is arguing that single mothers should be fired from teaching jobs because they are role models. This is because Jack believes that deliberately being a single parent is generally bad for society. Yet he also acknowledges that single female teachers should be able to adopt. This is illogical and he knows it.”

                    It is NOT illogical, Beth. Your stubbornness is illogical. Middle school kids adopting children out of wedlock is not the problem, is it? Adoptive single mothers don’t come to school with their kids strapped to their stomach, either. It is the appearance that is at issue, and the lessons—these are teachers, remember?

                    • The consequence of unprotected sex is a child. The consequence of adopting a child is a child. Either the class is enticed by the glamour of single motherhood or they are not. The swollen belly has little to do with it. In fact, a single pregnant teacher (along with the nausea, weight gain, fatigue, etc.) would do more to deter young females from having sex than a single woman who adopts a child while looking beautiful.

                    • I expected that theory, and we know its wrong, because we have many, many studies of the attitudes toward pregnant students in inner city schools. Once a pregnant student was a pariah. Now they are celebrities. Also, commonplace. Which pregnant single teachers will exacerbate.

                      The single -adoptive-parent is really a distraction from the issues. Yes, she didn’t have reckless, irresponsible sex, and the situation is still an anomaly. And the visual pregnancy matters tremendously.

                      The distinction can also be explained: a child of a pregnant single mother is being recklessly disadvantaged. The child who is adopted is STILL better off with a single mother than with no mother at all. the lessons of the two single mother teachers are different: one is good, the other is toxic.

                    • Your adopted theory is bogus if you are talking about an infant under the age of 12 months. There’s a long list of married couples who want those children.

                      As for the “inner city,” example — not all schools are in the inner city. Also, those (most likely few and far between) examples of pregnant school teachers can explain how they have an income and an education — as compared to the 15-year olds who will be living on state assistance the rest of their lives because of their decisions.

                    • You have to change the culture, Beth, or the acceptance of this ruinous conduct will keep moving forward. A school would go nuts if a teacher smoked a cigarette in front of a class, or talked about how much she loved a puff getting up in the morning. A pregnant teacher is doing far more to model risky behavior every day. You’re basing your argument on an anomalous parallel that is missing the primary factor in the equation.

                    • Do you really think that it’s the teacher waddling around with the preggo belly in and of itself that is noticable? That’s simply an early-warning sign of impending babyhood. I have known people who wanted to get pregnant in HS- here’s a tip, it wasn’t so they could carry that gut around for a year, it was so they could have a baby that would be cute and people would ooh and ahh over and would love them and they could love it and dress it up and life would be perfect.

                    • There’s valid concerns there, that even a married mother being ooh-ed and ahh-ed over can do the same damage if the malleable teens in question let the momentary stardom of baby-hood dazzle their attention and they don’t even consider the factor of marriage at all.

                      The question then becomes: how much, at all, should expecting mothers of ANY marital status, keep their personal lives out of the student’s attention? Which is ultimately part of a larger question: Teachers fulfill the demand to educate young minds, some effective teachers are effective because they teach on a *personal level*, how personal is too personal? I’d submit the bar is increasingly lower with our “it doesn’t matter anyway” and “take it easy man” culture we’ve developed.

    • If the school is that interested in firing teachers who have sex out of wedlock then yes, I would expect similar handling of men if evidence comes to light that they were doing so. It’s true that pregnancy is absolute evidence, but if the school is willing to investigate and fire male teachers for the same offense then I think it’s just moral luck that it’s easier to tell that a pregnant woman had sex at some point.

      If they don’t pursue men for the same thing, they are acting absolutely unethically of course. I also wish that they would be more understanding and forgiving- grace is a virtue. My main point wasn’t to say “she sinned, fire her” it was to emphasize that, for Catholics, BEING pregnant isn’t the problem, it’s how you get that way.

  11. I think also, to be fair to Jack’s principle, is he is NOT advocating a rule that compels termination of unwed pregnant teachers, but merely that, should, on a case by case analysis, certain schools DO terminate teachers for THAT situation, the rule is, the teachers don’t get to complain.

    • If it’s a public school, such firing would be illegal, hence unethical…so, of course the teacher gets to complain. When your legal protections are stripped away, your duty is to complain.

      • Compliance Dodge.

        Jack posed, in this 2nd to the last point, a “should”, opening this doscussion to the hypothetical. Current legal opinions aren’t a valid objection.

        • Ok- I understand your point on that. Since this hypothetical is so unstructured then with no required basis in current society, might someone suggest a workable matrix where the subjective firing of one pregnant woman is justified to the subjective retention of another?

          I understand current legal opinions can’t be used (or current law as I understand you to intend), but we do have to wade into legal land and laws are derived from 1) Logic, 2) Justice, 3) Fairness.

          This is why the conversation previously delved into
          1) Unwed mother, keeps child
          2) Unwed mother, relinquishes
          3) Unwed surrogate

          Since some portion of the above 3 might be an acceptable situation, some commentators, in the interest of logic and fairness, wanted to know what exactly was wrong for public school kids to see-

          Was it
          1) A woman who had pre-marital sex, or
          2) A woman who intended to raise a child without a spouse

          A workable matrix to determine which situation calls for termination based on these factors and many more would be needed to document logical and fair decisions. Without such documentation, the firing would be too subjective and fairness would be a lost concept in vague restrictions.

          I contend that such a matrix is in fact unworkable. That abuse of such discretion would do much more harm than good.

          • Tim—this is epic over-thinking.

            It really is simple.

            1. We don’t want teenage girls thinking that giving birth to kids without being married is cool.
            2. Pregnant single women as daily role models send the message that it is cool, and OK, an “normal,” and desirable.
            3. We would fire a teacher, I presume, who taught a class without parental approval on why middle school girls should consider single motherhood ASAP.
            4. A single, unmarried pregnant teacher in fact teaches that class whether it is her belief or not.
            5. That is unacceptable, just as any other kind of negative lesson is.
            6. Because this is a catastrophic social malady, it is important not to send the wrong message.
            7. Teachers have an obligation, as do schools, not to teach it.

            All this about exotic ways to have a child without having sex, or men (who do not appear pregnant in public), or adoptions is confounding irrelevancy. What is the plain message taught be the teacher’s appearance, and does it place the children at risk? How do we stop the message from being sent out? The rest is secondary, tertiary, or not germane.

            And whether the law, good or bad, limits the school’s power to do the responsible thing is unrelated to the post. I wrote (Chris can’t seem to grasp this, but I still maintain it’s clear):

            “I think the same principle should apply to any secondary or primary school teacher, Catholic or not.” Meaning single pregnant teachers should not be permitted to be walking, adorable, talking, beloved role models for disastrous single parenthood to teenaged girls” …as a matter of common sense and ethics, because the costs and risks are unacceptably high.

            Which they are.

            • High school kids are stupid. Being exposed to a MARRIED teacher’s pregnancy is going to convince a subset of them that they want a kid- people would treat them nice and then they’d have a cute little living doll. What, the teacher’s married and I’m not? But my boyfriend LOVES me and we’ll be together forever… IF they even think of that, and don’t just want that little bundle of joy.

              You’re overreaching on how much a high schooler dumb enough to want to get pregnant at that age notices about the teacher. You think they take into account whether the teacher is married… but somehow don’t notice the teacher’s age, health, income, or literally any other resource?

            • Tim—this is epic over-thinking.

              Perhaps it is. I will attempt to limit my thinking to that of a 2009 Democratic US Senator with a multi-thousand page healthcare act sitting on my desk. No unintended consequences here!

              😉

      • “If it’s a public school, such firing would be illegal, hence unethical”-–that’s correct. The law trumps ethics, and citizenship becomes the prime value. Law takes our ethical choices away from us. That’s why my statement said “should.” Not does. (In private schools, it does, and in this respect, the more ethical, responsible result lies with them, from the stuident’s welfare point of view. The law affecting public schools sacrifices the students to the interests of the teachers…which is NOT ethical.

  12. There’s more than one doctrine in the Catholic church.

    One is that everyone is sinful and that sinners are to be prayed for and guided toward redemption, not shunned.

    The church, then, had a choice among principles. They chose the principle that people must not set examples that lead others astray. It’s an important principle Biblically.

    Given conflicting principles they should have chosen the most humane. They could even have combined the principles by giving her a 9 month leave of absence while everyone prayed for her soul.

    They are also bound by secular law against sex discrimination. They have chosen repeatedly to offer treatment and second chances to male people who were dangerous to children. Please notice carefully that I’m not arguing that pedophile protection justifies public pregnancy. The issue here is the double standard in which female employees are treated more harshly. There could be a gender-neutral reason, namely the severe shortage of priests. It’s a reasonable suspicion that it’s discriminatory, though. Arguing for the difference based on the difference in visibility doesn’t fly — that would be the rationalization of the ethics tree falling in the forest.

    There also have to be limits on how far a religious organization can go in requiring secular employees to follow religious teachings. One extreme would be requiring the janitor to accept the authority of the Pope. The case in point is much less extreme since it also involves principles a secular school might well care about. The issue still comes up.

    • “There also have to be limits on how far a religious organization can go in requiring secular employees to follow religious teachings. One extreme would be requiring the janitor to accept the authority of the Pope.”

      If it’s explicitly understood in the contract, then the hypothetical would-be janitor doesn’t have to take the job.

      • “Doesn’t have to take the job” is not an ethical or legal excuse if there’s a discriminatory requirement not related to doing the job. Being pregnant while teaching does have some relation to the job. Mopping while Methodist doesn’t.

          • At the moment I’m thinking of both.

            There’s an ethics question in whether the school lived up to their religious principles and a legal issue of arguable sex discrimination.

              • I absolutely hate it when things like that happen to me.

                On past form I predict your reply will be thought-provoking and interesting. I look forward to it.

            • Let’s start from the market aspect and contractual aspect, and disregard existing law initially.

              An employer creates jobs when he senses the market demands a value the potential job can provide. I think the answer lies between two poles:

              1) The hyper-free market attitude would allow for an employer to create a job description in his contract as exclusive as he feels necessary. An employer would be free to make it so exclusive that NO ONE could fit the bill. In the hyper-free market, the employer can rightfully add on any conditions for employment, even unrelated to the specific task the job performs. Why? Because it is HIS business.

              Now, the market would react, if his conditions are so stringent, by not supplying a single person to fill that job. The employer would then, wishing to capture the market share generated by the initial demand, be compelled to loosen the conditions of employment until a suitable labor pool of one or more individuals becomes available and willing.

              At some point on that ‘loosening’ the employer may still have conditions of employment that *you* may find unfair, but the person inevitably hired may be completely content with. That’s the free market.

              2) At the other end of this particular spectrum (and you could say it isn’t the farthest end of the spectrum, but for this discussion, it is far enough) you have a condition where employers ONLY list the qualities necessary to perform the bare mechanics of the job the employer needs filled.

              This would inevitably require some sort of enforcement mechanism, because mere task qualifications ARE NOT ENOUGH, and every employer knows this. In a scenario in which Candidate 1 displays 90% proficiency at the necessary task, but is a grouch who scoffs at superiors and disdains criticism, and Candidate 2 displays only 65% proficiency at the necessary task, but is gregarious and eagerly pursues correction and edification, I guarantee the employer will hire Candidate 2.

              But that’s unfair! Candidate 1 is better at the bare essentials of the job! Yet the employer knows that his objective in the marketplace is to provide the value the market demands, and value is more than just requested skills or products.

              So, somewhere between those poles lies the answer. If an employer honestly feels that the value his company brings to the marketplace is enhanced by a janitor who genuflects perfectly and never misses a mass, then the market will either respond affirmatively and give him a janitor or negatively and he must reevaluate his analysis of the market.

              But here is where we run into Kant’s Universal Principle, and we’ll switch the variable. If every employer says I only want WHITE janitors, then their portion of the market just created a condition in which black people have NO chance for employment in that field.

              The hyper free market advocate would tell you, well then, a company would come along that is willing to hire black janitors and would inevitably sweep the market of the ‘eclusivists’. But not so, not for a long time. The market corrects problems, but slowly.

              So here’s where I’m on the fence. Ethically, I think it is wrong for sellers to discriminate against buyers, while it is not ethically wrong for buyers to discriminate against sellers. So, where does employer-employee fit in that category? The employee is selling the service of their knowledge, personality and skills, and the employer is buying that service. So then, does the employer have the right do discriminate against the possible employee based on conditions that are not immediately relatable to the service?

              I’m stuck then believing that it *may be* ETHICALLY wrong for buyers to discriminate sellers for any reason not immediately relatable to the product or service, however it would be LEGALLY impossible to enforce without creating even worse conditions for the marketplace. So, I think it’s one of those situations, where the Ethical thing to do, is to the let the market and it’s slow (but thorough and more effective) corrections, correct the problem.

              I’m also wrestling with the inefficiency of Kant’s rule as it applies to marketplace interactions: in the instance of EVERY employer refusing to hire black janitors as a refutation of even one employer refusing to hire a janitor because he’s black, I just don’t see the market tolerating that for long.

              Historically, LAWS had to be crafted to ENFORCE discrimination when the market rapidly proved that the flow of money in the reconstruction and post-reconstruction South was extremely UN-RACIST; not the other way around, where we think laws were necessary to enforce non-discrimination.

              I know I’m rambling at this point, but I can’t recall exactly how I had this worded or structured last night.

              I really wanted to discuss 1st Amendment as well. Criminy

  13. Jack, I hope you haven’t been waiting too long for me to weigh in on this. I had a major bulk mailing to get done today, so I just saw this a little while ago and it’s taken me quite a while to skim the comments and arguments. She signed a horrible contract, she broke the contract, they have a right to fire her. It’s legal. But is it ethical?

    As you know, I am what is known as a “Cradle Catholic” — born and raised. I have been employed by the Catholic Church for many years in one capacity or another — usually as a musician, never as a teacher. Important point: I signed no contract. I don’t know if the teachers at the school attached to the church where I work now are required to sign a contract like the one in question. I know that they do sign a contract that requires them to teach nothing that is in conflict with the doctrines and morals of the Church.

    Quite a few years ago, I became a single mother. I was truly terrified that I would be fired by the church, but I felt that I needed to tell my employer (a priest) the truth and hoped for mercy. I am grateful that he was kind and merciful with me. He understood that the money I was making doing music in the church (not much, of course), would be more important to me than ever. After childbirth and a little time off, I came back to work doing music in that very church. EVERYONE knew about me. NO ONE was anything but kind and helpful to me. I stood in front of countless families, including many children of all ages, singing hymns and songs, and no one seemed to think twice. If the parents spoke with their children about it, I imagine it was a valuable teachable moment.

    There is a whole thing about “public scandal” in any moralistic organization. Technically, I was a public scandal. But “my” Catholic church chose to be a role model of a community with a heart and compassion.

    As someone else wrote, the school had other options, but a Catholic diocese is a bureaucracy just like any other. “There are rules.” But, to coin an overused phrase, “What would Jesus do?”

  14. By the way—I threw the issue of the non-Catholic school single pregnant teacher in at the end because I figured nobody would dispute my conclusion on the actual incident. I thought the fur would fly, and you didn’t disappoint. It even lured Tim into the fray! And Patrice! 0ver 180 comments from 20 participants, including me. Good, ethical days work all.

  15. Sorry they are wrong to fire her. Pope Francis wouldn’t do he, he wouldn’t shun her but then he is trying to get Catholics to act more Christian and stop being such judgmental asses.

          • He should keep them to himself???? He’s the Pope, he shouldn’t keep them to himself. He is the supreme pastor, the Vicar of Christ keeping his mouth shut is the last thing he should do,

            • I understand that the Pope has no legitimate power to dictate or influence official non-Church acts in the U.S., including Catholic School personnel policy. This is meddling, and irresponsible.

              • I didn’t say HE should I said THEY should follow his example. That is w=one of the things he does as the Pope is set and example for his flock..

      • “Pope Francis isn’t running a school.”
        Also,beyond the moral or ethical question is the fact that she broke her contract. In the business world that is grounds for firing someone.
        And if I as a business owner caught someone stealing from me I would forgive her but I’d still fire her. God forgives us of sin but doesn’t always deliver us from the consequences.

        • Somehow this comment was spammed, and it worried me. For about two weeks or so, I had been getting 10X the level of spam I usually get, making it effectively impossible for me to check every piece. now it’s back to normal, and I’m wondering how many legit comments were lost. Let me know any time a comment doesn’t show up.

        • No, he’s cutting through lines of authority and hierarchy. He may have the technical authority, like Ike could order what soldiers Patton put on KP. But it’s irresponsible and wrong, an abuse of power.

              • But even the Pope did not have explicit utter control over Catholic higher education in the U.S. until Ex Corde Ecclesiae was promulgated (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_15081990_ex-corde-ecclesiae_en.html). And again, that was about teaching in Catholic higher education anywhere, not a direct attack on Catholic colleges and universities in the US (although quite a few Catholic institutions were suffering from “Mandate Shock” as a result). The papacy per se does not micromanage the execution of Church doctrine, etc. That is why there are conferences of bishops in places like the U.S. (http://www.usccb.org/). Like it or not, the Church is a hierarchy AND a bureaucracy. But the Pope, like an excellent chairman of the board, hires (appoints/ordains) good managers and stewards of the Gospel (bishops/cardinals), to carry out the mandates of the Church.

                The Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. has recently been pushing back against the conflicts that exist between Church teachings and U.S. law, and at times have enjoyed a modicum of success with compromises. There is much written about the personal conflict of an individual’s attempt to live the life of Gospel and Church values and their life in the secular world. This tension, though, is good on MANY different levels (separation of church and state, individual moral growth, etc.).

                I would also note that if you could examine human resource policies from diocese to diocese, you will no doubt find variations. Some of those policies might be more tolerant and compassionate. The bottom line, though, unfortunately, is that she signed a contract. While signing a contract does not bear the same moral and ecclesiastical weight as “taking an oath,” it should be considered by the individual as having some level of moral binding. She should not be suing. Period.

                (Hi, Jack. Finally found the post that helped me consolidate my thoughts on this.)

                • My argument has never been that they didn’t have a right to fire or her, my argument has always been that firing her was not the Christian thing to do and that it contradicts the example that the Pope has been setting lately.

                  • And my point, sad though it may be, is that the Church, especially as an employer, is a bureaucracy, and there are policies. In my opinion, you’re right — they shouldn’t have fired her. They should have found some way to help her maintain employment without causing public scandal within a Catholic employment situation. But that is probably a dangerous precedent to set, from a human resources perspective. This is the problem that the Church faces in an age where clergy and religious (nuns) are a dwindling human resource. The Church has ministries and programs to run, but without sufficient clergy and religious to run them, the Church must hire lay people. Thus begins the necessity of the Church, as an employer, being “in the world” while also being “not of the world.” And being “in the world,” the Church finds it necessary to create an employment structure that can be maintained “in the world.” The problem with this woman’s situation is that she was part of the Church’s “in the world” status, and yet wants to sue the Church for not acting in a way that is consistent with its “not of the world” values. In my opinion, this does come down to a conflict of values within a Church trying to walk this slim line between “in” and “not of” the world. But, in a lawsuit situation, this woman can’t have it both ways. She should not sue.

  16. “And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 17And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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