Christian School Fires Teacher for Getting Pregnant

This is the kind of story that mainstream media loves to use to show how mean and evil Christians are.

A Dallas-area volleyball coach and science teacher was fired by the Christian school at which she worked for becoming pregnant before being married, according to Yahoo.

Does the school have the right to fire her? It would seem so.

The recent Supreme Court Hosaanna-Tabor decision defended the right of Christian schools to hire and fire because they consider teachers to be "ministers in the classroom." But it doesn't look like that's going to stop the young lady from filing some sort of case against the school.

Heritage Christian Academy headmaster Dr. Ron Taylor said in a news report something that I think sums up his very valid thoughts on this. He asked, "How's it going to look to a little fourth-grade girl that sees she's pregnant and she's not married?"

If someone at my kids' school was pregnant and unmarried I'd be thinking about what I'd have to explain to my kids. I'm not sure I'd leap to firing the teacher but I'd certainly have some thinking to do.

But the school terminated her based on a violation of her contract's morals clause because it was determined her pregnancy meant she could not serve as "a Christian role model."

Here's the thing - it could be that the young lady doesn't consider premarital sex a sin so she was unwilling to admit that publicly. In fact, a quote from her in a news story looks kinda' like that.
"I looked it up and thought, 'They can't do this,'" the 29-year-old Samford told WFAA. "We all have different views and interpretations. It's not necessarily the Christian thing to do to throw somebody aside because of those."
Different views and interpretations of what? It's unclear from the stories I've read. Does she mean different views and interpretations and the appropriateness of premarital sex? If so, then I think the school absolutely did the right thing.

Obviously, the last thing a Christian school needs is a teacher that's unmarried and pregnant and unwilling to tell children that premarital sex is a no-no. But the last thing I'm sure these Christians want is to have a young woman pregnant, unemployed and uninsured.

She chose life and I'm thrilled for that.

The whole thing is a really tricky situation and it's got some bloviating already about the eeeevil Christian school. But we don't have enough information to form an opinion other than to say that the school absolutely has the right to fire her. But on the other hand I'm hoping the school does whatever it can to help this new mom out.

Comments

  1. Hard to see how firing someone for being pregnant is consistent with a pro-life ethic. Yes, the teacher in question sinned. last time I checked - most people have.

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  2. @sd: what part of "morals clause" was confusing to you? The teachers at the school are supposed to be "Christian role-models", therefore they have to be held to a higher standard than most people.

    The military that defends the First Amendment doesn't allow its officers to speak disrespectfully of the president. That's not hypocritical or inconsistent, it's called discipline.

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  3. @Sophia's Favorite: I'm not questioning the right of the school to have whatever policies it wants, or its right to enforce them. I'm questioning the specific wisdom of those policies in a Christian context.

    What is known by her pregnancy is that the teacher in question committed a single sin on at least one occasion. No more, no less. Note that its a sin committed by a very high % of unmarried adults. Indeed, I'm sure if you ran the math the % of unmarried adults who do not, at least on occasion, commit this particular sin is far below the % of unmarried adults who are professed believers. Such is life.

    Now, persons in public roles may occasion scandal when they sin, so its right and proper to hold them up to a high standard of public conduct. But the goal of avoiding scandal, which is at root a pragmatic / prudential goal, must be weighed against the goal of affirming life and the mercy of Jesus Christ.

    Note that a woman using contraception would not run afoul of this policy. More importantly, note that a woman choosing abortion would not run afoul of this policy. If we are to publicly affirm the value of life, then we must support those women who choose life in the face of difficult circumstances. That doesn't mean "condoning" a sin. It means allowing policies and rules to be guided by a sense of proportion and appropriate Christian mercy.

    Scandal is indeed a real problem. But rules and policies designed to prevent scandal are always on a slippery slope toward a "morality" of appearances rather than true disposition of the heart. They should be deployed only with great care and balance.

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  4. I guess the school would have preferred she choose abortion -- you know, to be a proper role model and all.

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  5. "The Christian Thing to Do" only applies to other people, never to you and your boyfriend. Right? Right.

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  6. Anonymous for this oneApril 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    I find that I have to agree with sd, at least in his/her conclusions.

    I am a woman, and have taught in an elementary school classroom at a Catholic school where there was a "moral turpitude" (gross moral turpitude?) clause in our contracts - I believe it also referred specifically to cohabitation outside of marriage. I signed my contract willingly and with full understanding and commitment to the notion that one teaches by how one lives one's life as much as through curriculum.

    I understand and agree with the concerns over 4th graders being exposed to out-of-wedlock pregnancy in one who should be a moral authority. Indeed, I think the young woman in question should not return to her classroom.

    However, I whole-heartedly agree with the truth that sd speaks. Pregnancy - even out of wedlock - is not a sin. Premarital sex is. I am also uncomfortable with a "morality of appearances," but even more so when that morality of appearances only affects one gender.

    This is heightened by the fact that I am aware (although only second-hand, so I have to hope there are mitigating circumstances surrounding the school administration's decision) of a case at local high school in which two unmarried teachers were apparently having an affair. The female teacher became pregnant. From what I was told (by a teacher who was leaving the school because of it) while the affair was known, only the female teacher was fired.

    While the case in the post above is much less troubling, the fact remains, that a man who had similarly sinned would not necessarily face the same punishment.

    In the case of the school in my area, scandal was certainly caused, but not by the adulterous pair. Scandal was caused by a firing that clearly communicated that the real offense, the real sin, the real *evil* was the woman's pregnancy. I feel that despite the disparity in the cases, the same scandal is likely to occur in the 4th grade teacher's community over her firing.

    What is the school to do? The woman's 9 year-old students surely need protecting and the school has a duty to them. Frankly, I think it would be best if the school continued to employ this teacher, not as a teacher, but as a secretary, office help, teacher's aid behind the scenes, etc, if at all possible.

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  7. Well... to sd and the various anonymous commenters: are you truly saying that, in order to safeguard children against the threat of abortion, we must never enforce any sexual standards again? Because I don't see how any standard of Christian sexuality could possible endure against such an implied threat, if that were true... since, after all, "Which is more important: scoring a local victory for sexual standards while adding pressure to abort, or safeguarding the child's life by not throwing stones?" It's a false dilemma: Christ never meant for us to safeguard life "and nothing else", nor did He design the world so badly that Christians would be held hostage by those who say "cut me some slack sexually, and don't make me feel bad, or the baby dies!"

    Christian standards of sexual morality MUST be upheld, or else the entire edifice crumbles, anyway (since it's what leads to abortion in the first place).

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  8. Er... (*sheepish look*)... what I *meant* to say was that "a NEGLECT of Christian standards [etc.] is what leads to abortions in the first place"...!

    I need a nap!

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  9. carrying a baby instead of aborting is a mre Christian thing to do.

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  10. I think it's pretty obvious albeit maybe difficult. The teacher must be removed from her classroom and another job should be either offered or found for her. Yeah, it's a major pain in the neck but following a Christian life is not easy. It's not going to be simply the teacher that sacrifices but all of us.

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  11. Anonymous for this oneApril 11, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    @paladin: Not in the slightest (re: never enforcing any sexual standards ever again)

    If you read my comment, you'd see that I'm all for standards.

    The woman violated her contract, and is not a fit moral authority for her students. She should not continue on in the classroom.

    However, I think that merely firing a woman when she is found to be pregnant out of wedlock is not a great enforcement of standards (for starters, male teachers are just as susceptible to violating their contracts, but it's manifestly easy for them to conceal their violations - if pregnancy is used as the main indicator- then there's real concern of causing scandal (in the CCC sense) in this culture of death.)

    Find the woman some non-classroom job within the school - or somewhere else.

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  12. Anonymous for this oneApril 11, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Errmm for clarity's sake... I mean male teachers are just as susceptible to violating their contracts in the same way as this you woman did...

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  13. Anonymous for this oneApril 11, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    And that would be "young woman" above!

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  14. I'm going to assume the situation is one where a small school setting means that students and parents are well aware of many personal details of the teachers. I'm also going to assume that if the school was made aware that a teacher was doing other immoral acts outside of the classroom, that teacher would be similarly reprimanded or fired: for example, I live in a pretty small town with a private Christian school (no Catholic school, alas). If Mr. Smith, the 3rd grade teacher, were publicly engaged in inappropriate public displays of affection with another man and parents complained to the school and an investigation revealed he was, in fact, a homosexual, then they would fire him. If Miss Jones bought a house with her boyfriend and they moved in together, she also would be fired or removed from the classroom. Perhaps a more populated community would permit greater anonymity, but not a small one.

    I'm all for encouraging unwed mothers to bring their children into this world - and to find for them a nice, married couple to adopt the baby. But all this talk about how firing her is punishing her for sinning, which we all do, so therefore she shouldn't be punished, is ridiculous and feeds the whole contraception/abortion notion that the real solution to a crisis pregnancy is to abort: NO, the fact is, we need to accept the consequences of our actions. Big sins have big consequences.

    Some careers have a greater impact on society than others, so if you're going to do that job (whether it's being a teacher or being a Senator), you have accept that your consequences are even harsher than someone else's would be. I don't speak blithely: my husband's current job is one of zero tolerance for mistakes, and high stress. He has been close to being fired many many times for things that aren't even in his control or that are blown up out of proportion or where he did what he thought was right and just (and had approval from higher up) and when the fallout came down, was told he was wrong after all. It is what it is, and hard as it is, he accepts that he can't make a single error as is the nature of the job. And yes, he and I can not wait for this job to be over (72 days, give or take).

    So, I don't have much sympathy with a teacher who loses her job because it is obvious to her community that she clearly choose sinful behavior. As a parent, I don't feel that I should have to explain to my 8 yo how we "love the sinner while hating the sin." As a Christian, I think helping her is the right thing to do. Outside the classroom.

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  15. Religious leaders and other minions are nothing but hypocrites. She should just look for a job elsewhere.

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  16. I think the best solution here is to give her a clerical position at least for the duration. When I atteneded Catholic High School in the 70's, over 20% of the females in our graduating class had given birth or were pregnant at graduation.One was pregnant with her second child. This sort of "example" can become contagious and "pro-life" and excuse later on for these students. One twist was that those students in my school who decided to marry were tutored afterschool and recieved their diploma but could not attend classes or graduuation as their "vocation" was not what the school atmosphere was geared to. Only one couple in my class married and divorced soon after. Interestingly, the one young woman who left the school, went to a home, and gave her child up for adoption was the only one of the pregnant women who went on to college. - Priorities are important and we should be careful not to send mixed signals.

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  17. This happened at my Catholic middle school. A seventh grade teacher was fired for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The school did pay for her medical expenses related to the birth.

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