You knew it would happen sooner or later. Well, it's sooner. A Catholic school in Massachusetts has been charged with discrimination for refusing to hire a "married" homosexual man. The state court argues that the federal Hosanna Tabor decision does not apply, because he was being hired as a food service manager, and this is not a "ministerial" position.
I admit that I have not actually read the majority opinion in Hosanna Tabor, but my impression has always been that a major point of the victory there was that a religious school gets to decide who is and who is not ministerial staff.
However, it's possible that the Catholic school in this case didn't make an attempt to define the position in that way. That may have been the fatal mistake.
So far, I'm not seeing any word in the news about whether the school is appealing the state court's decision on constitutional grounds.
This interesting comment appeared in the comments thread at TAC:
Again, it is just my observation–being evangelical myself, but with one side of the family being Catholic and attending Catholic schools–I suggest that any Catholic schools that want to avoid these situations are going to have to tighten up the faith language in the job applications for both staff and students given the now dominant legal philosophy. Catholic schools have for a long time accepted wider arrays of students and employees than many Protestant schools and become more a schooling option for secularists who want better education than the public schools provide rather than Catholics persay. You can think of this as a good thing as long as the legal system leaves you alone, but increasingly that is not likely to be the case.
Most Evangelical schools have always had a tendency to be stricter on things like this and defined all staff roles as faith-based. As an example, in the school I attended lo, 30+ years ago, the lunch ladies (“Food director” and assistants) and the janitors were required to rotate and lead the prayers before lunch and other activities (e.g. sporting events) on a daily basis in addition to attending a certain number of chapel services with everyone else, etc. They also occasionally came into the classrooms to share perspectives too (particularly Home Ec, Woodshop, and Bible). Their employment applications specified that they had to be knowledgeable in scripture, live upright in all aspects of their lives so as to be examples for students at all times just as much as the teachers.
What do you know? I've been recommending this all along, and it looks like some of the evangelical schools were ahead of me, at least several decades ago. And they did it when they didn't even have to worry about such disgusting court challenges. They did it just because they really were running a unified religious community.
Christian schools must do this. All Christian schools. If you want your school to be a true Christian community in which the employees are role models for the young people, then you have to make that explicit and apply it, from the job application process onward.
Let's not be fools: The left hates not only Hosanna Tabor but all religious exemptions. If they could, they would close down any Christian school that maintained any Christian identity that contradicts their agenda. They will attempt to whittle down exemptions and eventually eliminate them altogether. "Oh, come on. Somebody who's running the cafeteria doesn't need to believe all that stuff you guys believe." "Oh, come on, this person is just teaching math. How can that be a ministerial position?" "Well, yes, this person is teaching theology, but why does it matter if he's a gay person? He's not actually ordained."
I have seen in a comments thread one commentator saying that the only reason for refusing to hire this man to be the cafeteria director was that the school officials "didn't want the children to be around gay people."
Well, in a sense, yes. That is to say, they didn't want to contribute to the normalization of homosexual "marriage" by employing someone who openly is in such a "marriage" at their school.
If one acknowledges at all the notion of a religious institution with a clear identity, that makes perfect sense.
Who knows what will happen if this state court decision is appealed. It's possible that the SCOTUS will "clarify" Hosanna Tabor in a more restrictive direction. It's possible that they will ask the school to make an argument that the employee position would have been ministerial. The worry in that case is that the school may not even have foreseen such a demand when advertising for the position and hence may be caught without an answer.
Christian schools, take note, and make sure that you have an answer.