By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
In a twist on the hotly contested national debate on church-state matters, the Supreme Court will decide whether a teacher at a religious school can sue under a federal law against workplace discrimination. The justices accepted review Monday of an appeal from a Lutheran church in Michigan, and will hear oral arguments this fall.
At issue is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hiring and firing decisions involving "ministerial employees" like teachers who may have primarily secular job duties.
Court records show Cheryl Perich went on medical leave for narcolepsy in 2004. When she tried to return several months later to the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, officials refused to accept her, saying a substitute had been hired to complete the school year.
After weeks of often acrimonious discussions between herself and the school, Perich was fired for insubordination and "regrettable" conduct toward church leaders. She then complained to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which then sued the church on her behalf.
Perich had been hired five years earlier, and eventually became a "called" teacher, meaning she could not be fired without cause.
Assigned to third and fourth grades, she led instruction in math, language arts, social studies, gym and music, with much of the curriculum identical to the local public schools. Perich also taught a religion class four days a week, and engaged in daily prayers and devotionals with her students. The religion-based activities typically took up about 45 minutes of the seven-hour school day.
She also led chapel services with her class twice a year, on a rotation basis with other instructors.
The faculty has two types of teachers - "lay" employees who are on one-year contracts; and called teachers like Perich who have completed a formal colloquy, receiving a certificate of admission into the teaching ministry. Those parochial instructors are hired on an open-ended basis and cannot be summarily dismissed without proper justification. Perich began as a contract teacher, but fulfilled the requirements to be a called teacher, becoming a "commissioned minister" in the Lutheran Church.
The Redford, Michigan, school is affiliated with the Lutheran-Missouri Synod, but does not require its teachers to be called, or even Lutheran.
Federal courts have upheld a exception in the ADA blocking government intrusion in the employment decisions between religious institutions and ministerial workers.
A federal appeals court in Cincinnati eventually ruled for Perich, saying her primary duties as a teacher were not religious in nature.
"Given the undisputed evidence that all teachers at Hosanna-Tabor were assigned the same duties, a finding that Perich is a 'ministerial' employee would compel the conclusion that all teachers at the school - called, contract, Lutheran and non-Lutheran - are similarly excluded from coverage under the ADA and other federal fair employment laws," wrote the three-judge panel.
"However, the intent of the ministerial exception is to allow religious organizations to prefer members of their own religion and adhere to their own religious interpretations. Thus, applying the exception to non-members of the religion and those whose primary function is not religious in nature would be both illogical and contrary to the intention behind the exception."
The justices will now step into the debate. The Constitution's First Amendment bars any government from passing laws "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof."
The high court in the past has typically dealt with such church-state disputes as allowing Ten Commandment displays in public buildings; the mention of "God" on currency and in the Pledge of Allegiance; manger and menorah displays in public parks; and school and legislature prayer.
Legal experts say federal courts have been split on the current issue, and it gives the justices a rare opportunity to explore a religious freedom dispute from an employment context.
The case is Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC (10-553).
@Hmmm-again: Everyone is a sinner by birth and by practice therefore needs to repent and to receive God's forgiveness through the Divine Savior Jesus in order to be saved. Offending humans is the least problem comparing to the total depravity of mankind before God. Most religious people are not hypocrites but simply telling you a truth.
Westerners hate organized religion because they became uncommited, lazy and disorganized.
Quite the opposite. Westerners are increalingly rejecting gods, and other silly creatures because they are fianlly becoming educated and thinking for themselves. This is the opposite of indolence.
The lazy person stays a theist as (s)he is too comfortable to think for him or herself.
Colin, why do you need to respond to the ravings of a religious lunatic? It won't bring her any nearer to sanity, and the others here can easily see what a total psycho she is.
> Westerners hate organized religion because they became uncommited, lazy and disorganized.
Stereotypes? Is this another one of your deep arguments?
Dean, I'm sorry for being too direct. I love Americans and Westerners and everyone else. It's just that you atheists seem never to get anything if I communicate with political correctness. And none of you keep political correctness with any religious people anyway. I wanted you to see what you are doing by talking like you do, though I certainly refrain from using many filthy vocab you use. Remember Christians are only ones who wish and pray for your best. You just need to repent.
You say people need to "repent" yet they have not done anything against your god, they've just offended you – a "sinner".
Are you not unworthy according to your "faith"? Then how could you ever be offended at anything? You are not allowed to have "pride". You should think about your "faith" and why it does not appear to make sense to an outside observer.
Or keep on doing the very thing you say you hate while saying you hate it. The levels of hypocrisy reached by religious people have to be seen to be believed.
Dean, I understand Frederica and I also understand that she is not elaborating what she wants on this site, because the moderators won't let her as well as let any of us do so. Christians have to keep our answers simple because if we got in depth with our answers they go into limbo and not posted.
As someone who has struggled with multiple sleep disorders and who is skeptical of organized religion and disgusted by its privileged status in this society, I must say ... I think the church is within its rights to fire this person. I don't know anywhere near all the facts and the article doesn't even attempt to provide any, but it can be a crushing burden to small operations and especially fellow workers when non-performers need to be carried by others.
John, have some milk or yogurt before you go to sleep. Calcium helps as well as peace from having an organized religion(Christianity) in heart.
"Calcium helps as well as peace from having an organized religion(Christianity) in heart."
Nonimus, I was talking about sleep disorder. You need to use clean language in order to sleep well.
i am sorry you were lied to, but god = santa and it is time to move on with your life
Christians = believers in one true God
Atheists = deniers of Santa whom their minds have created. No one knows why atheists are doing it.
> Christians = believers in one true God
> Atheists = deniers of Santa whom their minds have created. No one knows why atheists are doing it.
Is this another deep message from you? LOL.
Bob, I can't wait to see what you post after you have a few children of your own. I bet you'll love the church then and what they represent, especially when your children keep acting out.
people at my school with different religious beliefs dont say the word god in the pledge of allegiance.. so i thnk this whole thing is pointless, she shouldnt have been fired in the first place. its not her fault she got sick. i think she is just angry to the point she just sued them. if someone is sick then so be it. im just confused about this whole thing and how people get way to serious about everything... its beyond me!!!
The pledge is really lame, even without the reference to God. The founding fathers did not create it, nor are they likely to have approved of it – they had bigger notions of liberty.
The people who did come up with it, well, here is, no joke, the correct original way to salute as you say it:
al – that made me laugh so damn hard!!
carlie – perich probably IS angry, but that's likely not why she "sued." the church/school treated her like garbage. they hired someone for when she was sick (reasonable), but when she was better and went back to work, they told her she couldn't work for the rest of the year. rather than telling the temporary worker, "thank you, but we don't need you any more."
perich had to try to get her job back because in this economy, it's darn hard to just run out and "find another job." she probably desperately needs her wages that she would have received if allowed to work. i mean, she's probably got medical bills now, and while she was sick, the other bills probably piled up. then you get better and think you have a chance to catch up, only to show up and be told there's no work for you. not that there's no work, just no work FOR YOU. that's discrimination. that's wrong in the U.S.
The point of this case is that religions don't want to obey the laws that everyone else has to?
Religion is against the Americans With Disabilities Act? That is certainly in character.
It seems that the WWJD always acts in ways that Jesus would definitely not do.
CNN is hiding my better arguments. Why are you doing this?
You don't have "better arguments." All your stuff is just the same old deluded Christian vomit. "Better" and "worse" are not relevant concepts when you are talking about vomit.
Frederica, HeavenSent was right. This site is full of it. They stole his handle and write garbage because he figured them out by saying they all followed the Talmud. All perverted. As soon as he did that, they stole his handle and write stupid stuff on this site. That's why your post aren't going through. Christians can only write simple stuff on this site. If we go deep, they cut us off. Then they have the perverted troops coming in and start telling you that no one is doing this to you or any of us. This is why I haven't written in months nor care too except I did see how they trashed Heavensent.
> CNN is hiding my better arguments. Why are you doing this?
It's their horrible swearing filter. For example "const-itution" minus the "-" will get your post blocked. So will "Doc-ument" or "as-sertion". It's hard writing without these but you learn.
> Then they have the perverted troops coming in and start telling you that no one is doing this to you or any of us.
It's a horrible filter. I often have many of my posts blocked and I have to spend quite some time hunting down the words.
Bob, electronic filter my foot. This blog is viewed by real people as moderators. I've toned down a post that did not make it through. As soon as I took certain information out, the post went through. I've noticed that extremely obnoxious post from non-believers make it through. No problem. If a believer sent that exact post, it would be denied.
I am sure if you looked Heaven Sent that you would see there are words in what you deleted that are on the list. The moderators only get involved when the report abuse button is activated. I have found that it is usually one of these 3 things that make my posts get stopped. t-it c-um s-e-x or a-r-ce Use the find feature to see if they are in your post.
You obviously do not retain facts very well, so I will repeat:
Do you really think that there is a person(s) at CNN who is hovering over these forums, diabolically watching for a post from HeavenSent who instantly hits the "awaiting moderation" at the very moment that you click "Post"?
Perhaps there are moderators who remove things later... say after numerous "Report abuse" hits, but that is the extent of it.
There are no live instant moderators. There are no live instant moderators. There are no live instant moderators.
Please write 100 times... and get it through your thick, paranoid, egocentric skull.
Religious bodies are not like business. They need exemptions under some common sense.
Actually they promote an exemption from common sense.
If they are employing anyone in this country, they have to do it in accordance with our laws. They don't get a free pass just because they say they have a religion, employing people and paying them money is not part of their religion – if anyone had the thought to check, though, I'd be surprised.
Where in the Lutheran bible does it say anything about paying people money to work for the church? NOWHERE.
And it wouldn't matter if it did, either.
Religious laws do not trump the Supreme Law of the USA – the United Stated Constltution is the Supreme Law and the Supreme Court has a duty to point this sort of thing out to people who don't understand the idea of a supreme law.
It is ironic that religious people would have a problem understanding the concept of a supreme law, since they say their religion gives them a supreme guidance over daily life, yet they will get confused because they do not think of consequences of their actions.
This is due to religion itself. Guilt becomes a distortion of itself, evidence is thrown out the window, and considering the results of their actions becomes clouded because they rely so much upon words written by people who never would have imagined such conflicts arising, proving once again that they were written badly by ignorant and foolish people and not a supernaturally intelligent being.
If the woman had been a volunteer, there would be nothing to sue over because there would be no damage on either side, but having an employer/ee relationship there is financial damage amidst the equal rights due this employee.
Equal rights is what much of the Constltution and this country is about.
Employing this woman was in no way a form of religious expression, and therefore deserves no special consideration.
Religion does not trump our country's laws. Otherwise terrorists would never be prosecuted. Taking something to its logical extremes often shows underlying connections more clearly.
It's not due to religion, it's due to our brains and the way they work and the variable possibilities of human growth in different ways. It's the potentialities of the "human condition" – that our brains are still evolving but more important that they have evolved without any control. Our brains have a propensity towards the irrational and erratic.
This is the worst thing to happen to any species on earth...that we would gain many mental abilities that are not matched by our functional mental abilities nor matched by our badly modified primitive social instincts.
And our inability to integrate everything into a coherent and rational whole doesn't help much either.
But religion? It's a symptom of all that. You waste your time expecting understanding from those who have blocked it.
(but that isn't to say that someone out there can't get a clue. Self-discovery is often painful but is usually avoided for just that reason.)
If I were her, I'd look for a work elsewhere. Why attempt to return to a place where one is not wanted or needed, in a free country? In the church-state disputes, God-haters are wasting federal courts' energy so that USA cannot become the best it can be. Every nation has sad, trapping elements.
at no point does the writer of the article, or even ms. perich, identify perich as a "god-hater." i would bet that it's quite the opposite, actually. i mean, she DID lead prayers and religious studies as a teacher.
but anyway, she's "suing" because they treated her like sh....like garbage. she's been forced into this action by the church/school leaders. she got sick and needed some time off. when she was better, she showed back up for her job, only to discover that someone else had been hired, and instead of sending the temporary employee on his/her way, they told perich she couldn't work for the rest of the year. that, quite simply, is not right.
and she should just go find another job? are you serious?? do you live in the U.S.?? have you heard that there's a recession and that jobs are just a tad hard to come by???
perich is doing what she needs to do to survive in this economy. i doubt she intended to challenge any church/state separation issues.
I am completely insane. Crazy. Looney tunes. I believe that bad things only happen to those who do not follow Jesus's path. Nothing bad ever happened to me. Nobody I loved ever died, and I won't either. I never got hurt or had even the slightest bad befall me. My lottery tickets are all winners, my children Nobel Prize winners. I don't even have to clean my house, because I just pray and Jesus does the rest.
Just get right with Jesus and you too will never ever have anything bad happen. And if you do, you deserved it.
Did I mention that I am completely insane?
Ahahhahhha. Good job! Quite accurate, too.
It's you looney tunes writing that stuff. I haven't been on-line since you originally stole my handle, maybe Thursday nite.
weltanschuung, I notice that every time my handle is being used by another, you happen to be on the blog. Oh, maybe forgetting the last half of your handle???
Swing and a miss. I put the weltanschuung on their so people would know it was satire. Someone else did the phony heavensent thing.
You do have mental health issues.
Weltanschuung, I was just testing you.
If God wanted this woman to work he wouldn't have made her sick in the first place. I see no problem with this school firing her. Doctors play God there is no reason to see them when the power of prayer is the only real medicine. Jesus should be the only one who heals.
HeavenSent is not evil.
Deluded, but not evil.
Non-believers are vile. Americans should see that clearly by now, unless they are altogether stupid.
Thanks for stealing my handle and writing your nonsense. You just proved that non-believers have no breaks, care less about rules or regulations, just what's in it for you.
The real HeavenSent.
You Said: "Non-believers are (vile). Americans should see that clearly by now, unless they are altogether stupid."
Respectfully... What the F...?!?!?!? 8O Are you just totally unable to see your arrogance and absolute over-generalizations of people that may not hold the same beliefs that you do...?
So... 'all' non-believers = vile ...? Wow...!
Again, respectfully... I am very curious as to how you are able to create that kind of a world-view about a certain group of people.
Doc vestibule, as soon as HeavenSent mentioned the Talmud that all you perverts follow, you jumped all over him. None of you are fooling anyone.
Peace2all, look what anti-christians are doing to HeavenSent here if you have any brain left.
Hmmm... It seems that -HeavenSent does more than his share of attacking and ridiculing 'non-believers.' My point being is your comment *infers* that 'all' non-believers are (vile), which is an absolute untruth.
There are certainly, vile non-believers... and there are without question, vile believers. I was and am questioning your blatant over-generalization of a group, to which you had no defense nor response, other than... "oh, look at what someone is doing to -HeavenSent."
I asked a sincere question, to which even you attempted to make a 'personal attack,' instead of just having a civil conversation about the issue and your posting.
Anyway... I see where your head is at. Thanks for chatting...
> Thanks for stealing my handle and writing your nonsense.
So he is in fact keeping in line with your posts.
> You just proved that non-believers have no breaks, care less about rules or regulations, just what's in it for you.
That's a bit of an assumption there HeavenSent. What if it's a Christian who's fed up with you making them all look bad with your poorly thought out, asinine arguments.
@ The bobinator & All that jump on HeavenSent,
You can scream your trash on your posts. When you take someone's screen name and use it to troll your own thoughts this is WRONG!!! I have also had this done....and its not a good thing...especially when they sprew some nonsense.
Thanks for taking up for HeavenSent....I know that you and I don't agree on things but its nice to see you show a good side.
The irony is that this is an anonymous blog. No one has any "right" to any particular name, you know (or do you?).
You didn't pay for the name you use here, you didn't register to use the name you use, so what makes you think you are so special that no one else is allowed to use the name you are using?
It is not "your" name. Never was, never will be.
You can use my name if you like. Many different people have used this name over the years in blogs. I do not "own" this name.
What about your real name? No one is using that are they? No? There are no other people with the same name as YOU?
What about Pete? (picking name at random) There are a LOT of people named Pete. Who gets to use it? None of them? All of them? Where do you draw the line and why?
What about Anonymous? There's a very large number of people who use that name. And there is no way to say who is using it at any time without getting uber-technical on their assses.
If I use the name Anonymous, I am saying that I do not want you to know my name for some reason(s). And as this is an anonymous blog, it is certainly appropriate. Much more appropriate than using any specific name.
But can you understand where I am coming from on this? I am not the one who used your stupid name, so don't automatically assume that I did it just because I'm talking about names here.
Imagine yourself going to a blog where you are not allowed any name. Sort of like 4chan, but where nobody needs to type in "anonymous" as their name.
What happens to the dialogue? Very interesting things happen to the dialogue and how people participate in it.
For instance, you have the freedom to be wrong. This may sound a little odd, but it can be liberating to the mind to have that extra bit of freedom.
And your words must stand by themselves, forcing you to think harder and more clearly if you want to post something you feel will be worthwhile not only to you but to whoever else is out there in the anonymous internet.
Try making your words stand on their own. So far, most people do not do this. Posting comments can distract you from what you are trying to say and what gets posted is often a waste of everyone's time, including yours, so try harder.
Why wed yourself to a particular online identlty? Are you that consistent in your words? Really? Or are you just fooling yourself?
When I feel a certain way I use a certain name. That is how I roll. If I want to be anonymous, I am anonymous. And that's freedom of speech like never before. It's the freedom of speech for everyone. Equality becomes freedom when you are allowed to just say whatever you want. Not like here, of course. This blog frankly sucks a big one in terms of intelligent management, but that's not really much of a problem anyway.
The idea is to get your point across as best you can. If you can't divorce your identlty from your words then they will not be as effective, for you will have expressed yourself, your identlty, but not your ideas.
Being anonymous is like an "anti-identlty" point of view that cuts away the dross of personality and letting us discuss things without all those personality conflicts.
I had a lot to say. Thanks for reading.
Or I could say this: If you think your name (that you picked out for reason better left alone I'm sure) of "HeavenSent" does not just scream irony and that you, out of everyone in the world, must be the only one allowed to use it, is irony multiplied.
You are not the first one to use that name on the internet I would bet. Would it matter if you were?
Can you not express yourself without that name you picked? You can't pick another? You use one name forever?
All over the internet? And what do you do when you run into someone using the same name when there is no bar to doing so? You scream bloody murder. Okayfinewhatever.
That it's fairly disrespectful only in proportion to the uniqueness of the name and other constraints could mean that it is meant in just that way for some unknown, heretofore imagined, mysterious reason(s).....! ;D
Actually, it happened to me a few times and I screamed bloody murder too. But you've got to move on. Pick a different name, and quit projecting that part of your personality and put forth your actual ideas on how to figure out the problems of the world and how to fix them, or not. Whatever.
Anyway, if you can survive this blow, small though it must be, then maybe you can start talking about how you are going to give people reasons why they should even read your posts or something useful and interesting like that...
Just a suggestion. You are free to ignore my words. I put nothing upon you but what happens within your own skull.
This is why it is important to be cynical and skeptical when reading words that other human beings have written.
They are just words written down. You have to think on your own at some point. Please do so.
Bob, a Christian wouldn't steal my handle and write nonsense behind it. That action belongs to a non-believer and that non-believer isn't too bright. Another Christian has the backbone to post directly to me if we were in disagreement. Besides, my life as I knew it was destroyed by non-believers. This non-believer is nothing new to me. I tried to tell you months ago this would happen when I mentioned most non-believers have no breaks to prevent them from violating another. It's all about their perception of winning. Even if they sell their souls doing so.
I don't quite understand still after reading the article what the woman did wrong and why the school fired her. I have so many mixed emotions about separation from church and state and on the flip side I also have many different views unfolding in my head towards this issue this article is discussing. It sounds to me like the firing has nothing to do with discrimination or religion, just that they who fired the teacher were being kind of selfish and fired the woman pretty much for being sick and having to have someone take over for her all the time. Completely understandable with narcolepsy but then again I have narcoleptic friends who don't have to take off work all because of that. So it just seems like the school is just full of not so nice people, not discriminatory people, and it also sounds like the teacher is just ticked that she got fired and she wants to get back at them by suing them. I really need to know more details in order to take a side in this.
Well firing her for being sick sounds like a very Christian thing to do. They seem to especially like kicking people when they are down. Not very Christ like; but, extremely Christian.
I don't appreciate someone using my handle and I certainly don't appreciate CNN for not doing anything about it.
If I understand correctly, firing someone for a disability, such as narcolepcy, is against the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which, due to the need for ministers who actually believe what they are ministering, many religious based organization, such as private/parochial schools, are exempt from. So the school is saying they are exempt from ADA and can fire her, while she is saying most of her duties aren't ministerial therefore the school shouldn't be exempt from ADA in regards to her position.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.