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Friday, November 16, 2007

Evangelical Guidance Counselor=Pregnant Students=You’re Not Doing Your Job.

posted by on November 16 at 10:25 AM

The Fundy Pharmacists’ argument that they shouldn’t have to do anything on the job that conflicts with their religious beliefs got put to the test in the 7th Circuit. The fundamentalists’ argument lost.

In this case, a guidance counselor at a rural Wisconsin school complained that she was unjustly fired for following her religious beliefs on the job: She refused to give out literature about condoms and instead, gave out abstinence-only lit. Not surprisingly, several teens got pregnant. (She also prayed with students when they came to her with their problems. Probably the pregnant ones.)

The 7th Circuit ruled against the guidance counselor, as Decision of the Day nicely summarizes:

[She] was fired for her conduct, not for her religious beliefs. Although Grossman’s religious beliefs clearly influenced her conduct, in the end, the school has a right to police the conduct of its employees.

Here’s a great excerpt from the court’s decision which isolates the leap of faith that fundamentalists expect others to take with them, and explains why others shouldn’t be required to:

Were a jury to find that the school administrators wouldn’t have refused to renew the plaintiff’s contract had it not been for her religious beliefs, the judge would have to set aside the verdict as based on speculation rather than on a defensible view of the evidence. For at bottom the plaintiff has nothing to go on besides the words “philosophy” and “philosophical” in the notes of her conferences with her supervisors, as if the school administrators had engaged her in a theological debate. They had not. The reference to her preferring abstinence as a strategy for preventing teenage pregnancy to contraception (and likewise the references to her “belief” in abstinence and her not making a “good fit” with the school) related to her approach to the problem of teenage pregnancy rather than to her theological views. Those views were the cause of her approach, but so far as the record shows it was the approach that concerned the school administrators. So summary judgment was rightly granted for the defendants.

An argument I would add: If the guidance counselor wants the administration to believe that her conduct and philosophy aren’t separate issues, she’s acknowledging right off the bat that she was knowingly pushing her religious views onto students at a public school. Not allowed.

RSS icon Comments


All I can say is, Thank God!

So if a pharmacist were oh, say, a Christian Scientist, should they be allowed to refuse to dispense any medicine whatsoever?

Posted by Dianna | November 16, 2007 10:30 AM

“A Cowlike Dinosaur Comes into Focus.”

Posted by monkey | November 16, 2007 10:33 AM



Posted by Mr. Poe | November 16, 2007 10:39 AM

finally some fucking sanity. thank you!

Posted by JasonC | November 16, 2007 10:40 AM

This is good news. I was just waiting for the day when cab companies and transit agencies would be forbidden from firing Amish drivers who would never even set foot in a vehicle or train due to their beliefs.

Posted by Levislade | November 16, 2007 10:47 AM

It's nice to see little rays of hope like this every once in awhile. The fundies haven't totally taken over...

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 11:21 AM

Anybody watch The Office last night?

Posted by gillsans | November 16, 2007 11:53 AM

Comment #2 wins the internets for the next several days.

Posted by David | November 16, 2007 12:10 PM

About time someone did that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 12:12 PM

History is replete with examples of Christians imposing their myths and superstitions on the public and it, of course,leads to disaster. One example is they killed all the cats they could get their hands on because they believed they were the devils kittys. This lead to an enormous influx of rats, which lead to the fleas that caused the black plague ,killing thousands. When you abandon science and research for religious non-sense you deserve the results.

Posted by Vince | November 16, 2007 12:24 PM

I agree with the decision on principle, and hope that this will be utilized to strike down other impositions of private religious beliefs on public institutions, but I'm wondering how the school administration reached the conclusion that her refusal to distribute information about birth control was directly responsible for the six teen pregnancies? It seems like that's what they were asserting...anyone know what the average teen pregancy rates for schools like this one are?

Posted by Hernandez | November 16, 2007 1:40 PM

@11, maybe it wasn't that the administration said "your abstinence-only approach led to 6 pregnancies", but "hey, we've had six pregnancies now, we'd like to change our approach", and she wouldn't do it. Presumably the school/district gets to decide whether they take an abstinence-only or comprehensive approach, not this woman.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 1:48 PM

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