News Evangelical Guidance Counselor=Pregnant Students=You’re Not Doing Your Job.
posted by November 16 at 10:25 AMon
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.