Trish Cameron is not the first Catholic teacher to be fired because she was honest about holding beliefs different from her employer. Care2 blogger Steve Williams wrote about a German kindergarten teacher who was fired for being a lesbian. She would have been fired immediately, but state officials ruled she could not be let go before the end of her maternity leave.
Ann Bibby wrote about another dismissal in Vancouver, B.C., where same-sex marriage is legal. A teacher in a publicly funded Catholic girls’ school was allowed to complete her contract but not admitted back in the classroom. Parents had found out she was a lesbian.
Now another teacher has learned that being honest can mean losing her job. This time it is not even a matter of someone living a “lifestyle” counter to church teachings. After eleven uncontroversial years as a teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Moorhead, Minnesota, Trish Cameron is being forced to resign because of an opinion.
Cameron Fired for Personal Opinion
According to the “Crookston Daily Times,” Cameron admitted on a self-evaluation form that she disagreed with some of the church’s teachings. She may as well have turned in her resignation along with the self-evaluation.
When she was called into a meeting with school officials, Cameron admitted she did not agree with the church’s stance on gay marriage. Although she made it clear she never expressed that sentiment in class, she was told even holding it as a private opinion was cause for dismissal.
After she was informed her contract would not be renewed, she wrote a letter to the school’s family and staff. In it she wrote:
We tend to focus on respect and love for one another and living out our call as servants whenever a ‘political’ topic crops (which it rarely, if ever, does).
Next page: The School’s Version
The “Crookston Daily Times” said the school’s principal, Toby Bierl, and the superintendent, Monsignor Mike Foltz, sent out their own letter. They explained that “Cameron was asked to resign because of ‘an unfortunate circumstance’ related to St. Joseph’s ‘fiduciary responsibility’ as a Catholic school.” The incident has received a lot of attention so parents will be able to interpret “fiduciary responsibility” as “holding an opinion not sanctioned by the church.”
In his coverage of the firing, David Badash wrote in “The New Civil Rights Movement”:
In other words, St. Joseph’s Catholic School is 100% intolerant of views not authorized by the Catholic Church, and is willing to fire anyone who states, even confidentially, that they do.
Time to End Intolerance
It is old thinking, and it is on its way out. People are becoming increasingly aware that homosexuality is not something people choose. As acceptance of differing sexual identities increases, religious organizations that cling to intolerance are likely to find themselves irrelevant.
If you feel Trish Cameron should not have been let go simply for holding an opinion, sign the petition below. The Catholic school district may have a legal right to terminate her employment, but their action is a curious response from a religion based on the teachings of Jesus.
After all, he gave a new commandment in John 13:34. In the International Standard Version published in 2008, it is translated as:
I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
Firing a teacher because of an opinion she holds privately is an odd interpretation of “love.”
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