The Gross National Debt

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hired & fired in a church


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Some years back I had an ordained Baptist minister working for me.

We got into a discussion of whether or not he could be fired from the church he preached at.

He insisted he could not be fired.

I was equally emphatic in saying he could be fired.

Now if you read the Bible, it is clear: A preacher (pastor) cannot be fired.

However, just because the Bible says Christians are supposed to act in a certain way does not mean they will.

To most Christians a Biblical mandate is just a suggestion.
AUGH AAAAUUUUUGGHHHHH!

The Bible's proscription on firing a preacher doesn't stop the people who make up churches from across the nation from firing preachers. If they can't fire the preacher, they take steps to make his stay at the church so unpleasant that he leaves - cut his pay off, refuse to attend services, etc etc etc.

In case you're wondering - a preacher can be fired, Bible be damned. I live in a place call Reality and in Reality, the Bible is used to justify pretty much whatever action people want to take, regardless of what the Bible actually says about that action.

The person I mention above could be fired. If his church rose up as one and said "you're outta here" he would have to leave.

Now this church, or any other church for that matter, cannot prevent him from being a minister. But they can keep him from entering their sanctuaries.

The First Amendment, as I wrote earlier today, gives broad latitude (which is often converted into attitude) to religious groups. That does mean preachers and churches are not subject to most employment laws.

In other words, a preacher has little legal recourse if he's fired from his preaching duties. Government pretty much can't get involved in how churches run their services. (There are some exceptions, no human sacrifice, howevermuch I'd like to see some people so served up on various altars, marijuana use is still illegal, etc).

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has ruled a teacher in a religious school who also taught some religion classes is a "minister" and can be fired regardless of what laws would protect this teacher in a secular school.
Most folks' reaction to religious education, even in church.

As I understand this, the school in question is a religious institution. If it gets no money from the government then it is not subject to government rules.

Being religious, it is also pretty much exempt from government oversight.

So, the teacher who suffered from narcolepsy got fired because of her problems in staying awake. She wasn't canned because of her clashes over the parochial aspects of the school.

What I find equally interesting is the amici curiae briefs in the case, which included the NAACP, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and several religious organizations siding with the teacher.

From a Constitutional view, I'm siding with SCOTUS on this one. From a Biblical point of view, I have some uncertainties, but I'm still leaning toward siding with SCOTUS.

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