I wrote recently of the Obama administration’s Supreme Court challenge to the “ministerial exception.” If successful, the government will allow Christian schoolteachers and church employees considered “ministers” to sue their churches for violating anti-discrimination laws. There is a deeper, more disturbing aspect to the EEOC’s advocacy in this case. As this administration enforces those laws, it could require a Christian school to employ a transgender, HIV-positive homosexual as an elementary teacher. The government may impose Affirmative Action upon churches, as well.
The “ministerial exception” has been enforced by lower courts for decades, but the Supreme Court has never defined its parameters. Courts have ruled, essentially, that churches have the right to define their own criteria for who can serve as a minister. The Supreme Court began hearing arguments this week in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which would allow a Christian schoolteacher and “commissioned-minister,” Cheryl Perich, to sue her Lutheran school for discrimination against the disabled. (She has been diagnosed with narcolepsy.)
The act Perich invoked, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), defines those who are HIV-positive as “disabled.” The website of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division specifically states:
Q: Are people with HIV or AIDS protected by the ADA?
A: Yes. An individual is considered to have a “disability”
if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a
record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an
impairment. Persons with HIV disease, both symptomatic and
asymptomatic, have physical impairments that substantially limit
one or more major life activities and are, therefore, protected
by the law.
Thus, if the Obama administration succeeds, no Christian school could fire a teacher infected with the AIDS virus without the threat of a federal lawsuit.
The DOJ’s website also notes the “Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers technical assistance on the ADA provisions applying to employment.”
The EEOC’s website offers a hypothetical violation of the ADA: if an employee who is not HIV-positive is fired for consorting with those who have AIDS, in their example as a volunteer at a shelter or community center, that too could trigger litigation under the ADA. This would be impermissible, the EEOC states, “even if the employee is only minimally acquainted with [people] who have HIV/AIDS.” Since virtually every homosexual professes to know someone who is HIV-positive, any LGBT employee fired for any reason could sue in accordance with this provision, alleging an act of disability discrimination.
The administration would also like to subject churches and religious institutions to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of an “individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Both it and the ADA allow religious institutions to prefer “individuals of a particular religion” in employment. That is, the Southern Baptist Convention may require its employees to be Southern Baptists and so on. Beyond that, there is no quarter offered to religious institutions.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.