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Trump’s Department of Justice Department Backs Catholic Church’s Firing of Gay Teacher

The Trump Administration’s U.S. Justice Department is supporting Catholic Church leaders in Indianapolis who are being sued over the firing of a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

The government filed a statement Friday in Marion County court stating that the First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion and gives faith-based schools the right to associate with some people and not others.

“If the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses stand for anything, it is that secular courts cannot entangle themselves in questions of religious law,” United States Attorney Josh Minkler said.

The lawsuit was filed by Joshua Payne-Elliott who says that the Archdiocese of Indianapolis illegally interfered in his contract with Cathedral High School where he had worked for 13 years. 

In an interesting twist in this case Payne-Elliott’s spouse, Layton Payne-Elliott, teaches at the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. Brebeuf refused to fire Layton. The archdiocese said it no longer recognizes Brebeuf as a Catholic institution, a decision that has been suspended during the school’s appeal.

Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson has maintained that the church is not targeting anyone.

Rather, Thompson said, the archdiocese has a right to set whatever rules it wants for its schools and employees, like that they must live according to Catholic church doctrine. The archdiocese began requiring a morality clause in teacher, administrator and counselor contracts at some of its schools four years ago, and at all Catholic schools two years ago.

It was not clear how binding the DOJ’s statement is, or what impact it will have on Payne-Elliott’s lawsuit.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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3 thoughts on “Trump’s Department of Justice Department Backs Catholic Church’s Firing of Gay Teacher”

  1. This department of D.O. J. is a frikin Joke. Barr is a lowlife liar and hasn’t a clue what life is like for real people that work for a living. He has his fat ass right there with trump. His decisions are not based on law, but on what him and trump make up, with rudy the lowlife attorney helping them along with the russians. I don’t cap any of their names it would lend respect and credence to the position they are trying to hold. I am pissed and so should everyone else be. The catholic church trying to take the high ground, the m.fkng hypocrites. Molesters, child abusers and in many cases murdering thugs. They will never come clean and be clean until they fire everyone up the pope and start over with men & women being able to run that place and also get married. How can they tell what is right from wrong. Look at all the damage they have done in the world. Not just here but globally. Screw them and trump’s d.o.j, also.
    H.

  2. This case subtext is the independence of the Jesuit order to run their schools vs the Archdiocese to demand orthodoxy. If the school were completely under the auspices of the Archdiocese they would likely have the right, legally, but perhaps not ethically, to fire the teacher. I would like to know whether they fire teachers who are divorced and remarried, those living with a partner outside of marriage, gays or lesbians who don’t get married, or others who do not adhere to the letter of Catholic law.

    P.S. to Homer: I understand your anger and negativity toward the Catholic church (I have documented my own experiences in my memoir) but at the same time I acknowledge that my liberal values, my stance on social justice and the issues of poverty, diversity, immigration, our responsibility for stewardship of the natural world and the environment, etc., all stem directly from my Catholic upbringing.

    While the I cannot in any way condone child abuse or the church’s stance against LGBTs I do acknowledge that the church has done much good as well. And of course most priests are law abiding citizens.

    1. I won’t say more. In my state alone, not only are priest being taken on. A whole orphanage run by priests and nuns. Including for murder. I fought face to face with the former bishop. My opinion is they did equal good and bad. I won’t step food in a catholic church from my experience alone and was only catholic for about 2 plus years. I also have 2 aunts that are nuns and 1 uncle that is a priest. I can’t see more than I know and my personal experiences. What happened during WW2 and the pope then. So I won’t say more. I get it, some did good, many didn’t , and it wasn’t as equal as a lot of people believe over the whole time since the beginning of the catholic church. I consider myself Christian, but I don’t consider the catholic church a place of christians. Sorry I am so staunch on my feelings. However I respect yours as well.
      Homer

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