Monday, June 15, 2015

Praying For Discrimination

ThinkProgress has an inside look at the Southern Baptist Convention’s plans to immunize themselves against claims of discrimination for firing women, minorities, or those suspected of LGBT tendencies or sympathies.

Based on a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that ministerial employees are exempt from discrimination laws, the solution is simple: anyone who works for a religious organization is encouraged to exercise ministerial duties and therefore is exempt from civil rights laws… and protections.

According to the manual, “[e]mployees with some duties usually performed by (or associated with) clergy are more likely to be viewed as ‘minister-like’ by the courts. Consequently, courts are more likely to apply the ministerial exception to employment law claims based on alleged discrimination” against these employees. In essence, the manual advises that an employer can take a janitor, require them to lead the staff in prayer every so often, and POOF! the janitor is now a “minister” and the employer is free to fire that janitor because they are black, because they are gay, or because they are a woman.

If the Court rules in favor of marriage equality, then you will see a bumper crop of Southern Baptist preachers doing everything from sweeping the floor to answering the phone, bringing their ministry — and their civil rights — to the fore and to the floor.

No one expects the Religious Reich to go quietly if the Court rules in favor.  History has shown us that they have been the last bastions of bigotry, fighting school desegregation with every loophole and perverted interpretation of the bible that they can winnow out.  Fifty years from now there will still be ways that they will be trying to repress the rights of others, and there will still be those who are coming up with ways to do it.

2 barks and woofs on “Praying For Discrimination

  1. Hey, Bobby, I’m feeling a sea change happening with our youth. They are increasingly open to acceptance of difference, in this semi-rural-red part of Oregon. We have too many sclerotic cranks from here inhabiting the halls of power in Salem, but thanks to the kids and great teachers in K-12 (and Gov Brown(!) encouraging imagination and tolerance, I find HOPE! Staring my 7th decade in the face, and juggling finances…supporting my little girl in her new role as a single working mom, and giving my big sis a rest in looking after my blind-but-cheerful Sweet Mommy…feeling blessed with, if nothing else, the gift of Karma to come to those who so richly deserve it…..Peace Be With You…….

  2. I can’t help thinking this is going to backfire spectacularly, for a number of reasons. Firing people because of Otherness is going to get very ugly, very publicly, very quickly. The cost of retaining staff is going to skyrocket simply because the eligible labor pool will shrink significantly: once you discount all those Other People™ who will become disqualified, the remainder will have significantly higher costs of living to offset and won’t be so inclined to accept the wages formerly on offer. And there will be a lot of people who will have their faith significantly challenged – first by discovering that “that nice person who [performs parish duties]” is not One of Us™, and second by discovering just how many of those “ministers” will, after being summarily dismissed/denounced/excommunicated, will prefer to remain unchurched and may well persuade others in the parish to follow them out the door.

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