The Morality Clause: Invalidation at Its Best

Posted: July 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Invalidation is a destructive force used against others to strip them of their self-confidence, self-worth and identity. It comes in all shapes, sizes and statements. It most often is used on children — who have to listen to adults (parents, teachers, coaches) say such things as:

“I don’t care how you FEEL, just do what I say and stop arguing with me!”

and

“You think you have it so bad? Well let me tell you about MY life…” which is another way of saying “I don’t give a crap about how you feel, so just shut up, sit down, be quiet and do what I’ve told you to do”

Emotional invalidation can happen anywhere and at any time in a person’s life. Being able to recognize it and respond accordingly to it is the tricky part. How does one safely navigate through waters filled with sharks hell bent on making their prey feel as small and insignificant as possible? It takes a special suit of armor (self confidence) to deflect the assaults.

There has been no better example of invalidation than what several Catholic dioceses have begun doing to their employees, specifically their teachers. Never mind the fact that Catholic school teachers earn far less of a salary than public school teachers, or that in some districts the teachers aren’t protected by unions (and even if they are part of union, weak union presidents and legal reps don’t guarantee fair treatment either).

As mentioned, there are currently four dioceses (I am aware of) that are requiring their teachers to sign and uphold a “Morality Clause” in order to continue teaching in the district, They are located in Hawaii (Honolulu), California (Oakland) and Ohio (Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus). These Morality Clauses state that the teachers in their schools agree to not participate in or support anything that disagrees with Catholic doctrine. A wide net of behaviors/beliefs that include the following subjects:

  • Abortion
  • In Vitro Fertilization
  • Euthanasia
  • Living Together Before Marriage
  • Premarital Sex
  • Pregnancy out of Wedlock
  • Homosexuality
  • Same Sex Marriage
  • Other, as to be determined

If a teacher has been discovered participating in or supporting any of the above causes, they face automatic firing and removal from their positions. In addition, the clause permits the dioceses to examine any and all social media websites, postings, Twitter accounts, etc., of that teacher if suspicions arise.

How do the dioceses get away with this without facing a huge EEO violation? A simple removal of one word and an insertion of another. They removed “teacher” from the contract’s wording and inserted “ministry”. By doing this, they have circumvented the EEO laws and because ministry is an unprotected occupation, they can avoid any further lawsuits by illegal firings.

Yes, I said further, The reason why this clause was added in these districts is due to the lawsuits that resulted from the terminations of employees who were engaging in a few of the above behaviors. Once the dust settled and the lawsuits were paid out, the dioceses affected by the settlements (of which I will give one solid example) decided they would never, ever, again, let those “horrible, horrible” sinners get away with…human behavior and free will choices to live their lives privately.

Last year, in a widely publicized case that caught the attention of the nation, a female teacher in the Catholic Diocese of Columbus was unceremoniously dumped after the unfortunate passing of her mother. The obituary listed her mom’s survivors as her daughter and life partner, who also happened to be a woman. And what happened next was a firestorm of protests and eventual lawsuit settlement. An angry, self-righteous parent of a student attending that high school clipped the obit and sent it downtown to the diocese, where they promptly called the high school and yanked that teacher from her classroom (the gym) and fired her. How compassionate of them, huh? So much for “love the sinner, hate the sin”, huh?

This year, as the contracts were handed out, the diocese of Columbus made sure each teacher was informed that they would have to sign a Morality Clause in order to continue teaching (with lower pay and fewer benefit payouts). It was conveniently attached to the back of their contracts – which were a month and a half late due to arbitration: Here’s your new crappy contract, and by the way, here is a document you must sign that ensures us you will never, ever sue us if we fire your ass for believing what you believe and being who you are. Meanwhile, all clergy members are exempt from this new clause. The hypocrisy of this is beyond obvious.

Despicable behavior by an organization that claims to be following Christ. If we remember correctly, Jesus hung with the worst of the worst: the lepers, the whores, the thieves. He welcomed all and loved both saints and sinners. Even Pope Francis, when asked his opinion about homosexuality said ‘Who am I to judge?” Well said, Francis!

I hope for a big back lash from this latest action. Perhaps not this year as the teachers weren’t given enough notice or warning about the clause, but maybe next year. As the staff members who are gay, or living together, or having premarital sex, or…whatever their “sin du jour” might be, finally stand up for themselves and say:

I am (insert sin here) and I am not going to allow myself to be invalidated by my employer – I quit!

If enough teachers were to do this, then perhaps the dioceses that demand such misogynistic, invalidating obedience will stop acting so self righteous and get their noses out of the private lives of their employees. Just like other institutions are required to do.

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