In what seems to be a growing trend these days, another employee of a Catholic institution was fired for making a personal choice that conflicts with the moral beliefs of her employers. And this time, the former employee is taking the church to court.
A federal judge has allowed Christa Dias, a former teacher at a school in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, to take the archdiocese to court over her 2010 firing. Dias was let go when she informed the school that she was pregnant, but somehow they knew it didn't happen in the natural way. According to CBS News:
"The Enquirer reports Dias was initially fired for being single and pregnant but once her employer found out that could violate anti-discrimination laws, both federal and state, she was fired for being artificially inseminated, which is considered 'gravely immoral' by the Roman Catholic Church."
The AP reports that Dias is a non-Catholic computer teacher and had no role in teaching the faith, so she argues that her personal decision of how to have a baby shouldn't affect her employment. But the archdiocese says that having an employee who doesn't follow Catholic teaching sets a bad example (though I have no idea how parents or especially students would have any idea how their teacher's baby was conceived, nor should they).
As we covered in our magazine last October, artificial forms of conception are a complex moral issue, one that even Catholic couples struggle with. The church can certainly preach its stance on the matter, and Dias could have been told privately that she shouldn't discuss how she became pregnant in the school or parish (though again, why would she?). But was firing a woman who was preparing to give birth really the pastoral way of handling the situation?
Putting aside the pro-life issues involved here (such as how taking away a mother's income and health insurance would affect her baby, who is an innocent victim in this case) there is a more troubling trend of Catholic employers firing employees whose behavior wavers from church teaching. Two gay men were recently fired from their jobs at Catholic parishes and schools for being married in a different state, and the church is cutting off partnerships with non-Catholic groups whose employees don't adhere to Catholic beliefs.
Whether Dias wins her court case is not the most important issue here (and based on the Supreme Court's recent Hosana-Tabor ruling, she may have trouble winning the legal battle). The real question is whether the church, in its attempts to strictly follow the letter of the law by ensuring that its members and non-Catholic partners don't deviate from the church's moral views, is really carrying out the mission of Christ.
Putting a pregnant woman on the unemployment line because of how her baby was conceived certainly doesn't seem like the best way to spread the gospel message of love to our brothers and sisters, regardless of what their moral beliefs are.