A federal district court in Indiana ruled that the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and its Roncalli Catholic High School have the First Amendment right to uphold moral standards — not only for religion teachers, but also for counselors and others who aid in the Christian formation of students.
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On Tuesday, the court ruled that a former teacher qualified as a minister of religion in her role as co-director of guidance at a local Catholic high school. Federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination includes an exception for ministers of religion.
The lawsuit against the archdiocese was filed by a former teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.
Eight people were pronounced dead at the scene, five people were hospitalized with injuries from the shooting, and two others were treated for injuries at the scene and released, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reported.
Vice President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Luke Goodrich said, “If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic teaching."
The Department of Justice has said that the school's decision was protected by the First Amendment.
The archdiocese defended its decision not to renew the contract of a school employee who publicly defended the same-sex ‘marriages’ of two former colleagues.
Justice Department: First Amendment protects a Catholic school’s dismissal of a teacher for publicly violating Church teaching.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis said the Congregation for Catholic Education was ‘following standard canon-law procedures’ and that it awaits the final decision.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis responding to the lawsuit said that within archdiocesan Catholic schools, “all teachers, school leaders and guidance counselors are ministers and witnesses of the faith, who are expected to uphold the teachings of the Church in their daily lives, both in and out of school.”