Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Supreme Court: Ministerial Exception

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: The case involves Cheryl Perich, a fourth-grade teacher at a Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod school in Michigan who mainly taught secular subjects, but also taught religion and led prayers. She took a leave of absence to get treatment for a sleep disorder. When the school was reluctant to let her return, she threatened to sue for violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

CHERYL PERICH: I can’t fathom how the Constitution would be interpreted in such a way as to deny me my civil rights as an elementary school teacher. I sure hope the Court agrees.

LAWTON: Lawyers for the school said Perich was considered a commissioned minister, and therefore she was covered by a legal doctrine known as the ministerial exception. That exception says religious groups don’t have to follow anti-discrimination laws in employment decisions about their leaders.

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One comment on “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Supreme Court: Ministerial Exception

  1. Frances Scott says:

    This sounds like LCMS. I am eligible to be a “commissioned” minister.
    I have completed all of the courses necessary to be “called” to teach in a LCMS school…I’m just super-annuated. LCMS recognizes both the “ministry of the Word” (teachers) and the “ministry of Word and Sacrament” (Ordained Pastors). One would expect that a comissioned teacher would understand that 1.) the primary purpose of the school is to educate children, not to employ adults; and 2.) the education offered will always reflect the teaching of the church and that, therefore, there are no “secular” sujects.

    A teacher who cannot fill the office, for whatever reason, should step down. The school is obligated to hire a replacement for the sake of the children. Failure to re-hire is not grounds for a lawsuit. Seems to me there is more to the actual situation than is being reported.