The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a key religious rights case questioning whether those who work for religious organizations can sue for job discrimination.
Michigan teacher Cheryl Perich filed suit against the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church where she both taught school and performed ministerial duties.
The church fired her over a sleeping disorder that leaders felt interfered with her work.
“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,” Perich said.
Hosanna-Tabor wants the justices to throw out the case based on “ministerial exception.” That rule protects religious groups from some job-related lawsuits.
“Disputes between ministers and their churches, if there’s anything that’s covered by separation of church and state, this is it. These cases do not belong in the civil courts,” explained law professor Douglas Laycock, who’s arguing for the church.
But one of the crucial questions in this case is whether Perich was considered a minister while she worked for the church.
She says she was not, but the church disagrees.
The bigger question is whether the government has a right to step in and decide.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said churches should only be exempt from laws when it comes to actual ministers.
Source: CBN New | Paul Strand