Gender discrimination has always been present in society. The U.S. government started to make (small) changes regarding discrimination in the workplace in the past ten years or so. Since we have developed in regards to prejudice in the modern age, one would expect to see these changes develop faster than they did twenty years ago. This expectation was shattered when I read an article by The New York Times yesterday. The article was about a case where an elementary Catholic school fired art teacher Victoria Crisitello for becoming pregnant while unmarried. Seven years later, the case is still “in limbo” with no end in sight.
The Supreme Court created a “ministerial exception” for all churches and schools in January 2012, The New York Times disclosed. Any laws pertaining to discrimination in the workplace, churches are exonerated from. What is more, this was not a decision that went through the legislative or executive branch. The Supreme Court created this rule without any regulation. Essentially, it is a ‘get out of jail free’ card for religion-affiliated institutions. No one should be shocked by these cases of discrimination in the workplace. Their presence has been constant for decades. What makes my heart sink is that the highest court in the country gives religion an exception.
We have to ask ourselves, are all citizens really under the law?
The log in their eyes
Despite seeing themselves as a minority, the Christian faith domineered society for thousands of years. Judgment is disappointingly the first term that comes to mind when I think of Christians. I notice these details all the time as a Christian myself. I am deeply rooted in my faith, but the irony is too much sometimes. We memorize Bible verses like Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The Bible calls us to love everyone fiercely. In fact, Jesus reveals in Mark 12:30-31 that the second most important commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” second to loving “the Lord your God.” It is impossible to not receive that message.
One of the most prevalent verses in the Bible is a story told by Jesus Christ. In the picture of perfection, he explains the most important aspects of living a Christian life. He becomes quite passionate about the issue of judgment, asking his followers in Matthew 7, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Calling his followers hypocrites, he emphasizes the importance of self-evaluation in faith.
The Christian faith makes it clear that prejudice has no room in the Bible. As one of the most discriminatory groups in history, unaccepting Christians are not acting on what they preach. They are missing a substantial log. The elementary school cannot deny this when promoting Christian teachings.
In addition to the “ministerial exception,” The Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that “federal employment discrimination laws” do not apply to any teachers who teach religious studies at schools run by churches. However, Crisitello is an art teacher. This prejudiced ruling should not apply to her. There is no other excuse for the decision except for direct misogyny. The school stated that the proof for the “violation of its moral code” was the pregnancy, The New York Times cites. Equal treatment is not possible when using their faulty techniques.
It’s about time that this topic gains more awareness. The Catholic Church has been a hot topic lately, but Crisitello has not received justice or recognition. I’ve noticed that gender inequality is so common that it is a sideline to other political topics. This case brought the shock value that society needs. Citizens are losing their careers because of blatant sexism. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will not use the church as a curtain to allow animosity. Trusting the church to do the right thing is not effective. An unbiased law could be a vital barrier for these offenses to occur.