Court gives go-ahead for lawsuit from gay swim coach fired from Catholic school in Seattle

  52 Jared Anderson | May 26th, 2014 | High School, Lifestyle, News

Mark Zmuda, the former teacher and swim coach at a Seattle-area private school who was fired after publicizing his same-sex marriage, will be able to proceed with his lawsuit against the school, a court ruled this week.

The King County Superior Court of Seattle heard a motion to dismiss Zmuda’s lawsuit, but chose to reject the motion, the National Catholic Reporter reports.

Zmuda’s suit is against both the school that fired him (Eastside Catholic High School) and the archdiocese of Seattle. According the the NCR, the archdiocese has claimed it doesn’t have administrative control of the school, and was not involved in Zmuda’s firing. But documents filed by Zmuda allege that the school had originally told him his same-sex marriage was “none of their [the school’s] business,” and that he was only fired after Archbishop J. Peter Sartain met with school officials. Zmuda’s documents also allege that the firing decision was made by Sartain and not the school itself.

The major point of the case hinges on the exact nature of his position with the school.

Zmuda’s attorneys are arguing that his job as a teacher and swim coach were administrative, and disconnected from any religious activity. The school cites its employee handbook, which emphasizes that all employees are to follow Catholic teaching and doctrine in every aspect of their job. The Catholic Church does not condone same-sex marriage.

This is just one early step in what will almost certainly be a long, appeal-driven legal process, as the case could have major implications on future employment discrimination suits against religious institutions.

You can find the full Catholic Reporter piece here.


  1. Brian says:

    Ironically, holy ****. Did this article ever bring out the Bible-thumpers or what? It scares me that in this day and age, of information, of attempts to try and give equal rights to everyone, that there are still those who cling to the Bible so sadly and desperately that they refuse to see anything beyond their blinders.

    Get over yourselves. You people clinging to the ******* “timeless truths” of the Bible, which, for all you know, was written by some damn hobo and managed to get passed down over the centuries.

    We even have a commenter up above, “Brian M,” who can’t even acknowledge another poster with respect, even going asofar as to make a quip about his being an attorney and a gay swimmer as “With respect to your ‘identities . . .”

    What the **** is that?

    You all can down vote me into oblivion. Most of you probably voting on this aren’t even swimmers or swimmers, but people who felt the need to defend your religion for some reason. As if that’s what needs defending in this country.

    You want to know what’s holding back this country? You people so mired in groupthink and religion that you can’t see anything else behind you. You’re so afraid of change and evolution and what EVERYONE else does that affects your beliefs that you can’t even have a logical discussion about it.

    And no, the laws of the church are not higher than the laws of the state, you idiots. Or we can just ask the Supreme Court on that one, they’ll be sure to hand your asses right back to you.

    Moderator’s note: please limit the profanity in future comments.


    The school did not fire the man because he was gay. The Church does not hate gay people. It accepts and loves all sinners. The issue then is not homosexuality, it is MARRIAGE. Marriage is a sacrament – performed by a priest, between 1 man and 1 woman for life, for the procreation of children – the formation of families for the existence of society. The sacraments cannot be received by those who are in a state of grave sin. Therefore there are many Catholics, with same sex attraction, who choose to live a chaste life in order to remain in a state of grace and be able to receive the sacraments. This is the belief of the Catholic Church. No one is forcing this on you if you don’t want to accept it. That’s why the Church has private schools that charge tuition for people who want their children to be taught these beliefs and see them exemplified. There are public school options for this man. He has not been discriminated against, he made his choice.

    • JG says:

      Private schools have better lunches , less violence & better academics . Teachers want to go to one too.


        Better lunch = childish. Theology class every day where they teach Catholic faith. Less violence because those who dont follow rules are expelled. Many teachers are paid less than in public school. If you want to stay…same for teachers and students….follow the rules.

        • JG says:

          You have no sense of the subtle.

          Lunches are extremely important to children .Private schools offer a better menu & are not under Michelle Obama’s directives. Interestingly I just now read the menu from the exclusive Sidwell Friends School that is run by The Quakers for the DC elite. ( Sasha is actually named Natasha which begs the question – If Obama had a son he would be called Boris? ) They have a Chef & this week are even having Subway Italian meatballs & ice creme for a kick. This stuff is nowhere near the Quaker philosophy . Next the Amisch will be running Formula One teams.

          Try not to attack peope who are making an alternate but relevant point . Private schools are simply better & part of this is their freedoms to choose .

    • M Palota says:

      If your interpretation of marriage is accepted then a partner in a heterosexual marriage performed by a justice of the peace could be fired. Further, if a marriage was child-less – either by choice or circumstance – then, too, a partner could be fired.

      I do wonder how the School Board will defend itself here. Church teachings won’t cut it, I don’t think. And the whole idea of an employment contract is tough, too, because you can’t sign away your rights.

      As a point of interest, there is modern precedent for religious doctrine to change when faced with a legal challenge: Back in the early to mid ’70’s, a black person could not be a member of the Mormon Church. By church teaching – Mormon doctrine – to be black was to have the “mark of Cain”. I’m not sure of the particulars but, basically, the US Government told the Mormons that if they didn’t allow blacks into the church, they’d lose their tax exempt status. Strangely enough, in today’s interpretation of Joseph Smith’s teachings, the whole “black / mark of Cain” thing isn’t such a big deal.

      If the court decides that Catholic doctrine is out of step with modern law, then “sin” or no, Church practices will have to change.


        A civil union is not recognized as marriage in the Catholic Church, therefore any relations would be viewed by the church as outside of marriage and not appropriate. If your said teacher broadcasts his actions as acceptable and appropriate, he would probably face consequences. If he is quiet, his job is probably ok. Your example of Mormons is not comparable. All are welcome in the Church. Violating a sacrament is different. The Church has not modernized in 2000 years b/c the truth is timeless.

        • M Palota says:

          Call me cynical (It’s OK; I am.) but I’d bet that the “timeless truth” of the Catholic Church would be subject to couple revisions if it were told that their tax exempt status was gone because of the way they treated homosexuals.

          Ten blocks from where I live is a street that has an evangelical church beside a Buddhist temple that’s right next to a mosque and two doors down from that is a Sikh gurdwara. Six blocks from there is a Catholic Church, an Ukrainian Orthodox Church, synagogue (Reform) and the United Church of Canada. Each and everyone of them claims the “revealed truth” and much of that “revealed truth” is mutually exclusive. Y’all can’t be all right.

          My point is this: The Catholic faith is just that; a faith. It is a belief system. It is not the “truth”. And your belief system can not and will not be our law.

          If the law can say that Mormons discriminated against black people, then the law can say the Catholic Church discriminates agains gay people. Faith is no defence.

        • M Palota says:

          “If your said teacher broadcasts his actions as acceptable and appropriate, he would probably face consequences.”

          No they wouldn’t. Not a chance. I’d be shocked if there is one single example of such a thing happening in the past 50 years.

          “Immutable” & “timeless”, from a church doctrine perspective, are remarkably fluid when you really take a look at them. Seventy years ago, when my grandparents got married, they couldn’t have a ceremony in a church because he was Catholic and she was Anglican. Such a union was a “sin” and against the teachings of both faiths. Their marriage severely limited – at the time – their social circle and my grandfather’s employment opportunities.

          Such a union today doesn’t even register a second glance and neither would be denied a job, based on their marital status, at a Catholic school.

          I travel to South Africa with some frequency. Twenty-five years ago, the accepted doctrine of the South African Dutch Reformed Church held that the “revealed truth” was that a mixed-race marriage was a mortal sin. Trust me when I tell you that that “revealed truth” has been subject to some considerable revision.

      • JG says:

        Oh no the IRA! . Except just now they are under investigation themselves & may be complicit in election manipulation by targeting X groups to financial disadvantage . A possible outcome will be a rehaul of all tax exempt status . Imo church activity would not survive this onslaught .

        You may get your wish .

  3. Another catholic says:

    Why do people keep saying “outdated doctrine?” Why can’t some people understand that when God says something, it’s final.

    • Matteo says:

      Well, God talked to me just today, and said he was ok with gay teachers. What god was talking to you?

    • Matteo says:

      If you are referring to the “doctrine” in the old testament, I guess we should kill gay people. And adulterers. And people who work on the Sabbath. These things can never be outdated. The Church now says there is no such thing as Limbo. Funny, that was a doctrine that was taught to me years ago.

    • Brian says:

      Good golly, I better start writing up some doctrines for people to follow thousands of years from now. Hell, they won’t even know who wrote it and claim they can hear me talking in their head!

      And no, it’s outdated. Unless you practice misogyny and some of the barbaric ideas the Bible proposes – then yes, it’s outdated. Deal with it.

  4. JDM says:

    I am a gay swimmer and a lawyer. And I do not need to tap into either of those identities to have this opinion on this issue: Let them do what they want, and hopefully this coach will find another job. The economics of supply/demand will take care of religious institutions that want to live by outdated doctrine. When people stop showing up to their churches, schools and swim meets, they will figure out how much the Constitution actually did to help them carry out their mission.

    • Brian M says:

      It’s nice to see that because of your “identities” you get to summarily dismiss the entire Catholic faith as outdated doctrine. I do not agree with what this institution did, but I respect their ability to make their own rules when within their legal right to do so. We are entering a dangerous point in the history of our Republic, when everyone is expected to think and believe the same thing that everyone else does.

      • JDM says:

        I am not sure why you believe that I summarily dismissed the entire Catholic faith as outdate doctrine. What I intended to express was that the economics of supply/demand will take care of religious institutions that want to live by an outdated doctrine such as the apparent doctrine that an open and proud gay person cannot or should not serve as a teacher and coach. The Catholic Church does many wonderful things. That cannot be dismissed. However, the public’s distaste for men who love men is on the sharp decline, and people will find a place to worship and enact good deeds in an environment where they do not have to disparage gay people along the way. So, to bring it back to swimming, you have to get faster when you age up. It’s time for the Catholic Church to figure out that the time standards are changing.

      • Brian says:

        And it’s nice to see that no matter what your identity is, Brian M, you’re a dick to people who don’t fit nicely into your little Bible-thumping world.

        Have fun hating and dismissing people because of their sexual orientation, clown!

  5. Brian M says:

    Why is this even a case? He read the employee handbook, and most likely signed it (most employers require new employees to sign the handbook) and then willfully decided to disregard the employee rules and was fired for it. He strikes me as an opportunist looking for a payday.

    • Braden Keith says:

      Brian M – employee contracts cannot necessarily override laws and constitutional rights. You cannot make an employee enforceably sign an agreement that they understand that part of their job is to commit murder, and that if they don’t, they can be fired.

      Whether or not this particular handbook or contract or set of policies violate constitutional rights or other laws is what the courts will decide.

      This does not answer your implied question of whether Mr. Zmuda will win his suit or not; rather it answers the stated question of “Why is this even a case?”

      • Brian M says:

        You present a straw man argument. Employment law through both Washington State and the Federal Government does not include anything to prohibit what this employer did. I am not saying that I necessarily agree with what they did, only that this is a case about grandstanding, not rule of law. A private employer can make religious beliefs a condition of intial and continued employment. Washington State, like most states is an at-will employment state, meaning that either party can terminate employment at any time for any reason, unless it is involving a protected class. There is not a protected class in the scenario, under state or federal law.

        • Braden Keith says:

          Nope, see, this is why I included my last sentence. While you asked “why is this even a case,” what you meant was “I think he should lose this case.” These are not the same two ideas, and I was replying to the matter of “why is this even a case.” If there were no basis for a legal case, then this article would not have been written, because the court would not have approved it as a cse. Whether he wins or loses remains to be seen.

          Title VII of the Civil Rights Act would be the matter in question. Here’s a link if you would like to read it in its entirety:

          Title VII of the Civil Rights Act may or may not be found to apply, and that would be a case that would have to be made by both sides in a court of law. It is not a case of “a private company can hire or refuse to hire or fire or refuse to fire anybody for any reason at any time” matter, because that is simply never the case. Texas is a “right to work” state as well, and yet my employers all have insurance against wrongful termination lawsuits, because there is such a thing as wrongful termination, even in right to work states, and discriminatory hiring and firing is that difference. That will be what will have to be proven or disproven – if there was discriminatory hiring or firing.

          On a more specific level, I’d suggest you read this from the Washington State Human Rights Commission:

          While that interpretation does not include “non-profit religious or sectarian organizations,” it will be up to the courts to decide if the school falls under that classification, for example. There are several other angles by which the plaintiff could make his case. There are a lot of “what ifs” and important details in deciding this case, and that’s what courts exist to decide upon. If every law were black-and-white regardless of specific circumstance, then the court system would be considerably thinner, I would imagine.

          That is why this is “even a case.” Which is what your question was, and what I was responding to.

          Hope this helps clarify my initial response for you.

          • Brian M says:


            Nope huh? I know you have it all figured out, and that you are seasoned in this area, but let me enlighten you on a couple of things.

            1. I am quite familiar with The Civil Rights Act. In fact, the work I do is governed by 13 different Federal Statues, this being one of them. Nowhere in the CRA is what occured to this individial prohibited, otherwise this case would be in Federal Court and and possible EEOC action would be in effect.

            2. You are 100% absolutely wrong on at will employment. Don’t believe me? Do some research on your own. An employer can terminate your employment at any time for any reason. Likewise, an employee can quit a job at any time for any reason. The only exceptions would be an illegal one, or if there is a contract (also known as collective bargaining.) Since Washington law gives an exception for religious organizations, and the Diocese of Seattle and a Catholic School under its control surely qualify here. Wrongful Termination occurs when an employer fires you for something that it is illegal to do so for. i.e. refusing to lie for an employer, employer retailiation, etc. As an employer you do not have a wrongful termination exposure if you fully complied with the at will employment law for your state.

            3. Right to work and at will employment are two completely different things. RIght to work has to do with whether or not a state requires membership in a Union as a condtion of employment.

          • Braden Keith says:

            Brian – to your 2nd point, you basically agreed with me and said I was 100% wrong. It sounds like we are actually in total agreement – that an employer can fire you for any reason in an at-will employment state, except for a reason that’s illegal. Which is precisely what I said in my last reply. And the except for reasons that are illegal is the only reason in any state that you can’t fire someone, the only thing that changes is the definition of what’s legal and illegal, so that’s a self-fulfilling definition.

            The fact that people being fired can be illegal is “why this is even a case,” which is what your original question was. Your responses keep trying to debate the facts and details of the case, which isn’t my job to speculate on. My job is to report on what I know, and what I know is that it can be illegal to fire people in at-will work states. If the matter were as clean-cut as your 2nd point makes it seem, then it wouldn’t have made it past this point.

            I’m not going to chase down your rabbit hole of whether or not the law protects the diocese of Seattle or not, because that’s not my function. You asked “why is this even a case?” and the answer to your question is simple – the fact that his attorney has convinced a court that there’s some justification for unlawful termination, which can, in fact, happen in an at-will work state. Your question was “why is this even a case?” and cited as your confusion the fact that it was an at-will state as the reason for why it shouldn’t be a case, which you’ve agreed now is not a blanket dismissal against unlawful termination suits.

            Sounds like you’ve answered your own question. You’re free to debate the details and the interpretations, but that’s not something I can or will engage in, because those facts are still being vetted.

  6. Matteo says:

    So I am sure that this Catholic school also fires any faculty and staff members who commit adultery, use birth control, don’t attend mass on Sunday, and eat shellfish.

    • catholicswimmer says:

      They will be fired too if they make it public and fail to publicly repent. Shellfish are OK.

      • MWG says:

        Shellfish are ok in the Church but not at the yeshiva around the corner!!

      • Matteo says:

        I”ll bet you they won’t. As a former Catholic who went to 18 years of Catholic schools, I can attest that the religion is built on hypocrisy. What is happening here is administrators choosing the rules of faith which are convenient in order to discriminate against a class of people they don’t like. How many priests were not fired, but merely moved from diocese to diocese for molesting children?

        There are certainly some gay children at this school. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a roll model such as Mr. Zmuda who got married and pledged vows to the person he loves? But the church would rather tell them (and society) that they are worthless individuals. The church knows that the suicide rate for gay teens is higher than most other segments of the population, but turns a blind eye just as they did to priest abuse.

        They have lost whatever moral standing they ever had.

        • Dan says:

          Yeah. It is interesting to see how anti-gay some people can be in the name of religion. Again, I attended Catholic school, though not a current practicing Catholic. The Bible cleary states that all people are sinners and that it is a sin to judge others, which seems to missed by many. Furthermore, if you look at the people Jesus hung out with when he was on Earth, it was the people rejected by society, not the self-righteous church goers. I tend to think that today, Jesus would hang out with gay people over judgemental, self righteous “Christians.”

        • Kris says:

          As a former Catholic, I agree with this 100%. The Catholic Church may ultimately win this battle, but they are going to lose the “war” because more and more people will leave the religion. The Church doctrine openly and proudly discriminates against women and gays.

  7. Observer says:

    There is a huge difference between public sector and private sector when it comes to discriminatory hiring and firing practices. There is also a large difference between criminal acts (pedophilia) and civil acts (hiring and firing), so that comparison is not valid in one of the previous posts. 🙂

    The Catholic church has the right to defend it’s beliefs, whether you (or I) agree with them or not. You have the right not to apply for a job at a catholic school, or to refrain from sending your children there, based on whether you agree with their beliefs.

    Here is a good article discussing the ramifications of this type of case (and I think it references this case in the article):

    • MWG says:

      Yes, I know there is a difference between this kind of case and “sanctioned” pedophilia. My example was nothing more than an illustration of what kinds of behavior were accepted by the Church for long periods of time. The Church paid civil penalties and individual clergy were prosecuted criminally.

      After reading the articles about the case, I wonder what would have happened had the coach been a single gay man, instead of a married gay man, and he had not posted items on FB for everyone to see. It also seems that the school knew or had reason to know that the coach was gay when they hired him. Had they known it then becomes difficult to fire him, unless of course, he was hired with a wink and a nod, meaning that the school knew but that if the coach did not cause “problems” he would be allowed to stay.

      What will happen in the future of these kinds of cases is that the schools will be stricter about their hiring practices, the employment contracts will become longer and more tedious for the prospective employee to read, and the school will use reasons other than religion and / or lifestyle as reasons to fire someone. Had the school stated that the team did not perform to the administration’s expectation, this case would not be in the courts.

      Yes, the private sector should have much more say so in who it hires and fires, and the reasons therefore but in this case I have a hard time believing that the coach was not properly vetted before he was hired. I wonder if the coach is Catholic.

      • catholicswimmer says:

        You need to understand the sin of “scandal” to understand what would make a Catholic organization terminate your employment. The Church recognizes that we are all sinners in need of Christ’s redemption. A public sin (e.g. gay “marriage”) is different. A public sin requires a public repentance for the sin (in this case a gay “divorce”) otherwise it can lead the faithful away from Christ’s teaching.

  8. Catholicswimmer says:

    There are protections when it comes to employment contracts such that you can’t have hiring practices that discriminate against marital status, race, religion , nationality, etc. In your counter examples a gay association could not discriminate based on marital status. Church organizations can override all of these laws as freedom of religion trumps these laws. This nation was founded on freedom of religion and it was mentioned in the 1st amendment. Non discrimination laws are NOT in the constitution – regular laws can’t override the constitutional.

    • mcgillrocks says:

      It was meant to be my opinion, not an interpretation of laws. I’m no lawyer and I don’t pretend to have ever been one.

      Naturally there is a fine and dangerous line in the midst: when does the freedom to hire whoever you want become too much? Ideally people would have that freedom, but there will always be some people who will abuse it and not hire minorities, women or other groups they seek to oppress.

      It’s a loaded question with perhaps no answer.

  9. mcgillrocks says:

    I may be highly down-voted for this, but allow me to share my opinion. I think the School has every right to restrict him based on their employee code of conduct.

    If I give you a job and I have you sign something that says “As an employee of McGillrocks school I will not smear myself with mustard while watching Breaking Bad at Midnight,” then you’d better not do that. If you want me me to GIVE you a job, then, within reason, if you want to keep your job, you’d better abide by my restrictions, or I will personally fire you. I doesn’t mean that I can persecute you beyond that, or deny you of basic goods and services, but it means that as an employer I can set restrictions that you can choose to abide by if you want to work for me.

    The way I see it, that man CHOSE to work for a Catholic institution. I’m sure he was aware that Catholic do not condone some of his practices. He CHOSE to work for them anyway. He agreed personally to work for them, and personally made the decision to work for a place that says in their handbook “If you do X you get fired.” He then chose to do X, and now expects not to be fired. I don’t care what X is, if you choose a job under the conditions (that you agreed to) that you won’t do something, and then you go and do that exact same thing, you should be fire-able, regardless of if that thing is getting a gay marriage, or watching breaking Bad at Midnight with mustard or whatever.

    In other words, I think that the right of an employer to set out limitations on the activities of their workers it totally legitimate. As long as the employee choose to work for that company/institution, they choose to follow the rule set by the employer or else they could face consequences.

    • mcgillrocks says:

      Just to pre-empt things: I think it could go both ways.

      I’m I’m running a strip club and I believe my dancers get better business when they are unmarried, then if they get married I should be able to fire them, as a business decision, not because I hate the institution of heterosexual marriage.

      Likewise, if someone is working for a Gay Association, and the employee handbook says that they have to support gay lifestyle and to to one of the pride parades, then if the secretary ditches the parades for Westboro Baptist Church meetings, then I think it would be 100% OK to fire that person. There was an agreement that the secretary should follow a certain subset of rules, which he/she agreed with at first but violated later. Perfectly justified.

    • Another catholic says:

      A sober and well thought out comment

  10. Jg says:

    Where was everyone on the Saudi Arabia swim job yesterday ? 0 comments for outright oppression of Saudi women & girls within the sport. of swimming . Everyone is too frightened of The Wahabis to venture a meek registration of disapproval. What sort of man would go & be beholden to a freak show like that? Of course the ad did not say a woman could not apply but the applicant must adhere to the values of the Saudi Kingdom.

    ( I am an aetheist & pretty much dislike them all but some more than others depending on what they are doing that week. )

    I have seen some press on this case by & by . The issue was put forward that he did read the contract etc but that he had not been asked to partake in the religious side of things & therefore had not broken the contract . On his leading of prayers periodically , the School’s position was that – yes he did undertake the contracted religious duties .

    The Archdiocese asked to be dropped from the suit because the school was run independently .
    I have read further on the position of Catholic schools in the US . Some in the NE eg Buffalo NY are closing down . Others have been hijacked by upper middle class parents looking for the academics & that the high fees preclude the poor & working class. It is economic white flight from state schools .( recent topic adrdressed by Michelle Obama ) but interpreted by race of course & that schools are more segregated as 1960s . I would go with the economics ad I don’t think Americans are in fact racist .

    The Gay community ought buy these schools up & run them as they see fit . They can’t just piggyback on a long established sector that is diametrically opposed to their beliefs . Show everyone what they can offer ( including swimming ) . Plenty of Independents & other philosophies have done it .

    I do notice that MsFranklin & Ledecky went to catholic schools & that the christian schools have strong sporting programs , so I think you guys want them to continue . It is going to be difficult for the State to take on all Religious schools , hospitals , charities etc if the religious orders exit the scene. Think the Eastern Bloc .( their math was good though! )

    I personally can see them all disappearing & everyone back to basic ( & less) state schools . the demographics are not there & the new nominally catholic immigrants are not committed to education nor can they afford.

    So it is just a matter of time .Meanwhile USA sits at number 25 in maths.

  11. Philip Johnson says:

    Best of luck to him. Personally, I’m getting tired of this “freedom of religion” guise to repress minorities.

  12. Kylecw says:

    Thank goodness. Good luck to him.

  13. catholicswimmer says:

    I certainly hope that the first amendment to the constitution rules here –
    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    In other words “no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof” means the government is powerless to stop the firing. Government – stay out of the Church’s business.

    • Regular Joe says:

      ^Hate Speech

    • Mikal W. Grass says:


      Without going into the merits of the lawsuit, I will tell you that your reading of the First Amendment is incorrect. Free exercise of your religion does not give the Catholic Church or any of its officials, or the diocese, the right to freely commit crimes in the name of religion, even if those crimes are accepted Catholic doctrine. It means that the US Govt shall not favor one religion over another.

      By the government, do you mean the legislative branch of government? Do you mean the judicial branch? The executive branch?

      When you mention the Church’s business, do you mean that it was wrong for the courts to permit the civil lawsuits against the various dioceses for moving child molesting priests from diocese to diocese so they would escape criminal prosecution? Do you mean it was wrong for the courts to permit the criminal lawsuits against the various priests who molested children? This behavior was accepted Church doctrine for years and was known about by the various Popes and or his various aides. Why? Because the congregation (The Church as an entity) was far more important than the individual parishioner.

      Let me ask you this: if the Pope says something is Church doctrine, and has been Church doctrine since the founding of the “Church” (remember the notion of Papal infallibility?) is it incumbent upon the members of the Church to act accordingly even if is against the law of the country in which the parishioner resides?

      Do a bit of research on the Church and just whom comprised the initial Church, who the Popes have been, who comprises the current Church, how long homosexuals have been “accepted” by the Vatican, and why many homosexuals entered the Church.

      I have no idea how the courts will eventually rule on this case. However, I can tell you that frequently Church business becomes everyone else’s business when that business is wrong.

      • Catholicswimmer says:

        The compelling interest test dated back to another Supreme Court decision, Sherbert v. Verner, from 1963. The Sherbert test said that if a person claimed a sincere religious belief, and a government action placed a substantial burden on that belief, the government needed to prove a compelling state interest, and that it pursued that action in the least burdensome way.

        That is the legal test.

        A church organization must be able to fire a person who is living a scandalous (i.e. publicly against church teaching) life. The only case this guy could have that would override this is if he had an exemption for this kind of behavior in either a written or implied employment contract.

        By the way, there was no Catholic doctrine allowing boys to be molested by priests. You don’t know what the word doctrine means.

        • Mikal W. Grass says:


          I agree with you about the wording of his terms of employment. I also think that had he not said anything about being married or posted what he did on Facebook, the school would have permitted him to remain as the coach.

          From a legal perspective, this school hasn’t lost the war, though they lost the first skirmish. This case will beat up both sides but I think it will settle before trial.

      • Another catholic says:

        “Let me ask you this: if the Pope says something is Church doctrine, and has been Church doctrine since the founding of the “Church” (remember the notion of Papal infallibility?) is it incumbent upon the members of the Church to act accordingly even if is against the law of the country in which the parishioner resides?”

        Were getting into some ethics here. I’ll answer your question
        First understand, not everything the pope says in infallible. But the pope make executive decisions (whilst guided by the hand of God) on the interpretation of scripture and other issues.

        Next, there are different types of laws. Natural physical laws (Laws of physics), Natural moral laws (laws that we know without revelation). Next are laws God gave us through revelation and scripture. Last and least are the laws made by men.

        To ethically be a real an binding law, it must:
        1. Mandatory
        2. of reason
        3. for the common good
        4. promulgated (known about)
        5. be given from someone who has the authority to do so
        6. Must not contradict other higher laws

        “is it incumbent upon the members of the Church to act accordingly even if is against the law of the country in which the parishioner resides?”

        Yes, since the Ecclesiastical laws (laws of the church) are higher and more authoritative than the laws of state.

        Enough ethics for today.

    • Dan says:

      I went to a Catholic school (though not a practicing Catholic). We had a teacher who was openly Buddhist, as well as a few who were other denominations of Christianity. The main point that the school reinforced was to love all people. Judging and firing someone based on their sexual preference (especially given the Pope’s recent comments on the subject) does not align with Catholic teachings.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career sixteen years and running wasn’t enough for this native Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for, covering swimming at every …

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