In separate legal cases in separate states this week, religious freedom prevailed over ideas that attack religious faith.
The cases emerged from Kansas and Indiana, respectively, as Christians, either as individuals or as an organization,” fought for their beliefs.
In Kansas, according to a report by The Blaze on Thursday, a former middle-school math teacher was awarded nearly $100,000 after she was disciplined by the school district for refusing to refer to a biological female student by male pronouns.
Pamela Ricard is a practicing Christian who, The Blaze noted, “believes that God creates human beings as either male or female and that gender is a fixed characteristic determined at conception.” Accordingly, demanding she address the female student as a male “actively violated her religious beliefs,” her lawsuit argued.
Ricard reportedly called the student “Miss (last name)” so she wouldn’t use the student’s preferred male first name. She was suspended in March 2021 for three days for violating the school district’s “bullying and diversity and inclusion policies.” “The district also threatened to discipline Ricard further if she continued to misgender students,” The Blaze reported.
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Yet at the time of her punishment, the school district required teachers to use given names and pronouns in parent-teacher conferences, meaning faculty must conceal the students’ chosen identity from their own parents.
Ultimately, Ricard and the school district settled out of court. She received $95,000 and a pledge from the district to say she retired in good standing.
Meanwhile, in Indiana on Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Catholic diocese in Indianapolis was within its rights to fire a teacher who was in a same-sex marriage, according to The Washington Examiner.
The diocese fired Joshua Payne-Elliott in 2019 after demanding that schools strictly enforce a morality clause in teachers’ contracts. Payne-Elliott had married in 2017.
The tenets of the Catholic Church condemn gay marriage and homosexuality as sin and counter to God’s divine will.
While the court said Payne-Elliott could refile his case with a new complaint, its decision also noted, “The archdiocese’s decision whether a school maintains its Catholic identity is an internal matter that concerns both church policy and administration.”
Luke Goodrich, a lawyer for the diocese, told the Examiner that the Supreme Court’s ruling pronounced that “courts can’t decide what it means to be Catholic — only the church can do that.”
“By keeping the judiciary out of religious identity, the Indiana Supreme Court just protected all religious institutions to be free from government interference in deciding their core religious values,” he said.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Free Press.
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