Catholic school guidelines ‘drive a coach and horses through equality legislation’

THE National Secular Society has described newly-published Catholic Church employment guidelines for schools as “prurient and tyrannical”, and say it “drives a coach and horses through equality legislation”.

Pink News reported that the guidance, sanctioned by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, says that teachers in Catholic schools should not marry divorcees, marry in registry offices or in other civil ceremonies (such as civil partnerships) that do not meet the Catholic Church’s approval.

A booklet, Christ at the Centre: Why the Church provides Catholic Schools, says that senior teachers in a partnership of intimacy with another person, outside a form of marriage approved by the church … can be removed from office.

Openly gay senior teachers at Catholic schools could face demotion or the sack if they fail to live according rules set by the Church.

Christ at the Centre blah is written by Monsignor Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and co-published by the Catholic Education Service.

Marcus Stock and Vincent Nicholls

Marcus Stock and Vincent Nichols

Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the National Secular Society, said:

It is scandalous that the Catholic Church is able to use taxpayers’ money to practise this sort of crude discrimination. The document is completely unacceptable. The way a person arranges their private life, so long as it is within the law, should be of no concern to an employer.

He added:

We will be writing to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, asking how he can justify a law that permits teachers in faith schools to be disciplined or dismissed for conduct which is ‘incompatible with the precepts of the school’s religion’. Such a harsh and unfair law drives a coach and horses through equality legislation and leaves teachers, paid using public money, uniquely vulnerable to religious discrimination.

The level of discrimination permitted in ‘faith’ schools is currently the subject of an investigation at the European Commission following a complaint by the National Secular Society concerning whether UK legislation relating to state funded “faith” schools breaches European employment laws.

The NSS has made clear that if it comes across anyone who has been fired from a Catholic school simply because they are living in a relationship that the Church does not approve of, it would be happy to assist them in a legal challenge.

A spokesman for the Church told the Sunday Times:

The expectation is that [school] leaders and those who aspire to leadership positions will make substantive life choices that are in conformity with the gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said:

It is scandalous that the Catholic Church is able to use taxpayers’ money to practice this sort of crude discrimination.

The way a person arranges their private life, so long as it is within the law, should be of no concern to an employer, not even the Catholic Church, particularly if no scandal is caused.

Ironically the vast majority of British Catholics disagree with their church’s hard line on matters such as homosexuality, contraception and cohabitation.

Commenting on the booklet, the Department for Education said:

This is a matter for schools and their governors. Faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers. However schools must also comply with employment law.

The NSS pointed out that, as things stand, many”faith” schools are granted special legal privileges enabling them to discriminate in employment on religious grounds. Many teachers can find themselves blocked from certain positions because they are non-believers or of the “wrong” faith.

In addition, teachers can be disciplined or dismissed for conduct which is “incompatible with the precepts of the school’s religion”.

Hat tip: George Broadhead


14 responses to “Catholic school guidelines ‘drive a coach and horses through equality legislation’”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    Let’s hope that catholic schools in New York are beginning to set an example for the rest of the world – by closing down.

  2. Marky Marky says:

    (that do not meet the Catholic Church’s approval.)

    …like they are a pillar of light themselves. Another ”
    do as I say, not as I do” religion.

  3. RabbitOnAStick says:

    What on earth is nichols wearing on his head?

    It looks like he got it out of a giant crimbo cracker.
    Has he just come from the rcc crimbo bash?How unbelievably ridiculous.

    Moreover if it isn’t from a cracker it looks like he made it out of felt and crepe paper to a Blue Peter design.

  4. stokebruernehuman says:

    The rcc run schools for the sole purpose of polluting young impressionable minds with shitty, intolerant dogma. It’s the only way the rcc can propagate and survive. They know it and thats why we have to fight them every inch of the way. The rcc has outlived its tenure and those of us who live in civilised secular democracies can usher it to the exit and kick it into oblivion.

  5. JohnMWhite says:

    “Christ at the Centre: Why the Church provides Catholic Schools”

    The Church is a liar. The state provides Catholic Schools. The Church provides the occasional cleric to turn up at these schools and harangue the students. The Church provides a Catholic Education Service devoted to finding ways to cause real, material harm to any student or teacher who is not exactly like the Catholics in charge want them to be. The Church provides lies, like when I was told condoms spread AIDS. The Church provides maliciousness, like when I was told being almost lethally bullied was my own fault for liking ‘demonic’ books and board games. The Church provides every excuse they can think of to justify telling young, impressionable and afraid children that their nature is evil and disordered and they are not allowed to feel ordinary human feelings like love without leading themselves toward the pit of eternal fire. The Church provides a sense of smug self-righteousness vicious bullies in charge of these schools call an ‘ethos’, and the Church takes credit for the hard work of students by pretending the Church is the reason they statistically do well.

    “Faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers.
    However schools must also comply with employment law.”

    Choose one.

    These stances are mutually incompatible. Employment law forbids an employer from sacking somebody because they don’t comply with the employer’s religion. The Department of Education spokesperson failed their logic final, apparently. Except we all know that isn’t true, logic is irrelevant, the words themselves are irrelevant. This is just another craven political parasite who can’t even be bothered to come up with a good lie to justify the fact that he and his masters are more scared of bigots than they are of the consequences of bigotry. Just wait until the first secular free school tells teachers they’re getting sacked if they are caught kneeling at an altar and praying to an unprovable, ineffable and illogical deity, and I imagine we’ll see a very sudden change of tune. If a secular free school ever felt so insecure that its operators really needed to fire people over such ludicrous things.

  6. Apathostic says:

    To be honest, their house, their rules. The Catholic Bogus Religious System has been getting away with murder (in some cases literally) for years, tax exemptions, obscene wealth, kiddy-diddling, et al. why should this be of any surprise to anyone? The education in Catholic schools is seen in some areas as the best you can get (in Australia st least apparently). This is down to the teachers of course, not the church the schools belong to. So if you don’t like the rules instituted by these not-yet-incarcerated priests, show your disapproval by walking. The good teachers will find work in the private sector, the lees than good will find work in the public sector, and the church schools will lose what they desire the most – funding. Because they will lose the education standards they had, and people will stop sending their kids. Kick them in the wallet. It’s the only thing they really understand anyway.

  7. John A says:

    Michael Gove needs to spell out to the Catholic church that the requirement to adhere to employment law comes way ahead of any consideration as to whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers. There can be no perceived conflict of responsibility here. I think it’s disgusting that teachers, paid from the public purse, may not be given the same blanket of protection from an unscrupulous employer as any teacher working in a non-religious run school.

  8. chrsbol says:

    @johnMWhite. Well said sir.

    @Apathostic. ‘ and people will stop sending their kids. ‘
    Nice thought,if only it were that simple. The parents who send their kids to these schools have been doing so for generations.They will carry on blindly regardless of what is said or implemented by these bigots. When people post on here that the church is on the run and the churches are empty (except for immigrants)I would have to agree but for reasons of tradition the schools just seem to go on and on taking in the sheep baptised by their parents who were baptised by their own parents. It doesn’t seem to matter if the younger catholics with families don’t attend church,they will still have their kids branded and inserted into the catholic way.Those on here who went to a catholic school or come from a catholic background will hopefully know what I mean.

  9. Stonyground says:

    “To be honest, their house, their rules.”

    Not if the taxpayer picks up the tab, and not even if the RCC funds the schools themselves. Anti discrimination laws should apply to everyone, fairly and without favour.

    “…life choices that are in conformity with the gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church.”

    As far as I can see, the Gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church are polar opposites. It’s a bit difficult to see how anyone’s life choices can be in conformity with both.

  10. JohnMWhite says:

    @chrsbol – Well said yourself. This is a cultural issue, a generational habit that a large body of go-with-the-flow types are not likely to kick. I was in a Catholic high school in the UK not too long ago (as my earlier bitter ranting suggests, the memories have not yet faded) and I would be surprised if more than 10% of the students and their parents regularly attended Mass, but probably 80% were ‘Catholic’.

    Those who were not Catholic, by the way, were inserted into the school on the basis of its reputation, but this does raise the question of how many Catholic schools are actually producing good results on their own and how many are being given good students from good backgrounds whose parents are involved enough in their education to deliberately pick a Catholic school for them. And frankly, I don’t care how good a school is on paper, if it gets there by bullying, frightening and harassing students until they are too terrified to put a foot wrong, the damage done is hardly worth a good crop of Highers or A-Levels.

    Another anecdote if you’ll indulge me – I had a friend at school who was a bona fide mathematical genius. Unfortunately he better at maths than his teachers so they would get angry with him and ignore him for days on end, and he asked awkward questions about religion (in earnest, I must add – when I met him he wanted to be a good Catholic, he just could never figure out what that actually entailed because no one would answer him), so they would make him stand in the corridor for hours. Bear in mind I’m not very old, this was occurring in the 21st century. Ultimately he became dejected and depressed, and out of spite the teachers never acknowledged his gift for maths and never helped him channel it, instead berating him as lazy and stupid because he was also dyslexic. I was a goody two-shoes at the time, and was warned by teachers to stay away from him as he was a ‘bad influence’. I’m not proud of everything I did or did not do in school, but I am glad that even in my awe of authority, I told them where to go for daring to tell me to abandon a friend.

    Long story short, a young man’s education and extraordinary gift were wasted for the sake of enforcing the status quo and stroking the egos of a petty, vindictive staff. This is what happens when orthodoxy and authority are held supreme and the needs or suffering of an individual are seen as irrelevant and inevitable, as is the Catholic way.

  11. Matt Westwood says:

    @JohnMWhite: as a mathematician myself that makes me particularly cross. Is there a happy ending to this story, do you know? If not, then I think the appropriate comment is: “Don’t come crying to me when your school is burning down around your ears.”

  12. JohnMWhite says:

    @Matt – alas, my friend did what I was told to do, kept his head down and waited until he escaped (“it gets better” people kept telling us, hoping we’d shut the hell up), with the promise that the ‘real world’ of university would know what to do with him. It never ceased to strike us as ironic and irritating that the people making this promise to us were the people forcing us to stay in that abominable building. Unfortunately not long after we escaped he was involved in an accident and lost some of his gift, and never managed to complete uni, and though he’s still easily the smartest person I know he often wonders what could have been if the adults in charge of his education had actually done their damn job.

    It does bother me a lot to see the Church demanding the right to treat people this way. They are devoid of compassion and they are too intellectually dishonest to accept the consequences of their actions, instead simply dismissing and deflecting every charge against them and continually arguing that black is white. How lazy and simplistic does a mind have to be to think it can get away with telling people that Catholic schools both conform with anti-discrimination laws and happily discriminate based on their religious beliefs? Their immaturity is depressing, because as we know children can be so cruel, and when they are in the clutches of adult children that cruelty becomes a political tool.

  13. Stephen Mynett says:

    Some particularly sick news about catholic abuse in Germany:

    The last para just about sums up what evil shits they are: The abuse by priests, he said, had certain “specifically Catholic” characteristics. Thus priests had used their moral authority and the psychological effect of rites like confession or prayer in order to gain power over children, even to the point of telling them that the assaults were an expression of “God’s special love” for them.

  14. […] And boy, have they been busy this week! They first vented their spleen on a high-street chain of sandwich shops for launching a new brand – Virgin Mary crisps – then the National Secular Society for having the temerity to complain about discriminatory employment guidelines issued by the Bishops Conference. […]