A Corona-based Christian school has fired 11 employees, including four teachers, for not being quite Christian enough.
Most of the fired employees were Catholics, according to the Press-Enterprise, though it appears there was at least one Lutheran and an Episcopalian as well. Beth Frobisher, the superintendent of Crossroads Christian School, said that the employees' beliefs were at odds with what is taught in the Crossroads church, an evangelical megachurch.
“How can the school be a ministry of the church if what is spoken and taught into the hearts of the children isn't consistent with what is taught in the church?” Frobisher told the P-E.
Early last school year, the employees were told they were required to attend a “Bible-believing church.” Apparently, the Catholic Church didn't qualify.
Crossroads requires its employees to sign a “statement of faith.” The statement includes the belief that “salvation comes through Jesus Christ and cannot be earned,” which they probably figured would weed out the Catholics.
It also references full-immersion baptism. The fired employees had signed the statement, but Frobisher said that most of them had not undergone full-immersion baptism.
In addition to teachers, the fired employees included a teacher's aide, a playground supervisor and an accountant. Now they're looking for work.
Sue Fitzgerald, 55, a kindergarten teacher, told the P-E that she was fired after working at the school for 14 years. Another fired employee had been there for 22 years.
On its website, CCS has posted its “non-descrimination [sic] statement,” which says that while the school does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or ethnicity, prospective students and employees are screened on the basis of “Christian faith and lifestyle.”
That seems to be not uncommon, and it also appears to be legal.* When it comes to matters of faith, religious institutions are exempt from federal non-discrimination law.
Still, it's unusual to find a school willing to engage in a mass firing of veteran employees on confessional grounds — especially in the midst of a recession, when job prospects are bleak. That's to say that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Eleven families have pulled their children out of school in protest.
The fired employees do have one recourse. The Lutheran employee was rehired after undergoing full-immersion baptism and agreeing to attend Crossroads Christian Church. Mission accomplished.
* At any rate, that's this non-lawyer's interpretation of Corporation of Presiding Bishop v. Amos (1987), in which the Supreme Court upheld the firing of a non-Mormon engineer from a Mormon-affiliated gym.