• Catholic School Says Labor Laws Are Against Its Religion

    I think everyone who grew up in at least a mildly progressive household has had an experience along these lines: For years, parents and teachers instruct you in the importance of respecting others' religious beliefs. Shlomo doesn't have to eat that because it's against his religion. Christopher gets to drink the Jesus wine because it's part of his religion.

    Soon comes the grossly mistaken idea that religious beliefs can be used as a trump card over what are seen as onerous responsibilities. Popular examples include, "the Flying Spaghetti Monster forbids me to eat vegetables," and "I didn't do my homework because it's against my religion."

    Most of us quickly age out of this phase. The same cannot be said for a consortium of Catholic institutions, led by Duquesne University.

    At the heart of the matter is an attempt by Duquesne to withdraw from an agreement to allow the National Labor Relations Board to oversee an election by adjunct faculty who want to collectively organize under the United Steelworkers. Rather than allow certification to proceed, Duquesne filed a motion with the NLRB, claiming that it qualifies for a religious exemption from the Board's authority…

    "Our Catholic identity is at the core of who we are and everything we do as an institution," said Bridget Fare, university spokesperson. "Our mission statement proclaims that Duquesne serves God by serving students. Those words are lived out every day on our campus in very real ways in every part of the university."

    Not included in "Those words," apparently, is the doctrinal Catholic commitment to social justice and workers' rights. In fairness, there are A LOT of words on this topic, including a Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy from U. S. Catholic Bishops

    The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrial societies."

    Maybe following the dictates of their religion is against their religion.

    Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Catholic Church, Education, Religion, Unions


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