Showing posts from October, 2011

On Temporal Authority

The news media has been humming the last couple of days with reactions to what appears to be a historic Supreme Court case about whether a religious institution can be held accountable by civil discrimination laws for firing of an employee. 
The case of former teacher Cheryl Perich vs. Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School (the school, affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, now functions under another name) turns on whether the “ministerial exemption” -- a decades-year-old doctrine that precludes courts from interfering in matters concerning a religious institution and its ministerial employees – can be applied. If a person is called to work in a ministerial function, is that person exempted from civil rights laws that we now accept as standard in all other walks of life?

The justices seemed stymied by the case for the time being and will not render a decision until the spring. But one section of the proceedings caught my eye:

“Justice Stephen Breyer explains that Perich …