Tag Archives: Cathedral

While We’re Talking About Hypocrisy…

Over the years, opponents of equal civil rights for LGBTQ citizens manufactured all manner of secular justifications for their bigotry. They claimed that homosexuality was a mental disorder, that gay men were all promiscuous, that children require a “traditional” marriage between a male and female in order to thrive, and more.

There was no credible evidence for any of these assertions, and as a result, gay folks won important legal victories, including the right to legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Opponents of that progress are left with what has always been the actual justification for their animus: religious doctrine.

Thanks to the First Amendment’s religion clauses, doctrinal homophobia is a protected belief. Pastors can inveigh against homosexuality from the pulpit without fear of official sanction, and people who accept those beliefs are free to avoid socializing with gay folks.

What religious beliefs cannot be used to justify, however, is legal discrimination. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, some “Christians” opposed it because they claimed their religion required separation of the races and submission of women. The First Amendment doesn’t include a right to make those beliefs the law of the land.

The First Amendment protects religious belief. Civil rights laws protect members of marginalized groups from discrimination. What happens when those two rights collide?

In Indianapolis, we’ve seen recent examples of that collision. Two Catholic high schools have fired employees–guidance counselors and teachers of secular subjects–for the sin of same-sex marriage. 

Joshua Payne-Elliott, the teacher fired from Cathedral High School because of his same-sex marriage, is suing the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Until now, Payne-Elliott had not been identified publicly. His husband, Layton Payne-Elliott, is a teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. They married in 2017. The couple have been at the center of a fight between their schools and the Catholic Church, which directed the schools to fire both men.

Brebeuf refused to fire Layton Payne-Elliott, so the archdiocese stripped the school of its Catholic status. Cathedral fired Joshua Payne-Elliott to avoid the same fate.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Marion County alleges that the archdiocese illegally interfered with Joshua Payne-Elliott’s contractual and employment relationship with Cathedral High School, causing Cathedral to terminate him.

“We hope that this case will put a stop to the targeting of LGBTQ employees and their families,” Payne-Elliott said in a news release

The Archdiocese is arguing that they are within their rights under the current jurisprudence of religious liberty, and that “religious organizations may define what conduct is not acceptable and contrary to the teachings of its religion, for its school leaders, guidance counselors, teachers and other ministers of the faith.”

Payne-Elliott taught world languages and social studies, and Cathedral confirmed that his termination had nothing to do with his performance. The principal acknowledged that he was a very good teacher. Evidently, Cathedral would have preferred not to fire him, but gave in to the demands of the Archdiocese.

Brebeuf, the Jesuit school that employs Payne-Elliott’s spouse, did not, and it deserves credit for its refusal to terminate him.

Given the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, it is likely that the law will continue to favor assertions of religious doctrine over the civil and contractual rights of gays and lesbians. But  the court of public opinion is a different matter. After all, Catholic dogma isn’t confined to disapproval of same-sex marriage. Church doctrine opposes divorce, sex out of wedlock, adultery, even–as I understand it– refusal to attend mass, among other sins. To the best of my knowledge, Catholic schools haven’t been terminating teachers who transgress those rules.

Why this very selective enforcement of doctrine?

And why does the State of Indiana allow public voucher  funds to be used at schools like Cathedral and Roncalli that openly discriminate against a subset of Indiana citizens? Inquiring minds want to know–or really, we can guess.


Send Money

I’m turning this morning’s post over to a government teacher at Cathedral High School, who is trying to raise money for her students to travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national We The People contest.

My name is Jill Baisinger; I am the coach of Cathedral High School’s We the People team.  My class is trying to fund raise our trip to Washington D.C. for the We the People National Competition.  Below is some information regarding the program and our school’s involvement.  

We the People is a national civic education program that is taught in 5th grade, 8th grade, and 12th grade classrooms. Its purpose is to help prepare students to become more active citizens. Students specialize in an area of constitutional studies from founding philosophies, historical application, civil rights, civil liberties, or current applications. The culminating activity is a competition set up as a Congressional hearing where students take and defend their constitutional view as they have a conversation with attorneys, judges, historians, and other members of the community.

This is only Cathedral’s second year to have a We the People program, yet the team this year won their Congressional district competition and the Indiana State competition, which is one of the three hardest competitions in the country. Cathedral is now “Team Indiana” – and will represent Indiana at the National hearings at the end of April in Washington D.C.

In the past, when We the People was fully funded through a Congressional earmark, the Indiana Bar Foundation was able to pick up the cost of the team to travel to D.C. and compete. During these economic hard times, this is no longer the case; now the team must raise $33,000 to get to the national competition. Students, parents, and Cathedral High School are working hard to make this come true – and this is what the money would go toward – getting the team to D.C. to compete against the best We the People teams across the country.

The students and I would be more than happy to do a 15 minute demonstration for you, to introduce you to the program. Or I would be more than willing to meet you to chat about the benefits of the program myself – Just let me know! Here is the website for our group – that gives a little more information about the program, history at Cathedral, and the team’s achievements in a short period of time. www.gocathedral.com/wethepeople ;

If you are interested in more information on ways to make a tax-deductible contribution to Cathedral’s “We the People…” team, please contact Cathedral’s Development Officer, Michelle Rhodes at (317) 968 – 7311 ormrhodes@gocathedral.com.

The decision to de-fund We The People has to rank as one of the stupidest, “penny-wise, pound foolish” decisions by a Congress that seems to wallow in stupidity. The program is one of the very few that has consistently been demonstrated to be effective in imparting basic civic understanding. As someone who has been a judge for the state contest, I can personally attest to the depth of historical and constitutional knowledge the students display. And unlike contests like “brain game,” all of the students in a given class participate–the extent of that participation is one of the criteria for which points are awarded. A couple of bright kids can’t “carry” the others.

I know young people for whom participation in We The People was a turning point, an experience that engaged them in active citizenship for years afterward. Competing at the national level can only intensify that experience.

I’m going to send a contribution to Cathedral; I hope many of you reading this will choose to do likewise.