A recent article by Jay Michaelson (http://thebea.st/1pg4Ite) has highlighted just how uncertain and controversial the battle between religion and politics can be. In June of 2011, Emily Herx was fired from her position as a language arts teacher at St. Vincent junior high school in Indiana. The reasoning for her termination was allegedly due to her partaking in IVF treatments, as her and her husband were having trouble conceiving. This, according to Catholic dogma, was against Catholic religious beliefs and violated the “moral clause” due to the possibility of destruction of embryos over the course of the treatments.
Herx decided to sue the Diocese of Fort Wayne, but in a very specific way. Her lawyers, being well informed on the laws in Indiana, knew they could not directly attack the Catholic “moral clause”, and win. Instead, they attacked from the view that this specific aspect of the Catholic doctrine was sexist against and discriminated against women. Religious doctrine is inarguably protected by the first amendment, but what about laws concerning the protection of individuals from discrimination? According to Herx, she was not even aware that IVF treatments were against the Catholic Doctrines and did not realize she was antagonizing the “moral clause”.
Where is the line drawn? When does religious doctrine overpower individual rights against discrimination and vice-versa? This can be linked back to the topics of ideology and religious worldviews. A worldview can be defined as a set of fundamental beliefs, values, ect. determining or constituting a comprehensive outlook on the world. In this instance, you have the Catholic beliefs and values clashing with the worldview and ideologies concerning individual freedoms. It can also be seen as an example of Christian Nationalism in the sense that we now need to question, how much influence and power do these religious beliefs have over the entire nation and the determination of the nation’s values and beliefs? Can the ideas of Christian Nationalism dominate the seemingly simple aspects of individual human rights? In my opinion, it should be an individual’s own decision as to whether or not they want to follow the doctrines of a specific religion. Is it not in the bible “anyone who has no sin in their life should step forward and throw the first stone”? This passage clearly relates to the Catholic belief that every individual commits sin, it is an inevitable aspect of human existence according to the bible. So who gets to decide how big of a sin against Catholic teaching gets you fired? Gets you kicked off a sports team? Gets you thrown out of school? Is it not also part of Catholic teaching that God is the only judge? In my opinion, the Diocese is exhibiting extremely hypocritical influence and power, power that I do not believe is justified.