There has been a debate within the pro-life movement for decades about private Catholic and evangelical Christian schools and how they threat unmarried teachers or staffers who get pregnant.
On one hand, school officials contend the school must abide by Biblical principles that teach against having sexual relations outside marriage and provide the basis for a two-parent family as the best method of raising children. On the other hand, some pro-life advocates lament that the rule could encourage teachers or staff who become pregnant to consider abortion because they know their jobs are at stake if school officials find out.
That’s what happened in Montana, according to a Washington Times report, where an unmarried school teacher has been fired after officials learned she became pregnant. This kind of story will further the debate about the best policies for Christian schools.
An unmarried teacher at a Roman Catholic middle school in Montana has been fired after getting pregnant, the Diocese of Helena confirmed.
Patrick Haggarty, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, said Tuesday that Butte Central teacher Shaela Evenson “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract,” which requires her to respect the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church in both her professional and personal life.
“The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman,” Haggarty said. “And we certainly believe and we teach our children who attend our schools about the sacrament of marriage. That’s as old as our church. Not only do we teach that to the children kindergarten through 12th grade, but we’re held to that standard as well.”
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Evenson told The Montana Standard that she is pursuing legal action, but deferred other questions to her lawyer. An email from her attorney, Brian Butler of Cincinnati, said he was not available to answer questions until Wednesday.
Butte Central elementary and middle school Principal Kerrie Hellyer told the Standard that Haggarty dismissed Evenson on Jan. 10. She taught sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade literature and physical education for just over eight years.
“She was an excellent teacher,” Hellyer said.