Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sadly, it is the right decision

I just saw the headline on ABP that "Judge dismisses Klouda lawsuit against Patterson, Southwestern." Sadly, in light of the obvious unjust way Dr. Klouda was treated, I believe the judge's decision is correct, that "the decision made by defendants concerning plaintiff was ecclesiastical in nature. The testimony on both sides was filled with theological and biblical arguments. Based on the first amendment the judge had no choice but to rule that the court could not "entangle" itself in this issue.

However, that should not be the end of this issue. Whether Dr. Klouda wants to pursue it or not, there should be those who still have standing and influence in the SBC that would be willing to right this wrong. Unfortunately, I have not the slightest hope that this will happen. If current southern baptists would not stand up for missionaries I seriously doubt that they will stand up for a Hebrew professor.

It saddens me, but this is the new SBC that you wanted.


cheek said...

If she were a pastor or lacked contractual claims against the seminary, I would agree that the courts were right to stay away, but the implications of this ruling are far-reaching and ominous in exactly the way they proclaim wishes to avoid. It effectively exonerates any 'religious institution' from abiding by contracts it might enter into. Would she have had the same exemption had she chosen to leave because of 'religious motives?' Institutions (churches, schools, corporations, etc.) should certainly not be affored protections that individuals lack. What if I broke a contract with a secular institution for "religious convictions?" Would I be exempt from civil action? This is the opposite of separation and effectively constitutes and establishment of religion.

sepherim said...

A couple of factors make this case different from the possibilities you mention.

First, the seminary is wholly owned by a religious organization for the purpose of equipping religious leaders to work in the organization.

Secondly, both parties used considerable theology language and reasoning in their arguments. I think if I had been the judge I would have ruled that kind of argument as not germane but he chose to allow it. Once it was in he was put in a position of having to rule on the validity of the theological arguments and again he chose (rightly in my opinion) not to. My understanding of the case is that this decision in no way affects Dr. Klouda's right to bring a civil suit. I just doubt that she will be inclined to do so.

Your final point is just what some of my catholic friends have always said about separation of church and state, that by refusing to define or set parameters concerning what the state can do regarding religion, the state is deciding (establishing) religion.

I don't totally disagree with that reasoning but I think the alternative would be much worse. And there are many examples in history both modern and ancient to support conclusion.

The only positive that came out of this was that it showed the true character of the PP boys and has been a wake-up call for at least a few of the puritans who think they can fix what is wrong with the SBC from within. I suspect they will be just as successful as the earlier Puritans were.