A sudden influx of teacher lawsuits against Christian schools has hit the federal courts, namely for one similar reason: they were fired for committing fornication.
Recently, Texas teacher Cathy Samford, 29, appeared on national television to speak against against the private Christian school that terminated her when she announced her pregnancy. Samford, a science teacher and volleyball coach at Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall, was engaged to be married when she realized that she was with child.
“It kind of hurts my heart a little bit,” she stated of the school’s decision to fire her. “We all have different views and interpretations,” she said. “It’s not necessarily the Christian thing to do to throw somebody aside because of those [differences].”
However, the Heritage’s headmaster, Dr. Ron Taylor, said that as a representative of the school, Samford was expected to be a role model to the children. He expressed his concerns at what message her out-of-wedlock pregnancy would send to students.
“How’s it going to look to a little fourth grade girl who sees that she’s pregnant and not married?” he asked. “We have a right to have standards of conduct,” he added. “Everything that we stand for says that we want our teachers, who we consider to be in the ministry, to model what a Christian man or woman should be.”
“I was in a committed relationship the whole time, and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation,” Samford said, who has two children from a previous marriage. “I didn’t think I would lose my job.”
Sanford has hired an attorney, and has filed a complaint against Heritage Christian University with the Equal Opportunity Commission. It is reported that she is contemplating taking further legal action in the form of a federal lawsuit.
St. Cloud, Florida
A similar situation took place in St. Cloud, Florida when fourth grade teacher Jarretta Hamilton approached administrators at Southland Christian School to ask for maternity leave. While Hamilton was married at the time, she admitted to school officials that she had conceived the child three months before she tied the knot.
Southland Christian School fired Hamilton the following week, explaining that “there are consequences for disobeying the word of God.”
Hamilton then lodged a federal lawsuit against the school, seeking damages for discrimination, the loss of her teaching job and for “emotional distress.” Julie Ennis, Southland’s administrator, then wrote to Hamilton’s attorney, stating, “Jarretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication — sex outside of marriage. We request that Jarretta withdraw her complaint and consider the testimony of the Lord.”
However, Hamilton refused to drop the suit, and a federal judge found that Hamilton failed to show that she was fired for any reason other than having sexual relations outside of marriage, which the school had a right to do. Hamilton appealed, and just days ago, news broke nationwide that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the case should proceed.
“I didn’t know that this is the way they felt about premarital sex,” Hamilton told The Today Show about being fired from the school. “It wasn’t clear what their stance was on certain issues.”
“This is not a church; it’s a school,” stated Hamilton’s attorney Edward Gay.
On May 2, Ashlie Simpson, 31, a student service adviser formerly employed at Colorado Christian University, filed a federal lawsuit after being fired by officials when she admitted that she was living with her boyfriend.
“I was shocked to learn that CCU was concerned about my personal life, and even more distressed when they chose to fire me because of it,” Simpson stated to ABC News. “When they refused to discuss it further, I felt I had no choice but to take legal action.”
Simpson explained that she was asked to reveal information about her lifestyle and whether she was “living in sin,” including if she was “having sexual relations with [her] boyfriend.”
She believes that the reason the school posed the question was because some had seen her going out on a coffee break with one of the university’s counselors, who is married, and began to worry about her morals. Officials then relayed their concerns about her apparent relationship with the counselor, and began to inquire further about her lifestyle.
“I was appalled,” she stated.
While attorneys for Colorado Christian University claim that Simpson was rather fired for her performance on the job, Simpson refutes otherwise and says that they let her go because of the way she lived her personal life.
Other fornication cases are also heading to the courts, including a lawsuit filed by a teacher at a Catholic school in Ohio, who was reportedly fired for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock.
Statistics indicate that every four in ten pregnancies in America are to unwed women, and that an approximate 7.5 million couples live together unmarried.