Mary Linklater was once the choir director at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Two important members of the church (including the pastor) began making sexual advances towards her and Mary reported this to church leaders.
When she rebuffed their advances and later reported their behavior to church leaders, both men became hostile towards her. The pastor, for example, repeatedly reprimanded her for insubordination in front of the congregation, required her to play the organ with a broken wrist, openly mocked her when she was in distress, referred to her using foul and inflammatory language, and publicly accused her of extorting from the church.
She was eventually fired. I repeat: SHE was fired.
A jury later awarded her $1,350,000… which is all well and good.
Yesterday, oral arguments were heard on this case by the highest court in Maryland. Specifically, the judges dealt with the idea of “Ministerial Exception“:
The exception says that ministers and other clergy members should be able to make hiring decisions based on religious criteria. But too often the law is used to shield some clergy members from laws that should obviously apply to all — like laws preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
People for the American Way says that “the exception was never intended to relieve religious employers of their obligation to comply with neutral laws of general applicability” and they support Linklater in this matter.
They’re right, of course. Being a “man of God” doesn’t mean you can get away with disobeying the laws of man.
We’re talking about a pastor who sexually harassed an employee, fired her, and wasn’t punished for it (as far as I can tell).
He shouldn’t be given a “get out of jail free card” just because he’s a church leader.
(Thanks to Laramie for the link)