A few weeks ago, Chestnut Hill College, a private Catholic school in Philadelphia, fired a part-time professor. He wasn’t fired not because he was a bad professor or because he lacked the teaching capabilities, but because he was homosexual.
As a private institution, the school has the right to fire and discriminate against anyone who does not fit into its belief system or code of ethics, unlike public schools that must abide by certain rules or be sued for discrimination. But this brings up the fundamental question: just because an institution has the right to do so, are they right in doing it?
Rev. James St. George, who leads Mass at St. Miriam Church that’s affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The College fired him after he made “public statements of his involvement in a gay relationship with another man for the past 15 years,” according to a statement from the school.
St. George belongs to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican, whose views on homosexuality differ from the doctrines and beliefs of the Catholic college, which disqualifies him from teaching there.
But the problem with his termination, aside from the blatant bigotry that shouldhave every civil rights advocate bristling, is that the college seemed unaware of St. George’s branch of Catholicism. In the initial interview, questions should have been raised by the school if it was willing to fire him over the differences.
School officials claim he appeared to be of the traditional Catholic faith when he was hired.
But, following the essence of conspiracy theory, it is believed that Chestnut Hill knew about his sexual orientation and the church he belonged to, and still offered him a position based on the recommendations of his parishioners who work at the college.
Assuming that the college is observant enough to notice an openly gay priest – whose “public statements” were made on his blog – and still hire him, it is unthinkable that they would random fire St. George for his sexual orientation. Instead, it took the efforts of one person who wrote to the college and called out St. George, after which the school then took drastic action to maintain some semblance of peace, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
But to do so, they fired one of their best professors – based on reviews by his students and fellow staff members, which were highly flattering, according to the Daily News – solely because he was gay in a religion that traditionally objects to homosexuality. They fired him because he didn’t fit their standards, which were brought up only after someone complained.
Though they have the right to discriminate, they are not right in firing someone, not just because he was gay, but also because they didn’t have a real reason.
Erick Graubard is a junior majoring in technical writing.