The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a case from a Massachusetts Christian college that tried to use a ministerial exception to settle a lawsuit from a former professor.
In a list released Monday, the Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari from Gordon College to hear the appeal about allowing the school to use the “ministerial exception” to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former associate professor Margaret DeWeese-Boyd.
According to The Christian Post, in 2017, the former professor sued the college over its refusal to promote her. She claimed that she was denied promotion because of her public support of the LGBTQ movement.
She claimed that Gordon College committed “associational and gender discrimination” in violation of the Civil Rights Act.
Her attorney said DeWeese-Boyd taught “all secular social work topics.”
Justice Samuel Alito said in a statement with the orders list that the case is still expected to continue through the litigation process, noting that the Supreme Court’s own review would be “complicated” by the pending litigation.
He added, however, that he believed “the state’s understanding of religious education is troubling.”
“The conclusion (that DeWeese-Boyd did not provide enough religious education to qualify for a ministerial exception) reflects a troubling and narrow view of religious education,” Alito said. “What many faiths conceive of as ‘religious education’ includes much more than instruction in explicitly religious doctrine or theology.”
Gordon College initially dismissed the suit under the ministerial exception, but the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled against that in April 2020. In March 2021, the Massachusetts Superior Judicial Court upheld the 2020 ruling.
“In sum, we conclude that DeWeese-Boyd was expected and required to be a Christian teacher and scholar, but not a minister,” Chief Justice Scott L. Kafker wrote in his decision. “Therefore, the ministerial exception cannot apply as a defense to her claims against Gordon.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.